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2016 Mets draft preview: Jordan Sheffield

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With the 19th pick in the draft, the Mets could potentially draft Jordan Sheffield. Who is he, and would he be worth selecting?

Name: Jordan Sheffield
Born: Tullahoma, Tennessee
Age: 20 (6/1/1995)
Height/Weight: 6'/180 lbs
Position: RHP
Bats/Throws: R/R
School: Vanderbilt University

Introduction

Born in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Jordan Sheffield has an extensive history playing with some of the top players in this year's draft. Sheffield is one of many top prospects, along with Nick Senzel, Dakota Hudson, Will Craig, and Bryan Reynolds, to have grown up in Tennessee. "It's been a great class for Tennessee, the graduating class of 2013," Craig said. "Our class was probably one of the strongest classes in Tennessee history."

In his first start as a senior for the Tullahoma Wildcats, Sheffield exited after only four innings due to stiffness in his right arm. He rested for a few weeks but was shut down a second time after feeling the same ache while warming up in the bullpen for the Wildcats' second National High School Invitational game. He returned to Tennessee and was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews, who recommended that the young right-hander undergo Tommy John surgery.

Sheffield underwent the surgery, ending his high school baseball career. Despite the surgery, the Boston Red Sox took a gamble and drafted Sheffield in the 13th round of the 2013 draft. The righty did not sign with them, however, choosing instead to attend Vanderbilt University and rebuild his baseball stock.

Still recovering, Sheffield did not pitch with the Commodores in his freshman year. That summer, though, he did pitch for the Laconia Muskrats of the New England Collegiate League, a summer collegiate league available to undrafted underclassmen. His numbers did not necessarily impress, but Sheffield demonstrated that he was ready to return to the mound. In 2015, as a sophomore, he finally made his debut with the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Sheffield's college debut came in Vanderbilt's second game of the season, in which Sheffield got the win in relief after pitching 3.2 scoreless innings. He made his first start a few weeks later, tossing six scoreless innings against Quinnipiac University to pick up his third win of the season. Splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, the 20-year-old went 5-2 with a 2.85 ERA in 60 innings. All in all, it was a good year for the recovering right-hander. When the 2015 season ended, Sheffield took the opportunity to play in the Cape Cod League.

Sheffield earned the 2016 Opening Day start for Vanderbilt against San Diego and tied his career high with seven strikeouts over five innings on the mound. He built on that success in his second start, striking out 11 over seven scoreless innings against the University of Illinois at Chicago. Two starts later, Sheffield set a new career high with 12 strikeouts, and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Xavier University.

The right-hander struggled over his next few starts, but eventually righted the ship and went on to string together an impressive scoreless streak that boosted his stock heading into the 2016 draft. The streak began with a complete game shutout against Kentucky that saw Sheffield fan a career-high 14 batters. In his next start, he shut out Tennessee over eight innings. In the start after that, the righty pitched seven scoreless innings against Georgia to extend his scoreless streak to 24 innings. He allowed an unearned run against Texas A&M in early May but did not allow an earned run over seven innings, snapping his scoreless streak but increasing his streak of no earned runs to 32 innings. Finally, in mid-May, he gave up an earned run against the University of Florida, ending that streak at 33 innings.

Athletics run in the Sheffield family, as his brother, Justus, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the 2014 draft. Moreover, their uncle Tony was drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the 1992 draft.

Stats

Year Level Age Games Innings Pitched ERA K BB
2014 New England Collegiate League 19 11 (6 GS) 35 5.14 34 30
2015 NCAA DIV I (SEC) 20 22 (6 GS) 60 2.85 55 43
2015 Cape Cod League 20 5 (4 GS) 19.2 5.49 19 15
2016 NCAA Div I (SEC) 21 15 (15 GS) 95.2 2.73 107 36

What The Scouts Think

Coming out of high school, Sheffield was a highly-touted prospect. At the time, his fastball sat in the low-90s and could even hit the mid-90s. He also flashed a nasty curve. Since then, the right-hander has improved his fastball, which now sits in the mid-90s and can hit as high as 98 mph. Sheffield's breaking ball, which is more of a slider than a curve, is still considered an average or fringe-plus pitch, sitting around 80 mph with sharp, tight movement. His changeup hovers in the mid-80s with late fade. Sheffield's breaking ball is the more advanced pitch, but the changeup is not lagging far behind in its development.

The right-hander throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with arm action that, while not necessarily violent, has some effort to it. He utilizes his body effectively, incorporating a high leg kick to add some deception and using his trunk to maximize velocity from his smaller frame. His release point is not always consistent, as he sometimes overthrows due to his high-effort arm action. This has led to some control problems.

At six feet, 180 pounds, Sheffield is considered undersized, and as such, is seen by many as something of an injury risk. That said, the correlation between height/weight and injury is tenuous at best, and has been by and large disproved. Furthermore, the right-hander has maintained his velocity deep into games, and has not shown any adverse effects as the baseball season has worn on. In fact, Sheffield's performance has improved over the course of the year.

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