Name: J.T. Ginn
Weight: 200 lbs.
John Thomas Ginn was a dominant pitcher at Brandon High School, named to numerous honorary teams, earning all-American, all-state, all-region, and all-district honors multiple times. In the 2018 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him with their first-round selection, 30th overall, reportedly offering him $2.4 million, an offer slightly over the MLB-assigned slot value of the pick. The right-hander was torn between forgoing his commitment to Mississippi State University or going pro, but ultimately decided to forego the money in order to attend college. In his 16 starts in his freshman year, Ginn posted a 3.36 ERA in 80.1 innings, allowing 69 hits, walking 18, and striking out 103. For his performance, he was named to numerous honorary teams, won a handful of prestigious awards, and was named Freshman of the Year by the SEC. The 2020 season was a lost year for all players, as COVID-19 caused the baseball season to end prematurely for all high school and college players, but it was especially bad for Ginn. After a single outing against Wright State, a brief, uninspiring outing that saw him allow two earned runs in three innings, he began experiencing soreness in his right arm, a problem that had bothered him on-and-off in 2019 but had never really impacted his ability to pitch. Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis delayed his next start, but the right-hander ended up being diagnosed with a torn UCL, necessitating Tommy John surgery.
The Mets selected Ginn with their second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the 52nd player selected overall, and ended up signing him for $2.9 million, almost double the MLB-assigned slot value of $1.4 million. After recovering from Tommy John surgery for the remainder of the year, he made his professional debut on June 3, 2021, pitching three scoreless innings for the Low-A St. Lucie Mets. He remained in St. Lucie until mid-July and was then promoted to the High-A Brooklyn Cyclones, where he finished out the season. All in all, it was a solid professional debut for the right-hander, posting a combined 3.03 ERA in 38.2 innings with St. Lucie and 53.1 innings with Brooklyn, allowing 75 hits total, walking 22, and striking out 81.
Ginn throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple delivery that has been toned down since his high school years. He still throws with a little effort, but his mechanics overall have improved at his time at Mississippi State. When the Dodgers drafted him in 2018, there were concerns that he would be a reliever long-term due to his mechanics, but improvements in that regard coupled his ability to handle starter workloads in 2019 and 2021 have reduced such doubts.
Prior to being drafted, when he was pitching for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the right-hander had a fastball that reportedly could touch as high as the upper-90s. At no point in 2021 did Ginn display a fastball as dynamic as that, generally sitting in the low-90s and topping out at 94 MPH, occasionally touching as high as 95 MPH. While this may be a temporary result of his March 2020 Tommy John surgery, as is sometimes the case, it also may be a more permanent and realistic Ginn. A lack of that dynamism would reduce Ginn’s ceiling, if permanent, to a degree, but it would hardly crater his value as a pitcher. While he is able to generate a high level of strikeouts, the right-hander is also a ground ball machine; in St. Lucie, he had a 57.7% ground ball rate and in Brooklyn a 64.1% rate, and on the season as a whole, he allowed 3 home runs in total. While ground balls were always part of Ginn’s overall game, if his fastball that does not have the same oomph that it had prior to Tommy John, ground balls are even more important. The reason for his above-average ground ball rates is the sink that his fastball has; on average this season, the pitch averaged 2224 RPM with a downward axis and featured 16-28 inches of vertical drop as a result, making it difficult for batters to square up and lift it.
Complementing his fastball are slider and changeup, the latter of which is a true plus pitch. The slider, which averaged roughly 84 MPH in 2021 and generally sits in the low-to-mid-80s, is a wipeout breaking ball that is used as his main strikeout pitch. In 2021, it averaged 2381 RPM, featuring hard gyroscopic break that gave it more vertical break than horizontal. It generated more swings-and-misses per pitch of anything else in his arsenal, especially when thrown down and/or below the zone, and hitters consistently made weaker contact off of his slider than any of his other pitches, with it averaging the lowest average exit velocities of any pitches Ginn threw in 2021. His changeup, which averaged roughly 86 MPH this season, sat 84-88 MPH in 2021, about a six MPH differential from his average fastball velocity. Averaging roughly 1620 RPM, it featured about 30 inches of vertical movement and 15 inches of horizontal movement, putting it firmly within the MLB average norms for the pitch. In addition, the right-hander occasionally threw a cutter, but far fewer than necessary to gauge its effectiveness- though clearly, if it were an effective pitch, Ginn would utilize it more.