Chris Stratton is the No. 7 prospect in our pre-2012 draft coverage of 12 Blue Jays draft targets in 12 days. Like we did last year, we’ll also be hosting a live chat throughout the entire first round again starting at 7 p.m. ET, so make sure to pop by.
The players on our list are not who are considered to be the “best” players in the draft, but rather who could realistically be around when the Jays take the podium and who we would like to see the Blue Jays go after, with an emphasis on the latter.
Other articles in the series:
No. 1 – Lucas Giolito
No. 2 – Max Fried
No. 3 – Lance McCullers
No. 4 – Zach Eflin
No. 5 – Corey Seager
No. 6 – Courtney Hawkins
No. 8 – Richie Shaffer
No. 9 – Nick Travieso
No. 10 – Lucas Sims
No. 11 – Andrew Heaney
No. 12 – Joey Gallo
2012 MLB Draft Preview
No. 7: Chris Stratton
RHP | 21 years old / 6’3” 200 lbs
Born: August 22, 1990 in Tupelo, Mississippi
High School: Tupelo High School (Tupelo, MS)
College: Mississippi State
Baseball America Rank: 18 (10th among pitchers)
ESPN/Keith Law Rank: 22 (10th among pitchers)
- Majoring in kinesiology
- Two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection
- 2012 SEC Pitcher of the Year
- Earned first career save in SEC Championship vs Vanderbilt on May 27th. Tyler Beede took the loss, falling to 1-5 on the year
Stats (via The Baseball Cube):
Video from Stratton’s college career is nearly impossible to find (likely because the games are televised), so the best we can get is from his high school days at Tupelo:
Stratton’s career did not get off to the start he had hoped. He went undrafted out of high school and his first two years at Mississippi State were extremely mediocre. He produced an ERA over five in both his freshman and sophomore years, showing below average command and getting hit around the ball park. The team stuck with him and their patience paid off during his junior season, when he exploded onto the scene on his way to becoming the team’s top starting pitcher.
Stratton has probably the most well rounded arsenal of any pitcher not in contention for the top 10 spots, as he features four pitches with between average and plus ceiling. He throws his fastball with two grips –- four seams and two seams. The four seam fastball sits 91-93 mph while touching upwards of 95 mph. The pitch has some natural tailing action, and he commands it well. Stratton’s two seamer trades velocity for movement, as he drops the pitch down to the 88-90 mph range, but generates excellent arm side sink and run.
Stratton’s best pitch is his slider, which he throws in the mid 80’s with impressive two plane break. He’s very comfortable with the pitch, as he can spot it for a called strike, or throw it outside the zone for a swinging strike, depending upon what the situations dictates. He pairs the slider with his fastball very well, using them to set up each other. Stratton also throws a curveball, but it is a step or two behind his slider in both command and consistency. The curve has sharp 11-5 break, and Stratton uses it primarily as a “show me” pitch to keep hitters off balance and disrupt timing as opposed to trying to create outs. His fourth pitch is a changeup that clocks in the low 80’s. It’s thrown with good arm speed and has a ton of late drop, making it a weapon against left-handed batters.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Stratton has the near ideal pitching body that has both projection and durability. His early career adversity likely strengthened him emotionally, as he has a mature feel for pitching and maintains his poise on the mound in even the most stressful situations. His mechanics have taken a huge stride forward this year — the driving force behind his drastic improvement in overall command and control.
Why the Blue Jays could be interested:
Stratton will be turning 22 years old in August, so any team selecting him must have confidence he’ll be able to move through the system quickly. With solid command of four average to plus pitches, it’s very possible he could achieve that. While it’s impossible to know what the front office is thinking, it’s fair to say Blue Jays fans are a bit nervous about the idea of spending yet another first round pick on a “safe” college right hander, after the last two, Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire, have proven to be anything but low risk.
To ease concerns a bit, Stratton has more depth to his arsenal than Jenkins, and better high-end pitches than McGuire, so he should be able to separate himself from that group. As a college junior, signability shouldn’t be a concern, and the gesture of his team to hand him the final out of the season to earn the save in the SEC Championship all but guarantees he’ll be entering professional ball.
The draft coverage here at Jays Journal will keep coming leading up and into the MLB Draft -— stay tuned here and on Twitter as Jared (@Jared_Macdonald) and I (@KyleMatte) continue our top 12 draft target series leading up to the first round on the Monday, June 4th.