2014 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects: #24 Clinton Hollon
After we just looked at two other 2013 MLB draftees, Jake Brentz (here) and Rowdy Tellez (here), our attention is now turned to the third and final member of the latest draft class who managed to crack our Top 30 prospects. RHP Clinton Hollon is yet another electric arm that the Toronto Blue Jays have managed to stash within their very deep farm system.
Toronto Blue Jays prospect RHP Clinton Hollon. Credit: MLB Prospect PortalName: Clinton Hollon
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 12/24/1994 (19)
Acquired: 2nd round of 2013 MLB Draft ($467,280 USD)
High School: Woodford County HS (Versailles, KY)
College: Had commitment to Kentucky
Height/Weight: 6’1″/195 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- 2013 Rawlings First Team All-American
- 2013 Rawlings/Perfect Game – All Regional First Team – Central
- 2013 Kentucky Mr. Baseball Runner-up
- Ranked 95th in 2013 Draft by Baseball America
- Ranked 72nd in 2013 Draft by Keith Law at ESPN
Stats and Analysis:
As a junior in high school, ESPN considered Hollon to be the Class of 2013’s best right-handed pitcher but he missed time in 2012 with tendonitis in his right elbow. He returned strong but injury concerns punctuated by “red flags” in his delivery led to his draft stock falling.
The Blue Jays took a chance by drafting Hollon and signed him well below slot in a move that saved them more than $700,000 in bonus pool money. It was a bold move that helped the Jays add Tellez and Brentz later on in the draft to go along with the potential first round talent Hollon.
Clinton was assigned to the Gulf Coast League near the end of July and dominated in four appearances. He struck out 10 batters in 12 innings and allowed only two hits and three walks total. He allowed no runs and almost everything that was put in play ended up on the ground, evidenced by his impressive 5.25 GO/AO ratio.
Hollon’s early success prompted the Blue Jays to promote him to the Advanced Rookie Appalachian League and his lone start proved to be more of a challenge. He made it through 4 1/3 innings and struck out five but allowed four earned runs (two came after he was pulled). He wasn’t able to induce the same frequency of ground balls and only had two versus ten in the air.
He appeared to be wearing down by the end of the season and made one final relief appearance August 28th, when he allowed two earned runs in one frame.
Video Credit: MLB.com
Hollon throws out of a 3/4 arm slot with a fairly high release point. He will extend his leg kick at times for a bit more juice. What’s most impressive is his arm speed and action, which both look lightning quick and very fluid. His delivery looks smooth to me but by no means am I a mechanics expert. The Crawford Boxes helps identify some of the flaws that scouts talk about when it comes to Hollon:
"He has inconsistent leg drive and will sometimes “fall” over his front leg instead of drive to it which reduces the force coming from his lower body. Because he falls into his front leg, his core has to create some force and leads to some excess rotation and lean to the first-base side. That leads to some control issues."
Pitch Arsenal Breakdown
Hollon’s best pitch is his fastball, which has hit 97 MPH in the past (h/t Perfect Game) but by most accounts he normally works in the 91-95 MPH range. He has good command of his heater and has shown an ability to locate on both sides of the plate. His fastball doesn’t have a tonne of movement and will flatten out at times but it’s still a plus pitch with potential to be better.
His slider is a strikeout pitch that projects to be a potential plus offering. He has decent control of the big-breaking pitch and throws it in the mid-to-upper 80’s. His change-up is about 10 MPH slower than his fastball and at times will have a slight fade but is a fringe-average pitch that is still a work in progress for the young righty. He also throws a slow spinning curveball that he can throw for strike despite the knuckle curve type action he’s known to put on the ball.
Risk, Outlook and ETA
Hollon’s questionable mechanics, smallish frame and injury history means that he’s still a fairly risky projection. However at just a few days past 19-years-old he already packs an impressive arsenal and has the potential to evolve into a mid-level starter in the best case scenario. It’s probably a safer bet to bank on him as a high-leverage reliever or a closer going forward as he could prove to be devastating in short bursts.
I anticipate Hollon starting the season in Bluefield with hopefully a call-up to the Vancouver Canadians for their annual playoff run to finish the year. Depending on his development and the Blue Jays long-term plan for using him will affect his ETA, but it likely won’t be until late 2017 or 2018 before he finds himself in Toronto.