Toronto Blue Jays: Draft Targets 2.0: Pitcher’s Edition
Ben Kudrna: RHP Blue Valley Southwest (KS) – #39 On MLB Pipeline
Heading into last summer, Ben Kudrna was almost certainly going to be honoring his commitment to Lousiana State University, but after a spike in velocity and an improvement in his offspeed pitches, Kudrna is now being looked at as an early Day Two draft pick with the potential to sneak into the first round.
Kudrna saw a jump in his fastball velocity last summer, watching it rise from the upper 80’s-low 90’s to sitting around 92-95mph consistency. The Kansas native gets a great arm side run on his heater making it very tough against right-handed batters. The Kansas native complements his improved fastball with two offspeed pitches, offering up a slider with good break and a changeup that he has a great feel for, giving him a legitimate three-pitch mix. Both offspeed pitches have swing and miss upside at the next level which is a huge plus for the young right-hander.
The right-hander does struggle with his fastball command from time to time but is very good at coming back from being down in the count and has confidence in all three of his pitches to use at any time, making it easier to work with when falling behind hitters. The LSU commit stands at a respectable 6’3” and has good length, but will have to add a little weight in the coming years as he is currently listed at a light 195 pounds.
Kudrna has a clean and repeatable delivery in which he uses his whole body to generate power and gets great extension. He even broke out a Marcus Stroman style hesitation in his delivery this spring, which is something you don’t see that often from a young arm. The ability to change the timing in his delivery not only keeps hitters off balance but gives you a glimpse at the kind of athlete Kudrna is.
I’m higher than most people are on Kudrna. I haven’t seen him in many first-round mock drafts and MLB Pipeline only ranks him as the 39th prospect on their board. I think there’s a real shot that Kudrna could rise even higher on boards as the draft process continues but right now, I think 19 may be a little rich for him.
Despite this, I wouldn’t be upset if the Jays decided to reach a little and take a shot on the velocity and repertoire of Ben Kudrna. The Blue Jays may decide to go under slot value with their first-round selection to save some money for later in the draft. If they go this route, then I think Kudrna could be a great option to save some cash from their bonus pool while still adding a high upside arm to their system.