Like Gavin Williams, Will Bednar is another college prospect whose draft stock has skyrocketed this past season. Bednar has always had a plus fastball that resides in the low to mid 90’s, topping out at 97 mph with high spin rates. The Pennsylvania native struggled to throw strikes consistently early on in his college career, but was able to find the zone more often for the Bulldogs in 2021, seeing his BB/9 ratio drop from 3.5 to 2.4 this past season.
He combined his new found command with an improved slider that saw an uptick in velocity and spin, which has turned it one of the best breaking balls in the class due to its late, sharp braking action and swing and miss ability. Bednar was able to parlay his improved command and slider into a fine season for the Bulldogs, going 7-1, while posting a 3.53 ERA, striking out 13.7 batters per nine innings, doing all of this in the tough South Eastern Conference.
The Pittsburgh native showed the baseball world why he should be a first rounder in his most recent outing, as he was dominate in Mississippi State’s opening game of the College World Series. Bednar tossed 6+ scoreless innings, while striking out 15 of the 21 batters he faced en route to an upset win against Texas, the number two team in the nation. The righty was electric against the Longhorns, showcasing his pinpoint command and excellent pitch sequencing, which kept opposing hitters off balanced all night long.
Despite the amount of success that Bednar has enjoyed this season he is still no where near a finished product. The right-hander only has two plus pitches and, because of this, there’s definitely some reliever risk tied to him if he can’t develop a third offering to give hitters a different look during his third or fourth time through a lineup.
I see Bednar in a similar spot to Blue Jays’ former first round pick Alek Manoah, who many scouts believed could pitch in a Major League bullpen immediately after he was drafted, thanks to his plus fastball and advanced slider. Like Manoah, Bednar has great feel for both his slider and fastball and is a very intuitive pitcher, leaving me to believe that at the bare minimum he has the tools to become an effective reliever with the upside to turn into a quality starter.
Bednar is definitely a high floor player and would be a pretty low risk pick for a club due to how intelligent he is and the advanced feel he has for both his fastball and slider. The Pennsylvania native’s ceiling is still undetermined and will really come down to his ability to add a third pitch.
If the Jays feel confident in either his change up or curveball becoming an effective pitch at the next level, then Will Bednar has the potential to turn into a top of the rotation arm and one that I would be excited to see develop in the Blue Jays’ farm system.