Draft Tracker: What A Relief

With the draft just about a month away, this week’s Draft Tracker presents scouting reports on four college relievers who could go between the second and fourth round . . . 

Jimmie Sherfy, rhp, Oregon

Sherfy was high school teammates with second baseman Jack Marder, and rejoined him in Eugene a couple of years later. Sherfy went undrafted out of high school and was lightly used during his freshman season with the Ducks. He put his name on the national radar during the summer after his freshman year in the West Coast League, where he ranked as the league’s ninth-best prospect.

That success carried over into Sherfy’s sophomore year when he led the Pacific-12 Conference with 19 saves, which also set Oregon single-season and all-time records. He spent the summer recovering from an elbow injury, so he couldn’t pitch for Team USA, but this year he’s been even better—in stuff and performance.

“This year early it was 89-93 (mph) and he really wouldn’t get too much more,” a National League area scout said. “All of a sudden, it’s 92-95, then 94-96. Now all of a sudden he’s heating up and he still has that slider. He’s always had the slider, and he throws it a lot.”

On the season, Sherfy has gone 2-0, 0.90 with 14 saves, 41 strikeouts and 10 walks over 30 innings. While some scouts might shy away from his 6-foot, 175-pound frame, Sherfy’s stuff and track record should get him drafted as high as the third round.

Daniel Gibson, lhp, Florida

The Gators have turned out quick-rising big league lefthanders in each of the last two drafts—the Angels’ Nick Maronde was the second player from the 2011 draft to reach the major leagues, and the Dodgers’ Paco Rodriguez became the first player from the 2012 draft to reach the majors.

Unsigned as a 2010 26th-round pick out of Tampa’s Jesuit High, Daniel Gibson became teammates with both southpaws, and the depth on the last two Florida teams prompted him to get sporadic relief-only use in his first two seasons. Gibson was a key member of last year’s bullpen and figured to start this spring after the loss of Hudson Randall and Brian Johnson to pro ball and Karsten Whitson’s injury. Gibson started last summer in the Northwoods League but has worked out of the bullpen again this spring for the Gators as coach Kevin O’Sullivan rebuilt his pitching staff from the bullpen forward.

Gibson pitched in the upper 80s up to 90-91 mph as a starter in high school, but in college he’s pitched out of the pen with a plus fastball, with scouts reporting him sitting in the 92-95 mph range. Evaluators agree Gibson’s delivery is smoother and more efficient than Maronde’s, but he lacks Rodriguez’s plus slider/cutter. He has had success working primarily off the fastball and offers a lefty with a good physical 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame with a fresh arm. He’s pitched just 69 innings in three seasons for the Gators. Two scouts said Gibson could go out as high as the second round, and it’s unlikely he’ll last beyond the fourth.

—JOHN MANUEL

Dace Kime, rhp, Louisville

Defiance (Ohio) High has a strong track record of producing pitchers. The school’s alumni includes big leaguers like Chad Billinglsey and Jon Niese, as well as righthander Tyler Burgoon in Triple-A with the Mariners and two pitchers at Louisville: freshman righthander Anthony Kidston and Kime, a junior.

The Pirates drafted Kime in the eighth round out of high school, but he turned them down to head to Louisville. Even as a high-profile recruit, he’s only started seven games over three years for the Cardinals. His versatility has led the team to use him in a variety of roles, but scouts think he might be the best starting prospect on the staff, which also includes two more solid picks this year in Jeff Thompson and Chad Green.

“He’s the best college pitcher in the state,” an American League scout said. “He’s 93-95 with a wipeout cutter and a curveball—that very good Defiance curve. There’s life on that fastball too. He has the stuff to be a starting pitcher but just hasn’t. That cutter would break bats if he were pitching against wood. If the right guy goes in and sees him on the right day, he could go in the third round.”

—JIM CALLIS

Reed Reilly, rhp, Cal Poly

Reilly was a workhorse out of Cal Poly’s bullpen as a redshirt freshman last year, going 5-2, 2.80 in 55 innings. He has already matched last year’s appearances total this spring, and he has assumed an even more prominent role on the pitching staff, racking up 11 saves while going 2-3, 2.47 with 56 strikeouts and 13 walks in 47 innings.

At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Reilly has the physical build and resilient arm to withstand a heavy workload. He also has a knack for dialing his fastball up a notch or two in big spots.

“He’s a low-90s guy who can pitch with the fastball, really rely on it, get everybody out with it,” a National League area scout said. “He’s doing a little better now that he’s using a slider more than a curveball. He attacks batters; I really like him. He’s gotten better every year. He sits at 92-93 most of the time, and he’ll touch a 94.”

Some scouts have even seen Reilly bump 95 mph, although his comfort zone is 89-93. His fastball plays up because of his crossfire delivery, which adds deception. Scouts don’t love his secondary stuff—his slider is below-average, but it’s still better than his curveball. He has some feel for a changeup, but it needs to become more consistent.

Still, Reilly’s ability to dominate with his fastball, along with his size and durability, could get in drafted in the top five rounds, although some scouts see him as a better fit in the 7-10 round range.

—AARON FITT