NEW YORK—With the second-lowest population in the Eastern time zone and sixth-lowest overall, according to the 2010 Census, Delaware has had only four high school players drafted in the top 10 rounds in the last 20 drafts.
But crosscheckers will head to Bear—a town of about 17,590 in Delaware—next spring to see one of the most projectable prep righthanders in the class, Caravel Academy’s Jason Bilous, who threw on the final day of the Metropolitan Baseball Classic.
Bilous struck out three of the 12 hitters he faced against Marucci Elite on six swinging strikes while walking two in two innings.
His fastball sat 89-91 in his first inning (28 pitches), touching 93, which was one of the top velocities of the event, before sitting 87-89, touching 90 in his second frame. The ball jumps out of his hand with extension out front. Bilous had a strong outing at East Coast Pro, when he sat 91-93, touching 94 and retired all nine hitters he faced.
“I was a little inaccurate but I felt good and my fastball was running, so I was getting those groundballs,” Bilous said.
Working from the first-base side of the rubber, Bilous has a drop-and-drive delivery with a loose, whippy arm and a high elbow in the back. He produces plus sinking life with arm-side run when he works over the ball, giving righthanded hitters a tough look. Despite his fastball life to his arm side, Bilous relies on his four-seamer.
“The run is natural but it is four-seam and not even a two-seam,” Bilous said. “My two-seam is actually straighter. It might be finger pressure or I put more pressure when I throw the four-seam and I don’t even know it. But when I try the two-seam it doesn’t even work. I haven’t heard of anybody else whose four-seam runs more than his two-seam.”
His cross-body delivery occasionally left his arm late and the ball up through the zone.
“When I go through my delivery I might start leaning a little bit and my momentum might go before my arm starts, so then it has to catch up and it doesn’t go as fast or it goes high and away,” Bilous said.
The Coastal Carolina commit pitched off his fastball, throwing the offering more than 75 percent of the time. His top secondary offering was a 77-80 mph changeup that he showed feel for, and the offering flashed plus potential with late tumble. Evaluators said he is one of the few prep pitchers in the class with a potential out pitch changeup.
“I have been working on my changeup for like four years and it is finally coming around,” Bilous said. “It is my out pitch. It is a circle but I put it really far out on my fingers so I can get nice whip at the end. I feel comfortable using it in any count.”
He did not throw a breaking ball in game action and did not throw one during the first two innings of his 37-pitch outing at East Coast Pro, though he threw one in his final frame
“I have been working on a slider and I hope to throw that more in the fall season,” Bilous said. “At East Coast Pro, I only threw one. At that time I was not so good with the grip on it. But after it a scout came up to me and showed me how to hold a slider better. I have been working on it ever since then.”
The offering is the developmental stages because he began throwing a breaking ball within the last year.
“Last year during the winter I took lessons and that was when I first started learning the grip and I have been working on it ever since then,” Bilous said. “It is slow because I am not really used to throwing it much. But the bite on the slider is definitely getting better.”
Scouts said he has worked on both a curveball and cutter, but believe his arm action and arm slot (tick below three-quarters) are most conducive to a slider.
Although his control was not as his best in New York, Bilous threw strikes at an above-average rate of 73 percent of his pitches at East Coast Pro.
His body and age offer tremendous projection. The 6-foot-2, 169-pound Bilous has a long, lean and slender build with long extremities. Bilous is among the youngest domestic-born players in this year’s draft class and just turned 17 two weeks ago. Only lefthander Kolby Allard, by two days, is younger among prominent prep pitchers.
“I have a ways to go but I would like to get at least 20 pounds and hopefully can get to at least 180 this offseason,” Bilous said.
Bilous plans on throwing in Jupiter, Fla., at WWBA World Championship hosted by Perfect Game.
• Righthander Cody Morris (Reservoir High, Fulton, Md.) threw three shutout innings for the EvoShield Canes and continues to be one of the top performers of the high school crop this summer. He struck out four of the 10 hitters he faced and generated 10 swinging strikes. Morris has struck out 22 against one walk in 16 innings combined for Perfect Game National, Tournament of Stars, East Coast Pro, Area Code Games and the Metropolitan Baseball Classic. His high-spin fastball sat 90-93 with downhill plane. Although the first few changeups he threw were up in the zone or above it, his changeup showed above-average potential later in his outing. His breaking ball, his distant third offering, showed improved spin and depth, flashing average at its best, according to evaluators.
• Righthander Ashe Russell (Cathedral High, Indianapolis) sat 90-92, touching 94 in his three innings. Although Russell’s control was not at his best in this outing, hitting three hitters, his changeup showed better with more fade and he used the offering more frequently after mostly going fastball-breaking ball this summer. His fastball showed plus life with explosive arm-side run and sink, as well as an extra foot through the zone. The uncommitted Russell’s breaking ball was an above-average offering.