- Full name Robert Scott Jenks
- Born 03/14/1981 in Mission Hills, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 275 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Inglemoor
- Debut 07/06/2005
Drafted in the 5th round (140th overall) by the Los Angeles Angels in 2000.
View Draft ReportJenks is one of the more unlikely players under consideration for the first 100 picks. He no longer attends high school in Idaho and hasn't pitched in a structured spring environment for two years. He has played American Legion ball in the summer and has been seen at showcases and contrived workouts, most recently in Seattle. What scouts see is one of the best raw power arms in the country. Jenks has outstanding stuff, routinely touching 93-94 mph with a power curve. And he does it effortlessly. As he has quit high school altogether now, he could be a bargain for a team looking for a cheap pick in the second or third rounds. Any team considering him, however, is forewarned that he has questionable makeup and an unconventional background. His family lives in a log cabin in a tiny, remote town in Idaho.
Organization Prospect Rankings
On the recommendation of pro scouts Gary Pellant and Bill Young, the White Sox were one of several teams to put in a claim on Jenks after the Angels finally had enough of his shenanigans and placed him on waivers in December 2004. Los Angeles invested five seasons trying to develop Jenks, who was as rough off the field as his stuff was raw on the mound. The Angels suspended him for violating team rules in 2002, an ESPN The Magazine article revealed several disturbing incidents from his past in 2003, and the final straw came when he beat up a teammate while rehabbing his elbow in the fall of 2004. At that point, Jenks also had been shut down three times in two seasons because of a stress reaction in his elbow, which required surgery in August 2004. Jenks was a new man with the White Sox. Marriage and fatherhood helped him mature, as did the continuing support of Mark Potoshnik, a coach at the Northwest Baseball Academy in Lynwood, Wash., who has been his mentor. Sent to Double-A Birmingham, Jenks took off immediately. He led the Southern League in saves when the Sox promoted him to the big leagues in July. Manager Ozzie Guillen put him in low-stress situations at the start, but Jenks supplanted Dustin Hermanson as closer by September. He wound up with 10 saves, including four in the postseason--closing out the Indians, Red Sox, Angels and Astros in clinching opportunities. No pitcher takes the mound with two more powerful pitches. Jenks' fastball topped out at 102 mph with the White Sox, and he blew 99-100 mph heat by Jeff Bagwell in his six-pitch strikeout in Game One of the World Series. He complements the fastball with a power snapdragon curve clocked at 85-89 mph. His curve is unhittable when he throws it for strikes. Jenks also owns a hard slider and a decent changeup--leftovers from his years as a starter--but rarely needs to throw them. His mound presence was particularly impressive in his big league debut, as was his ability to bounce back from blown saves. Though he has matured, Jenks needs supervision and still has to be considered a high risk. His weight could become a problem if he doesn't maintain some semblance of conditioning. His fastball doesn't always have a lot of movement, allowing hitters to zero in on it if they can foul off a few pitches and time it. His control never has been a strong suit. Given Jenks' rocky road to the big leagues, he'll have to prove he's more than a one-year sensation. He appeared in 73 games last season and could feel wear and tear in 2006. If he holds together, he'll give Guillen a bullpen anchor for years to come.
Jenks has become as famous for his personal trials and tribulations as for his 100 mph fastball, and he didn't escape controversy in 2004. He was shut down for the third time in two seasons because of a stress reaction in his right elbow and eventually had surgery in August. While he was rehabbing at the Angels' base in Mesa, Ariz., he was involved in an altercation with a teammate, suspended and sent home. When Anaheim needed to find room on its 40- man roster for Cuban defector Kendry Morales in December, it designated Jenks for assignment and lost him on waivers to the White Sox. He's expected to miss the start of the season while he completes his rehab. Jenks seems to take a step in the wrong direction every time he makes progress on the diamond, where he has shown one of the most tantalizing arms in baseball. When healthy, he regularly generated mid-90s heat and has a two-plane hammer curveball. In his four appearances at the beginning of last season, his velocity was down and his curve lacked its usual sharp break. Jenks' changeup, command and maturity still have a long ways to go. The Angels suspended him for violating team rules in 2002, and an ESPN The Magazine article in 2003 exposed several troubling incidents from his past. Jenks still has time to salvage his career and make an impact in the majors, but he can't continue to hinder his progress with his behavior. Unless he makes major strides throwing strikes and coming up with a third pitch, his future probably will be in the bullpen.
Jenks has overcome more obstacles than most 23-year-old prospects. Many of them have been self-inflicted, including a suspension for violating team rules in 2002. Just when he was starting to make the most significant progress of his career last season, he was the subject of a revealing ESPN Magazine article and spent two months on the disabled list with a stress reaction in his elbow. Jenks lights up radar guns, generating easy 93-99 mph readings in every start. He has topped out at 102 but still is learning the importance of command and movement over velocity. His curveball features hard, downward bite and can be an unhittable pitch when he's in rhythm. He rarely uses his changeup, but he'll flash an above-average one on occasion. Jenks is still learning to harness his emotions and his overpowering repertoire. He came into spring last year 30 pounds overweight, which led to complications with his mechanics. His command and breaking ball suffer when he can't repeat his delivery. Angels officials noticed more ambition from Jenks after the magazine article. If he follows up a strong winter in Puerto Rico with a good spring, he likely will head to Triple-A Salt Lake.
After an encouraging stint in big league spring training, Jenks was suspended for team violations at midseason. Subsequently demoted from Double-A Arkansas to extended spring training, he worked hard and finished 2002 by leading the Arizona Fall League in strikeouts for the second straight season. With an overpowering fastball that has hit 102 mph, Jenks is on the verge of harnessing his explosive stuff. He works in the mid- to upper 90s and added a two-seamer in the AFL. His power curveball is among the best breaking pitches in the minors, and he gained the confidence to throw it for strikes in Arizona. His arm action is clean and effortless. Jenks needs consistency on and off the field. He has to establish a rhythm on the mound and repeat his delivery. He has a feel for his changeup, but doesn't trust it enough to throw it for strikes. Jenks will return to Double-A if he can build off his fall success in spring training. Scouts compare his dominant repertoire and frame to a young Curt Schilling. If he doesn't develop command, his stuff might allow him to become a closer.
Academically ineligible after his sophomore season at an Idaho high school, Jenks used a personal pitching coach, Mark Potoshnik, to gain recognition among scouts. His reputation grew after Jenks showed a plus fastball at private workouts, but his background scared some teams away. In his first full year as a pro, he earned a promotion to Double-A Arkansas for the postseason and led the Arizona Fall League in strikeouts. Jenks' first four pitches in a Texas League playoff game were clocked at 99 mph, and some reports had him touching 100 in the AFL. He consistently pumps his fastball into the mid-90s with an effortless delivery. His 80 mph curveball is a power breaker and ranks among the best in the system. Jenks still is learning how to pitch. He made strides in repeating his delivery and showing a feel for a changeup, but he finds himself behind in the count too often. He hasn't missed as many bats as he should with his stuff. His marriage helped focus him on his priorities while all but eliminating any questions about his makeup. Slated for Arkansas in 2002, Jenks has flashed dominance but not consistency. If he figures everything out, he has a chance to be special.
If Hollywood ever makes a sequel to "Bull Durham," Jenks would be perfect for the part of Nuke LaLoosh. He has a power arm but everything else about him is questionable. He played only one season of high school ball, as a sophomore, and when he was declared academically ineligible for the third time in four years last spring, he dropped out altogether. He moved from tiny Spirit Lake, Idaho, to Seattle, where he worked out with a personal trainer and showcased himself for scouts. By the fifth round of the June draft, Jenks' 93-96 mph fastball and hard curveball were too much for the Angels to resist. He had absolutely no success after signing because he couldn't throw strikes and had no semblance of an offspeed pitch. He likely won't be ready for full-season ball in 2001, at least not at the start of the season. Jenks could become something special, and he could just as easily go down quickly in flames.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Angels designated Jenks for assignment after the 2004 season, in which he worked just 18 innings because of a stress reaction in his elbow and repeated off-the-field transgressions. The White Sox claimed him off waivers, and after he returned to health and cleaned up his act, he was closing games in the majors by September. Jenks long had been a recognizable prospect because of his ability to reach triple digits with his fastball. He complements his explosive fastball with a knee-buckling hammer curveball, and he's dabbling with a slider. "I think he's got the mentality to be an outstanding closer," Shines said. "Obviously he has the arm strength and enough weapons in his repertoire to do that. When you throw the ball 100 miles an hour and then command a wicked breaking ball, I don't think you need much more."
Jenks' adventures and misadventures are well known by now. The more important thing that happened this summer, though, was that he consistently dominated minor league hitters for the first time. He had shown flashes in the Arizona Fall League before but never pitched as reliably as he did this season. His 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings and .191 opponent average at Arkansas would have ranked among the minor league leaders if he had pitched enough to qualify. He missed almost two months with a stress reaction in his elbow but showed no sign of problems when he returned. Jenks throws an overpowering fastball, and a curveball and changeup that can be above average. While some managers saw violence in his delivery and think he's at risk for more injuries as a starter, others disagreed and said the ball came out of his hand easy. Everyone agreed that he was unhittable. "We didn't do anything against this guy," Tulsa manager Marv Foley said. "He touched 100 and pitched at 95-96. If Jenks is healthy, he'll be a No. 1 guy in the major leagues."
Jenks possesses nearly all of the ingredients of a No. 1 starter. He has an 80 fastball on the 20-80 scouting scale, plus the makings of a well above-average curveball. But he lacks command and control of his pitches and himself. If he figures that out, he'll have a chance to top any list. But it has been a struggle for Jenks, who's still immature and hasn't learned to harness his tremendous power arsenal. Typical of his inconsistency, he fired a 13-strikeout shutout against High Desert in mid-July, then couldn't get through the fifth inning against the Mavericks in his next start. Jenks can blow the ball by any hitter in baseball. He has topped 100 mph on several occasions, and he sits in the mid- to upper 90s on most nights. He demonstrates a feel for his changeup, but rarely throws it because he's usually behind in the count. He started the year in Double-A Arkansas. After violating team rules he was sent to extended spring training before spending the rest of the season in Rancho Cucamonga.
Few people would argue that Jenks had the best pure stuff in the league. Questions about his makeup returned after the Angels suspended him at the end of May and eventually demoted him to the Cal League. But few people view Jenks as a malcontent and managers said he just needs to grow up. What's more, there's that arm. In a seven-inning complete game against Midland, Jenks threw his fastball at 96-102 mph all night and was hitting 100 in the seventh. "I had heard about his arm, and it's not just a myth," Sisson said. "The ball explodes out of his hand." Jenks also has a good 12-to-6 curveball and a strong body that drew comparisons to Roger Clemens'. "He has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation starter or a closer," one manager said. "But he has to realize he needs the game a lot more than the game needs him."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the Chicago White Sox in 2006
- Rated Best Fastball in the Chicago White Sox in 2006
- Rated Best Fastball in the Southern League in 2005
- Rated Best Curveball in the Los Angeles Angels in 2005
- Rated Best Curveball in the Los Angeles Angels in 2004
- Rated Best Fastball in the Los Angeles Angels in 2004
- Rated Best Fastball in the Texas League in 2002