Image credit: James Ellwanger plays in the 2022 Area Code Games on August 6-11, 2022 at Fowler Park at the University of San Diego (Bill Mitchell)
From the summer of 2022 through the 2023 spring season, James Ellwanger saw his draft stock skyrocket. The Magnolia West (Magnolia, Texas) star saw an uptick in velocity on his fastball, improved shape on his breaking ball and dominated opposing hitters all spring. Ellwanger worked an impressive 11-1 record along with a 0.93 ERA and a whopping 141 strikeouts across 83 innings pitched. He also thrived on the biggest stage, as in his last high school outing in the state semifinals, he notched 17 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout. By the time the draft rolled around, there was significant interest within the first three rounds, but Ellwanger decided he would attend Dallas Baptist.
At 6-foot-5, 195-pounds, Ellwanger is an elite-level athlete. On top of being an elite-mover on the mound, he can throw down impressive dunks with ease on the basketball court and was also an all-state tennis player. Ellwanger boasts a four-pitch mix featuring a fastball, two distinct breaking balls in a slider and curveball, and a changeup. He attacks from a high-three quarter, nearly over-the-top slot with electric arm speed.
Ellwanger’s heater sits in the 92-95 range, topping out at 97 with ample ride through the strike zone. Ellwanger will maintain the velocity on his fastball for the entirety of his outing. With outstanding shape and pitch traits, Ellwanger’s fastball grades out as a plus offering.
Ellwanger’s best secondary offering is his mid-80s slider. It has plenty of sharp, horizontal movement as well as some vertical depth and is also a plus pitch. Ellwanger maintains his thunderous arm speed, which makes his offspeed offerings all the more effective.
In addition to his slider, Ellwanger throws a high-70s curveball. While not as lethal a pitch as his slider, it is still an effective above-average offering. It has big shape and generates its fair share of swings and misses. Lastly, Ellwanger will flash a mid-80s changeup with late tumbling action.
Looking ahead to the spring season, Ellwanger is squarely in the mix for a weekend rotation role on a quality Dallas Baptist club. He would join junior righthander Ryan Johnson (8-4, 4.43) and former Southern University standout Nick Wilson (6-2, 3.22 ERA), forming a formidable trio of righthanders. Ellwanger is expected to be a key piece for Coach Heefner’s Patriots this spring, and is on track to headline the rotation in 2025.
Ellwanger will be draft eligible again following his true sophomore season. He has all the makings of a future front end of the rotation starter as well as great clay for any player development department to work with. With two strong seasons at DBU and a summer in the Cape League sandwiched in between, Ellwanger in 2025 has a chance to be one of the first pitchers off the board.