Image credit: Joey Volchko
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Throughout the 2023 draft cycle, arguably no high school arm was as big a riser as Joey Volchko. This spring for Redwood High School (Visalia, Calif.), Volchko was flat-out dominant, and amassed a perfect 4-0 record to go along with a minuscule 0.26 ERA. In his 27 innings, Volchko struck out a whopping 67 hitters en route to being named the East Yosemite League’s most valuable player.
In the lead up to the draft there was serious first round buzz surrounding Volchko, but just like any Stanford signee, it would have taken a lot for Volchko to forgo his commitment. The Cardinal have perhaps the most impressive track record of any major program when it comes to getting their commits on campus, and they have not lost a recruit to the draft since 2017.
As the No. 37 overall prospect on the BA 500, Volchko is the highest ranked player to make it to a college campus. He attacks from a straight-over-the-top arm slot and possesses an electric four-pitch arsenal that includes a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. Volchko will pitch in the 91-94 mph range with his heater and will consistently touch 95 and 96. It is very heavy out of the hand with ample life through the zone. Volchko throws two distinct breaking balls with the better of the two being his mid-80s slider. He has above average command of the offering and induces plenty of swing and miss thanks to its sharp, late break.
While the slider is a borderline plus pitch, Volchko’s high-70s curveball is also above average. It has plenty of depth with big, 12-to-6 shape and some teeth, and it’s easy to see it becoming a true plus pitch in the not-so-distant future. Volchko’s changeup is currently the least polished pitch in his repertoire, but it shows promise as a potentially effective offering in the future. His command has been a bugaboo in the past and is still a bit inconsistent at times, but it has taken a sizable step forward in the last year.
At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Volchko provides the Stanford staff with elite clay to mold. He is high-waisted with long levers and has plenty of physical projection. He just turned 18 in June and will naturally add strength to his frame as he continues to age. Volchko has an incredibly high ceiling and it is easy to foresee him eventually pitching in the high 90s.
Following the departures of Quinn Mathews (4th round, St. Louis Cardinals) and Joey Dixon (7th round, Houston Astros), Stanford heads into the fall practice cycle with two gaping holes in its rotation. The Cardinal do return a handful of quality arms, but Volchko has the opportunity to earn a coveted weekend starter spot. His eventual role is yet to be seen, but whether it is as a starter, bullpen arm, or both, Volchko this spring will get his fair share of innings on the mound.
It is nearly impossible to project what Volchko will be when he is next eligible for the draft in 2026, but he has a chance to be the highest Stanford arm selected since Kris Bubic was drafted 40th overall in 2018.