Image credit: Ryan Zeferjahn, Kansas (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Athletics)
State List Talent Ranking: ??????
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)
Coming out of high school in 2016, Zeferjahn was the clear third wheel in one of the best high school pitching classes in Kansas history. While Riley Pint and Joey Wentz were both Day 1 picks out of high school, Zeferjahn made what looks to be a wise choice by heading to college. Over the intervening three years, he’s filled out his once rail-thin frame, adding an inch in height and 25 pounds in weight since arriving at Kansas. He’s also added 3-4 mph to his fastball and significantly improved his changeup and slider while pitching for the Jayhawks. Zeferjahn has one of the better fastballs in this year’s draft class, sitting 94-95 mph but ranging anywhere from 92-97 mph with consistent plus life. At times, he will flash both a plus slider and plus changeup, so on the perfect day he can show three plus pitches, which is a true rarity for this year’s class. As of early May, Zeferjahn had already amassed three games with at least 10 strikeouts, including an impressive 14-strikeout performance against Texas. However, the lack of consistency in all three of his offerings is why he’s not going to hear his name called early in the first round. Two weeks before striking out 14 against the Longhorns, he walked seven hitters in six innings against Baylor. Zeferjahn’s arm slot wanders from a very low three-quarter slot to almost completely over the top. Sometimes he sticks with a consistent arm slot for an entire outing, but other times it changes from inning to inning. Zeferjahn can also get a little east-west in his delivery at times as well. His slider’s shape varies with his arm slot, but no matter where it comes from, it has both depth and tilt. If Zeferjahn was consistently dotting the zone with his varying release points, scouts would be less worried. Instead, his below-average control has long been a problem. He has shown some improvement, but as a junior, he’s still walking 4.7 batters per nine innings. Zeferjahn’s eventual landing spot could be in the bullpen as a power reliever, but whoever drafts him will most likely see if he can improve his control enough to start, at least initially. He has one of the higher ceilings among this year’s college pitchers, which could be enticing in a class lacking high-ceiling college arms.
The older brother of Blue Jays’ 2018 first-round pick Jordan Groshans, Jaxx Groshans had a breakout season for Kansas in 2019 as he set career highs in nearly every offensive category with a .337/.471/.605 slash line that included 12 home runs. Groshans has shown an ability to control the strike zone and feast on hitters’ pitches. His power is still more of the gap-to-gap variety rather than true plus power, but he’s shown enough pop to project as a future 12-15 home run hitter, especially in today’s overheated power environment. With average power and solid plate discipline that gives him a shot at a fringe-average hit tool, Groshans has a bright future if he can continue to improve defensively behind the plate. He frequently played third base as a sophomore, but he’s shown improvement catching more regularly in 2019. He’s a little stiff and his hands can get a little hard at times, but he shows flashes of being a potential fringe-average defender with a similar arm. He has taken well to the challenge of catching, so there’s hope for him to continue to improve. Groshans’ bat fits best if he can catch regularly, but he’ll have work to do to stay there as a pro.
Smith is not a prospect who is going to entice every scout or every team. But certain teams that love plus defenders with plus speed in center field, like the Royals, will find a lot to like in Smith. The 5-foot-10 lefthanded hitter slashes the ball instead of looking to lift it, and the concern is that in pro ball he will not drive the ball regularly enough to let his 70-grade speed fully play. He shows solid barrel skills, however, and he is extremely athletic. Smith is committed to Michigan.
A three-year two-way player at Kansas State, Brennan has above-average arm strength and throws strikes on the mound but is lacking in secondaries. If he’s drafted his upside is higher as a position player, as a center fielder with average defense and excellent on-base skills. Over three years in the Big 12 and 617 at-bats, Brennan struck out just 35 total times and this spring was the toughest batter in Division I baseball to strikeout. He has limited power but solid bat-to-ball skills that could allow him to survive at the next level when combined with his plate discipline. However Brennan did struggle in the Cape Cod League last summer with a .233/.294/.247 triple slash and 10.4 percent strikeout rate over 39 games.
Jordan is a 6-foot-2 righthander who is a consistent strike-thrower. He has shown good fastball command and been up to 92 mph. He shows a feel for his changeup and flashes an above-average breaking ball. Jordan has signed with South Carolina.
6. Cam Wynne, RHP, Johnson County (Kan.) JC
Source: JC • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 230 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Texas A&M