With the 2017 Draft fast approaching (Monday to Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.com), we take a closer look at the top prospects in this year's class.Name: J.B. BukauskasPosition: RHPSchool: University of North CarolinaRank on Draft Top 200: 7DOB: 10/11/1996Bats: R Throws: RHeight: 6' 0" Weight: 195 pounds:: 2017 MLB
With the 2017 Draft fast approaching (Monday to Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.com), we take a closer look at the top prospects in this year's class.
Name: J.B. Bukauskas
School: University of North Carolina
Rank on Draft Top 200: 7
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 195 pounds
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
(Future grades on 20-80 scouting scale)
Top 20 Draft Prospects profiles
Innings: 92 2/3
The 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, Bukauskas can blow away opposing batters with two plus-plus pitches when at his best. The right-hander features a mid-90s fastball with sinking action and a mid-80s slider with tilt. Bukauskas' breaking ball, though not as consistent as his heater, is still usually an effective pitch that keeps hitters at bay.
Bukauskas reclassified from a junior to a senior in his third season pitching for Stone Bridge High School in Virginia and came out throwing between 94-97 mph in his first start of spring. The D-backs selected him in the 20th round of the 2014 Draft, but Bukauskas declined to sign with the club and instead attended the University of North Carolina, where he ranked third in NCAA Division I in strikeout rate (12.8 per nine innings) in 2016. He suited up for the U.S. college national team last summer, showcasing the most electric arm on the team.
At 6-feet tall, Bukauskas toned down his delivery pitching for the Tar Heels, but his short frame could suit him for a bullpen spot rather than the rotation once he reaches the Majors. He has drawn comparisons to the Athletics' Sonny Gray and the similarly-sized Carson Fulmer, but with better command. A professional job as a closer is not out of the question for Bukauskas.
MLB comp:Lance McCullers or Craig Kimbrel
Fun fact: Despite being projected by some to be drafted in the first two rounds of the 2014 Draft, Bukauskas asked every MLB team to refrain from drafting him so he could pitch for North Carolina.
He said it: "Gotta keep the same mindset and go out and try to do my thing. Keep us in the game. They want it to be the first game, then go out and go ahead and try to do that." -- Said prior to starting North Carolina's opening NCAA Tournament game against Davidson, The Times-News
They said it: "When you've got a guy like that, I think they feel like if he throws like he's capable, which he has most of the year, we're going to have a pretty doggone good chance of winning." -- UNC baseball coach Mike Fox, The News & Observer
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.