Pitchers impress in first Draft Combine games

June 24th, 2021

CARY, N.C. -- The inaugural MLB Draft Combine gives players the chance to make a final impression before the Draft begins on July 11. On a day of high school games Wednesday, two pitchers seized that opportunity.

Silverado HS (Las Vegas) right-hander Tanner McDougal and Hamilton HS (Chandler, Ariz.) left-hander Brock Selvidge battled inconsistency during their senior seasons. Both were at their best at the Combine, with McDougal throwing two scoreless innings to finish Team Red's 10-8 victory in the opener and Selvidge spinning three shutout frames to open Team Blue's 5-4 win in the nightcap.

The son of former pro pitcher Mike McDougal, who got to Triple-A in the Orioles system, Tanner has a loose arm and a projectable 6-foot-5 frame. He's still learning to harness his pitches but that wasn't an issue at the Combine.

McDougal struck out four of the eight batters he faced, two on mid-90s fastballs and two on upper-80s changeups with fade. He posted some impressive metrics, with nice vertical break on his heater and changeup and spin rates of greater than 3,000 rpm on both his mid-70s curveball and upper-70s slider.

Asked if he had honed his stuff in a pitching lab setting, McDougal smiled.

"We don't really have it a lot in Vegas, so it's kind of all natural," he said. "It's not something that I work on, it's just natural. I don't really have an answer for it."

An Oregon recruit, McDougal said deciding to come to the Combine was an easy choice.

"I just wanted to go out and compete and show what I have," he said. "For me, it was an easy yes. Obviously, with it being the first one, Cary's such an awesome place, I figured I didn't want to miss out on it. I think for me, it'll just better my chances of getting drafted, maybe higher round, higher pick."

Following a strong summer on the showcase, Selvidge entered 2021 as a likely top-two-rounds pick. Then he didn't show the same stuff and struggled to throw strikes this spring, leaving scouts unsure exactly what to make of him.

He looked like vintage Selvidge at the Combine. He attacked hitters with a fastball that ranged from 92-95 mph and delivered 28 of his 42 pitches for strikes. He fanned five of the 10 batters he faced, four on heaters and one on an 81-mph slider.

"I think of myself as a power pitcher," Selvidge said. "I'll give you an offspeed when you show you can put a barrel on a fastball. I felt like I mixed pitches in pretty consistently and was aggressive on the mound."

Like McDougal, Selvidge said he didn't hesitate to accept his invitation to the Combine.

"I came to execute my pitches and dominate," he said. "That's obviously the goal, to dominate every time I step on the mound.

"Adversity's going to be something you have to handle in the course of baseball. It's a game of failure and things happen that are just out of your control. I looked to come out here and show everybody I never left."

Other standouts

• The second game featured several overpowering pitching performances after Selvidge's. Gilman School (Baltimore) right-hander Peter Heubeck struck out six straight hitters, five on 90-91 mph fastballs with tough induced vertical break and high spin rates in excess of 2,500 rpm. Righties Shane Panzini (Red Bank, N.J., Catholic HS) and Konrad Bohnert (Carlsbad, Calif., HS) each whiffed five in two innings. Panzini displayed a 93-94 mph heater and high-spin curveball in the upper 70s. Bohnert located his 89-91 mph heater well and showcased the best changeup of the day, an upper-70s offering with premium fade.

• Catcher Max Soliz (Bob Jones HS, Madison, Ala.) provided the day's only homer, hammering a 95-mph fastball from right-hander Kenya Huggins (St. Augustine HS, New Orleans) 395 feet with an exit velocity of 106 mph in the opener. He also singled, walked twice and got hit by a pitch in seven trips to the plate. Also in the first game, outfielder Jackson Linn (Cambridge, Mass., Rindge and Latin School) showed off his impressive combination of power and speed with a 101-mph triple off the top of the left-field wall.

• The day's top defender was second baseman Justin Colon (Montverde, Fla., Academy), who provided a pair of web gems with backhand plays behind the bag in the first two innings of the second game.