It is possible that no one displayed more dominating stuff on the mound in the abbreviated 2020 NCAA baseball season than Bryce Jarvis. The Duke University right-handed pitcher threw a perfect game and flirted with another one in four starts.
Jarvis is the son of a former MLB pitcher. Kevin, his dad, played 12 seasons after being drafted in the 21st round in 1991. Jarvis was drafted in the 37th round in 2019, but stayed in school and improved his stock. Now, the six-foot-two-inch, 195-pound pitcher is a potential first-round pick, currently listed as the 25th-best prospect, according to MLB.com.
From 2019 to 2020, Jarvis displayed an unrelenting desire to better himself. He developed a plan with his father and opted against the Cape Cod League to instead work on pitch design and building strength while absorbing spin rate and efficiency data.
Now, scouts say all four of his pitches are considered above average (55-60/80), and he throws his pitches on a downhill plane. His fastball topped out around 93 MPH in 2019, but sat in the 92-96 MPH range in 2020. His curveball has improved a lot as well, thanks in part to an increase in velocity to the upper-70 MPH range. He can also throw a slider that now sits in the mid-80 MPH range.
Despite his improvements, his best offering remains his changeup. Scouts felt he had one of the best changeups in NCAA in 2019. The pitch remains his go-to offspeed pitch to complement his fastball.
Jarvis also controls his pitches quite well. He only walked two batters in 2020 but struck out 40, contributing to a 0.481 WHIP.
Although Bryce Jarvis dominated in the fall and abbreviated spring, it was his first time flashing this level of potential. The jaw-dropping control he displayed has not been a constant in his time as a Blue Devil. He was issuing 0.7 BB/9 when the season was suspended. In his previous two seasons, he had issued no fewer than 4.2 BB/9, a bad rate in any league.
Additionally, his ERA was 0.67 this season. Prior to this year, his lowest came in his freshman year, when he was primarily a reliever, at 2.45.
Jarvis was opening eyes after his altered summer workout regiment, but he was not on this level before. Scouts were looking forward to seeing how it would play out over a full college season, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from happening, leaving a level of uncertainty.
One other cause for concern is his durability. He showed signs of fatigue in the 2019 season with his fastball velocity. In the first half of the year, the pitch sat at 88-93 MPH. However, he was topping out at 91 MPH while reaching as low as 86 MPH by year’s end. This adds another layer of uncertainty to Jarvis as it is unclear if he has the durability to sustain his now increased velocity over a full season.
If Jarvis can maintain the same level of dominance throughout an entire season, there are two active starting pitchers that are comparable to him. Luis Castillo and Lucas Giolito are both pitchers that have great success utilizing a signature changeup.
Castillo does not throw quite the same repertoire as Jarvis does, incorporating a sinker as his third-best pitch. However, Castillo is known for his changeup, which he threw more often than any pitch in 2019. He also has a near-exact build to Jarvis. Therefore, Castillo exemplifies what a pitcher of Jarvis’s build with a good fastball, changeup combination can accomplish in MLB.
Giolito has the same four-pitch mix as Jarvis does, and he threw all four at roughly the same velocities as Jarvis was in 2020. Although Giolito is much taller and bigger, he shows a better understanding of what an arsenal such as Jarvis’s is capable of in MLB if used effectively.
Bryce Jarvis has transformed himself into a potential first-round pick, where he would join Marcus Stroman as the only Blue Devils to go so high. He is already 22 years old and does not have a long track record of dominant stuff, but with what he has put together, he could be a pick that pays off tremendously for any franchise.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images