The right-handed hurler Nick Bitsko out of Eastern Pennsylvania has an interesting circumstance. He has declared for the draft a year early after speeding up his graduation date by a full year. One of the most coveted arms of the 2021 draft has now become the same for the class of 2020. The Virginia commit and 14th-best prospect according to MLB.com will in all likelihood forego his college years when he gets drafted in the first round in just a couple weeks.
Bitsko has the type of arm strength at this age that every scout dreams of in a first-round talent. According to Perfect Game, he has a standout FB Velocity of 97 which is in the 99.94th percentile for his class. In fact, his fastball has actually gained 21 MPH over the past six years since scouts have been following him. Consistently throwing between 92 and 96 MPH, Bitsko took scouts by storm in the East Coast Pro Showcase where he topped out at 97.
What makes Bitsko unique is the fact that he is not your standard 6’4″ flame thrower out of high school. He has surprisingly quality control, with a devastating breaking ball. Scouts have graded his fastball (60) and curveball (60) equally as his top rankings. The curveball has topped out at 82 MPH while consistently being in the 78-82 range. His control (55) is not bad either as a 17-year-old who has time to grow in this department.
It must also be mentioned that Bitsko’s windup and delivery are fundamentally sound. He adapted the “hands over the head” full windup reminiscent of Roy Halladay and Charlie Morton. This is a very fluid delivery with zero hitches or quirk to it that would possibly scare teams away.
Scouts graded Bitsko lowest in the changeup department, less due to the quality of it and more so the quantity. Due to the dominance of his curveball, he has not really needed to showcase his changeup much. The pitch has potential with a natural sink but the power-arm will need to learn how to incorporate it better into his repertoire.
You have to factor in his age and a lack of experience against the talent other pitching prospects in this class have faced. Whoever takes him in the first round is taking a flyer on a dominating young-arm with a much smaller resume than players ranked next to him. After foregoing his senior year, he is entering the draft after only two years of high school baseball.
As mentioned previously, mechanically, Nick Bitsko looks most similar to Tampa Bay Rays’ All-Star, Charlie Morton. When Morton came into the league his stuff was not nearly as special as it is now. This is an advantage for Bitsko who already appears to have it, a filthy curveball that could play similar to Morton’s infamous Knuckle Curve. At 6’5″ and 6’4″ respectively, their builds are similar while Morton averages 95.7 MPH these days.
In terms of a comparison of pure stuff rather than delivery, how about Zack Wheeler who is the same height with 95-97 MPH on his fastball. The similarity here is also in the curveball, which comes a lot harder than most at 81 MPH with bite.
This 6’4″, 225 RHP from Central Bucks East, PA has the size and the stuff to be elite. The sky is the limit with his frame, the opportunity for improvement of control, and eventually adding to his repertoire. At just 17, Nick Bitsko is the easy choice for a team looking for a long-term asset on the mound.
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