Mississippi State is a consistent producer of MLB talent. Pitcher Will Bednar looks like the school’s next product in the 2021 Amateur Draft. The last pitcher from MSU to make the majors was 2016 draftee Dakota Hudson, but Bednar could go higher than 34th overall. Much of Bednar’s college season is over, but the team still has a chance to win a birth in the College World Series that will give him even more exposure if the program advances.
Will Bednar Draft Profile
Bednar doesn’t tower on the mound, but a 6’2″, 229-pound frame makes for a solid frame. The right-handed pitcher originally attended high school in Pennsylvania, but going to school in the deep Southeastern Conference gave him much more experience against top competition. However, he really only has one full season of work with MSU because of the pandemic. The relative lack of playing time is something scouting departments may take into account. MLB currently has Bednar as its 36th-best prospect while Baseball America ranks him 41st.
Bednar currently has four pitches and all four rate at least average on the 20-80 scale. The two best pitches are his fastball and slider, which are both grad as 60s, but the curveball is a respectable 55. As far as the fastball is concerned, it typically sits 93-95 and can get up to 96-97 at times. That allows the mid-80s slider to excel as a quality secondary offering. It’s a repertoire that should work well in the professional ranks unless he drops one of the secondary pitches.
The only statistical gaps in Bednar’s profile really relate to a lack of work at Mississippi State. While he was excellent in 2020 with a 1.76 ERA, it was only in 15 1/3 innings. 71 innings in 2021 is a much larger sample, but a 3.55 isn’t particularly special. The good thing is that the lack of raw data is buoyed by good peripheral stats. Bednar’s strikeouts per nine stayed roughly even with 2020 and the walks per nine fell by over 1.0. If he can maintain even a semblance of those peripheral numbers and clean up a delivery that isn’t described as great, Bednar should be a quality mid-rotation arm for years.
There isn’t a perfect comparison for both Bednar’s repertoire and body type, but Anthony DeSclafani ticks off some of the same boxes. The current San Francisco Giants pitcher is having one of the best seasons of his career following multiple below-average seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. His primary pitches are also a fastball and slider that hit similar velocities per Baseball Savant. Overall, DeSclefani has appeared in 137 MLB games with a 4.22 ERA and 640 strikeouts in 723 innings. Bednar’s ceiling feels much higher based on where he is right now, but there are worse comparisons than a former sixth-rounder who has accumulated almost eight WAR in seven seasons. DeSclefani is merely a starting point. The most successful pitcher measuring exactly 6’2″ is future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke. Do not go about comparing Bednar to Greinke, but do ponder what the 2021 college hurler’s future might be.
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