School: Southern Nevada; Class: Sophomore
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-4; Weight: 205
Previously Drafted: Toronto Blue Jays, 1st round, 2013
Background: Bickford’s unusual – and slightly mindboggling – baseball journey has taken him from the being selected as the tenth overall pick to turning in a dominant debut collegiate at Cal State Fullerton, which earned his Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and being named Freshman All-American by Louisville Slugger, to the College of Southern Nevada, which was famously attended by Bryce Harper before his selection as the top pick in 2010.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander was one of the pop-up guys during the 2013 season, as he skyrocketed up draft charts despite the notion he’d be a tough sign thanks to his commitment to Cal State. The Blue Jays gambled on the promising hurler by taking him 10th overall, but failed to make any headway when it came to inking the prospect.
For his part, Bickford, who passed up on a nearly $3 million bonus, was sensational during his lone season with the Titans, tossing 76.0 innings while posting an impeccable 74-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with a 2.13 ERA.
This season, however, his production has spiked to video game-esque proportions as he’s simply overpowering inferior competition: 73.0 IP, 138 punch outs, 17 walks, and a 1.48 ERA.
Projection: A rare breed, Bickford offers up the perfect trifecta of youth, power, and control. And while his swing-and-miss ability this season puts him in some elite company – he’s averaging a smidge over 17 punch outs per nine innings – it’s important to add some proper context.
Current Chicago Cubs farmhand – and former third round pick – Donn Roach, owner of a fringy upper 80s fastball, fanned 142 in 111.1 innings during his lone season at Southern Nevada. Roach also fanned 22 in just over 40 innings of work at Arizona during his freshman season.
With that being said, Bickford is one of the better, more promising arms in the class – one that could potentially move quickly through the system despite his relative youth. Solid #2/#3-type ceiling.
Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player
Floor: 1.5- to 2.0-win player
Grade: First Round, Top 15 selections
Photo Courtesy of Larry Goren / The Associated Press via thestar.com