School: Vanderbilt University; Class: Red Shirt Sophomore
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6–0; Weight: 185
Previously Drafted: Boston Red Sox, 13th round, 2013
Background: The older brother of Cleveland Indians MiLB’er Justus Sheffield, whom I pegged as one of the biggest breakout prospects this season, Jordan’s career path hasn’t been as smooth sailing. Back during his senior year in high school the hard-throwing right-hander succumbed to Tommy John surgery – performed by Dr. James Andrews, by the way – and he eventually missed the entire 2014 season, his first at Vanderbilt, as he recovered from the procedure.
The elder Sheffield spent the majority of 2015 working out of the Commodores’ bullpen, posting an abhorrent 55-to-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 60.0 innings of work. He would also make another handful of appearances for the Brewster WhiteCaps in the Cape Cod League, throwing 19.2 innings while fanning 19 and walking a whopping 15.
Needless to say, Sheffield’s control/command hardly looked like draft material after his return from surgery.
But the 6-foot, 185-pound right-hander has come roaring back during his Red Shirt Sophomore season at Pitcher U.: through his first 12 starts Sheffield has tossed 77.2 innings, whiffed 92, walked just 26, and has surrendered just one dinger en route to tallying a tidy 2.09 ERA. By the way, he’s currently sitting among the top 20 in strikeouts and narrowly missing the top 40 in strikeout rate.
Projection: So we basically have one smallish sample size to go on here – his 2016 season – but he’s absolutely sparkled. Sheffield fanned a career high 14 hitters in a complete game shutout against Kentucky. And he’s extended his scoreless streak to 24 straight innings. In fact, he’s in some pretty impressive company. Consider the following:
Between 2011 and 2015, here’s a list of some of the pitchers to throw 70 innings in a season while average 10 K/9, a walk rate below 3.0 BB/9, a homerun rate under .51 HR/9: Mark Appel, Trevor Bauer, Andrew Chafin, Zac Curtis, Jeff Degano, Brandon Finnegan, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Danny Hultzen, Pierce Johnson, Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stromna, Nick Tropeano, Luke Weaver, and Kyle Zimmer.
Absolutely dominant fastball that’s reportedly reached triple-digits in a relief role last season (according to The Tennessean), Sheffield has front of the rotation potential – especially if his control is as good as advertised this season. His floor resides somewhere near a shutdown backend reliever. Still, though, there’s some risk given his injury past and lack of a track record.
Ceiling: 3.5–win player
Floor: 1.5-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
Grade: First Round