School: Louisiana State University; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-3; Weight: 199
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: Fun Fact: Between 2011 and 2016, just 14 pitchers have won at least 12 games without taking a loss in a season – Alex Lange, Dylan Baker, Blake Fox, Justin Garza, Steven Kane, Kade McClure, Ross Mitchell, Chris Murphy, Tyler Ray, Kelvin Rivas, Kyle Simonds, Dylan Slayton, and Grady Wood – at any level of college baseball. Lange, of course, accomplished that feat as a true freshman.
Lange, a 6-foot-3, 199-pound right-hander out of Lees Summit, Missouri, was nearly unhittable for the Tigers that season. He threw a team-leading 114.0 innings of work, averaging 10.34 strikeouts and 3.63 walks every nine innings to go along with an impeccable 1.97 ERA. That production earned him a litany of awards and recognitions, including:
- National Freshman Pitcher of the Year (Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA)
- First-Team All-American (Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, NCBWA, and Perfect Game)
- Second-Team All-American (ABCA, D1 Baseball)
- First-Team Freshman All-American (Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA, Baseball America)
- First-Team All-SEC
- SEC Freshman of the Year
- Corbett Award Winner
And with all the hype in the world surround the hard-throwing right-hander heading into his sophomore season, Lange’s production took a bit of backwards step.
In 111.2 innings of work, Lange’s walk rate jumped from 3.63 BB/9 to 3.95 BB/9 and he coughed up gopher balls at an extraordinary rate, nearly one every per nine innings. Team USA still came calling, though. And Lange, who would eventually be named on the 2016 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team, would throw another nine innings, fanning seven and walking just one while surrendering just a pair of hits.
This season, Lange’s in the midst – arguably – of his finest season to date: through his first 13 starts, he’s averaging career bests in strikeouts and walk rates (10.80 K/9 and 3.02 BB/9, respectively) to go along with a 2.92 ERA across 83.1 innings of work.
Projection: Good, sometimes great, but Lange isn’t without his red flags either. The control has been…a bit questionable at times in the past, though it has taken a noticeable step forward in 2017. But can he repeat it in the professional ranks? His homerun rate, too, has been a constant concern. He coughed up 12 homeruns in 111.2 innings of work two years ago, and he’s allowed seven long balls in 83.1 innings this seasons. That’s an awful lot of dingers surrendered by a top prospect.
In fact, there’s been only other notable college prospect between 2011 and 2016 to post a homerun rate north of 0.80 HR/9 and a K-rate above 10.0 K/9: Christopher Beck, a 2012 second round pick of the White Sox who’s failed at making a mark in the big leagues.
With that being said, Lange looks like a middle-of-the-rotation caliber arm, maybe peaking as a good #3 in a few years, particularly if his uptick in control is repeatable.
Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player
Floor: 1.0- to 1.5-win player
Grade: First Round