School: The Citadel; Class: Junior
Position: LHP; B/T: L/L
Height: 5-11; Weight: 178
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: One of the most intriguing collegiate prospects in this year’s draft class. Sears, an underwhelming physical specimen that stands generously at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, quietly turned in two solid – and overlooked – seasons at The Citadel between 2015 and 2016. As a true freshman, the little lefty out of Sumter, South Carolina, made 17 appearances, 13 of which were starts, throwing 75.2 innings with an impressive 82-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio – numbers that were betrayed by his modestly successful 4.28 ERA.
Sears followed that up with an equally impressive, yet once again easily dismissed, sophomore campaign the next year.
In a career high 15 starts for the Bulldogs, the young southpaw tossed 82.0 innings with a 93-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But his unsightly 5.27 ERA combined with a downturn in his control marred his season. This season, though, all things seemed to click for Sears: in 14 starts Sears averaged career bests in strikeouts, 13.41 K/9, and walks, 2.55 BB/9, with an impressive 2.64 ERA.
For his career, he’s sporting a solid 387-to-87 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 253.0 innings.
Projection: So, I did a little digging on the little lefty. According to former big league pitcher – and current pitching coach for The Citadel – Britt Reames, in an article on the PostandCourtier, Sears “has two solid secondary pitches that might be average at the next level, but are good at this level. And his changeup has become a weapon for him this year.” His fastball sits only in the upper 80s.
But…production is production.
And Sears has produced – a lot of strikeouts.
In fact, since 2011, there’s just two other pitchers – at any collegiate level – to throw more than 90 innings and average at least 13 strikeouts and fewer than 2.60 walks every nine innings: Trevor Bauer and Kyle Kinman.
Sears is very similar to former Middle Tennessee State southpaw Zac Curtis: a smallish left-hander with big time collegiate strikeout numbers who transitioned to a relief role upon entering professional ball. Sears is very likely to take a similar path, though he needs to keep his homerun totals in check.
Ceiling: 1.0-win player
Floor: 0.5-win player
Risk: Low to Moderate
Grade: Fifth/Sixth Round