According to Ken Rosenthal, the St. Louis Cardinals need pitching and Jason Vargas is a guy they could target. According to the report, the Mariners were scouting Tyrell Jenkins, the #6 prospect in the Cardinals system (according to Baseball America) who is in low A currently. This may mean nothing and it may mean something. I don’t know, and neither does anyone but the Mariners and possibly the Cardinals. However, it is that time of year, where trades are rumored and the Mariners are selling. So I decided to watch Jenkins last outing, which was on Monday, and get a look at him.
So far this year, he hasn’t had a real good season, with an opponent OPS of .763 (league average is .703) and a 4.08 SIERA. He does have a good strikeout ratio and a better than average ground-ball rate (along with a line drive rate below average). He is a tall, lanky right handed pitcher at 6-4 and around 180 pounds. One could imagine the 19 year old adding more weight to his frame. He is a good athlete and was originally recruited to play football. That may help him with his mechanics, injury prevention, and defense off the mound. He also has a good pickoff move for a righty.
One of the first things you notice about Jenkins (once he starts pitching) is that he has sort of a loud delivery with some moving parts. He gets low midway through the delivery and fires the ball over the top after he brings back his arm almost all the way. It could be deceptive, as the ball stays behind him through most of the delivery. I won’t pretend I know enough about pitching mechanics to say whether or not this affects his ability to stay a starter long-term or not.
He threw a ton of fastballs early in the game. It is pretty straight but he can throw it low or high, outside or inside. It has good velocity at 94 MPH and hitters couldn’t square up on it. His command is not elite by any means, but it is pretty good for a low A pitcher. He didn’t have really any fastballs that missed his spot by a lot. He can throw it right past hitters even when they have to be looking for it.
He has basically the traditional approach of throwing mainly fastballs the first time through the lineup and then throwing a bunch of breaking balls his 2nd time around the lineup. His feature off-speed pitch is the changeup. He threw it for a strike, and it has noticeable speed differential but not a ton of movement. He got a whiff on it and threw it on a full count once (it was a ball, making it a walk, but does show he has confidence in it). He also has a good looking curve that he can bury in the dirt. He doesn’t have a whole lot of command with it though. His breaking ball command is far behind his fastball command, as one would expect. In the game I watched, he wasn’t walking or even falling behind anyone when he was throwing mainly fastballs but when he started working his breaking balls in, his control almost disappeared.
Of course, it should be noted that he is only just about to turn 20. Control and command issues are to be expected. The stuff is there, with the good fastball velocity and decent looking breaking pitches. He can miss bats and get grounders as well. The only issue will be whether or not that delivery allows him to gain decent control or command. I don’t know if it will or not, but even if it doesn’t, he should still be a relatively valuable right-handed reliever. That seems to be the floor though, as someone could easily imagine him having a ceiling of an above average MLB starter. I’m not sure what it would take to acquire Jenkins, but my guess is that it would probably be more than Jason Vargas (perhaps a combo of Vargas and money, as in the Mariners paying his salary, would make the pennant chasing Cardinals consider it).