2018 MLB Draft: Dodgers select Mississippi prep RHP J.T. Ginn at No. 30

J.T. Ginn

After waiting for every other team to draft, the Dodgers finally got to make their pick at No. 30 and popped a prep pitcher in the first round for the first time since 2014. No, it wasn’t Ethan Hankins, it was J.T. Ginn from Brandon High School in Mississippi.

Ginn was No. 18 on my final Big Board, and I’m kinda surprised he was the selection here. I’m a big Hankins fan, so seeing the Dodgers pass on him for a guy who might be a reliever is a bit of a bummer. That said, Ginn has a wicked fastball/slider combination that should get him to the majors at some point.

Here is what Billy Gasparino said in about Ginn in a press release:

“‘We were very excited to be able to select J.T.,’ said Dodger Director, Amateur Scouting Billy Gasparino. ‘He is a pitcher that we identified last summer and is an extremely athletic right-hander with plus life to his fastball, has a plus slider and a developing changeup. We think he has all the ingredients to be a front-line starter and we are super excited about the progress he made this spring. Hopefully he can continue that with the Dodger organization.”

And here’s what some MLB Draft folks said about the Ginn pick:

Great #analysis, Craij.

That last one is the biggest concern. The high velocity is great and the wipeout slider is great, but the high-effort delivery is concerning. Of course, some said the same about Walker Buehler a few years ago and look where he is now.

Here’s some excerpts of write-ups on him from Baseball America, FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline.

Baseball America

“Ginn has one of the best arms in this year’s draft class, having lit up radar guns with a 93-99 mph fastball with well above-average life. The Mississippi State signee has done a good job this year of cleaning up his delivery, as he’s more flowing and fluid after being stiffer in the past. He also hides the ball well in his delivery, which makes it even harder to hit his excellent fastball. He throws both a slider and curveball but the two blend together. One or the other should end up as a plus pitch, but right now it’s his power curve that is the better of the two as it presently flashes plus. When he throws his changeup between innings in warm-ups, it looks to be potentially average, but he’s yet to need to throw it against Louisiana high school hitters. Ginn’s biggest hurdles are his body and the fact that scouts have rarely seen him work longer than four or five innings.”

FanGraphs

“Ginn has a maxed-out, powerfully built frame, effort to his delivery, command that likely fits best in relief and he’s already 19. Those are the minuses that traditionally would send any high school pitcher to college without much of a pro offer. These days, however, velo is king and two power pitches with any idea where they’re going could turn into Andrew Miller and be worth a mint, so prep relief types are now acceptable. On the plus side, Ginn may have the best two-pitch combo in the draft and also has a workable changeup. His bulldog mentality is already geared for a relief role, so it will be interesting to see how long the team that signs him uses him anywhere other than the 8th and 9th innings.”

MLB Pipeline

“While Ginn finished second nationally among high schoolers with 16 homers last year — only Angels first-rounder Jo Adell had more — teams covet his right arm more than his bat. He has one of the best power arsenals in the high school ranks and a history of dominating on the showcase circuit and with Team USA. He has the stuff to go in the first round, though quibbles about his size and delivery may knock him down to the second. Ginn had the highest fastball velocity at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars last summer at 94.6 mph, sat at 95-97 mph at the Under Armour All-America Game and has reached 99 mph this spring. His heater has late life and he can command it to both sides of the plate. If hitters try to sit on his fastball, they can look silly because he also has a wipeout slider in the mid-80s.”

Lots of similar reports and all are kind of pointing the same direction: The bullpen. If he can stick in the rotation — and that’s a big if — he has No. 2-type stuff. If he ends up in the bullpen, he could be a dominant back-end reliever or multi-inning relief ace. His fastball and slider and true swing-and-miss offerings, so that’s a nice starting point for a prep pitcher.

He also has some prowess with the bat, but the Dodgers are going to send him out as a pitcher.

Video

Videos courtesy of 2080 Baseball, Prospect Pipeline and Jheremy Brown.

He’s committed to Mississippi State, but I doubt he gets to campus. Being an older high school draftee (already 19), he doesn’t stand to improve as much in college as he would in the pros. He might take close to the slot-recommended amount, but he’ll be worth it.

I like the pick. I don’t love the pick, but I honestly feel it’s a nice risk to take. Other than Jeremy Eierman, I wasn’t really in love with many of the college bats still on the board.

As for the second round, I’d expect a much safer pick who won’t take much more than slot to sign. Of guys on my board, that’d be someone like Tristian Beck, Kris Bubic, Greyson Jenista or Griffin Roberts — provided they’re still available. Stay tuned.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.