Vanderbilt University right-hander Jordan Sheffield had a good game this past Friday, throwing seven shutout innings against the University of Georgia, giving up seven hits and one walk, fanning six, and leading the Commodores to a 15-3 massacre of the Bulldogs. This brings Sheffield's record on the season to 7-2 in 11 starts with a 2.29 ERA, an 86/27 K/BB in 71 innings, with 55 hits allowed.
Sheffield entered the 2016 college season as a possible first round pick; his campaign has changed that from "possible" to "likely."
Well-known to scouts as a high school player in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Sheffield was a candidate for the first round in 2013 until blowing out his elbow and having Tommy John surgery. He went to college instead, rehabbed and took a redshirt in 2014, then got back on the mound in '15 and performed fairly well, posting a 2.85 ERA in 60 innings over 16 relief appearances and six starts. Command was an issue with 43 walks but he fanned 55 and allowed just 39 hits.
He remained inconsistent with his control in the Cape Cod League (5.49 ERA, 19/15 K/BB in 20 innings) and scouts wanted to see him take a step forward this spring. He's done just that.
Sheffield has always had a fine fastball, consistently in the mid-90s and with enough movement to draw 70 grades. He also has a very good change-up and has made good strides developing his curveball this spring; both secondary pitches now rate as above-average. His mechanics are reportedly cleaner and more consistent this year. His strikeout rate has spiked sharply, going from 8.25 K/9 last year to 11.08 this spring, with the improved secondaries the main reason. Even better, he's cut his walk rate in half, going from 6.45 last season to 3.31.
More strikeouts, fewer walks, and holding up to a starter's workload; that's what teams wanted to see and that's what Sheffield has provided.
Since he took a redshirt Sheffield still has two years of eligibility left but signability shouldn't be a problem if he goes where his talent warrants. Expect Jordan to join his younger brother Justus, drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2014, as a first-rounder.
Video by Jheremy Brown