The Louisiana State Tigers are one of the most storied programs in college baseball history. They’ve produced their share of early round MLB draft picks over the years and their top candidate for 2017 is right-hander Alex Lange, currently projected for the first round of the upcoming June draft. Let’s take a look.
Lange is from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. Scouts were quite familiar with him and he was rated as one of the top prep arms in the Midwest, viewed as a third or fourth round talent for the 2014 draft. However, he was very firmly committed to LSU and went undrafted, considered unsignable.
He entered the starting rotation with LSU in 2015 and immediately emerged as an ace, going 12-0 in 17 starts with a 1.97 ERA and a 131/46 K/BB in 114 innings. He was more human as a sophomore, going 8-4, 3.79 in 17 starts with a 125/49 K/BB in 112 frames.
Lange has been a monster in his first two starts of 2017, throwing 11 innings with an 18/2 K/BB and just one run allowed.
Lange is a 6-4, 200 pounder, born October 2, 1995. Lange topped out as 92 MPH in high school but his velocity has picked up in college, working at 92-96 now. In high school he worked mainly with a slider as his breaking ball but this has become more of a curve in college. Both the fastball and breaking ball earn plus grades from scouts; MLB.com for example giving both pitches a 60-grade. His change-up may have actually been his best pitch in high school but has been erratic in college, very impressive in ‘15 but not as sharp in ‘16.
When his mechanics are in gear he shows solid command of all three potential plus pitches, giving him the look of a number two starter. He has held up well to a full college workload and has the intangibles and mound presence to succeed at the highest levels.
Lange will rush his delivery at times, getting out of sync and harming his ability to command the secondary pitches. This wasn’t a huge issue as a freshman but became more of a concern during his less-dominant sophomore campaign.
His command has been spectacular in his first two 2017 outings and scouts will be watching this issue closely as the spring progresses.
Otherwise the main worry for Lange is the same as for any young pitcher: will he stay healthy?
Lange entered 2017 as a potential first round pick, probably in the middle of the round. His first two outings this year (five dominant innings against Air Force on February 18th and six innings with 12 strikeouts against Maryland on the 24th) are an excellent opening volley and continued pitching of this quality will push him into the top ten.
Prospect Pipeline video of Lange in high school
Post-game comments from the Maryland start: