Polished college right-handers with track records of success with good programs usually show well on draft day. UCLA right-hander Griffin Canning checks all those boxes and it is a good bet he’ll go in the first round next month. Let’s take a look.
Griffin Canning was known to scouts as a high school pitcher in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, but was viewed as a “needs to go to college” guy with a strong academic commitment, falling to the 38th round of the 2014 draft where he was selected by the Colorado Rockies. He immediately established himself with the UCLA Bruins, making 11 starts and four relief appearances as a freshman, posting an excellent 66/6 K/BB in 64 innings with a 2.97 ERA. His sophomore year saw a larger workload with somewhat weaker results, a 3.70 ERA in 109 innings but with a nice 95/21 K/BB.
In 2017 he’s emerged as the Friday night ace, posting a 2.56 ERA in 77 innings so far with a 98/23 K/BB. In his most recent start he fanned 10 hitters in 8.2 innings, leading the Bruins to a 2-1 victory over Cal Poly this past Friday.
Canning is a 6-1, 180 pound right-hander born May 11th, 1996.
Although he’s not a dominating hulk on the mound, Canning has no shortage of velocity, featuring a 90-95 MPH fastball generated with a quick arm and plenty of athleticism. Some scouts believe his fastball may increase another tick or two, and even if it doesn’t it already plays up due to the contrast with his secondary pitches.
He has a full arsenal with a curve, slider, and change-up at his disposal. Which pitch is best depends on the source: some say the curve is the best of the group, while other observers prefer the change-up. All agree that his arsenal is well-rounded and he mixes his pitches very well. His strikeout rate has increased this year, always a good sign, and he hasn’t had any trouble staying healthy. UCLA is one of the premier college baseball programs of course and Canning has the makeup and mound presence you would expect from their Friday starter.
While Canning throws strikes, his command within the strike zone isn’t always perfect and he doesn’t have the blistering fastball to get away with large numbers of location mistakes at the highest levels. He should breeze through A-ball but may need to make some adjustments in the high minors. His delivery isn’t 100% textbook, though he’s been more consistent repeating it this year compared to 2016.
Canning projects as a number three or strong number four starter and his impressive spring has solidified his chances to go in the first round. Expect to hear his name called anywhere from the middle of the first round on.
Scouting video from Rkyosh007
UCLA profile video