2018 MLB Draft Profile: Brady Singer, RHP, University of Florida
When studying players, especially amateur players, we have to be aware of “prospect fatigue.”
That’s not the player getting tired, but rather scouts and analysts who are observing the player getting tired and nitpicking him. The human mind seeks new things to say or see, and there’s only so many times you can write “this guy should be really good” without feeling like you’re repeating yourself.
Small flaws or marginal questions can seem magnified when you become over-familiar with a player. Most of the time this is subconscious, but it does happen with higher-profile prospects who have a lot of exposure to scouts or the media.
University of Florida right-hander Brady Singer may be a victim of prospect fatigue right now. Or not. Let’s explore.
Singer has been on the radar a long time. He was well-known in high school, drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round in 2015 out of Eustis, Florida. He eschewed Canada for college ball with his home-state Florida Gators. Used primarily as a reliever during his freshman year in 2016, he posted a 4.95 ERA in 44 innings but followed up with an excellent summer with Falmouth in the Cape Cod League, posting a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings with a stellar 20/2 K/BB.
That presaged a breakout in 2017. Moved into the Gators rotation, he posted a 3.21 ERA in 126 innings with a 129/32 K/BB. His reputation with scouts, already robust, soared to the point where he was widely-viewed as the best prospect in the 2018 draft, or at least a leading candidate to go first-overall.
On paper, Singer has been even more effective in 2018. He’s made seven starts for the Gators, going 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA and a 50/8 K/BB in 46 innings, 33 hits allowed.
There’s little to find fault with there on the surface. Even during a somewhat-shaky start on March 23rd against Arkansas (six runs allowed), he fanned seven men in seven innings. His latest start, March 30th against Vanderbilt, was a true gem with one run, two hits, and one walk in seven innings, fanning 11. Overall, his results have been just as good as or slightly better in 2018 than in 2017.
Although Singer hasn’t lost ground on paper performance terms, the chance that he’ll go 1-1 in the draft has declined. Part of this is due to the emergence of other players, notably Auburn right-hander Casey Mize and Arizona prep lefty Matthew Liberatore. Part of this is due to changes in Singer’s own scouting profile, although how significant those changes are depends on who you ask.
Singer is listed at 6-5, 210 (he was 180 in high school), born August 4th, 1996. His fastball is his best pitch, up to 95-96 with boring action in on right-handed hitters when things are going well. He can also show a plus slider and has made good strides with his change-up this spring; a recent in-person report from Burke Granger at 2080 Baseball describes the change with “above average deception and tumble, parachuting out of the zone.” One of the few complaints about Singer in 2017 was the need for a better change-up and it sounds like things are going well in that department.
So we have a guy with three plus pitches and strong statistics for a top-notch college program. What’s the problem?
Despite the good statistics, several observers have noted Singer’s harder pitches, especially the fastball, flattening out at times this year. This is traced to changes in his arm angle although the exact cause/effect chain is a bit unclear from a distance.
His delivery has always been somewhat unusual with a three-quarters approach and some whippy action. His arm angle and release point looked higher at times this year and this has been enough to lower his projection in the eyes of some very respected observers.
There are several public videos of Singer dating back to last year but the camera angles are all different, making detailed comparison problematic.
From April 2017, video by Brian Sakowski
From the 2017 College World Series
February 2018 against the Miami Hurricanes from Perfect Game:
From March 16, 2018 against South Carolina, again from Perfect Game
March 23, 2018, the mediocre start against Arkansas, from 2080Baseball
As far as I can tell, there is no public video of last week’s dominant outing against Vanderbilt. I did see the game on TV and everything was working for him that day.
Personally, I’m not good enough at diagnosing pitching mechanics to say anything except a broad statement that his delivery has varied from time to time, not everyone likes this, and that he’s had some inconsistency with his stuff this year, though for the most part this hasn’t shown up in the boxscores.
Is this all a serious problem, or is Singer being nitpicked?
Honestly, I don’t know.
If you step back though, we’re still looking at a guy with a major league arm and a strong track record pitching well for a top-flight college program.
Singer may not go first-overall but he’ll certainly still be a first-rounder and probably an early one, barring an injury or sustained performance meltdown.