With their seventh round pick (220th overall), the Los Angeles Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Zach Pop.
Hometown: Brampton, Ont.
Height/Weight: 6' 4", 225 pounds
School: University of Kentucky
Previous Teams: Wareham Gatemen, St. Cloud Rox, Canadian Junior National Team, Ontario Blue Jays, DBacks Langley Blaze, Toronto Mets, Brampton Royals
Previous Coaches: Jerry Weinstein, Augie Rodriguez, Gary Henderson, Greg Hamilton, Chris Reitsma, Dan Bleiwas, Doug Mathieson, Ryan McBride.
Twitter Handle: @pop_zach
Slot Money: $182,200
Scout: Marty Lamb
Previously Drafted: 23rd round by Toronto Blue Jays in 2014. He did not sign.
A native Canadian, Pop has missed a fair amount of time with injury but is slated to return for the Wildcats' postseason run; where he's likely to resume his role as late-innings reliever in front of closer Logan Salow. At his best, Pop works from a very tough low three quarters arm slot with some crossfire deception to his delivery; aiding him in his effectiveness in short bursts, but likely precluding him from ever developing as a starting pitcher long term.
He has some command concerns too; but in the scope of a power-armed reliever, scouts are optimistic he'll throw enough strikes. He can work in the mid-90's with his fastball consistently, touching as high as 97-98 mph at times--an extremely tough pitch considering the deception he creates with his angle and delivery. He'll flash a 55 slider (on the 20-80 scale) as well; diving it down under the hands of left-handed hitters and really looking the part of a solid 7th-8th inning type of reliever at the next level.
Grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Canada’s top high school pitching prospect in 2014, Pop turned down the Blue Jays as a 23rd-rounder to attend Kentucky. He has one of the most powerful arms in the Southeastern Conference, though his inability to consistently harness it has led the Wildcats to keep him in the bullpen for most of the last three years. He showcased some of the best stuff among Cape Cod League starters last summer yet still profiles as a reliever.
In short stints, Pop works in the upper 90s and can reach 99 mph with nice sink on his fastball. In longer outings on the Cape, he operated at 92-96 mph. He also can overpower hitters with a slider that reaches the high 80s, though it stands out more for its velocity than its sharpness.
Pop fiddled with a changeup as a Cape starter but it needs a lot of work and he doesn’t use it as a reliever. He doesn’t have a history of throwing a lot of strikes, and he gets hit harder than he should because he doesn’t command his pitches. Yet if a pro team can polish him up, he has the pure stuff to turn into a big league closer.