The Draft: Texas A&M RHP John Stilson

John Stilson

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

With the MLB Draft coming up June 6-8, let’s take a look at some of the players the Reds might have a chance to select.
  Predicting which players might be available with the 27th pick is much more tricky than prognosticating the No. 12 selection, or higher, where Cincinnati usually resides. We’ll take a shot, though, with the understanding that a great deal can change between today and draft day.

   Baseball America’s first mock draft predicts the Reds to take Texas A&M RHP John Stilson. Our buddy nycredsfan probably would like that selection, as he favors a college pitcher who can move quickly to the big leagues.

  Stilson (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) is a junior and a native of Texarkana, Texas. A pre-season first-team All-American, Stilson is 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 14 games, 12 starts, this season. In 85 IP, Stilson has allowed 69 hits, struck out 89 and walked 22. Opponents have batted .225 and hit only one home run against him. He has thrown one complete game and has one save.

   In 2010, Stilson was a dominant reliever, going 9-1 with 10 saves. In 79 innings, he struck out a whopping 114 batters and walked 23. His 0.80 ERA led the nation and his 12.99 strikeouts per nine innings ranked second nationally. Stilson allowed 5.81 hits per nine innings and a .181 opponents batting average. He was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after transferring from Texarkana JC.

   A 19th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins out of junior college in 2009, Stilson features a fastball that sits in the 92 to 94 range and touches 95, up from 88 when he arrived on campus. He gets plus movement in the 90 to 92 range. Some reports had Stilson hitting 99 last year in a relief stint against Miami.

   Stilson benefited from A&M’s weight program, adding strength and velocity. His 81-83 m.p.h. changeup is impressive, particularly after being non-existent just two seasons ago, and is a true weapon against left-handers. Stilson also throws a true hard slider that at times is extraordinarily impressive, a splitter and a curve. He can work off the fastball, but sometimes pitches backwards to set up his heater. He works quickly.

   Stilson is a strike thrower who pounds the zone. His stuff is near major league ready and some say he could help a major league bullpen now. Stilson has closer potential, but has the stuff to be a very good starter. Stilson has a strong work ethic and drive to improve. If he has a weakness, it’s that he sometimes gets out of sync and doesn’t repeat his mechanics, flying open too soon from an over-the-top delivery.

   Stilson, 20, competes well, is a tireless worker and an excellent athlete with middle infield athleticism and some pop in his bat. He didn’t pitch in high school and was recruited as a shortstop, leaving him with a very fresh arm. He has some effort to his delivery, but has smoothed it considerably since coming to the Aggies. He has fully recovered from 2008 shoulder surgery to repair a football injury.

   A Wildlife & Fisheries major, Stilson was excellent in an early season outing against a  strong-hitting Utah club, striking out 10 in six innings. His lone loss this season was a 1-0 defeat to then-No. 2 Oklahoma. He beat a strong Baylor team, limiting the Bears to seven hits, and allowed 15th-ranked Oklahoma State just four hits.

   Fast-rising, some project Stilson to go in the top 15, with the Mets reportedly showing interest at No. 13. He figures to be a relatively easy sign.

   A basketball and football standout in high school, Stilson was a junior college All-American.

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