Jordan Wicks dominated high school hitters throughout his career at Conway High in Arkansas.
But the success of the left-handed pitcher at the prep level did not translate into professional interest. Wicks received interest from only “one or two teams” that led up to the MLB draft in 2018, he recalls. He went to Kansas State University after high school instead, and joined the program in 2018-19.
In his first 2½ years at the collegiate level, Wicks has made regular improvements on the mound. As the spring season quickly approaches, Wicks is one of the best college pitchers, and has a unique combination of fastball upgrade.
Pro scouts have noticed Wick’s success, skills, and overall development in Kansas State. The Scouts project Wicks as one of the highest right-handed left-handed pitchers and a potential choice in the first round of the July draft.
“It’s probably something new,” Wicks said of the draft attention. “It is in the hands of God. I’m just blessed to play baseball. My priority is our team and getting to Omaha. If I go out there and do my job and help our team win, everything will take care of itself. ”
Wicks jumped into the starting rotation immediately as a newcomer to Kansas State. He played a 3.61 ERA with 86 strikes and 26 trips allowed in 84 2/3 innings of 15 starting to earn the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2019.
Last spring, Wicks had a huge start. He put out a 0.35 ERA with 26 strikes and four trips allowed in 26 innings in four starts before the pandemic caused the season to end prematurely.
He used the downtime to give strength to the frame and refine his secondary paths. The work helped him thrive in the Perfect Timing College League and Northwoods League last summer. Wicks allowed only two earned races, struck out 52 strokes and gave up 10 rounds in 34 2/3 innings between the two leagues last year.
Wicks had a remarkable 2020 and wants to carry that success into ours.
He is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound left-handed pitcher who throws a four-stitch quick ball, two-seamer, upshift, slider and basket ball from a three-quarter arm slot and clean and little effort.
His fastballs are in the 90’s with high spinning speeds. While his fastballs are quality offerings, scouts are fantasizing about Wicks’ upgrade.
Wicks throws the best rise in the 2021 draft class. It is an elite offer that he throws with conviction. The offer in the 80’s looks like a fastball out of hand, but has tumbling that allows it to fall out of the strike zone. The breaking action on the court causes the hitter to turn and miss or hit it for a ground ball.
“My competitiveness is my greatest strength,” Wicks said. “I’m a guy who goes out there and wants to win. I want to help my team win, and that’s the bottom line. Whatever the situation, I’m a guy who’s going to go out there and definitely compete and go after hitters. It’s a great resource for me. ”
Wicks’ curveball and slider are not as advanced as the quickballs and upshift. His hard-breaking slider, which some scouts call a cutter, is the more effective offering. He usually uses his basket ball early in the count to steal a strike, as there is currently no wasted pitch.
Wicks spent time fine-tuning the slider and curveball in the offseason. They still need more sophistication, but are courses he hopes to show improvement with this season.
“I just think being able to use all four seats is something I’m working on,” Wicks said. “They are more of a weapon than they have ever been. Being able to mix in all four courses and have a solid game plan is the key. I also can not get away from what got me here with my fastball and the change. Having a good balance between my seats will be great. ”
Kansas State is an exciting team coming into ours. The Wildcats have not qualified for the NCAA Tournament since 2013. They have not won at least 30 games since the same year. However, that may change this year.
They have a remarkable one-two strokes in the starting rotation. Wicks and right-handed jar Carson Seymour are the two upper arms. They have plenty of collegial experience and are potential early choices for the July draft.
Wicks believes that the wildcats took their step last spring when the season ended. He hopes the wildcats can build on last season and make a deep post season this year.
“We feel we are going to be extremely competitive at the conference and against some of the best teams in the country,” said Wicks. “We certainly have the talent to do that. It’s just about going out and doing it. ”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s been interviewed 253 of the best potential drafts during that period, including three No. 1 picks. Several publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have cited his work while appearing on radio stations as an “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @ DanZielinski3.