The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. We take a look at Bubba Chandler, a two-way high school baseball star who is also committed to play quarterback at Clemson.
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Bubba Chandler, Right-Handed Pitcher/Shortstop, North Oconee (Ga.)
Weight: 200 lbs.
At the plate, Chandler is an average hitter but possesses the potential for power. He’s also speedy, demonstrating an ability to quickly move through the basepaths and also have enough range to track down tricky ground balls at shortstop. Meanwhile, on the mound, he throws a great fastball that is complemented nicely by a very effective curveball.
Chandler is a speedy player, which means he can stay at shortstop long-term if he so desired. He’s able to produce both range and good glovework, as well as a very strong arm when throwing to first. His fielding ability is slightly above-average and probably just good enough to allow him to survive at shortstop.
On the mound, Chandler boasts a 60-grade fastball that averages in the mid-90s in terms of velocity. His heater has maxed out at 97 mph and has exhibited massive progress from a development standpoint over the last season.
Chander also possesses an upper-70s curveball that has proven to be a lethal weapon against batters. This pitch comes in with power and vertical drop. It is nearly 20 mph slower than his fastball, too, so there is enough variation for hitters to look completely perplexed at the plate. This is clearly his No. 2 pitch and it should transfer well to the pros.
Hitting is Chandler’s biggest weakness to this point. It’s his lowest-graded trait, and scouts would surely like to see more than average results at the plate from someone who profiles as a two-way player. He’s also right around average (or slightly above) in terms of power, which isn’t unusual for a shortstop but rather just another negative factor towards his batting profile.
On the mound, it would be nice to see some more control from Chandler on his secondary pitches. He’s done a good job finding the zone with his fastball, but in order for him to have a more effective and trustworthy curveball, slider, and changeup, he needs to focus on his control. It’s worth noting that if he can master this, he could be nearly unstoppable on the mound. It does appear that all of this could click very soon. When it does? Hitters, beware.
One more negative aspect surrounding Chandler is his signability. The two-way player is committed to Clemson—as a quarterback. Evidently, he’s quite the athlete and while it’s believed he prefers baseball to football, everyone knows what happened to Kyler Murray. The Oakland Athletics used a high draft choice on him, expecting him to play baseball. Now, just two years after being selected with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, he’s commanding an Arizona Cardinals offense while throwing passes to star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. By choosing football, Murray found a quicker path to stardom and the potential for a lot more money. So, in regards to Chandler, while baseball seems like his main focus, that’s far from a certainty.
Pro Comparison: Matt Harvey
Chandler likely has three options here: right-hander, quarterback, or shortstop. I’m not buying the shortstop hype, and while it’s possible he could pursue a career in football, we’ll explore him as a pitcher for the purpose of this comparison. Chandler possesses a mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider, low- to mid-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. The same can be said about now-Baltimore Orioles starter Matt Harvey. Both are roughly the same height (Harvey is just one inch taller). Harvey is 20 pounds heavier, but Chandler should come close to 220 pounds as he continues to grow and get stronger.
Harvey has had a bizarre career. The former All-Star had sub-2.75 ERAs in each of his first three MLB seasons. He then struggled and was let go by the New York Mets in 2017. He’s bounced around the majors and minors since then. In total, he has a career 47-61 record with a 4.40 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Draft Projection: Second-Round Pick
A lot depends on Chandler’s decision between football and baseball, but one thing is certain: he should not be drafted as a shortstop (or a two-way player, for that matter). His hitting isn’t anything special, and he’s merely average on the field. On the mound, however, he is a whole different beast. He is a special pitcher, and he has shown that through his time at high school. He’ll likely be a second-round pick this July.