Connor Prielipp was the Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year in 2019 as a senior at Tomah High School. He struck out a ridiculous 215 batters and allowed just seven earned runs in 101.1 innings, but teams were scared off by his commitment to Alabama, and subsequently, he dropped to the 37th round. Let’s take a look at what the 21-year-old left-hander brings to the mound.
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Connor Prielipp, Pitcher, Alabama
Weight: 210 lbs.
2020 Stats: 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.524 WHIP, 21 IP, 35/6 K/BB
2021 Stats: 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 7 IP, 12/1 K/BB
Prielipp’s college career has not gone how he envisioned it. In 2020, he was dominating until COVID ended the season prematurely. He came back in 2021 primed for a great season and talk of him being the first overall pick in 2022. After just seven innings the lefty was sidelined and had Tommy John Surgery in May. A little over a year has gone by and while Prielipp didn’t pitch for Alabama this season, he will put his progress on display for scouts at the combine in June.
Prielipp has an above-average fastball which sits low-90s and can touch 95. The pitch has good run to it, and he spots it well with excellent command. His slider is his best pitch, and some scouts think it may be the best pitch in the draft. The southpaw throws it in the high-80s with late biting action down and in to right-handed hitters. The pitch seems to disappear from the strike zone as it approaches the batter. Prielipp showed good feel for his changeup although he didn’t use it very often. It could turn into an above-average offering with more refinement.
Prielipp doesn’t have an easy delivery. His arm action is fine, but his follow through is very straight up, rather than downhill. The left-hander’s mechanics are something he will likely work on cleaning up as he continues to recover from TJS. His velocity isn’t quite back to where it was in 2021. Prielipp was seen throwing a bullpen session about two weeks ago and his fastball was 88-92, and he wasn’t throwing his slider yet. He will need his velo to tick back up and get back to his best pitch.
Connor Prielipp (@AlabamaBSB) threw a ‘pen earlier today prior to the SEC tournament. Sat 88-92/93 (18-900rpm) mixing in power CB @ 82-84 (~2600rpm) & CH 83-84 (~2200rpm). Potential first rounder as he makes his way back. No. 46 on the #PGDraft board. pic.twitter.com/XNSi5GiAQ0
— PG College Baseball (@PGCollegeBall) May 24, 2022
Pro Comparison: Brad Hand
Hand was a starter when he came up with the Marlins in 2011 and split time nearly evenly between the rotation and the pen while in Florida. He became a full-time reliever when he went to the San Diego Padres in 2016 and has enjoyed some success. Prielipp could take the same path. They are similar in size and repertoire with both of them featuring a fastball-slider combo. For Hand, adding the slider and ditching his other offspeed pitches was a key. If Prielipp can develop his changeup to give him three above-average offerings, he may be able to stick in and be successful in a major league rotation.
Draft Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays, Round 1, Pick 29
Tampa Bay has a lack of top end pitching talent in their system right now. Shane McClanahan is up already, and Shane Baz will be making his first start of 2022 today. Taj Bradley and Seth Johnson are the only two pitchers in the Rays’ top 10. Prielipp falls to the end of the first round due to question marks around his health. However, Tampa Bay is a perfect fit for the left-hander. They develop pitching as good as any team, and how they use their pitchers will allow Prielipp to ease into his career and maximize his talent.
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Main Image Credit: https://baseballprospectjournal.com/connor-prielipp-wants-to-build-on-first-season/