There are no guarantees when it comes to the MLB draft. Even the No. 1 pick can be a surprise on draft day, as we saw last year when the Minnesota Twins took shortstop Royce Lewis over others with potentially higher ceilings. Other years have offered similar volatility at the top of the draft over the course of the cycle, if not on draft day itself.
This year’s draft cycle has been steadier than most, as Auburn righthander Casey Mize has been the presumed No. 1 pick for a while now. But before Mize’s ascent, Florida righthander Brady Singer was considered the Tigers’ first choice at 1-1. His stock took a hit as he struggled (sort of) at points during the college season, and he fell as low as the middle of the first round on some mock drafts. But a strong late-season push likely has Singer back in the top 10, and potentially as high as No. 2 overall to the San Francisco Giants.
Singer’s profile is somewhat up for debate. Injury concerns have followed him since he didn’t sign with the Toronto Blue Jays after being drafted in 2015 — a failed physical was the presumed reason he didn’t sign, pushing him to the University of Florida. He has remained healthy during his years with the Gators, but thanks to a somewhat funky delivery, scouts wonder whether he will be durable enough — or just plain good enough — to lead an MLB starting rotation one day.
Draft day age: 21
MLB Pipeline prospect rank: 5
Previously drafted: 2nd round, 2015
MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: RHP Brady Singer
Need a rundown of everything Singer does right? Click on just about any scouting report on the internet. Among others, MLB Pipeline offers a concise rundown of Singer’s positives in their pre-draft rankings, which have him listed fifth.
Singer checks off all of the boxes teams are looking for out of a potential top pick. Long and lean, he has a terrific pitcher’s body that has thus far proven to be durable. He’ll throw his fastball up to 95-96 mph consistently, with plus life. His slider plays well off of his fastball, a second above-average pitch he manipulates in terms of depth and velocity. His changeup continues to improve and should give him a third above-average offering. He commands the ball well, gets high marks for his makeup and is a plus competitor.
There are similarly glowing reports all over the internet, and for good reason. Singer has a prototypical pitcher’s build. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s, and commands it pretty well despite plenty of arm-side run. He can throw a slider and changeup, and has dominated for multiple years in the best conference in college baseball. This season, he has a 2.33 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 81 innings.
Want more to be excited about? Here’s 2080 Baseball on one of Singer’s most recent outings.
Using an abbreviated windup and an up tempo delivery, Singer consistently pounds the zone with three pitches. Singer employs a low three-quarter’s arm slot, and while it nullifies some of the downhill plane on the 91-to-93 mph fastball, the lower release point appears to enhance the sink and arm-side tail of the pitch. Where Singer separates himself from his collegiate peers, is the confidence he shows in pitching inside, placing his fastball in on the hands and righties and lefties alike. He’s also comfortable using his slider in any count. At 79-to-81 mph, with moderate depth and two plane break, Singer’s slider looked like a future average pitching in the outing, with its effectiveness stemming more from his command of the pitch than its tilt.
More than others, Singer’s bread and butter is the fastball. He sits in the lower 90s with the pitch, but can get into the mid-90s when needed. As noted above, it has plenty of arm-side run, perhaps even to a fault (as you will read below). He has been able to command the pitch fairly well, and its ridiculous movement helps set up his secondary pitches, as hitters need to prepare for plenty of break in both directions. Righties, in particular, struggle with the heater as it bears in on their hands or towards their knees.
One of the knocks on Singer is based on his delivery, which scouts have noted has changed somewhat over the course of the last year. Minor League Ball’s John Sickels did his best to diagnose the changes, but also offered a fair bit of skepticism along the way.
His delivery has always been somewhat unusual with a three-quarters approach and some whippy action. His arm angle and release point looked higher at times this year and this has been enough to lower his projection in the eyes of some very respected observers...
...Is this all a serious problem, or is Singer being nitpicked? Honestly, I don’t know.
There are a few videos in between those two quotes, so click on over to see for yourself.
In most other reports, scouts note that Singer’s low arm angle can lead to him getting on the side of the baseball. This results in his pitches flattening out, something that will be exploited even more at the next level. While he generates a lot of arm-side run on his fastball, he will need depth on that pitch as well as his secondary offerings to get big league hitters out.
Singer’s slider, in particular, seems to suffer from the lower arm slot. 2080 Baseball called it a potentially average pitch in their latest viewing, and were concerned about how much bite it actually has. Others have expressed similar sentiments, and I haven’t seen anyone describe the slider as a true plus offering. If anything, his changeup gets more love right now, and that pitch is still considered a work in progress. This may seem like nitpicking, as Sickels notes above, but it’s not the most ringing endorsement for a pitcher at the top of the draft.
Draft position: top 10, and not falling as much as we thought
Singer’s value has never fallen lower than the middle of the first round, but a few rougher outings in the early part of the 2018 season had some questioning whether he was a true top 10 talent. Since then, Singer has rediscovered his best stuff, and is blowing away the competition. He has given up eight runs in his last six starts, and has 47 strikeouts in those 42 innings. He beat current top prospect Casey Mize in a showdown on April 26, though owes some thanks to teammate (and fellow first rounder) Jonathan India for that.
This late-season surge has Singer climbing back up the ranks. He was projected to go fifth overall in Baseball America’s latest mock draft, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has Singer going second overall to the Giants. Singer arguably has the highest floor in the entire draft class, and some teams may see his unconventional delivery as a chance to land a first round steal along the likes of a Max Scherzer, who went 11th overall in 2006. At the very least, Singer should be a big league arm in some form.
Definitely don't watch this Brady Singer K reel if you're squeamish pic.twitter.com/XoalgWt9dv— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) June 27, 2017
h/t Perfect Game, 2080 Baseball for the videos