CJ Van Eyk was my favorite right-handed NCAA pitcher heading into the college season back in January. Van Eyk had some rough patches early and because of that, it’s pushed him out of Baseball America and ESPN’s latest mock draft. ESPN released picks 1-37 this morning.
Van Eyk had yet to pitch his best ball this spring when things shut down but scouts haven’t forgotten his brilliant performances as the sophomore ace of the Florida State pitching staff. Van Eyk had perhaps his best start on one of college baseball’s biggest stages last season. Van Eyk dominated Georgia in the Athens Regional and pitched well in the ACC Tournament as well. At the CWS, Van Eyk wasn’t his best he didn’t disappoint either showcasing three potentially plus pitches.
Van Eyk throws a fastball that has been clocked up to 99. He usually works 93-96 but his velocity was down in a few cold weather starts earlier in the year working 92-94. Rest assured, as the weather warms up so will his velocity.
Van Eyk has added a slider to his arsenal this season. The pitch works 82 to 85 and has more of an 11 to 5 movement profile from the catcher’s perspective. He gets swings and misses and is learning how to throw it for a strike consistently. This pitch will be a weapon by the time the draft rolls around because he is already showing signs of consistency and mastering the movement. The Florida State coaching staff was having Van Eyk throw this pitch early and often this spring.
Van Eyk also throws a change up for strikes to both right-handed and left-handed hitters. The pitch sits 80-82. It has arm side movement and sink. It is a good pitch that gets swings and misses but not at as high of a rate as his other pitches.
Van Eyk’s best pitch is his 12-6 curve. This pitch has excellent shape, doesn’t break too soon, and has sharp downward movement. This is also a true swing and miss pitch that he can throw to all hitters in any count. The Florida State coaching staff has moved away from using it as often as he did last year, but we should see the usage start to pick back up once he masters the slider. In one start last year, Van Eyk started the pitch shoulder high and into a left-handed hitter. By the time the batter committed to swing, the pitch was dropping like a rock throw into a lake. The pitch ended up just above the ground creating a swing and miss for strike three.
Van Eyk has a bulldog mentality on the mound. He attacks hitters and challenges them to hit one of his four pitches. He has cut his walk rate and started challenging hitters more often. One thing he does need to work on is being more efficient with his pitches. Often a high strikeout total leads to fewer innings pitched, and this seems to be the case with Van Eyk. As he continues to improve, he will continue to move up draft boards.
Van Eyk uses simple mechanics with a waist high leg lift. He is very athletic and can field his position well. He has pitched on the highest stages so far in his career with Team USA and in the CWS.
Van Eyk and teammate Drew Parrish were the only pair of teammates in the country to have 125+ strikeouts during the 2019 NCAA season. The Royals drafted teammate Drew Parrish last season so we know they will have their eye on Van Eyk. I expected Van Eyk to finish his season strong and be a first round selection. But now he is looking out of the first round. With the deep class of NCAA pitchers, Van Eyk could be there at 41. He will not be there at 76. Preseason, I never would have envisioned this scenario that he could be there that late. For the Royals, Van Eyk could slot into the group of pitchers highlighted by Bubic. To be clear, if they were in the same draft, Van Eyk would be ranked ahead of Bubic and likely selected before him. And that’s not a knock on Bubic who lead all of minor league baseball with strikeouts last year.
I just had this crazy comparison pop into my head. Van Eyk is like having Netflix stock today. With all the states re-opening the stock is down $10 a share. But at the same time, it’s still a really good stock to have at well over $415 a share and should rebound. You are still really happy it is in your portfolio because it is up over $100 a share in the last year. I don’t know if that’s a good comparison or not, but Van Eyk’s stock is down right now. It’ll bump back up when he gets going again. Buy low, sell high! Anyway, don’t take stock advice from me.
Make sure you check out the other names we’ve looked at in the 2020 MLB Draft Profile library!
Photo from warchant.com and was taken by Gene Williams.