Better late than never, right? This post completes our 2019 MLB Draft coverage. To round out the first ten rounds, we go from a Spencer in the ninth round to a Spence in the tenth. Today, let’s get familiar with right-handed pitcher Mitch Spence.

Background

Spence, 21, was born in the state of Washington but wound up in North Carolina. After he graduated from Green Hope High School in Cary, North Carolina, Spence attended the University of South Carolina Aiken, not to be confused with the Jordan Montgomery’s alma mater. USC Aiken is a Division II school.

The righty worked out of the bullpen in his freshman year, but without much success. He posted a 7.56 ERA in 16.2 innings. However, in his next two seasons in Aiken, Spence found a home in the rotation. His sophomore campaign was actually better than his junior season (this year). In 2018, Spence posted a 3.03 ERA in 92 innings and struck out an impressive 117 batters. This season, in 93.1 frames, the 6-1, 185 pound righty had a 3.95 ERA and 104 strikeouts.

What do the scouts say?

There’s not too much information about what Spence has to offer out there. Obviously, not many D-II players get much attention in the first place. It’s probably safe to say that Spence wasn’t on any professional team’s radar in high school nor his first year in college. Nonetheless, Spence popped up on a number of organizations’ draft boards this spring, per Baseball America (subs. required).

According to BA brief report, Spence throws a fastball, cutter, and breaking ball. His heater gets up to 95 on the radar gun. There’s a chance that his yakker could become an average offering too.

MLB Pipeline also has a few brief notes on the 10th rounder. It confirms BA’s report about Spence reaching 95, but also adds that he sits in the 87-93 range mostly. Moreover, the site says that he has a solid curveball along with an average cutter and changeup.

Signing bonus and what’s next

Spence received a below slot $122,500 bonus. His pick’s value was $142,200.

After signing, Spence was sent to rookie ball with Pulaski. He’s pitch exclusively out of the bullpen, though with his background as a starter, has made a number of multi-inning appearances. In 28 innings, he has a 3.54 ERA and 2.60 FIP. That’s certainly a nice professional debut.

Considering Spence’s lack of exposure to higher competition as a D-II collegiate athlete, expect things to move a little slower for him. He seems like a prime candidate to pitch in Staten Island next summer, though full-season ball with Charleston may not be out of the question.

My take

I can’t imagine that the track record for D-II draftees is very good, but I also can’t complain about taking one in the tenth round. Spence’s stuff sounds interesting enough from the little information we have and it’s nice to see him finding early success with Pulaski.

Part of me wonders if Spence has a little more upside than your typical late round college pick. No knock on USC-Aiken, but I can’t imagine that a D-II school’s development program can stack up with schools a division above. Perhaps there’s a bit more room to grow for him than most college arms since he hasn’t been exposed to upper echelon player development before. It’s an interesting theory, right? Ultimately, I probably like this pick a little more than I should.