With the team’s seventh round selection, the Yankees chose yet another college pitcher: Nick Paciorek. He was the team’s fourth college arm draftee in a row and the fifth one overall.
Paciorek, a 21 year-old right-hander, is from Sherman Oaks, California. He went to Oaks Christian High School where he was recruited not as a pitcher, but as a catcher. Following his high school career, he set off for Northwestern.
In his freshman year, Paciorek struggled at the plate. He hit .160/.261/.247 in 95 plate appearances, which was essentially the end of his career as a backstop. He did take five more at bats in his sophomore season, but by then, his conversion to the mound was in process.
Paciorek only got into three games as a pitcher during his sophomore season, all in relief. It wasn’t pretty: he allowed 13 runs.
This year, the 6-foot-2 righty started to figure things out. He threw 26.2 innings in 20 outings and posted a respectable 3.37 ERA. He did walk 18 batters, so control was a problem, but he impressively fanned 44.
What do the scouts say?
As you might imagine, Paciorek is a very raw prospect despite being drafted as a college junior. With just under 30 innings of relief work as an amateur, there’s still plenty of development ahead. In spite of his lack of experience, Paciorek cracked MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospects. Though they noted he’s still a work in progress, it sounds like he has the makings of an impactful reliever:
Paciorek could have two plus offerings once he’s fully developed. His best is an 82-85 mph slider that’s a legitimate strikeout pitch. He usually works at 90-94 mph and can hit 96 with his fastball, with more velocity to come as he gets more experience.
Baseball America says virtually the same about Paciorek, though the publication’s scouting report believes that his slider could be “double-plus”, or 70 on the 20-80 scale. Additionally, BA noted that his stuff only holds up for an inning or two, making it unlikely that he’ll ever be anything more than a reliever.
Signing bonus and what’s next
The Yankees gave Paciorek a $162,500 bonus, which is below the pick value of $190,100.
Paciorek was assigned to rookie ball with one of the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League affiliates. Although most college arms are able to handle a higher level out of the gate, namely short-season A-ball in the New York Penn League, this makes sense. Paciorek hardly has any experience as the mound which affords the Yankees some patience. So far, in 8 innings, his performances have been up and down.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s hard to have a take on anyone drafted in the later rounds. That being said, Paciorek sounds interesting enough as a raw arm with setup man upside. Control may wind up being his downfall, but he certainly looks worth the gamble in the seventh round. Moreover, the Yankees have had plenty of success grooming college pitchers, so it’s not hard to envision Paciorek finding prosperity in the farm system.