The Yankees continued their post-Anthony Volpe run on college players with their fourth round pick, Jake Agnos. He’s a left-handed pitcher from East Carolina University.
Agnos was born and raised in Virginia and had a prolific high school career at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia. Listen to this: in 2015, Agnos struck out 21 consecutive hitters after allowing a leadoff home run to start a game. That outing also included three immaculate innings. Sheesh. Anyway, Agnos was a fairly notable prospect during his prep days, but went undrafted in 2016.
The southpaw pitched for East Carolina University over the next three seasons while also making two summer league appearances in Cape Cod. He also got to pitch out of the bullpen for the collegiate team USA last summer.
In his first two seasons with ECU, Agnos split time between the rotation and bullpen. His numbers weren’t terribly impressive, though they weren’t necessarily bad either. The lefty did take a bit of a step forward with regard to missing bats in his sophomore season when he struck out 86 batters in 63.2 innings. In his freshman year, he fanned 64 in 64.1 frames.
Junior year was a step forward. Agnos pitched exclusively in the rotation and made 17 starts. In 102 innings, he recorded an impressive 2.29 ERA and struck out a remarkable 145 batters. Additionally, Agnos walked 43 opponents, just five more than his previous season’s total in far more innings.
What do the scouts say?
It wasn’t until this season that it appeared Agnos could stick as a starter. He had a history of control issues that he hammered out this spring, as previously noted. While most publications still envision Agnos as a reliever due to his small frame (5-11, 205 lbs), it certainly seems like he’ll at least get a chance to start in the minor leagues.
Depending on what you read, Agnos throws either three or four pitches. Baseball America (subs. required) notes that he throws a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Both Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline don’t mention the slider in their reports.
Agnos, who turned 22 back in February, throws his fastball anywhere between 89 and 94 miles per hour, though he’s hit 96 per Fangraphs. His yakker is his best offering, thrown in the high seventies with 12-6 break according to Baseball America. It projects to be an above average pitch by all accounts. Agnos’s slider is something he’s toyed with, though Baseball America doesn’t add much else about it. His changeup is a work in progress, though it could potentially become an average pitch. MLB Pipeline notes that Agnos tends to struggle with his feel for the pitch, though he can deliver a decent one from time to time.
All told, it’s pretty clear that Agnos has at least two solid pitches (fastball and curveball). That might lead him into a relief role, as has been suggested, though a developing changeup (and better command) leaves some hope for him to start. One other thing that could make it hard for him to start is his high effort delivery that you can see in the video up top.
Signing bonus and what’s next
As the draft’s 135th selection, Agnos was slated for $414,000. He wound up signing for slightly less: $411,500.
Like most college draftees, Agnos will probably spend a big chunk of time in short-season A-ball. That means he could be in Staten Island’s rotation at some point this summer. The Yankees haven’t assigned him to a team yet, which probably means he’s down in Tampa at the organization’s complex readying himself for professional ball.
It’s a lot harder to get a sense of a prospect’s future at this point of the draft. Things fall off pretty quickly in the first round alone, so it’s more or less luck of the draw at this point. Still, I like the sound of Agnos because he theoretically has a high floor. It appears that he’s capable of becoming a middle reliever given his profile, and to get that in the fourth round would be a very good outcome.
He’s far from the most exciting pick, however. His size lacks projectability and his command woes, even if improved this season, appear to make it highly unlikely that he sticks as a starter. So even though he may have a ceiling as a back end starter, the chances of him reaching that seem very slim. But again, it’s not like you hope to find a star at this point. Getting a middle reliever would be more than fine.