Size – The first thing everyone notices is Slegers’ height. He is 6’10” tall, and stands every bit of that. He’s listed at 245 pounds, and that’s likely quite accurate, as he’s filled out well, but not overly bulky or lean in his build.
Delivery – Slegers is an incredible rarity among guys over roughly 6’6″ in height in one facet of his delivery – he repeats it with precision. When you watch a start of Slegers, you’ll note on the mound that his landing spot is almost a perfect image of his shoe by the end of 3-4 innings as he hits the spot so consistently.
Slegers does nothing really deceptive or even notable in his delivery. He has a pretty standard step-back, knee lift, and then drive sort of combination. His release point, however, does add another level of difficulty for hitters as a 6’10” guy on top of a pitcher’s mound that elevates that pitcher 10 more inches off the ground then throws the ball from almost a pure overhand release point, typically throwing with a high 3/4 arm slot, now and then throwing in a traditional 3/4 arm slot with his fastball and change to keep hitters off balance – especially against lefty hitters. For perspective, with just average arm length ratios (I don’t have any specifics on Slegers’ actual arm measurements), Slegers would be releasing the ball from roughly 8 1/2 feet above the height of the plate when he releases the ball. While not deceptive, that’s a unique and difficult perspective to pick up for sure!
Control (60) – Slegers has produced some of the most impressive control/command numbers from a tall pitcher that I can recall seeing. He’s never had a walk rate above 8% at any minor league stop, even in a brief stop, and his numbers with AAA Rochester were a 5% walk rate this season. The control is one thing, though. The command is another. With his consistent delivery and mechanics, Slegers is able to hit the webbing of the mitt of the catcher on most pitches, and rarely does the catcher even move his hand when Slegers is on. During his hot streak in June of this season, it was a thing of beauty to watch the catcher simply crouch, put up a target and then not have to move again until the pitch was in his glove.
This is where Slegers does run into any issues, however. While he will always be around the zone, he relies on excellent movement of his pitches and that elite command to be successful. If he is missing the command portion even a bit, he can be hit well as his raw stuff is not such that he’d still be able to overpower a hitter.
Fastball (55) – Slegers will work typically around the 90 MPH mark with his fastball, usually working 90-92, touching 94. What makes his fastball effective is the plane he gets from his 6’10” height and the tremendous late vertical movement he gets on the pitch, with a bit of arm side sink. When he “dips” to a traditional 3/4 arm slot, he can get a touch of cut on his fastball as it moves in on lefty hitters.
Change Up (50) – Slegers does not get the same sort of movement on his change as he does on his fastball, which does make the pitch easier to distinguish, but he has excellent arm deception on the pitch. If he struggles in location on a pitch, it seems as if this is the pitch he struggles most on, however, and the more “straight” movement on the pitch allows the ball to get driven hard.
Slider (45) – Many guys get a “sweeping” slider from a tall angle, but Slegers typically has more of a slurvy slider that has a short horizontal break as well as vertical break. While the pitch would be an excellent ground ball pitch in the lower third of the zone, he seems to get better break on the pitch when he works the ball roughly thigh-high to belt-high. Slegers also can get more of a sweeping movement to lefties by “dipping” to a traditional 3/4 arm slot. The fact that the pitch’s movement is fairly gradual and not exceptionally sharp is what keeps the pitch from rating higher.
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MLB Player Comp
While their prospect profiles are really not comparable at all, Slegers reminds me quite a bit in physical build and pitch type of Chris Volstad, who was a hot prospect once upon a time for the Miami Marlins. Volstad was a guy who could touch up to mid-90s as a young prospect but his development of his change and curve as a high school draft pick never materialized Volstad into a top pitcher, rather developing Volstad more into the type of pitcher that Slegers is more known for.
Volstad had his depth curve changed to a spike curve when he was in AA, giving him a very similar arsenal to Slegers, but Slegers has put up better swing and miss rates, likely due to what I would say is a better command profile as Volstad was consistently around the plate, but he was more excellent in control than he was in command, keeping the ball near the plate, but often missing his spots.
Regardless, the role of someone like Volstad without being able to get some swing and miss is a quad-A starter. A good AAA starter that really struggles to be an effective major league starter. However, even a tick more strikeout ability would allow for that same profile to be a good inning-eater profile with league-average production at the back end of the rotation.
Next: Early Innings