Over the next couple weeks leading up to the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, Sports Info Solutions will be publishing a series of scouting reports from three of our Video Scouts for the top-10 collegiate draft prospects and five honorable mentions. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
To read all the reports, click here.
Written by Brandon Tew
Sam Bachman started skyrocketing up draft boards this college season with his loud fastball and slider combo that might be the best in the entire 2021 draft. With two potential 70-grade pitches, Bachman arguably possesses the highest upside of any pitching prospect in the draft. The control of these tantalizing offerings and the development of a third pitch will be key for Bachman during his pro career.
Early College Career:
Bachman stepped on campus his freshman year for the RedHawks in 2019 and instantly experienced success, posting a 3.93 ERA in 14 starts. He backed up that First Team All-MAC performance with a 3.42 ERA in 4 starts during the shortened 2020 season. Bachman’s reliability and fastball-slider combo was already on scouts’ radar during his first two seasons in Oxford, Ohio, but he turned his repertoire into a nightmare for hitters going into the fall of 2020.
Bachman made some slight mechanical tweaks and increased his fastball velocity this season, making it one of the best in this year’s draft. Sitting at 95-97 mph comfortably and touching up to 101 mph this spring, it has impressive arm side run and bores into RHBs constantly. The horizontal movement of his fastball excites many scouts. He throws a 2-seam fastball that moves but can also reach triple digits on the radar gun, something that is hard to find in a pitching prospect.
The pairing of this fastball with a mid-80s slider that climbs up to the low 90s at times had scouts flocking to his starts this spring. Bachman dominated MAC competition this season with an impressive 1.81 ERA and a minuscule .147 opponent’s batting average. He also mowed down hitters, striking out 93 batters in 59 ⅔ innings. The competition Bachman faced wasn’t the best, but with high strikeout totals and some improved control of his fastball and slider, Bachman possesses the tools to produce at the next level.
Bachman pitches with an aggressive mindset throwing his 2-seam fastball in to righties to start at bats. The horizontal movement Bachman gets on the pitch is different from most fastballs. This allows the pitch to run in on the hands of right-handed batters, making it difficult to square the pitch up. Bachman creates movement on the ball by getting on the side of the baseball and throwing from a lower ¾ arm slot.
Bachman tunnels his fastball extremely well with his slider which adds to the deception of the pitch. Bachman has worked hard to get more of a gyroscopic or bullet-like spin to his slider which allows gravity to yank this pitch towards the ground as it approaches the plate. This creates late action as the ball “falls off the table,” something that many pitchers want from a wipeout slider. The gyro spin keeps the baseball in the tunnel with his fastball longer, enhancing the effectiveness of both pitches.
The development of Bachman’s slider has been key for him. Bachman has the ability to manipulate the spin on the pitch and drop it in for a strike, keeping hitters honest early in the count and then putting them away late with the same pitch.
There are some questions about his potential as an MLB starter. He needs to develop a dependable third pitch. He threw his changeup sparingly during the spring, but it shows real promise. Bachman throws a traditional changeup, gripping it in a 2-seam fashion; he creates good fading action to the pitch when thrown well and the pitch does stay in the same tunnel as his fastball and slider. The potential of this pitch is above-average to plus and will be a big factor in if he stays as a starter or reliever in pro ball.
Another question mark for Bachman is control, as he did walk 4.1 batters per 9 innings in his first two seasons. He did lower that to only 2.6 walks per 9 in 2021. If his improved control and command continues, he will have a good shot at being a starter.
He needs to continue to develop his fastball control and command as he can get wild and lose his release point at times. If he can spot the fastball, both glove side and arm side, then it can become a dangerous weapon. He’s more comfortable throwing to the glove side of the plate, but proved this season he can attack hitters’ arm side, especially righties, allowing the 2-seamer to ride in on the hands.
Using a high-effort delivery with quick tempo, Bachman starts with his hands down in front of him at his belt. He takes a quick step back and works his hands quickly to his chest along with a high leg kick to his chest as well. He has a nice drop-and-drive on his back leg, loading before he extends with powerful energy as his plant foot drives towards the plate.
With a shorter and quicker arm action from his low ¾ arm slot Bachman has a quick and deceptive delivery and pitches with high intensity and a fast tempo. This style of delivery can cause fatigue late into his starts and he has had problems with arm soreness this spring. Bachman will have to work on this if teams plan to employ him as a starter. He only pitched into the 7th inning twice in 12 starts this season
Whether Bachman starts or relieves for a team will depend on the development of his changeup and the control and command of his pitches. With improved control this spring it projects to be at least average for him in professional baseball. The nastiness of Bachman’s fastball and his slider could allow him to move through a minor league organization quickly. His upside is enormous, and he has the potential to be an impact power arm at the next level.
High floor reliever with an elite fastball and slider combo. With the development of a changeup and better control he has starter potential.
Ceiling: Luis Severino
Floor: Diego Castillo
Draft Expectation: Top 15 pick