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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

MLB Draft - Day Two - Phillies 5th round selection

The Pick is in : Orion Kerkering -  RHP -University of South Florida -  21 years old

The Scoop : from MLB Draft data base

“A bit of a late bloomer, Kerkering didn’t make his Venice High School varsity team until his junior year but then helped the Florida power win back-to-back state championships as a starter. He began his career at South Florida as a reliever, scuffling a bit initially in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, then thriving as the Bulls’ closer in 2021.

He moved into the Friday night starter role and opened a lot of eyes early, but after struggling, he has largely been back in a reliver role since late April.

Always pitching from the stretch, Kerkering does have three pitches in his arsenal. The 6-foot-2 right-hander tops out at 97 mph with his fastball, especially in shorter stints, and has averaged around 93 mph. He hasn’t always commanded it well and it’s been squared up more than it should.

His best pitch is his slider, a sharp 83-85 mph breaker that flashes plus and can be a nasty strikeout pitch at times. His mid-80s changeup isn’t as good, but it does offer some fade away from left-handed hitters.

Kerkering does a nice job of hiding the ball and creating some deception with his delivery. And while his overall command needs to improve, he’s done a better job of finding the strike zone than he did in 2021. A team taking him at some point on Day 2 of the Draft might want to give him a chance to start, but there’s a pretty good chance he lands in a bullpen, where that slider could really play.”

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