12/20/2013 11:38 A.M. ET
Jungmann has tools, but remains a work in progress
Lanky right-hander could be part of Brewers' future if he shores up erratic delivery
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
Right-handed starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann is on the Milwaukee Brewers' pitching radar. And for good reason. He has all the makings of a fine starting pitcher. For now, however, he is a work in progress.
Now 24 years old, Jungmann, from Temple, Texas, attended Rogers High School and finished at Georgetown High School as a senior.
In his year at Georgetown, he had a record of 14-0 with a 0.77 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and four shutouts.
Following graduation, Jungmann attended the University of Texas, a school with a rich tradition for playing winning college baseball.
Jungmann's composite collegiate totals are sparkling. He finished with a 32-9 record over 45 starts in three seasons. He had an ERA of 1.85 and 356 strikeouts.
While Jungmann was consistent throughout, he saved his best for his junior year. He threw to a record of 13-3 with a 1.60 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 141 1/3 innings. Jungmann was so good, in fact, he earned the famed Dick Howser Trophy, presented to the nation's top collegiate baseball player.
His high school and college body of work provided the focal point for Jungmann's selection by the Brewers in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Jungmann is now No. 2 on the Brewers Top 20 Prospect List.
While Jungmann was pitching for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, I was able to see two of his three starts. Jungmann looked very strong in his first outing at the beginning of the season. He threw his sinking fastball at 90-92 mph, generally sitting at 90. He mixed in an occasional 85-mph changeup, an 81-mph slider and an 81-mph curveball. So his repertoire was complete and he threw strikes.
In his second and third outings, Jungmann scuffled. He couldn't always find the strike zone and yielded hits and walks that resulted in a final ERA of 9.82 for his 7 1/3 innings pitched. His WHIP of 2.18 reflected his difficulty getting comfortable on the mound and finding a rhythm. He walked seven while striking out seven.
Jungmann is a better pitcher than those statistics reflect.
In his two seasons of Minor League ball, Jungmann has pitched for Class A Advanced Brevard County and for Double-A Huntsville in 2012 and '13, respectively.
The results have been fairly similar at both classifications. He has a combined 21-16 record in 52 starts. His ERA between the two was 3.91 after going from 3.53 at Brevard County to 4.33 at Huntsville. His WHIP has remained steady and is 1.35 over the two seasons. He has struck out 181 and walked 119 in 292 1/3 Minor League innings.
While his walk rate is high at 3.7 per nine innings, his strikeouts have not been overwhelming. He has a rate of 5.6 per nine.
Jungmann is a huge presence on the mound. At 6-foot-6, 210-pounds, he has the ability to pitch downhill with a big, lanky frame. It is when he deviates from his normal delivery and throws across his body, landing inconsistently, that he gets too much of the plate or loses command of the strike zone completely.
When Jungmann's pitches are not moving in a downward plane, he gets hit. He has to keep the ball down to be effective. That's where his size and height matter. When facing downhill pitching, hitters have a tendency to pound his pitches into the ground. Any deviation from that approach can cause the ball to stay up in the zone. Then he loses his height advantage. He loses rhythm. He falls behind in counts. Smoothing out his high-effort delivery would help as well.
Both right-handed and left-handed hitters hit .232 off him this past season. So it isn't lots of hits that cause concern. It's hits at the wrong time and too many free passes that have raised his ERA.
For Jungmann, it will likely take more time to realize success in his development by working on repeating his delivery, pounding the ball low in the strike zone, using his entire repertoire and gaining confidence on the mound.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.