John Lepore | June 7th, 2020
The MLB Amateur Draft will be on June 10th at 7 pm ET. Emerson Hancock is a right-handed starter from the University of Georgia. He is considered by many as one of the top pitchers in this class. Let’s take a look at what he will bring to his new team.
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Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Weight: 213 lbs
2018 Stats: 15 GS, 77.2 IP, 6-4, 5.10 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, 75/34 K/BB rate
2019 Stats: 14 GS, 90.1 IP, 8-3, 1.99 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, 97/18 K/BB rate
2020 Stats: 4 GS, 24 IP, 2-0, 3.75 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, 34/3 K/BB rate
Hancock was born on May 31, 1999, and is a native of Georgia. The big righty dominated in his senior year going 11-1 with a 0.75 ERA and striking out 125 in just 75 innings. He was drafted in the 38th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017 on the strength of that season at Cairo High School. He chose to attend the University of Georgia instead and has certainly improved his draft stock. Hancock had some control issues in his freshman year. He struggled a bit with his secondary offerings. As he gained more confidence and fine-tuned his mechanics, Hancock turned into the Friday Night pitcher UGA envisioned. Facing SEC hitters is no easy task and can be daunting, but Hancock embraced it according to pitching coach Sean Kenny from an article by Matthew Leach on MLB.com.
“He genuinely wanted it,” said UGA pitching coach Sean Kenny. “Genuinely thought he should be that guy. … He liked it and was comfortable with it. And I think the thing that separates him is the moment doesn’t ever get too big, because he doesn’t really look at it like anything other than an extension of his practice days.”
Check out more of Emerson Hancock here:
Hancock has a very good fastball-slider combination. He sits 94-96 with the heater and can dial it up a bit if needed. His slider has good break and he brings it at 83-86. He hasn’t used his curveball and changeup quite as much in college but still flashes plus on both pitches and locates his change well. Hancock’s command is excellent as evidenced by his 131/21 K/BB rate over his last 18 starts in college. The Georgia Bulldog has prototypical size for a starter at 6’4 and room to build on his 213 lb frame. His delivery is very smooth and repeatable. His body is quiet in his windup as well as from the stretch and he has good stride directly to the plate.
True to his alma mater, he is a bulldog. Hancock wants the ball and consistently pounds the strike zone. He trusts his stuff which isn’t as common as you may think with starters at the collegiate level. He has faced very good competition playing in the SEC which bodes well as he moves through a major league system.
After an amazing start to his 2019 campaign (eight ER in first 10 starts), Hancock suffered a lat injury and missed two weeks and hasn’t been quite as sharp since returning. In his last eight starts (four in 2019, four in 2020), he has thrown 45.1 innings and given up 47 hits to the tune of a 4.37 ERA. Granted, it is a small sample size and velocity and control haven’t been a problem (54/6 K/BB rate), but it is undeniable that he has gotten hit harder after the injury. Not a major weakness, but something to keep an eye on especially for a team looking to grab Hancock in the top 10.
If Hancock develops either his curveball or changeup into a solid third offering, he could be the next Shane Bieber. The Cleveland righty came into his own last season and throws a good fastball-slider combo while mixing in a plus curve. Hancock has a similar FB-SL mix, throwing a touch harder than Bieber. He locates his changeup well already with limited use. Developing the change to the point where it is a viable out pitch especially against lefties will boost Hancock into ace status at the major league level.
Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 6: Seattle Mariners
The Mariners like their big righties. With Logan Gilbert at 6’6 and last year’s first-round pick George Kirby at 6’4, Hancock fits right in line. While they could go with middle infielder Nick Gonzales here, I think they would prefer to add to their stable of starters. Hancock has the potential to be an ace. Along with Gilbert, Kirby, and Justin Dunn, the Mariners could have a solid rotation of durable arms in a couple of years. With some solid hitters making their way to the majors, Seattle may finally get over the playoff drought come 2022.
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