There may be no bigger wildcard in this draft. Tanner was a 2020 prospect out of High School and I had considered writing him up then when he was a Third Base prospect. He switched to strictly pitching at University of Texas. He’s a 6’5” 215 lbs from Houston, TX. He’s a wildcard because he has Tommy John Surgery ~9 months ago. He should pitch in 2023, but will probably miss the first month or so. That’s going to leave teams with a pretty small sample size to judge his recovery. Were it not for the Tommy John, he could be a top 10 prospect. If his velocity or movement or control isn’t there in the spring I could also see him falling into the 2nd round. The Phillies pick late in this draft, so picking a profile to start with was tough, so I went with one I find interesting and who is very realistic to still be there at pick 29.
The velocity he has to get back up to is a Plus Fastball that tops out at 97 mph, but usually works in the 95 range. That’s not eye popping, but the calling cards for Witt before his injury were his improved control and command and high spin rates on a 4-pitch mix. He spent his Freshman year in the Bullpen for the Longhorns and had some issues with Walks, but was effective and racked up close to 12 K/9. He went to Cape Cod that summer and impressed over 3 starts. That set him up for a Sophomore season as the Sunday Starter for the Longhorns (essentially the #3 Starter). He had 2 highly effective Starts against Alabama and Rice before getting shut down and having surgery.
For the remainder of his arsenal Tanner throws a plus 12-6 Curveball as his primary off speed pitch. He also has a Slider and Change-up he works in. The Curve is probably his best pitch. When he can locate it, it looks like a high ball and just drops off a shelf. The video below is from Pitching Ninja and is a video of Witt’s Curves (and a nice comp to his his high 4-Seamer at the end, showing why it’s so effective). This video has one thing I would want him to work on. The good news may be that some studies have shown Curveball movement increases for some Pitchers after UCL surgery (though that may also impact control and command). Witt’s season ended a little more than a week after this video went up.
There aren’t a lot of videos of Witt pitching in College, in large part because late last season and summer showcases would have been the big time periods when scouts, writers and prospect heads would have gone out the most and he was out. I may revisit Tanner later this Spring if he still looks like an option and as more data and perhaps video becomes available. As of now I’ll say there’s a lot of risk here with a bullpen floor (if healthy) and probably #3 Starter ceiling.
I promise longer previews later and lots of them(with pick #29, there’s a lot of options that could be the pick). Some of the reviews may just be quick hit paragraphs to get enough in. In the meantime, enjoy this well done student project video on Tanner Witt from his High School days.