Prep Baseball Report

Arms Race: Pacific Northwest

Shooter Hunt
Vice President, Scouting

A fertile prospect haven populated by fervent baseball fans, the Pacific Northwest has risen to even greater heights in the baseball world in recent years. A 2018 National Championship, the program’s third, for the Oregon State Beavers, gave way to 2019, which saw C
Adley Rutschman (Sherwood HS, OR), a Oregon native, go first overall in the MLB Draft, and Washington’s OF Corbin Carroll (Lakeside HS, WA) go 16th overall. Then, in 2020, a dynamic duo out of Oregon in RHP Mick Abel (Jesuit HS, OR) and LHP Dylan MacLean (Central Catholic HS, OR) each signed for seven-figure bonuses.

The explosion of talent in the Pacific Northwest shows no signs of slowing down.

RHP Jackson Cox (Toutle Lake HS, WA) and RHP J.R. Ritchie (Bainbridge HS, WA) are this year’s headline grabbers from the PNW, and for good reason. Each holds an impressive arsenal with elite arm strength with athleticism and mound presence that elevates the stuff. It is what makes both a top 40 prospect in the class.

Taking the mound on what was the first nice day of the spring in the Pacific Northwest, Cox looked the part of a Day 1 selection in July’s MLB Draft, and showcased a full arsenal of electric stuff. Equipped with lean strength across an elastic and athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame, the right-hander still holds plenty of projection on the frame, which should only help elevate the stuff in coming years. The Oregon recruit worked five innings that included nine strikeouts and just two hits as he peppered the strike zone with three pitches--throwing 61 total pitches (77 percent strikes). Utilizing a loose, whippy arm that features a later break of the hands, Cox’s fastball sat mostly 90-92 mph (2200-2350), including on his final few pitches, and featured considerable ride and run through the zone with some late hop. Pitching for the second time in five days, it was not the same mid-90s velocity that I saw in the summer, but I feel confident saying that it will creep up there sooner rather than later.

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 Jackson Cox

A smooth mover down the mound with solid drive off the back side, there is electricity in the hand speed out front which provides for an uncomfortable look, even given the polish of the delivery. The slider (78-79) was ripped off with equal intent as the fastball, tunneling the pitch until late with what might be the most difficult separation of any prep pitcher in the country. Routinely in the 3050-3150 rpm range, the pitch reached as high as 3187 rpm in this look, and bottomed out at around 2945 when he was “just dropping it in.” A clear plus pitch, especially when thrown late in counts with kill intention, Cox appears

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