Image courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics
Will Bednar was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 14th overall selection in the 2021 Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft on Sunday, July 11th.
Bednar, the brother of the Pittsburgh Pirates David Bednar, saw his draft stock rise significantly following his dominant performance during the College World Series last month. He was especially dominant during his start against Texas on June 20th where he pitched 6 scoreless innings and struck out 15 while walking 1 and allowing only 1 hit.
While the younger Bednar brother proved himself at the pinnacle of the college baseball world last month, so much so he was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player, the draft eligible sophomore pitched in only 107.2 innings during his time at Mississippi State. He appeared in only 4 games during his freshman season due to the COVID-19 shutdown and missed a couple starts at the beginning of the 2021 season with a neck injury.
Bednar was able to make the most of these limited innings, however, as he completed his time as a Bulldog with a 2.93 ERA and an impressive 13.5 SO/9 ratio.
Bednar officially signed with Giants on July 23rd to a deal that was slightly below slot value.
During this past college season, BaseballCloud had the pleasure of working with Mississippi State. One of the first things that stood out from Bednar’s data was the frequency with which he threw his fastball and slider. These two pitches accounted for more than 94% of his pitches from this past season, but given how dominant he was with them, this certainly makes sense.
While the fastball for Bednar sits in the mid-90’s and was even clocked as high as 97 during the 2021 college season, the pitch, in reality, looks much faster to opposing batters due to a combination of his fast arm-action and the extension present in his delivery.
The fastball featured an average spin rate of around 2500 RPMs and is most effective when he is able to locate it at the top of the zone due to the riding action present on the pitch. The below graph is filtered to show the swings and misses on his fastball from this past season.
Moving forward in pro-ball, this pitch will likely continue to be a very effective offering for him, one that he will be able to use to continue to miss bats like he did in college. Overall, Bednar was able to generate whiffs at about a 30% clip this past season with this offering, and considering the IVB numbers on the pitch, this is not very surprising.
As previously mentioned, Bednar’s other primary offering is a slider. The slider is about 10 MPH slower than the fastball and it featured an average spin rate of over 2750 RPMs this past season. The slider for Bednar also featured an average VAA of -7.3 and an average HAA of -4.3.
Bednar’s slider tunnels very well off of his fastball and has a tilt of 9:49 and an average spin-efficiency of about 35%.
Bednar’s slider was considered one of the best in this year’s draft class and it is very easy to see why this is the case. The slider is also a very effective offering for him at generating whiffs and he was able to do so at nearly a 50% clip during the 2021 college season.
Even when opposing batters made contact against the slider this past season it was very weak contact as the pitch featured an average EV against of only 79.7 mph.
Bednar has the makings of a solid contributor at the major league level given the fastball/slider combination. The right-hander’s ability to reach his potential as a mid-rotation type starter however is largely dependent on his ability to develop the changeup into a pitch he can more consistently rely on and his ability to stay healthy.