Detroit Tigers Draft

Detroit Tigers: CJ Van Eyk’s Power Fastball Might Have the Tigers’ Eye

TALLAHASSEE, FL - MARCH 9: Head Coach Mike Martin of the Florida State Seminoles talk with Umpire Perry Costello about a change in the line-up during the game against Virginia Tech on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium on March 9, 2019 in Tallahassee. FSU's CJ Van Eyk would be a great option for the Detroit Tigers in the 2020 MLB Draft. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
TALLAHASSEE, FL - MARCH 9: Head Coach Mike Martin of the Florida State Seminoles talk with Umpire Perry Costello about a change in the line-up during the game against Virginia Tech on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium on March 9, 2019 in Tallahassee. FSU's CJ Van Eyk would be a great option for the Detroit Tigers in the 2020 MLB Draft. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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The Florida State right-handed pitcher would be a nice find in round 2 for the Detroit Tigers

It is no secret the Detroit Tigers love starting pitcher power arms from the ACC or SEC. CJ Van Eyk fits the bill, save his height, from what the Detroit Tigers have long coveted in a starting pitcher. The Tigers have not been shy about their willingness to continue to add pitching to their system via the 2020 draft; this already to a system which has been widely regarded as one of the best farms as it pertains to pitching.

However, most of their top prospects are beginning to either fizzle a bit or reaching the upper minors. 8 of the top 10 Tigers pitching prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, have reached at least Double-A, with the oft-injured Franklin Perez and the recently-acquired Paul Richan being the exceptions.

High school arms bring intrigue; but in a year in which any outside of the first five rounds is subjected to a $20k bonus cap, a college arm like Van Eyk might offer less risk to a team that is still in the middle of a rebuild.

Van Eyk is a right-handed pitcher who has been on teams’ radar for some time. He was taken out of high school in the 19th round in 2017 MLB Draft by the New York Mets; a move typically designed for teams to start a working professional relationship more than signing on the dotted line. Van Eyk would ultimately bet on himself and attend Florida State University, to which he had already pledged.

The bet would pay off and Van Eyk’s success would continue with FSU; where he would pitch to a 3.21 ERA across 41 games; 27 of which were starts. His Junior season in 2019-2020 was particularly impressive before NCAA ceased activities; where he would pitch to a 0.898 WHIP across four starts and producing a 1.31 ERA while striking out 25 batters in just 20.2 innings.

Strengths

The clear strength with Van Eyk is his pitches he features–the fastball will sit 94-95 mph but has gotten up to 98 according to Fangraphs. The pitch has some good away from the arm side, making it a legitimate out pitch for him for left-handed batters. The slider is his second out pitch and compliments his fastball nicely. It will run anywhere from 80-84 mph with the lower speeds featuring a little more loop; comparable to former Tigers closer Shane Greene.

He has a good feel for the pitch as well; he can either go for the back-foot for a swinging third strike to lefties or he can backdoor the pitch for a called strike on the outside part of the plate. To righties, he typically starts the pitch in the zone, causing it to finish down and away for a swinging strike.

The changeup is a bit more of a ‘show me’ pitch than a legitimate out pitch, but it does show nice fading action at times. He repeats his delivery well, which allows Van Eyk to keep hitters off of his fastball effectively; leveraging the effectiveness of that pitch.

Weaknesses

The right-handed starter’s delivery, while repeatable, is a bit cookie-cutter, which results in a lack of deception. He does hide the ball decently well behind his glove and then his body, though, which suggests he may be fine to continue as-is.

According to Fangraphs, while Van Eyk does have three plus pitches, they are rarely all plus at the same time; creating risk in his profile and increasing the likelihood of Van Eyk ultimately relieving in the pros. For the Detroit Tigers, a relief option might not be so welcomed to a crowded stable which already features Zach Hess, Wladimir Pinto, Jason Foley, Anthony Castro, and Max Green in the low-to-middle minors, among others.

Draft Projection

Many have suggested a run of college players in the late first round to early second round, so it is anyone’s guess on where Van Eyk may end up within that run. He is listed at #31 on Fangraph’s THE BOARD, suggesting he may be a value pick to the Tigers at 38.

Van Eyk was recently mocked to the Dodgers with the 29th overall selection by The Athletic’s Keith Law.

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