2. Chase Dollander - RHP
The Detroit Tigers must keep right-handed pitcher Chase Dollander on their radar this Spring. The University of Tennessee Volunteers starter has a chance to be the best arm in the draft class. His first start of the 2023 campaign was not as lights out as usual, but I'd expect him to settle in and be just fine as the Spring continues.
Dollander is a fascinating arm to watch with a lot to like mechanically and stuff-wise. He transferred into the Vols' program ahead of the 2022 season from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., and quickly showed he was going to be a problem for opposing teams.
The 21-year-old Georgia native pieced together 14 starts in 2022, with two appearances out of the bullpen for Tony Vitello and the Tennessee staff. He managed a 2.39 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over 79.0 innings of work. He issued just 13 walks and punched out 108 opposing hitters along the way. His first start of 2023 saw him throw 4.2 innings where he walked just one, allowed three hits, and had two earned runs tallied. Dollander punched out seven opposing hitters along the way.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander has a desirable mound presence with athletic actions on the slab. It's a frame that looks like it could continue to develop as he works with a big-league club and taps into what his body has left in the tank. It's a desirable frame already but could improve under the watch of a big-league organization.
His operation on the mound is flawless. He's an extremely athletic mover. Let's talk about his operation on the bump. He starts with a side step and a placement step on the first base side of the rubber. His glove drops to just above belt level after starting around the letters.
As he gets into his leg lift, which gets up to the letters, the hands move back up, getting up around the shoulders. He captures the linear move well and drives down the slope with good extension and control of his body. He hides the ball well through the back with a real smooth arm action from a three-quarters/higher-three-quarters arm slot.
It's an enjoyable delivery to watch, quite satisfying, really. He does a good job utilizing his frame to be efficient. He repeats the delivery well and does the same out of the stretch. With runners on, it's a simple operation for Dollander. He gets a controlled leg lift up just above the belt, cutting it down ever so slightly to manage the run game, letting his center of mass ride the slope, getting extended, and controlling the front side well.
Besides the desirable frame and actions on the mound, Dollander has great stuff. His fastball was up to 97 mph in his first outing of the year while working 92-96 mph with spin up above the 2,400 RPM range. It gets on hitters; it's easy velocity if you watch clips as he just lets it rip with ease. The pitch has arm-side run, and when his control is 100%, he can dot both sides of the plate for strikes.
He pairs it with a slider that tunnels well out of hand and can be a problem for hitters. The slider is harder at 85-88, spinning up above 2,600 RPMs with good late bite to it. He also has a changeup in the upper-80s with some depth to it. He rounds out the pitch mix with the curveball in the upper-70s to have a change of pace from the slider.
Dollander has an elite slider, and the fastball/slider combination can be good enough to beat most hitters, but he has a full four-pitch repertoire that profiles well moving forward. He's received comparisons to Jacob deGrom, and frankly, I could see it. Not to say they have a similar career path, but the two pitchers have similarities.
If the Tigers can get Dollander at no.3 in the 2023 MLB Draft, it is a victory for them. Any time you can get a polished arm with desirable traits who's getting comps to someone like deGrom, I'd recommend the team does not pass on them.