Don’t try and challenge Dillon Tate’s right arm. He will, probably, strike you out. Tate, a right-handed pitcher at UC-Santa Barbara, has built a career on doing just that and now he’s hoping that his efforts on the mound are enough to warrant a selection in this year’s MLB Draft.
Tate has been a consistent name atop a handful of scout and analyst mock drafts throughout the spring and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hold the No. 1 overall pick, have been doing the leg work to get in contact with the Big West standout.
Although Tate has numbers to be considered solid, he’s still a high-risk pick for a lot of early-drafting teams, particularly at the pitching position. College pitchers taken first overall are usually considered complete packages and Tate isn’t – at least not yet.
Here’s what you need to know about the West Coast hurler:
In a bit of a surprise for a top prospect, Tate didn’t actually start a college baseball game on the mound until this season. He threw a combined 46 1/3 innings for UC-Santa Barbara out of the bullpen before taking over the starting spot full-time.
This spring, Tate is 8-5 on the mound with a 2.26 ERA in 103.1 innings pitched. He’s given up just 66 hits and struck out an almost-ridiculous 111 strikeouts, averaging just under 10 K’s a game, with a career-best 0.91 WHIP.
He’s added a bit of a bite to his fastball this season, averaging between 92 to 98 miles per hour, and boasts a strong slider as well, sitting at about 86 miles per hour there. The problem though is the reset of his pitch arsenal. MLB scouts have alluded to an up-and-down curveball and a changeup that still needs a bit of work as well.
The California native played his high school baseball at Claremont High and played his summer ball for the Urban Youth Academy before heading to UC-Santa Barbara.
Tate’s true claim to potential baseball fame came last summer, following his sophomore season out of the bullpen, when he qualified to compete with USA’s Collegiate National Team. He made 11 appearances on the mound for the squad, recording three saves and allowing seven hits while striking out seven over the course of 11.1 innings pitched.
Tate discussed his experience with Team USA on the UCSB Athletics site:
I attribute my success to just continuing to work hard. Being around the best players in the country makes me strive to do my best and prove that I should play with them. My preparation leading up to games is very important because I’d like to give my teammates and myself the best chance at winning when I take the mound. I work with whatever I have at the hotel in order to prepare for the game.
Tate started drawing prospects early this season, particularly after his stint with Team USA’s collegiate national team last summer, and he’s put on a pretty solid show this spring. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound righty is strong on the mound and he almost seems to explode when he pitches.
His wind-up is prolific, including a high leg kick and almost massive stride that allows him to add some power to every single one of his pitches. He’s ranks among the top-20 NCAA pitchers in strikeouts for a reason.
Tate’s mechanics are also exhausting. As a first-time starter this spring he’s apt to give his best stuff in the early innings and, while that’s usually a good thing, it also sets him up for a steep drop as he progresses late in the game.