With the 27th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Cubs have selected Fresno State right-handed pitcher Ryan Jensen. To say the least, Jensen was not thought of as a first-round prospect by most major media evaluators — he was ranked as the No. 99 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list and 109th by Baseball America.
Jensen, 21, is an undersized right-hander at 6-foot and 180 pounds. He does possess very impressive fastball velocity, however, possessing a heater that sits in the upper-mid 90s and already tops out at 98 mph. That pitch has maintained its velocity deep into games, meaning that he has a chance to stick as a starter. But as you may guess for a guy who’s taken at the back of the first round, Jensen also has a chance to end up in the bullpen at some point — his slider is considered to be just OK, and his changeup doesn’t look like a pitch that’s going to help him get outs right now. Jensen’s size, combined with the fact that he thrives almost solely off his fastball right now, means that he could be an injury risk going forward — and a guy who might struggle to adjust if an injury takes a few miles per hour off his primary pitch.
Jensen had a strong junior season for the Bulldogs, posting a 2.92 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP, 99 strikeouts, and just 26 walks. While he’ll need to improve his offspeed pitches as we alluded to above, the fact that he was able to keep his walks down in such an impressive fashion this season means that at the very least, he should end up being a reliable reliever as a pro.