School: University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB)
Height/Weight: 6‘2”, 195 lbs
Previously Drafted: N/A
Stat line – current season: 103.1 IP, 14 GS, 2.26 ERA, 111/28 SO/BB, 66 H, 0.91 WHIP
Scouting Grades and Scouting Tape:
Note: these grades are my summations based on all readily available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN (Present/Future, 20-80 scale):
Dillon Tate is a 21-year-old junior at USCB out of Claremont High School in California. He is a product of the growing and productive Compton’s Urban Youth Academy. Tate pitched sparingly as a freshman, was very effective as a sophomore in the pen and has been dominant this year for the Gauchos. Much like the University of Illinois’ Tyler Jay, Tate was a top arm being held back in the bullpen. Unlike Tyler Jay, UCSB had starter Dominic Mazza get injured prior to opening weekend making an opening for Tate.
Tate features what is likely the top arm in the draft from a velocity standpoint. At his best, his fastball sits at 93-97 MPH and he has topped out of 99 MPH. The pitch offers great movement and challenges right-handed opposition who quickly find it running in on their hands. His out pitch is his slider, which clocks at 84-88. His slider is currently plus and adds a lot to his floor as a player. The righty’s big velocity and wipeout-slider figure to make him a serious option out of the pen if he cannot find the command to stick as a starter. Both Tate’s change-up and curveball have been a work in process to this point. The change is a better offering with potential but is probably a little better than a show me pitch at his point. The curveball has not been used very often and does not figure to evolve into a big part of Tate’s game.
Delivery and Composition:
The UCSB righty rocks into his delivery and sports a Bronson Arroyo-esque leg kick with a three-quarters release point. Leg kicks have really been left behind in this era of baseball because of the unnecessary movement they add to a pitcher’s delivery but despite that, Tate has shown the ability to work it despite that unnecessary energy exerted. Tate has a very strong base and has shown impressive balance too as he still has a repeatable, low-effort delivery. While his leg kick may get scratched if he can’t hold up in the later innings, his loose arm action and impressive balance should allow him to keep it for the time being.
The slider has been a key to the junior’s success in both his sophomore and junior campaigns and he has leaned on it when he gets in trouble. Tate, to my eyes, has been tipping it to an extent and he may not get away with that as he moves level-to-level. When hurling his fastball Tate has been drop-and-drive with good extension but when he spins his slider, he takes longer to get home. In what is likely an effort to generate more tilt on the pitch, Tate leans back and drags out his delivery home just enough to differentiate it from his fastball’s delivery. This is both common and fixable in pitchers at Tate’s juncture.
Tate has put on plenty of weight jumping from 160 as a freshman to close to 200 as a draft-ready junior. Tate satisfies one scouting proverb of having a big butt. Some scouts will use a player’s butt to determine how much a player can fill out and Tate, while still lanky despite the muscle already added, figures to be able to add even more muscle than he’s already put on.
Weightlifting and recent stock fall:
It’s not often you see much more than a quick mention on a prospect’s weightlifting routine but I think it’s particularly important for Tate. He is a lot closer to a self-made prospect than most. Obviously all of the potential first round draftees carry loads of natural talent but Tate’s ascension from his prospect status as an eighteen-year-old is significant. This is a guy who only had a few Division One offers and sported a gangly 160-pound frame as an 18-year-old.
In a Kendall Rogers article from April, Rogers probed UCSB’s head coach Andrew Checketts about Tate’s jump to becoming the ace of USCB. Checketts spoke on Tate’s transformation, “He’s a thinker, and he’s a worker. He’s put on 40 pounds since he’s been here, and his velocity has really skyrocketed. And honestly, he’s still got more room for some body fat.” While being a hard worker can never hurt someone’s chances, Checketts alluded to an unconventional routine for most pitchers, “Dillon loves the weight room and he was really able to lift aggressively throughout that summer after his freshman season. He was lifting for mass, trying to improve mobility and preventing injuries. And he’s shown more velocity by doing that way. I guess it’s a good thing he didn’t listen to me.”
Checketts spoke in high praise of the impressively structured 21-year-old but it was reported by Jim Callis on a recent South Side Sox podcast that Tate is suffering from a weight lifting injury that held him out of a recent start. Tate, who was once looked at as the consensus number one pitcher, has recently seen his stock tumble a bit. His reports on velocity and ability to succeed late in games have been less than encouraging but with reports of a short term, non-recurring injury, the stock fall may be of the artificial variety. It should also be noted that Tate has passed 100 innings in a season for the first time in his career, and could be simply tiring out in unchartered territories. One scout was in attendance for Tate’s start against Wichita State in April where a fresh Tate’s velocity held strong throughout. Regardless, given the fickle nature of the industry and media, Tate could carry a huge value to a team in the back end of the first ten picks.
Tate and the White Sox on draft day:
While it has not been reported widely, the White Sox are certainly in on Dillon Tate. Primarily because it was initially assumed he would not last until #8, the Tate-White Sox marriage has largely been unmentioned until the last week or so. A new wave mock drafts have the White Sox selecting the righty on Monday.
How Tate fits as a prospect for the White Sox is obvious: he is a college pitcher. Away from that, Tate is an athletic type with questions about holding up as a starter. While the Sox have never been afraid to draft a guy with concerns about starting, but I think that’s really irrelevant in this draft as very few top guys look like guaranteed starters.
Tate, along with Tyler Jay, Carson Fulmer and Jon Harris, figure to be the four college pitchers the Sox are in on this coming Monday. Given that the White Sox are seen as the earliest Missouri State’s Harris could go, it should be assumed that Jay, Tate and Fulmer are the priorities. To which extent their interest lies remain to be seen. Here at Future Sox we have been told the White Sox covet Jay at #8 and while the media has echoed the White Sox interest, it’s been widely reported the Fulmer is their guy at #8. Tate’s intrigue lies in the fact that he had been looked at as a top three pick since April and until recent, any connection with teams later in the draft was underreported as it seemed unlikely he’d fall at that time.
While it’s generally against convention, who the White Sox draft on Monday is likely to be in heavy consideration of the current team’s composition. Chicago’s front office is set on competing early and often in Chris Sale’s and Jose Abreu’s prime years and Tyler Jay and Carson Fulmer are looked at as quick movers who can find themselves in a MLB bullpen this season. Tate may take longer, but could very well be the best prospect of the three. The White Sox will take their best player available at #8 but that shouldn’t be confused with the best consensus player. Who the White Sox select will be a reflection of their preferred intersection of the player’s likelihood to hold up as a starter and respective ability to contribute as soon as possible. While I think Tate sliding to #8 is best possible scenario for the Sox, whether he fits their timeline remains to be seen.
Keep up with us via the live Draft Tracker (to go up Monday on the blog) and on twitter (@FutureSox) this upcoming week as we cover the whole process. Your number one stop for all things White Sox minor leagues.
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