Prospect: Jake Jewell
Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher
Level: AA Mobile
Age: Entering Age 25 season in 2018.
Height: 6’3” – Weight: 200 lbs
Floor: Middle reliever.
Ceiling: Back of the rotation starter.
Likely Outcome: Middle reliever that covers multiple innings.
Summary: If you’re looking for a prospect that just confuses the heck out of me, you’ve found him in Jake Jewell. Back when the Angels drafted him in the 5th round of the 2014 draft, Jewell was coming out of a college I’d never even heard of, and that college used him primarily as a reliever. I figured, big kid, strong, has a mid-90’s fastball, he’s definitely a reliever. But the Angels have used him as a starter. Now we see this sometimes with guys at the lower levels, just to get them more innings, but the Angels appear to be very serious about keeping him in the rotation.
The first opportunity I had to watch Jewell pitch, was in relief in Burlington. He had a very solid fastball, 92-94, sometimes popping 96, a great slider and nothing in the way of a change up. Later in the year the Angels moved him into the rotation and the results just weren’t as promising as they were in relief, so I just figured it was a failed experiment.
The next season, Jewell is at Inland Empire and I see the Angels using him as a starter again, and that was just a head scratcher for me. But after further review, I sort of get it. Jewell has the stamina to throw quality pitches late in the game. Relievers don’t have that. As for the offerings themselves, I saw someone that was quite the opposite as the year before. Jake couldn’t find the strike zone anymore like he had in Burlington, and the great slider I’d witness, now looked soft and loopy, and the non-existent change up suddenly looked like a very solid offering.
So I was confused.
Enter 2017, I figure since Jake’s ERA was over 6.00 the last season, the business of using him as a starter was over and done with. Not so. He was back in the rotation and had a solid three starts at Inland Empire before moving up to AA. Jewell’s experience in AA was up and down to say the least. It doesn’t appear he found any sort of consistency. Like Ervin Santana early in his career, he might have one start where he goes seven strong and keeps them off the scoreboard, and the next he can’t make it out of the third.
And I don’t get it. His mechanics and arm slot are clean. He attacks hitters and throws strikes. He should have a much better K/9 than 7.2, which is solid, but not evident of a pitcher with as many quality offerings as Jake has. Speaking of those offerings, I feel 2017 cleared up some of my confusion. The quality slider I saw before appears to be gone, replaced by one that’s simply ok. He gets it over for strikes. The change up is real though. There isn’t a ton of movement in his, but the speed differential and keeping it low in the zone is enough to generate weak contact in any count. The fastball, Jake effortlessly delivers at 93-94, but it’s plain to see there’s a lot left in the tank there. But this might be the velocity he’s comfortable at which is fine.
The Angels protected Jewell from the Rule 5 Draft by adding him to the 40 man roster, and with good reason. This is the type of kid that if he suddenly figures it out, you’ll want him on your staff at the major league level. If he does stay in the rotation, I think he can be a back end starter. If he switches to relief, I picture Jewell’s fastball climbing to the 96-98 range pretty comfortably, and I think he can be very effective in that role.
At any rate, this looks like a major leaguer to me.
What to expect: Jake started the season in the Cal League and AA Mobile pretty strong, but the wheels fell off right around the all-star break, so I think we’ll see a return trip to AA. Normally, I’d say we can expect to see Jewell in relief, but speaking with members of the front office, they’re still committed to keeping him in the rotation.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 2019, Jake’s age 26 season.