With their eighth-round selection, the 252nd overall, the Yankees took their third college pitcher of the day, Nicholas Judice. The 22-year-old is a right-hander coming off four years at the University of Louisiana Monroe.
Listed at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, Judice has a huge frame. He worked almost exclusively as a reliever in college, posting big strikeout and walk figures. His senior season at school was his best, running a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings, with 66 strikeouts against 11 walks.
Judice has reportedly added significant strength during his college years, with MLB Pipeline noting that he came out of high school at 6-foot-8 but just 185 pounds, with a fastball not much harder than 80 mph. Judice can now sit in the mid-to-low 90s, and occasionally touch higher, with MLB seeing fit to rank him at 175th on their big board.
2023 MLB Draft sleeper for you. Keep an eye on Louisiana-Monroe RHP Nicholas Judice. The 6-foot-8-inch hurler reportedly flirts with triple digits, but lives 92-95 out of an extremely wide angle. Slider is a deep mid-80s banger. 41 K an 9 BB in 31 IP thus far. More in the tank. pic.twitter.com/ZrofEzYSXg— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) April 19, 2023
Baseball America, which ranked Judice at 420th in their draft rankings, describes him as a two-pitch pitcher:
Judice throws two pitches, a fastball and slider, and can run his fastball into the mid 90s with little effort. His hard slider is a plus offspeed pitch with sharp break. He has loose, whippy arm action and attacks from a low, three-quarter slot... It’s easy to envision an uptick in velocity with the 6-foot-8 righthander given the weight he is likely to put on and once he gets his lower half more engaged in his delivery.
That last bit is crucial, as Judice enters an organization renowned for its ability to take raw pitching prospects and unlock extra velocity within them. In Judice, the Yankees’ farm coaches would seem to have an excellent opportunity to work their magic again. With Judice already in the process of adding heft to his frame and velo to his fastball, it’s not hard to imagine the big right-hander continuing that trajectory with the Yankees.
As a college reliever, Judice’s upside may well be limited to, well, being a pro reliever, but given his profile he seems like a prospect to feel excited about. Even if the Yankees keep him on the relief track, he’s landed in a good spot to fulfill his potential.
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