Dylan Ross threw 91 mph as a senior at Georgia Premier Academy in 2019. He didn’t draw professional interest as a prep pitcher, he recalls, and attended Eastern Kentucky University his freshman year of college in 2019-20.
He pitched in four innings over three appearances in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season at EKU last year. Then, he sought live-game reps and pitched in the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
Ross capitalized on the opportunity to pitch in front of professional scouts. He posted a 1.16 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks allowed in 23 1/3 innings in the FCSL. His success caused him to garner some interest as an undrafted free agent with one MLB team offering him a pro contract, Ross said.
Ross declined the pro interest and transferred to Northwest Florida State College for his sophomore season. He posted a strong season as a starting pitcher and most notably increased his fastball velocity to the high-90s this spring.
His intangibles and intriguing potential have caused him to receive interest in anticipation for July’s MLB draft. Scouts believe Ross could hear his name called in the first 10 rounds of this year’s draft.
“The draft process is new to me,” Ross said. “It wasn’t the same out of high school. But it hasn’t been something I have focused a ton on. Whatever God’s plan is, is what’s going to happen. I am not going to be a lot of stress on myself. I’m just going to keep working to be the best I can be.”
Ross posted a 3.88 ERA this season with 77 strikeouts and 28 walks allowed in 60 1/3 innings in 12 starts at Northwest Florida this season.
Ross, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound right-handed pitcher, gained attention due to his uptick in fastball velocity this spring. The righty throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider, changeup and splitter from a three-quarters arm slot and physical frame.
Ross primarily relied on his four-seamer, slider and splitter this season. His fastball velocity sat in the mid-to-high-90s and touched 99 mph. His fastball is an above-average offering that he locates in all quadrants of the zone when he is clicking on all cylinders.
“I am not one to get caught up in the moment where it is going to impact my ability to get outs,” said Ross on his biggest strength. “I typically build up as the game progresses, which makes all my pitches better and better as the game goes on.
“Off the field, I am a big researcher of the game. I have fallen in love with the art of pitching. I have dug deep into how the body works, kinesiology and things like that so I can take care of myself.”
His secondary pitches are a step behind his fastball. He needs to develop consistency with his off-speed pitches and struggles at times to throw them for strikes. His splitter and slider are his most effective secondary pitches.
Ross tunnels his splitter off his fastball and it features quality breaking action. It sits in the high-80s. His hard slider also sits in the high-80s and serves as an outpitch.
Ross needs to refine his secondary pitches to remain a starter long-term. He otherwise profiles as a hard-throwing reliever.
As he prepares for July’s draft, Ross is throwing and working on his skills in case he starts his pro career this summer. If the draft doesn’t transpire like Ross hopes, he is a University of Georgia commit.
“I want to work more on my sequencing and tunneling,” Ross said. “I have never been involved with the technology in the game. With going to pro ball or Georgia, it is going to be a little more analytic than it’s been for me. I just need to prepare myself and learn about spin rate, axis and things like that to be ready so I am not completely new to analytics wherever I land.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.