Gage Jump is one of the most intriguing prep pitchers in July’s MLB draft class. The left-handed pitcher from JSerra Catholic High in California possesses one of the best repertoires in the prep class and has a strong makeup that major league teams desire.
His skills and attributes on the mound make him a potential first-round pick in July’s MLB draft. Jump also is a UCLA commit, giving him two viable options for the next step in his baseball career.
“I’m really fortunate and grateful to have this opportunity to be a draft prospect and the opportunities that are in front of me,” Jump said.
Jump is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound lefty who throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider/cutter and changeup from an over-the-top arm slot. His delivery features deception, making it difficult for opposing batters to pick up the ball until after its released. He also has a smooth and repeatable delivery.
His best pitch is his four-seam fastball that touches 95 mph. Jump locates his fastball well and tends to throw it in the top quadrants of the zone. This season, he plans to attack hitters with fastballs lower in the zone so they can’t sit on the high fastball.
Jump’s knuckle curveball is his best secondary pitch. It features depth and top-to-bottom action due to his arm slot.
He started throwing his slider/cutter last summer due to his desire for a pitch with horizontal break. The pitch is a slight hybrid between a slider and cutter as he tends to manipulate the pitch depending on if he’s facing a left-handed batter or a right-handed batter, he said. He tends to throw more of a slider against lefties while using a hard cutter against righties, he added.
Jump has a good feel for his changeup, which has the potential to at least be an average offering.
Jump has a quality repertoire of pitches, notable command and the ideal competitive mindset on the mound that major league teams seek in a starting pitcher.
“Definitely how aggressive I am on the mound,” said Jump on his biggest strength. “Hitters know that I don’t care who’s hitting. I’m going to beat them as quick as I can. I try not to get 3-2, and instead, I try to put them away as quickly as possible. I’m very aggressive and don’t fear anyone.”
In the offseason, Jump added strength to his frame and improved his diet, which he hopes positively impacts his ability to thrive on the mound. He also believes his offseason work will allow him to maintain his velocity deep into starts.
Besides refining his skills, Jump wants to lead an extremely talented JSerra Catholic team deep into postseason play. Shortstop Cody Schrier and right-handers Erica Silva and Luke Jewett also are top draft prospects on JSerra’s roster this season.
“I just want to win every single game,” Jump said. “I don’t care how I do, I just want to win. That’s my goal.”
Jump will have to decide between starting a pro career this summer or attending UCLA in the fall. Throughout the college recruiting process, UCLA was Jump’s preferred destination due to the program’s competitiveness and track record at developing talent for the pro ranks.
“I love winning, and they’re a winning program,” Jump said. “I think Coach (John) Savage will develop me into the best pitcher I can be. That was the best school I looked at, and I’m happy with my decision.”
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.