Ian Bedell had a strong desire to pitch collegiately at the University of Missouri. He was a top MLB draft prospect in 2018, but bypassed that opportunity to enroll a semester early at Missouri.
That decision has worked out well for Bedell. He’s made notable strides on the mound at Missouri the last three years to position himself as a top prospect for June’s draft. Professional scouts project the right-handed pitcher to be a top-three-round pick in the draft, which runs June 10-11.
With the college season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bedell has worked on his own to develop his skills while also meeting with major league teams over video conference calls in preparation for the next step in his baseball career.
“This is the first time I’ve had to go through it, and if I had to guess, it’s a lot different than normal just because there are no games and all they can do is talk to you,” Bedell said. “There have been quite a few phone calls here and there throughout the last few weeks. Things are starting to pick up a little more now that we are two weeks away.”
Bedell, who’s a 6-foot-2, 198-pound right-hander, throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, circle-changeup and spike curveball from a sound, athletic and repeatable delivery.
He mostly throws his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer but will mix in his two-seamer to right-handed batters. He also will occasionally throw the two-seamer on the outside part of the plate to lefties. Both fastballs feature movement to the right side while his two-seamer also displays some sinking action.
His changeup is his second-best pitch. He doesn’t throw it always at a high-strike rate, but it sets up his fastball well and he has confidence in it.
With the extra downtime this spring, Bedell has worked on a slider in hopes of developing another quality off-speed pitch to keep hitters off-balanced. He said he needs to develop a better feel for the slider and that the pitch needs to show more movement for it to be ready to throw in a game.
“Since I have such natural run to my arm side, I thought it would be beneficial to have something that can cut glove side at least a little bit to keep people more honest about moving both sides of the plate,” Bedell said.
After struggling to adjust to the collegiate game as a freshman, Bedell thrived as a reliever last season. He posted a 1.56 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings.
Bedell spent last summer pitching in the Cape Cod League. He worked exclusively as a starter and notched a 2.31 ERA with 40 strikeouts and three walks allowed in 35 innings.
Pitching in the top collegiate summer league allowed him to gain experience as a starter against top competition. It also allowed him figure out a routine that works for him on the days he pitches to help him transition to a starting role as a junior at Missouri this spring.
In an abbreviated season this spring, Bedell made four starts and posted a 3.70 ERA with 35 strikeouts and four walks allowed in 24 1/3 innings. He allowed 12 runs (10 earned) this spring with most of the damage coming via the five home runs he allowed.
“I felt like it was good, but I think I got a little exposed when I was behind in counts because all the home runs I gave up were when I was behind in the count,” said Bedell on his junior season. “I gave up a lot of homers this year. If we take away those home runs, I gave up one earned run the entire year. I felt like I pitched well but the long ball hurt me and missing my location when behind in the count was ultimately the demise to the season.”
Although Bedell’s junior season didn’t play out like he envisioned it would, he’s appreciative of his time at Missouri and growth he’s experienced on the mound over the last three years.
“I’ve improved tenfold,” Bedell said. “It was dramatic from not just as a person but pitching as well. Out of high school, I was just a guy who threw a fastball for a strike and had a good enough changeup to keep people a little bit honest. In high school, people saw a curveball and they just chopped at it. It’s a huge improvement from where I was at, and going to college was a great decision.”
Read an in-depth story on Ian Bedell’s development at Missouri here.
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.