Ian Bedell is one of the top pitchers in college baseball. The University of Missouri right-handed hurler also is a well-regarded prospect for June’s MLB draft and could find himself in first-round consideration with a strong junior season this spring.
The ironic part, however, is that Bedell believes his mirror image identical twin Connor was the better pitcher growing up.
That all changed when the two started high school, however. Bedell continued to develop and earned attention from Division I collegiate programs and professional scouts. Connor didn’t receive the same interest, though, as three elbow surgeries over his first three years of high school ruined his pitching career.
Bedell graduated a semester early from Davenport Central High in Davenport, Iowa, to attended Missouri in spring 2018. While Bedell was playing against Southeastern Conference competition, Connor watched from afar as he completed his final prep season as a position player. Following his senior season, Connor hung up the cleats and attended the University of Iowa in the fall.
No one could have predicted Connor’s injuries. It’s a frustrating situation for both of them, as they grew up playing alongside one another since they were 4 years old. Connor’s inability to play past high school has served as motivation for Bedell throughout his collegiate career, Bedell said.
It also has caused both to think about what could have been had Connor remained healthy throughout his high school career, Bedell said.
“He knows that if he stayed healthy, he’d be doing the exact same thing that I am,” Bedell said. “I know it can be tough for him to sit there and think about what could have been. But there is no doubt in my mind that he would be doing the exact same thing I am.”
Bedell was one of the top prep pitching prospects in the 2018 draft. But due to his desire to attend Missouri, Bedell enrolled a semester early, bypassing the draft and skipping his senior season of baseball. The state of Iowa plays summer high school baseball, so it would have been difficult for pro scouts to evaluate him in preparation for the draft.
Now three years later, Bedell is back on the radar of pro scouts.
“It’s weird. I haven’t experienced it, but it’s been going well,” Bedell said. “I haven’t been haggled or hounded by anybody. It’s really going out and pitching with a little more in the back of your mind with the draft. But you’re in the game, it’s never a thought in my head.”
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 the 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 gave him the opportunity to figure out a routine that worked for him on the days he pitched, so he’d be prepared for his junior season.
Bedell, who’s a 6-foot-2, 198-pound right-hander, is the ace of Missouri’s pitching staff this spring. He 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.
“Competitive edge and consistency,” said Bedell on his biggest strengths. “That’s one thing I always value is my ability to be consistent, even if it’s not great stuff. We know what we are getting. I will be around the zone and give the team a good chance to win.”
Besides developing a routine in the Cape Cod League, Bedell also experimented with a new curveball grip. He’s stuck with the new grip this spring, which gives his curveball more break and overall depth.
“I still need to improve on command,” Bedell said. “I also need to improve on those days when I don’t have the best stuff because sometimes I will think a little too much and get in my own head. But if everything is rolling right through, there is not any overthought to it.”
Missouri is ineligible for postseason play this season due to academic misconduct by a tutor who worked with 12 student-athletes across baseball, football and softball. None of the 12 student-athletes are still enrolled at Missouri.
The postseason ban has frustrated the current Missouri baseball team and will serve as motivation this season, Bedell said.
Bedell hopes to serve as a leader for the Tigers, who have aspirations of winning the regular-season SEC title. Although he’s focused on the team’s success, he also wants to show growth on the mound in hopes of improving his stock for June’s draft, he said.
“We know we don’t have a postseason, but if we win the SEC, we are the best team in the country. It’s as simple as that,” Bedell said.
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.