J.J. Goss might be the top prep pitcher from the state of Texas in this year’s MLB draft class.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-hander throws an intriguing three-pitch mix with his slider being one of best in the prep class. His intangibles are reasons why professional scouts consider him a potential early-round pick with a chance to sneak into the first round in June’s draft.
Although Goss appreciates the attention, he’s trying not to focus on it, he said.
“I just take it a game at a time,” said Goss, a senior at Cypress Ranch High in Texas. “I know it’s in the future. Whatever happens with that is a whole other discussion with me and my family. But I take it game at a time. I know the scouts are there, but I try not to let that get to me.”
Goss throws from a high three-quarter arm slot. His has an above-average fastball and slider while his changeup is an evolving offering.
His fastball sits in the low-90s, and he commands the pitch well. His low-80s slider shows devastating break and generates a high amount of strikeouts. He also has displayed a strong feel for his changeup, but does not throw it consistently against high school hitters due to the competition level.
“I lean heavy on my fastball and slider,” Goss said. “Those pitches are almost neck and neck with my confidence in throwing them. I’ve been working on my changeup and being able to locate it and get the feel for it.”
Goss believes his confidence on the mound and his slider are his two biggest strengths in his game right now.
“I just grip it and rip it, I say,” said Goss on the slider. “I throw it with a lot of confidence and in any count. I throw it for a strike, and it’s one of the pitches I lean on probably 80 percent of the time.”
Goss has dominated opposing hitters this spring. He has recorded a 0.39 ERA with 70 strikeouts, 11 walks allowed in 36 1/3 innings. He also has allowed two earned runs and nine hits this season.
His top priority this spring is to improve his command, he said.
Goss’ teammate Matthew Thompson also is a well-regarded draft prospect, who could be a first-round pick in June. Thompson, a right-handed pitcher, also has been nearly unhittable this spring, posting a 0.42 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 23 walks allowed in 33 1/3 innings.
Goss and Thompson push one another and have helped each other’s development, Goss said.
The two hurlers are Texas A&M commits. Goss received interest from a plethora of schools and whittled down his finalists to Texas A&M, Arkansas, LSU and TCU.
Inevitably, Texas A&M was the best fit for him, he said. Goss could elect to bypass professional baseball for college this summer.
“I visited a lot of colleges,” Goss said. “After I visited Texas A&M, I had a different feeling when I left from all the other colleges I visited and talked to. I bonded real close with (coach Rob) Childress pretty quick. I don’t think you can play at a better place than College Station.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 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.