Luke Albright has thrived throughout his three-year collegiate career at Kent State. The right-handed pitcher primarily served as a reliever his freshman year in 2019 before transitioning to a starting role over the last two years.
This season, Albright has overwhelmed opposing hitters with his five-pitch mix. His success has allowed him to gain more interest in anticipation of July’s MLB draft. Scouts project the righty as a potential early-round pick in this year’s draft.
If Albright goes in the first five rounds of the draft, he would be Kent State’s highest draft pick since the San Diego Padres selected left-handed pitcher Eric Lauer in the first round of the 2016 draft.
“Everything is out there, so it is hard to miss it all,” Albright said. “There are definitely things I don’t know. It is cool and awesome that people think of me like that and that there’s a buzz around my name. I just want to take care of my business at hand.”
In 2018, Albright posted a 2.81 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 23 walks allowed in 51 1/3 innings in 14 appearances. He made 12 appearances as a reliever and primarily used his fastball while mixing in his curveball and changeup.
Albright started to incorporate more of his secondary pitches last season. It led to him tallying a 1.90 ERA with 22 strikeouts and eight walks allowed in 23 2/3 innings in four starts.
This spring, Albright has built off his pandemic-shortened sophomore season. He has a 1.30 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 15 walks allowed in 41 2/3 innings in seven starts.
Albright is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, changeup, curveball and a recently-developed slider from a high three-quarters arm slot and quick arm action.
His fastball is his go-to pitch that he uses to attack opposing batters. He also isn’t afraid to throw his fastball in any quadrant of the strike zone. The pitch sits in the low-90s and touches 95 mph.
Albright’s curveball features 11-to-5 break and serves as his top strikeout pitch.
Last offseason, Albright developed a slider. He has two variations of the pitch, as one is more of a traditional slider while the other variant resembles a cutter. He doesn’t mind having two variants of his slider but wants to improve his feel for the pitch so he can consistently dictate which version of his slider he throws at any given time.
His changeup is a developing offering that he describes as his “dark horse pitch.” He tunnels the pitch well off his fastball, and it displays has some late-breaking action.
“It’s not measurable. I would say it is my competitiveness,” said Albright on his biggest strength. “You could go find someone who throws a better fastball than me. You could go find someone who probably throws a better curveball, slider or whatever pitch it is. But, I think I am the best competitor around. I don’t think anyone can outcompete me in anything.”
This season, Albright’s goal is to develop more consistency with his secondary pitches. He also wants to be a team leader who serves as a positive example for the team’s underclassmen, he said.
“My goal is consistency,” Albright said. “Whatever I am doing, I want to take the positives out and keep hammering them and get better and better.”
Kent State’s last Mid-American Conference championship came in 2018. It also marked the team’s last NCAA tournament appearance. Albright believes this year’s Kent State team has the talent and ability to win the conference title and potentially make a run in postseason play.
Maintaining a team-first mindset will be critical for the Golden Flashes if they want to make the NCAA tournament and potentially advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2012, Albright said.
“The MAC is just loaded this year with arms and hitters,” Albright said. “Every team can compete with each other. You can’t take any game or team for granted. You truly have to take one game at a time. That is the mentality that we use and where we will find success.”
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.