Ryan Hagenow wasn’t an overpowering pitcher throughout his first two years of high school. The Kentucky prep right-handed pitcher threw in the high-70s as a freshman and then touched the low-to-mid-80s as a sophomore.
It wasn’t until Hagenow’s junior season last year that his fastball started to reach its potential. He consistently threw the pitch between 88-92 mph last spring, which caught the attention of talent evaluators.
His success and development throughout his junior season at Farragut High School in Tennessee earned him invitations to the Perfect Game National Showcase, East Coast Pro Showcase and Perfect Game All-American Classic last summer.
“This past summer was the summer where I grew the most as a baseball player and person with all the experiences I had with baseball,” Hagenow said.
Last summer was the first time Hagenow ever competed in a showcase event. He thrived in the Perfect Game National Showcase and East Coast Pro Showcase, which improved his stock for June’s MLB draft. He didn’t play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic due to a then-Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association rule that prohibited student-athletes from competing in an all-star game after school starts.
Hagenow, a 6-foot-5, 208-pound righty, is a polished hurler for the high school level and also has projectability. Those two attributes have professional scouts considering Hagenow as a potential first-round pick in this year’s draft.
“It’s been weird because I’ve always had the confidence in myself that I’d get to this point,” said Hagenow, a University of Kentucky commit. “But seeing other people’s confidence in me was the weirdest thing. It’s kind of shocking, but at the same time, I don’t look at it with too much thought.
“I imagined playing SEC baseball from an early age. But with all the talk about the draft, it’s been a whirlwind.”
Hagenow throws a four-seam fastball, slider and changeup from a three-quarters arm slot out of an up-temp delivery. His fastball is his top offering and has natural run and sink. He locates the pitch well in all quadrants of the strike zone.
He also has feel for his off-speed pitches, which are both solid and effective offerings. He uses his 77-83 mph slider as his outpitch. He just started throwing a slider his junior season after using a 12-6 curveball in previous years. Due to his arm slot, Hagenow wasn’t having success with a curveball, which caused him to alter his grip.
He made strides with his changeup last summer, as he showed more consistency with the pitch. His changeup is one of the better changeups in this year’s prep class.
Hagenow believes his biggest strength is his command of his three pitches.
“The guys that really intrigue me in the big leagues are the guys that throw upper-80s, low-90s and can strikeout a bunch of all-stars,” Hagenow said. “To me, that’s a lot more impressive than someone who throws a 100 mph nowadays because it seems like hitters are getting more and more used to velocity. When you have guys who can move the ball around, hit their spots and make the ball spin the opposite direction have always been the guys that have interested me.”
Besides trying to add strength to his frame, Hagenow devoted this offseason to working on his mechanics and refining his off-speed pitches, he said.
Prior to focusing on pitching, Hagenow was primarily a shortstop, so that arm action carried over to when he started pitching, he said. His three-quarters arm slot caused him to struggle with his command early on in his career, but as he’s developed his skills on the mound, his command has progressed.
Hagenow hopes to continue to improve his command his senior season this spring, he said.
“For me, my focus this offseason and last summer was growing into my body,” Hagenow said. “My freshman and sophomore year I really struggled with strikes because it felt like I was in a new delivery almost every time I threw the ball because I couldn’t control anything. This past year, my command has really gone up, and I’m a firm believer in command over velocity.”
Hagenow pitched an 11-strikeout complete game to clinch Farragut High’s 10th state championship last spring. Farragut is the top high school baseball program in the state of Tennessee and has produced current major-leaguers Nicky Delmonico of the Chicago White Sox and Nick Senzel of the Cincinnati Reds.
Hagenow is eager for his senior season and hopes to led Farragut back to the state championship. He’s trying not to worry about the decision that lies ahead in June when he will have to choose between starting a pro career or honoring his commitment to Kentucky.
He committed to Kentucky early in the recruiting process and has dreamed of playing Southeastern Conference baseball since he was young, he said.
“I committed as a sophomore because I didn’t throw hard at the time but I had a clean arm action and I was pretty tall so the projectability was there,” Hagenow said. “I was only talking to a few schools and Kentucky I just knew that’s where I wanted to be and didn’t want to drag out the process. I still want to go there to this day.”
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.