Will Rigney had high hopes for his senior season of high school baseball.
The prep right-handed pitcher from Waco, Texas hoped to refine his skills and improve his MLB draft stock this spring. Instead, Rigney suffered a tendon flexor strain in his right forearm in his first start of the season in February and missed most of his senior year.
He was a potential top-five round pick entering the spring. Despite the injury, he could hear his name called in the early rounds of the draft, which begins June 3.
“It stinks, but I am just taking it day by day,” said Rigney, a Baylor commit. “I am in a win-win situation, which I’m blessed with. I am going to Baylor and stay at home, which would be awesome, or I get to follow a dream, which would also be awesome.”
Rigney, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound righty, throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider and circle changeup from a low-effort overhead windup with a three-quarters arm slot.
Last summer, Rigney sat in the low-90s and touched 95 mph with his fastball. In limited innings this spring, Rigney’s fastball velocity sat in the mid-90s. His slider displays sharp, late break and is his outpitch. He also shows potential with his low-80s circle changeup, despite rarely throwing it against high school competition.
This season, Rigney made his first start against high-end draft prospect Brett Baty and Lake Travis High. He went two innings and struck out five batters before exiting the game with the injury. He touched 96 mph in the start.
He felt tightness in his forearm and didn’t want to risk throwing anymore, he said. He went to the doctor and received a PRP injection, which kept him out for about six to eight weeks, he added.
Once he returned, he made two appearances, totaling five innings. He struck out six batters in two innings in his first start back, before concluding the season by tossing three innings. He said his command wasn’t as sharp, as he didn’t have the feel for his secondary pitches.
“It felt awesome. I felt relieved to throw,” he said. “Everything felt good, and honestly in all of my starts I didn’t feel bad, it just was hard to get into the groove of things. In my mind, I wanted to go seven innings and just throw how I usually throw, but that wasn’t the case. I had to take it slow.”
Rigney said he’s no longer dealing with the injury and feels 100 percent. He’s taking time off from throwing to rest while anxiously waiting to see where he will continue his baseball career. He’s had limited contact with professional scouts this spring, he said.
If the draft doesn’t work in Rigney’s favor, he’s excited to begin a college career at Baylor.
“They’ve been unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve known the coaches a long time, and they’ve been totally supportive and helped me a ton.”
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.