MLB Draft Preview: RHP Jamal Wade

Jamal Wade – RHP

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 205        Year: Jr.        Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): Owings Mills, Md. (St. Paul’s HS)

2017 Stats

G: 17  IP: 19.2    ERA: 5.03     K/9: 15.1       BB/9: 5.9     H/9: 7.3

Arsenal: Fastball (92-94), Curveball

Background: Jamal Wade came out of high school as the No. 1 third baseman in Maryland, according to Perfect Game. The Owings Mills, Maryland, native began his collegiate career with the Terps in 2015, playing in 35 games between the outfield, third base and designated hitter. He showed impressive power in his freshman season, as his first three hits were all home runs. He finished the season hitting .231 with five homers and 11 RBIs, but struggled to make contact at times, whiffing 29 times in just 91 at bats. Wade experienced a sophomore slump in 2016, batting a microscopic .111 in 19 games, as he saw his role reduced, making just four starts. He spent the summer with the Keane Swamp Bats in the NECBL, which is where he found his home on the mound.

Junior Jamal Wade pitches for the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/4/2017

He entered the summer as an outfielder for the Swamp Bats, but when they found themselves down 14-5 and short on arms, Wade volunteered to pitch in mop-up duty. He mowed down the opposition and made 10 more appearances on the mound for Keene, finishing the summer with a 1.59 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 11.1 innings of work.

The newly converted pitcher first took the mound for the Terps on the road against LSU in February. Wade allowed an inherited runner to score on a single but retired five of the six batters he faced, picking up two strikeouts in the process. He wasn’t used much in the early parts of the season (four times in the first 25 games), but the Terps’ coaching staff liked what it saw and became more committed to him down the stretch. Over the season’s final 28 games, Wade was used 10 times — tied for the third most used pitcher out of the Terps’ pen. Despite his lofty 5.03 ERA, he held opponents to a .208 average and struck out 33 batters in 19.2 innings of work.

Outlook: Wade was a revelation for the Terps in 2017, and he is truly a wildcard when it comes to the draft. His sample size is small, but he exhibited the tools major league teams seek in bullpen arms. Wade’s fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, and he is capable of producing a lot of strikeouts when pairing that heater with a devastating curveball. When this combination is on, he can be dominant. He’s posted a 15.9 K/9 ratio in his 17 appearances this season, an average of nearly two strikeouts per inning. However, he’s proven to be erratic at times this season, walking 13 hitters in just 19.2 innings of work, something that he will need to improve upon should he look to compete at a higher level. 

Including his time with the Keene Swamp Bats, Wade has thrown just 31 innings at the collegiate level. This can figure as both a positive and a negative for the junior right-hander. His limited workload means that his arm is fresh, without the wear and tear that many college pitchers have at this point in their careers, which bodes well for his durability down the road. However, without much experience under his belt, many teams may not be comfortable selecting a player with little proven track record in the early rounds.

If a team is enamored with Wade’s stuff and potential and is willing to overlook the small sample size, he could go earlier than expected. Otherwise, it is more likely that Wade comes off the board somewhere in the middle rounds. If and when he gets drafted, the right-hander will have to weigh his options. Should he return to College Park for his senior season, he could have another full year to work on developing his pitches and working on his control. If he were to produce and polish his skills ahead of the 2018 draft, he could very well work his way up the draft boards next year.