Prospect Spotlight: Will Bednar, SP, San Francisco Giants
A 6’2” 229LB righty, Bednar did not get drafted out of high school but spent two years with Mississippi State University. He pitched only 24 games in college but capped his career off with six no-hit innings in the championship-clinching game and winning the college world series Most Outstanding Player award. He was ranked the 32nd best prospect available in the 2021 draft by MLB Pipeline, #17 by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, and was ultimately selected 14th overall by the Giants.
Bednar offers a good fastball living 93-95 and topping out at 97 MPH and is probably his best pitch. He also throws a slider regularly in the lower 80’s but topping out at 86 and potentially pushing his fastball as his best pitch. A second breaking ball, a curve fell behind his slider this year but is a solid offering flashing above average and sits upper 70s. He’ll also throw a change-up, often for strikes. It could use more consistency but he did throw it with some regularity and is not as raw a pitch as other prospects.
Bednar’s fastball is a high spin rate pitch and good life and riding action, especially when thrown glove side. He gets plenty of swing and miss with this pitch up in the zone, and can spot it on the edges. The slider is reported to be thrown at 2,800 RPM, and also sees good horizontal and vertical movement late. It often falls far out of the zone but gets plenty of swing and miss due to its late breaks. Both pitches are likely to be plus at the major league level. His curveball also has good movement and spin, with the potential to be above average at least, but needs to be thrown with more command. His change is in the same boat, with good movement but thrown in the wrong area often enough.
Bednar has a simple delivery and is smooth for a man his size, and consistent and low enough effort that it’s easy to project him to remain in the rotation. The ball is released from a three-quarter arm slot but gets on hitters thanks to a low release point and good extension. He gets good tork through the windup and might have to work on hiding the ball but something that’s easily correctable. From the windup, he gets good extension, but from the stretch is a bit shorter to the plate and would probably still be considered a bit slow to deliver even for a big guy.
Bednar shows at least above-average control of his fastball, placing it up in the zone with frequent accuracy. The command of his slider is impressive, frequently dropping it in at the knees to right-handed hitters, but also getting plenty of swing and miss outside the zone likely thanks to effective tunneling. While the curve and change can be thrown for strikes, he needs to get better placement but the roots are in place for these pitches to be effective.
I frequently feel Bednar is being under drafted in dynasty supplemental drafts. A big-bodied college pitcher with big game success and two plus pitches scream early-round selection. True he didn’t have much momentum entering college but he did have a good college career. Also, the secondaries need some work but they don’t require as much projection as many other pitching prospects 3rd and 4th best pitches. Bednar offers a reasonably high floor as far as pitching prospects go, and could reasonably make his debut in 2023. Keep an eye on him in your drafts, and don’t feel tentative to pull the trigger just because nobody else has yet.