JMU continues to produce pro pitching prospects
The James Madison baseball program has been producing professional pitching prospects over the last few years.
Dating back to 2017, six of JMU's last seven MLB Draft picks have been pitchers. Nick Robertson, Shelton Perkins, Kevin Kelly, Dan Goggin, Colton Harlow, and Brandon Withers have all been selected by MLB franchises over the last three years.
"We're not doing anything like some magic stuff or anything like that. I think it comes down to recruiting," said Jimmy Jackson, who serves as JMU's associated head coach and pitching coach.
In 2020, JMU would've likely had at least one pitcher drafted with the possibility of up to four getting selected. However, the MLB Draft has been reduced from 40 rounds to just five this year due to COVID-19's impact on the sport.
Junior right-handed pitcher Nick Stewart is considered to be JMU's top pro prospect in 2020 and could still hear his name called during the draft. If he's not selected, Stewart will likely return to JMU where he still has two years of eligibility remaining. Junior right-handed pitcher Justin Showalter and seniors Brett Ayer (LHP) and Michael Bechtold (RHP) are also pro prospects who had a chance to be selected this year before the draft's format changed. They could still be drafted but it's now unlikely with 35 less rounds in 2020.
"When we got here, that's what we kind of built it around," said JMU head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "We needed to produce pitchers. We needed to develop pitchers and we went out and recruited pitchers."
The 2020 MLB Draft is scheduled to begin Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN & MLB Network with the first round and Competitive Balance Round A. The draft will resume Thursday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2 and MLB Network with rounds 2-5.