|Report Date:||February 27th, 2018|
After shining in the bullpen for Louisiana State last season, Hess is making the transition to the rotation as a draft eligible sophomore. The switch got off to a rocky start against Notre Dame in week one, but the results were much more promising against Texas last weekend. In six innings, Hess allowed five hits and two runs, while striking out 10 Longhorns compared to just two walks. Of his 99 pitches, he threw 65 of them for strikes (65.6%).
Tall, lean, and projectable at 6’6” and 216 pounds, the already-physical Hess will continue to get stronger as he matures. Deliberate and slow throughout his windup, Hess employs a full arm circle and carries some effort through the delivery as he works downhill from a high three quarters arm-slot. The fastball sat 91-to-93 mph with occasional arm-side run. When throwing from the stretch, the methodical delivery didn’t effectively mitigate the run game, consistently producing pitch times in the 1.50-to-1.55 range. Paramount to Hess’ success was his ability to command his breaking ball, a low-to-mid 80’s slider with depth and two-plane break that looks like a future plus pitch. For good measure, Hess turned over a handful of changeups against left-handers that flashed average.
Hess is a fiery competitor whose on-field persona seemed to thrive in the high leverage reliever role last year. If he’s able to temper that demeanor and while sustaining his effectiveness, his ceiling will be that of a mid-rotation starter if his changeup continues to develop. Perhaps the most encouraging part of the outing as he’s stretched out as a starter was Hess’ ability to maintain his velocity throughout the start, as his final pitch of the evening was 93 mph for a swinging strike.