Denaburg was pitching his way into the top 15 picks this spring before a bout of tendonitis shut his season down early. Washington pounced on a premium talent that fell in the draft, inking Denaburg to an over-slot bonus with the 27th overall pick. He didn’t pitch in the GCL after signing, but I caught a quick look at the righty during Instructional League.
At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Denaburg has an ideal pitching frame with a nice mix of present physicality and future growth potential. He pitches from a semi-windup and finishes fairly clean down the mound, though there’s some occasional balance issues that pull him off-line right now. Denaburg struggled to repeat and find the zone in this look, but there were no mechanical red flags that lead me to believe he will have trouble ironing out parts of his delivery with time. The fastball worked in the 90-to-94 mph range, showing consistent run and angle. Denaburg has touched 96-97 mph in the past, and it’s likely his heater ticks up a bit as he builds pro mound time. He threw a handful of curveballs at 78-to-80 mph with tight spin and flashes of sharp 10-to-4 shape. He has shown a changeup in the past but didn’t break it out in this viewing.
This was not his best outing, as Denaburg walked two hitters and allowed an earned run in his inning of work. It’s never a good idea to over-think instructs results, especially for a teenage pitcher who was getting his first live game action in a few months. All the tools that attracted the Nationals to him were on display: an athletic and projectible frame with the potential for two above-average pitches. I imagine Washington will bring him along slowly, though it would be a good sign if he starts 2019 at Class A Hagerstown. The upside is a #3 or #4 starter, though he’s young and raw enough that the MLB ETA is still at least 3-4 years away.