Chicago Cubs add strength to pitching prospects with Ryan Jensen

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have selected Fresno State flamethrower Ryan Jensen with their first-round pick. He will be a great addition to a young crop of pitching prospects.

The new Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher started out as a reliever in his collegiate career making 29 appearances and 1 start. He tossed 43.2 innings but struggled with his command in his freshman season walking 36 batters while striking out 35 to the tune of a 6.60 ERA.

He got the chance to start more games in 2018 and produced better results. Jensen made 18 appearances (11 starts) while tossing 67.1 innings but allowed 40 earned runs and his walk rate was still high. He did strike out 66 batters but had a 5.35 ERA.

Jensen experienced a breakout season with the Bulldogs this past season throwing 100.0 innings and struck out 107 batters to just 27 walks. He allowed opponents to bat just 0.217 off him this year and was declared to be the ace of the Fresno State pitching staff.

Standing at just 6-0 and 180 pounds, it’s hard to believe that Jensen can generate so much velocity. His fastball tops out in the mid 90’s and is considered by many to be the best in this draft class. He finished the regular season with nine straight wins and lead the Bulldogs to a 9-2 victory on Friday over number two seed UC Santa Barbara in the NCAA Stanford Regional.

He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of that game before allowing two runs on 4 hits but ended up tossing 7.2 innings.

"Fresno State righthander Ryan Jensen flirted with a no-hitter before settling for 7.2 outstanding innings, giving up four hits and two runs. He struck out eight and continued to wow scouts in the stands… (Literally, one scout said ‘Wow!’ several times during a two-inning stretch when Jensen was painting the edges in the early innings.) …with his four-seam fastball that was up to 98 mph and his two-seamer that he often threw 94-96 with upwards of a foot of movement.Anyone that hadn’t seen him before was impressed and they weren’t the only ones. Fresno State pitching coach Ryan Overland has seen every pitch Jensens’s thrown the last three years, but saw something different as Jensen was warming up before the game.“I’ll tell you what, about the last 15 pitches he threw in the bullpen I’ve never seen anything like that,” Overland said. “It was pretty electric. It was pretty sharp and it was on. But still you never know how that’s going to carry out onto the field, facing a great lineup like we were.” – D1 Stats"

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Depending on how deep Fresno State goes in the NCAA playoffs, Jensen could potentially see minimal time in short-season Eugene and potentially finish the season with Single-A South Bend. I would expect that he pitches in the Arizona Fall League as well, but for now the Cubs have added an elite arm to their farm system.