Jerad Eickhoff Scouting Report: Texas Ranger righthanded pitcher Jerad Eickhoff ranked #18 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 30 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 32, and who didn't get traded. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2014. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Jerad Eickhoff...
Jerad Eickhoff is a 6'4", 240 lb. 24 year old righthanded pitcher who was drafted by the Rangers in the 15th round of the 2011 draft out of Olney Central College, and who was signed to a bonus of $150,000. Eickhoff pitched in 4 games in the AZL in 2011 before being promoted to short season A Spokane, where he put up a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 IP, striking out 18 and walking just 3.
Eickhoff spent the 2012 season in low-A Hickory, where he had problems missing bats. Eickhoff threw 126.2 IP, but only fanned 90 batters against 38 walks, giving up 22 home runs. At this point, Eickhoff wasn't really on the radar, as far as being a prospect goes, though Jamey Newberg had him at #45 on his pre-2013 top 72 prospect list.
Eickhoff was promoted to high-A Myrtle Beach in 2013 and showed improvement...he still wasn't missing a ton of bats, with 80 Ks in 116 IP, but he cut down on his walks (26 allowed) and home runs (9), resulting in a solid 3.41 ERA. He earned a promotion to AA Frisco in August, but he struggled at the higher level, putting up a 7.45 ERA in 29 IP, with more walks than strikeouts. Nevertheless, 2013 was a step forward for Eickhoff, overall.
Eickhoff returned to Frisco in 2014 and had a workmanlike year, striking out 144 batters in 154.1 IP, walking 52, and allowing 17 home runs, putting up a 4.08 ERA overall, and getting him firmly on most Rangers prospect lists. Baseball America didn't have him in their Rangers top 30, but they did peg him as the sleeper in the system. John Sickels didn't put Eickhoff in his top 30, either. Kiley McDaniel, on the other hand, had Eickhoff at #15 in the Rangers system (if you remove Sardinas and Knebel), and MLB Pipeline has Eickhoff at #20, with Jamey putting him at #18 (or 17, removing the traded Diplan).
Eickhoff profiles as a potential workhorse starter, with his big build and durability. He throws in the low-90s, although McDaniel says his fastball has touched 97, and has a curveball that he's had success with as his second pitch. As with many AA starters, his changeup is still a work in progress, and he needs to improve his command and third pitch to be a starting pitcher long-term, but the potential is there for Eickhoff to be a #3/#4 starter. He could also provide value as a reliever if he doesn't pan out as a starter, particularly if he adds a few mph to his fastball when he's working in short stints.
Eickhoff would normally start the season in the AAA rotation, but with all the candidates to be starting for Round Rock, Eickhoff could end up the victim of a numbers game and find himself back in AA Frisco. Eickhoff was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason, so he's someone we could see brought to the majors this year if the Rangers need a spot starter or an extra arm in the bullpen. Realistically, if things go well for Eickhoff this year, he should be fighting for a major league job next spring.