Image: Courtesy Big West Athletics

The Cleveland Indians selected Rodney Boone- Left-handed Starting Pitcher with the eighth-round pick (246th overall) in the 2021 MLB Draft.

LHSP Rodney Boone

School: UCSB
Age: 21.3
Height: 6’1; Weight: 195
Throws: Left

Rodney Boone Pre-Draft Rankings:

IBI– round 5-7

Prospects Live– 226

Baseball America- 260

MLB.com– 192

Willie Hood’s Analysis:

A third-year sophomore, Boone has two years of eligibility remaining but is expected to sign with Cleveland. The younger for the class lefty paired with teammate Michael McGreevy to create a formidable duo for the Gauchos. He started 34 games throughout the entirety of his collegiate career. In 2021, Boone recorded 128 strikeouts (11.84 K9) with 39 walks (3.61 BB9) over 97.1 innings while surrendering 55 hits (0.97 WHIP).

The California native displays an overhanded delivery (like several other draft classmates), adding deception. He shows average control and mitigates damage through his ability to limit damage/base hits. Boone’s fastball is fringe-average, sItting between 86-88, running up to 90 mph. The left-hander’s best pitch is a plus projecting changeup in the upper-70’s, offering plenty of differentiation from his fastball. He rounds out his repertoire with a big overhand curve in the low 70’s. Boone will have to add strength and velocity to his pitchability to remain a rotation option long-term.

Justin Lada’s take:

Another arm who isn’t very big, but that doesn’t scare Cleveland off if they have traits they like. Remember, Cleveland reportedly did not send scouts to college games until the postseason, so they relied heavily on video and data for the track record on a lot of these college players – mainly arms. Boone is probably a guy that fit their metric tendencies. The high-arm slot as Willie noted, continues to be a theme for Cleveland. Which is why size and big fastball velocity (Boone is really only in the high-80s/low-90s), but it has backspin due to the arm slot and it pairs with a high spin curveball with that over the top, straight down shape.

Also of note, Cleveland was reportedly heavily connected to Boone’s rotation mate and Friday night starter, Michael McGreevy. But it was Boone who won the Big West pitcher of the year award, not McGreevy. Again, another guy who can probably have some success as a starter due to his metrics helping stuff play above its grades and velo, and another guy with plus command with all his offerings to help aid where he lacks in pure stuff. He could wind up a reliever with those two pitches and command if he doesn’t get stronger and unlock another tick or two of velo, however.

Press Release:

UC Santa Barbara Gaucho boasted a 2.31 ERA (25ER/97.1) in 16 starts/appearances in 2021, being named the Big West Co-Pitcher of the Year. Touted a 11.84 K/9 and a team-leading 128 punchouts in the 2021 season. Started all three years at UCSB, turning in a 2.52 career ERA (56ER/199.2IP) and a 10.77 K/9 in 34 career starts. Was named the 2019 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, going 8-0 with 80 strikeouts and a 2.78 ERA in 81.0 innings of work. He was named a College Preseason All-American by Perfect Game and Rawlings.

Cleveland Indians Scouting Director Scott Barnsby on Rodney Boone

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