The Mets have selected Clemson RHP Ryler Gilliam in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/175 lbs.
Gilliam had a breakout sophomore season for Clemson in 2017, seizing the closer’s role early in the year and then going on to pitch for both USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and in the Cape Cod League during the summer. Gilliam has been even better in 2018, finishing the regular season with a stingy 0.79 ERA, 11 saves and 50 strikeouts to 19 walks in 34.1 innings. Despite his smallish, 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame, Gilliam generates mid-90s velocity thanks to his lightning-quick arm speed. He works comfortably at 91-94 mph and can reach back for 95-96 when needed out of his upper three-quarters slot. A hard, high-spin power curveball is Gilliam’s out-pitch of choice—a plus, upper-70s hammer that Gilliam can spot on the corners or bury below the zone. With his electric fastball-curveball combo and a strong track record of closing games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Gilliam could make a quick ascension through pro ball as a high-floor power reliever.
Gilliam showed a low-90s fastball as a teammate of Reds first-round pick Tyler Stephenson at Kennesaw Mountain High (Kennesaw, Ga.) in 2015, but his diminutive build and commitment to Clemson left him undrafted. He served as a mid-week starter for part of his freshman year before finding his niche as the Tigers’ closer the last two seasons. He didn’t allowed an earned run as Team USA’s co-closer last summer and surrendered just three during the regular season this spring. Though he’s just 5-foot-10, Gilliam has a quick arm that produces 91-96 mph fastballs. His curveball gives him a second plus pitch, arriving in the upper 70s with 12-to-6 action. He also has an effective changeup from his days as a starter, though he doesn’t use it much as a reliever. Gilliam works with a high-tempo delivery that adds some funk but also makes it difficult to control his offerings at times. He’s a good athlete, which reduces some of the durability concerns that his size creates. Though he has three pitches, he projects strictly as a reliever and could advance quickly through the Minors.
Background:Gilliam served as a closer/late-inning arm for the Collegiate National Team after providing the same services for Clemson this past spring. He made 27 appearances for the Tigers in 2017, working 35 innings while walking 14 (3.60 BB/9) and striking out 50 (12.86 SO/9). He followed-up that performance with 8 1/3 dominant innings for the Collegiate National Team this summer, allowing no earned runs (five unearned) on four hits and two walks (2.16 BB/9) while striking out nine (9.72 SO/9).
Notes: Right-handed reliever who throws from a 3/4’s arm slot; compact arm, no-windup delivery; in spite of his size, creates good downward plane with plus arm strength; aggressive; attacks hitters; plus fastball (92-to-95 mph) with hard run and tail action to both sides of the plate (occasional boring action); projectable above-average movement on heater; command of fastball can be spotty at times; overall command across arsenal will be average; plus curveball (79-to-80 mph); hard, power downer with good two-plane action, depth and break; biggest question is size but he should be durable enough to be a solid major league reliever.”
Mets take Ryley Gilliam from Clemson. Undersized RH reliever, big arm strength and arm speed, up to 96-97 at times, curveball is plus, pure reliever but chance to be impact one
— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) June 5, 2018
This seems like a solid pick. He’s a big college arm bred to be an impact reliever. What he’s lacking in pure size, he makes up for it with big velocity. If he gets better control of both his fastball and curveball, he has the potential to be an important arm pitching in the late innings.