A smaller framed left-hander (listed in some places at 5’10) hailing from the Sunshine State, he is an experienced starter pitching for both the US national team and the University of Mississippi. Throughout his collegiate career, he made 33 career starts posting walk rates between 3 BB9 and 3.5 BB9. He displays advanced pitchability and is respected for the competitive fire and energy he brings to the mound. In 2021, the Rebels right-hander had the best season of his collegiate career, striking out 142 batters (13.89 K9) while walking 31 (3.03 BB9) over 92 innings.
Nikhazy features a four-pitch mix with high spin rates. The lefty’s curveball is the best of the bunch, projecting as a potential plus pitch it sits in the mid-70’s with top-to-bottom shape. His slider has above-average potential sitting in the mid-80’s. He rounds out his arsenal with a fading changeup and a low-90’s heater that touches 94/95 mph on occasion. “Crazy” Nikhazy displays an advanced ability to mix up and spot his pitches.
Justin Lada’s Take:
Nizkhazy isn’t a big guy but he has plus control and some traits that Cleveland loves – north/south arsenal with a vertical arm slot that produces good backspin on the fastball and pairs well with his big curveball. Cleveland thinks the changeup will come along a little more. Not sure they can squeeze any more velo out of his frame at this point, but if they can keep his velo floor around 91-93, the backspin and deception from his arm angle helps it play up above its numbers, especially at the top of the zone.
Oh, and he’s a little crazy on the mound and a fiery competitor, that’s always fun and Cleveland likes that kind of makeup. Here’s a guy that I really liked in the College World Series, as he famously had a 16 strikeout game in it. Cleveland fans also might be interested to know that Nikhazy broke Ole Miss’ freshman record for punchouts, previously held by LHP Drew Pomeranz, the last college starting pitcher Cleveland took in the first round and from Ole Miss, too.
I hoped Cleveland would have interest but wasn’t sure he’d be around for them at 58 or they’d take him that high. He’s probably a back of the rotation type arm but a very interesting one at the least.
Posted a 12-2 record with a 2.45 ERA in 16 games/15 starts this spring (92.0IP, 62H, 25ER, 31BB, 142SO), earning near consensus All-American honors as he set a school record for single-season wins and finished second in program history for single-season strikeouts behind Lance Lynn’s mark of 146 (2007). He concluded his Ole Miss college career with a 24-6 mark with a 2.81 ERA in 40 games/33 starts (204.2IP, 149H, 64ER, 73BB, 259SO). He recorded a one-hit shutout vs. Mississippi State and set a single-game record with 16 SO vs. Florida State at the Oxford Regional. The Windermere, FL native was a member of the Team USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2019 after setting an Ole Miss freshman record with 86 SO and earning Freshman All-American honors.
Cleveland Indians Scouting Director Scott Barnsby on Doug Nikhazy
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I read an interesting article that was posted prior to the draft regarding certain draft-eligible prospects that had 2 specific attributes the author asserts lead to more strikeouts and pop outs. Those traits are a low release height (compared to average) and above-average extension, the combination of which lead to a flatter FB (it used to be that a downward FB trajectory was considered an advantage), which competes well against the higher launch angles that have become more popular in the last few years.
Here’s the link to the article – https://www.prospectslive.com/mlb-draft/whatmetricallymakesanace/part1/wyattkleinberg
Interestingly, one of the pitching prospects cited in the article that apparently has these specific pitching traits, i.e., a low release point and good extension, is the Indians’ 2nd round pick, Doug Nikhazy. The article doesn’t discuss Nikhazy’s release point, although it could be inferred that it’s relatively low because he is only 5’10” (I’ve also seen him listed at 6’0″). What is mentioned is that his extension is close to 7 feet. According to the article, the average extension for major league pitchers is 6.08 feet, which was obtained from Fangraphs. It’s asserted that Nikhazy’s near-7 ft extension is the largest in relation to body size (height) among this year’s top pitching prospects.
Another benefit a pitcher derives from good extension is that he releases his pitches closer to home plate, which gives hitter’s less time to react. So, a pitcher’s FB plays up compared to his stated velocity. An example of this is Triston McKenzie, who has very good extension (not to mention a “rising” FB). His FB gets a lot of swing-and-miss even though his velo is about average. The article also mentions that Nikhazy’s FB has a good pitch axis, which makes the most of spin.