A Conversation With Arizona Diamondbacks Prospect Drey Jameson

Drey Jameson is one of the more-intriguing pitching prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system. Drafted 34th overall in 2019 out of Ball State University, the 23-year-old right-hander possesses a lean frame — he is listed at six-foot-even and 165 pounds — yet he consistently pumps mid-to-high-90s gas. Moreover, the secondary pitches he throws from a deceptive delivery all grade out as plus. A native of Greenfield, Indiana, he entered the year ranked 13th on our 2020 D-Backs Top Prospects list.

Jameson discussed his repertoire and how COVID-19 impacted what would have been his first full professional season during the final week of Arizona’s fall instructional league, which wrapped up earlier this month.


David Laurila: What should people know about you as a pitcher?

Drey Jameson: “I’d say I’m kind of electric, kind of fast-twitch with a really fast arm. It’s more like [deception]; I’m not a guy who is standing tall on the mound and has that straight downhill with his fastball. And my stuff separates. With my changeup, I’m a pronation guy, so my changeup works really well for me. Outside of that, I consider myself a fierce competitor who goes out and attacks guys.”

Laurila: You’re listed at six foot and 165 pounds. Is that still accurate?

Jameson: “I’m six foot, but I’m ranging anywhere from 170 to 178. I guess I’m usually around 175.”

Laurila: When our 2020 Diamondbacks Top Prospects list came out, your writeup included, “His high-maintenance delivery is hard to repeat.” Is that accurate?

Jameson: “That is not accurate. I don’t know when it was written, but… I do a lot of side-by-side video. Like, I’ll take a video of mine and put it next to one of Gerrit Cole. I’m not the same pitcher as Gerrit Cole, but I think we have [commonalities] with how our fastballs work. One thing for me is that I leaked my back knee over my right foot, towards third base; I wasn’t totally directional to home plate. Gerrit Cole is really good at being directional, straight to home plate, and that’s why he commands his fastball well at a high velocity. So I started doing side-by-sides, and now I am directional to home plate. And my velo has jumped again. Instead of sitting 93–96 [mph], I’m sitting, realistically, 96–98. Here and there I’m touching 100.

“I feel like the ball is coming out a lot easier now. Video shows that I’m not forcing anything anymore. My delivery is more smooth. But I will say that when I was in college — I’m guessing that’s when that was written — my mechanics did look more intense. It looked like I was given everything I had to throw that fastball as hard as I can.”

Laurila: It’s just four-seamers, right?

Jameson: “Yes, just a four. I am working on a sinker right now — it’s more of a one-seamer — but that’s going to be for later on. I’m going to keep it an archive for some point down the road.”

Laurila: Why are you thinking about adding another pitch this early in your carer?

Jameson: “We had a pitchers meeting, looking at charts of some guys in the big leagues. We were told that Zack Greinke never really threw a two-seam, but he would work on it in every bullpen. They’d ask. ‘Why are you working on this if you’re not going to throw it?’ He was like, ‘Because there will be a time in my career when I need this pitch, and when I do, I’ve already developed it.’ So it’s more of just a feel thing for me. When the time comes where I need to start switching something up, I already had a head start.”

Laurila: You said it was more of a one-seam. How did that come about?

Jameson:Matt Peacock, who has been in big-league spring training, throws a one-seam. Same with Josh Green. They get groundballs — no one really puts the ball in play hard against them — so I was like, ‘How do you guys throw that?’ Basically, I’m just expanding my baseball knowledge as a pitcher. So far I’ve mostly just thrown it in catch-play, although I have thrown a few in the bullpen to see what it does. As of right now… usually my release point is at six foot, and when I throw it my release point is 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11. They’ll be like, ‘You can’t be changing; it’s got to be the same if this pitch is going to be something.’”

Laurila: You throw both a curveball and a slider. Has anything changed in regard to either pitch?

Jameson: “Yes, they’ve messed with the grip on my curveball. My curveball and slider were blending, so their thing was, ‘OK, which do you feel most confident in throwing?’ I said I was most confident in my curveball, because I’ve always been able to throw it for a strike. They were like, ‘OK, we’ll keep the curveball and we’ll switch the slider grip.’ But when we tried to switch the slider grip, I was basically throwing two-seamers. It wasn’t a slider at all; it was backing up on me.

“My slider is a pitch that I’ll go to and it’s like, ‘I’m getting you out. Boom! Snap!’ It’s usually a swing-and-miss. So they said, ‘OK, then let’s tinker with the curveball.’ We started doing that, and I said, ‘You know what? Let me cock my hand a little more.’ But it’s really more about the release point, and kind of a mental thing for me. I think my hand is cocked, but it’s really not; I just feel like it is. Now I’m getting more of that 12-6 that I had in college. It’s maybe more 1-7, but what’s important is that it’s not merging with my slider.

Laurila: What do you consider your best secondary pitch?

Jameson: “My best off-speed is definitely my changeup, I just have to throw it. I haven’t really throw it that much, but when I do, it’s by far my best.”

Laurila: Is that according to data, or by the reactions you’re getting from hitters?

Jameson: “Data and reactions. I haven’t given up one hit with it since I’ve been throwing one.”

Laurila: When and where did you learn your changeup?

Jameson: “I threw it in college at Ball State, but not enough to where I could get a good feel for it. So I couldn’t command it very well. When I got here to pro ball, they pounded, ‘Dude, you’ve got to throw a changeup.’ So I started throwing it, and it was moving so much. There’s about 9 mph of separation [from the fastball] and it moves kind of like a backward slider.”

Laurila: How do you grip it?

Jameson: “It’s a circle change. I put my middle and ring finger on, like a two-seam, with the pinky hanging off the side. And like I said, I pronate a lot. I don’t think of pronating, but that’s what happens. And it’s hard. Sometimes I’ll run it up to 91-92.”

Laurila: One last thing: what were you able to do over the shutdown?

Jameson: “First I came out to Arizona for a couple months with two catchers in the D-Backs system. Nick Dalesandro, Ryan January and I were going to work out here. I’d heard rumors of the 60-man, and was hoping I’d get on it, but then I ended up [testing positive] for COVID. That jeopardized the 60-man for me, even though I was asymptomatic. The three of us couldn’t go anywhere — at least not outside our backyard — so we basically just threw in the road. We played three-way catch, and I’d throw flat grounds on cement.

“Once I got to go home, I started working out. I got a gym membership, and was also able to throw bullpens at place in Greenfield. Then I got the call for instructs, so now I’m out here in Arizona. We’re wrapping up later this week.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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