Scouting Rangers Prospect #48: Nick Tepesch

Right-hander Nick Tepesch has yet to throw an official pitch in professional baseball, but he is an intriguing arm with a good fastball and three offspeed pitches. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 22-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Nick Tepesch
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: October 12, 1988
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 228
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2010 Amateur Draft, 14th round

Recent first-round picks and power right-handers Max Scherzer ('06), Aaron Crow ('08 and '09), and Kyle Gibson ('09) have given the University of Missouri a reputation for producing talented arms.

With his 6-foot-5 frame and fastball that touches the mid-90s, Nick Tepesch was expected to follow in the trio's footsteps and become a first-round selection himself.

Tepesch was on the radar of scouts even before he landed at Mizzou. The righty was regarded as a strong prospect out of Blue Springs High School in the Kansas City area. However, seven-figure bonus demands caused him to slip to Boston in the 28th round of the '07 MLB Draft.

Through three years of college ball, Tepesch had his share of peaks and valleys and hadn't yet found the consistency that could establish himself as an elite prospect. But he did improve.

The hurler posted a 6.27 earned-run average during his sophomore season in '09––his first year as a full-time starter. While he walked only 28 and fanned 84 batters in 84 innings, he surrendered a whopping 109 hits.

Tepesch made strides in his junior campaign last year, with a 4.20 ERA over 15 starts. He logged 98 frames, gave up 108 hits, walked 27, and fanned 75.

His stock improved late in the season after a nine-strikeout complete game against Nebraska. Then, with a number of scouts and crosscheckers looking on at the Big 12 Tournament, he worked a complete-game victory against No. 1 Texas.

"It started off kind of rocky," said Tepesch of his junior season. "But as the season went on, I got better and better. That's one thing that, no matter where I'm playing at or what level, I want to be able to improve from start-to-start and get better and peak at the right time."

The prospect appeared to be learning that more velocity didn't always mean better results. He became less hittable as he sacrificed some fastball velocity for improved command within the strike zone. Still, the progress wasn't enough to make him a top prospect.

Already armed with plus fastball velocity, Tepesch believes developing the mental aspect of his game is currently most important.

"I was learning all the stuff that it takes to be a pitcher," he said of his time at Mizzou. "Coming out of high school, I was mainly a hitter and a first baseman. I never really knew what it took to be a pitcher until I got to college."

Bonus demands––along with the thought that he may return to school for his senior season––caused Tepesch to fall to the 14th round, where Texas snagged him. He eventually signed for a reported $400,000 bonus––approximately third-round slot money.

He was more than happy to move on and begin his professional career.

"(Signing) was great because I didn't have to worry about where I was going to be at," he said. "If I'd be (in Arizona), if I'd be back at school, or what I would be doing. It was just kind of a weight off my shoulders. I'm enjoying my time."

Because the Tigers finished with a disappointing 29-26 mark and failed to qualify for the NCAA postseason, Tepesch went nearly four months between appearances before making his professional debut at Fall Instructional League.

In his first instructs outing, the Missouri native shook off the rust by tossing a 10-pitch (seven strikes) scoreless inning. He threw his fastball at 88-90 mph while mixing in two 77 mph curveballs and an 84 mph cutter.

As Tepesch prepares for his first professional season, he'd like to focus on developing his secondary stuff.

"Just overall, I want to make everything better and maybe be a little more consistent with my offspeed pitches," said the pitcher. "I want to do the best I can."

Also See: Tepesch wants to refine offspeed stuff (August 31, 2010)
Rangers Instructional League Notes (September 21, 2010)

Repertoire: Fastball, Cutter, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball: During his junior campaign at Mizzou, Tepesch often threw his fastball between 89-93 mph, touching up to 94-95 at times. His fastball has some arm-side run when thrown down in the zone. As previously mentioned, he has developed in learning to sacrifice some velocity for improved command within the strike zone.

Tepesch throws plenty of strikes––he walked fewer than 2.5 batters per nine innings in college last year––but he must spot his fastball down in the zone with more consistency. Command is all the more important because Tepesch doesn't have much deception in his delivery. Due to his tall frame, he has a long arm action that allows hitters to see the ball early and track it out of the hand.

Other Pitches: Tepesch has a deep repertoire with three offspeed pitches, though they are less developed than the fastball. All three offerings flash potential at times but are inconsistent on the whole. The 22-year-old likes to attack righties early in the count with his 83-85 mph cutter, which he picked up as a freshman in college. He uses a changeup to combat left-handed hitters. Although Tepesch doesn't throw his slurvy 77-81 mph breaking ball as often as the other two offspeed pitches, he uses the curve to chase strikeouts and can bury it in the dirt at times.

Projection: Projection has been Tepesch's biggest asset through his young career. The prospect is blessed with an ideal pitcher's frame and a big arm. It's the other things––primarily secondary stuff and command––that will decide how good he can become at the professional level. Tepesch has the potential to develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter with a plus fastball and usable offspeed stuff. Because his secondaries remain fairly raw, his development will be intriguing to track as he begins to work with professional coaches.

2011 Outlook: With three years of high-level collegiate experience at the University of Missouri, Tepesch figures to break camp with a full-season club. He is most likely headed for the Single-A Hickory starting rotation and should have an opportunity to finish his first full season at the High-A level. Inning limits and pitch counts shouldn't be much of an issue for the 22-year-old, who had a clean bill of health in college and logged 98 frames at Mizzou last season.

ETA: 2013.

Discuss this story and others regarding the Rangers system on our subscriber-only message board.

Future Rangers Top Stories