Black MLB Players #17: Jordan Hicks

Background + Path To The MLB

Jordan Hicks is a twenty-four year old relief pitcher from Houston, Texas that plays for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a standout pitcher in high school, being ranked in the top 250 for high school baseball players across the country in the 2015 graduating class. Hicks had a commitment to Tulane University, but was drafted in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 105th overall pick. He forewent his commitment to Tulane and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization on June 9th, 2015, receiving a $600,000 signing bonus. Hicks was seen as a starting pitcher with a lot of upside and potential coming out of high school, although with concerns about his command and pitching mechanics.

Jordan Hicks began his professional career at the Rookie Ball(Rk) of the MiLB in 2016, and eventually was promoted to Low A(A-), throwing thirty innings at each level. He started 12 games and put up an ERA below 3, showing the potential he had as a starting pitcher. In 2017, he performed well, reducing his walk rate slightly and striking out more hitters per nine innings. He was selected by the Cardinals organization to be on the roster for the Arizona Fall League(AFL), an off-season league owned and operated by the MLB where MLB organizations send their top prospects for extra development and reps. Despite spending the majority of his minor league career as a starting pitcher, he was moved to the bullpen in the AFL, and had a velocity jump. Despite his poor statistical performance in a small sample size, Hicks caught the attention of scouts by consistently hitting the upper 90s and even reached 102 mph on his pitches.

Jordan Hicks was given a non-roster invite to Spring Training before the 2018 MLB Season by the St. Louis Cardinals front office, and made the MLB roster despite never pitching above A+ Ball in the MiLB. He was put in the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals, and was one of the mainstays throughout the year as a late inning guy. Hicks caught the attention of his peers, media, and most importantly the fans with his blazing fastball, showing why he was given a fast track to the MLB. Jordan Hicks started 2019 on a good note, but his season was cut short after needing Tommy John surgery in his right elbow. Hicks opted out from the shortened 2020 MLB Season after a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery caused elbow inflammation, and would’ve limited the amount of reps he could get at the MLB level to an extremely low amount.

Player Profile

Charts that show how effective Jordan Hicks is, and the method behind the madness that is his hellacious arsenal.

Jordan Hicks is 6'2'’, 220 pounds, and throws right handed from a traditional 3/4ths arm slot. He throws four pitches: two seam fastball/sinker, four seam fastball, slider, and a changeup. Hicks throws his sinker and the slider 94% of the time, so they will be the focus of my player profile. I will not break down the four seamer and changeup, as they are pretty much irrelevant. What makes Jordan Hicks such a successful relief pitcher is the combination of velocity and movement on his pitches, which allows him to limit MLB hitters from making effective contact at the plate by getting swings and misses along with weak ground balls to induce easy outs and double plays to end innings quickly. Jordan Hicks has an average fastball velocity of 100 mph, which is extremely uncommon, and he can throw up to 105 mph. He shares the record for the fastest pitch ever recorded in MLB history with Aroldis Chapman, a legendary flamethrowing reliever in his own right. Below this paragraph will be an embedded Youtube video from the Made The Cut channel showing how effective Hicks’ sinker is.

The other pitch in Jordan Hicks’ arsenal is his slider, and it is a good pitch in its own right. In combination with his sinker, he has a great duo for attacking hitters from both sides of the plate.

These three tweets from the legendary @pitchingninja on twitter show what makes Jordan Hicks a good pitcher, and for relievers it is a really simple formula. Good fastball + good secondary pitch + competent command/mechanics = effective reliever(usually). Jordan Hicks takes this to another level with one in a million arm strength, and a slider with above average horizontal and vertical movement.

The caveat to Hicks’ ability is his struggles with his mechanics and limiting walks. Although he leaves runners on base, a major factor of being a late inning reliever is being able to limit walks, which in turn limits the possibility of a late inning rally for a comeback or walk off from happening. Keep in mind that Hicks has only played four seasons of professional baseball, and is only 24 years old, so there is still plenty of room for refinement and development left.

Conclusion

Jordan Hicks is a freak of nature, that’s all there is to say. Guys that can hit 100 mph once or twice a game are not common, but there is literally less than ten pitchers to regularly sit around 100 mph in the MLB right now, and Jordan Hicks is one of them. Hicks offers elite upside as a reliever with his ability to rack up strikeouts and induce weak balls put in play. I expect Jordan Hicks to be an above average reliever for most of his career, as long as he can maintain his elite velocity, limit walks, and refine his mechanics/command. He already started to work on his mechanics and delivery during his recovery from elbow surgery, and it is good to see him look to improve and aim to be better.

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Patrick Ellington Jr.

Patrick Ellington Jr.

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I use this blog to cover Black baseball players from all over the African diaspora in MiLB & MLB and review TV series, films, novels, comic books, anime,. etc.