25. Jackson Cox (149 points, 20 ballots)
Cox was Colorado’s second-round pick in 2022, 50th overall, out of a rural high school in Washington state — the only high school player the Rockies drafted in that class. The 6’1” righty starter signed for a $1.85 million bonus — well over the pick’s $1.54 million slot value — to get him out of his commitment to Oregon.
Cox has yet to make his professional debut, so the PuRPs ranking here indicates a belief in the stuff that got the 19-year-old drafted that highly and paid above slot. Cox’s calling card as a prospect is his 3,000+ RPM curveball, described as a slurve with “deep and late bite” which he pairs with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a developing change-up in a repeatable delivery.
Here’s some video of Cox from a prospect showcase in early 2022 courtesy of the Prospect Pipeline:
None of the major prospect watchers ranked Cox above where he was drafted, but some scouts were more excited about him than others.
Cox is an athletic right-hander with the chance to have three pitches that are at least above-average when all is said and done. He’ll sit around 92 mph with his fastball and is up to 96 with ease, thrown with excellent running life. His real calling card right now is his curve, a plus hard slurve with deep and late bite that routinely registers spin rates over 3,000 rpm, giving him one of the better breaking balls in the class. He has very good feel for a changeup, which could develop into another out pitch.
The right-hander repeats his delivery very well and can fill up the strike zone with all three of his offerings.
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com was less impressed, ranking Cox 80th as a 40 FV player, saying that “Cox will flash a 3000+ RPM breaker and gets into the mid-90s at times, but the consistency and delivery (high elbow in back) muted some interest.”
Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Cox 96th overall in the draft class:
Cox, an Oregon commit, has a simple delivery that’s very online to the plate and a three-pitch mix that features a plus curveball with high spin rates and late two-plane break. He’s got some feel for a changeup already with some fading action to it and an average fastball that’s mostly 92-94 mph. He doesn’t have the pure physical projection of many of the other prep arms ranked above him, with just decent arm speed, but the fact that he has an out pitch now and might get to another above-average to plus weapon with his changeup give him upside of a different sort.
If you’re looking for elite spin rates in a prospect’s foundation, this is your guy. Cox’s breaking ball routinely spins in the 2900-3100 rpm range, and has huge two-plane wipe. His fastball, which will reach 96 mph but sits more 92-93, is relatively true due to Cox’s generic three-quarters arm slot, and without mechanical alteration it might get hit a ton in pro ball. A short-strider with a bit of cross-body action to his delivery, it may be as simple as tweaking Cox’s stride length or direction to create more carry on his fastball. Cox is of medium build, not maxed out but not possessing round-up physical projection like a lot of other pitchers in this class. While his fastball could improve by altering its shape (you can also change hand position to get there, à la José Urquidy), Cox may not throw much harder than this at peak.
Most recently, Baseball Prospectus ranked Cox 14th in Colorado’s system in November:
Cox is a shorter, cold-weather second-round prep righty. There’s a lot of compounding risk in each subsequent adjective there, but his breaking ball was one of the better ones in the class, a high-spin hellion of a curve. He also sits mid-90s from a traditional three-quarters slot, but struggles to consistently throw strikes out of an uptempo, upright delivery. So yes there’s a lot of variance here—and Cox has yet to throw a pro pitch—but the breaker gives you something to dream on.
In ranking Cox, I split the difference between the opinions of the national scouts I follow (he was number 11 in the system for Baseball America recently as well) while considering the draft spot and over-slot bonus in ranking Cox 15th on my list as a 40+ FV player. He’s got a foundational breaking ball to build around and mid-round starter potential. Then again, he’s a high school pitcher who is a long ways away from actualizing that potential into big league success.