Back in June of 2018, former Kentucky pitcher Sean Hjelle was drafted in the second round to the San Francisco Giants.
Just 11 months later, the 6-foot-11 prospect has already been promoted three times, with his most recent coming yesterday evening.
After starting out in the rookie league last year, Hjelle made the jump to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Class A-Short), then the Augusta GreenJackets (Class A), and now, the San Jose Giants (Class A-Advanced).
In just 40.2 innings with the GreenJackets, Hjelle posted a 2.66 ERA to go with 44 strikeouts and just nine walks.
PUMPED for Sean Hjelle’s promotion to @SJGiants in A-Advanced ball after a tremendous start to the season! He posted a 2.66 ERA and 44 strikeouts (against just nine walks) in 40.2 innings with Augusta. Big things in the works for our dude! #WeAreUK #CatsinthePros
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 21, 2019
Now with San Jose, Hjelle has just two stops ahead of him with the Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA) and the Sacramento River Cats (AAA) before he gets the call to the majors.
According to MLB.com, the former Kentucky star is the No. 6 overall prospect for the Giants and the third-best pitcher they are grooming in the minors before making the jump to the MLB.
On his official MLB.com prospect scouting report, they raved about the 6-foot-11 pitcher’s unique size, control, and pitch selection:
Hjelle doesn’t fit the prototype of a tall pitcher because his polish stands out much more than his power. His fastball sits at 91-94 mph and peaks at 96, with the unusual angle he creates with his extra-large frame more notable than his velocity. He has outstanding body control for someone his size, allowing him to repeat his delivery with ease and throw strikes with all of his offerings.
Hjelle’s best pitch is his low-80s knuckle-curve, which earns plus grades from some evaluators. He also uses a cutter/slider to give him a harder breaking ball and shows feel for a changeup. While he still could add some strength to his lanky frame, his floor stands out more than his ceiling and he’s likely to settle in as a No. 4 starter.
Hjelle still has a ways to go before he’s taking the mound as an MLB pitcher, but he’s certainly off to a phenomenal start.