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2021 MLB Draft: Tampa Bay Rays select LHP Patrick Wicklander in the eighth round

Rays draft their third four-year collegiate pitcher.

The Tampa Bay Rays have selected Arkansas lefty Patrick Wicklander at No. 251 overall in the 2021 MLB Draft.

Wicklander ranked No. 132 in ESPN’s pre-draft rankings, and No. 220 at MLB Pipeline.

While he relies on deception from the mound, Wicklander is otherwise an inspiration off of it as an athlete that succeeds despite a diabetes diagnosis.

MLB Pipeline:

The No. 3 starter on Arkansas’ 2019 College World Series team as a freshman, Wicklander struggled to a 6.32 ERA in four starts last year before being diagnosed with diabetes during the pandemic layoff. He opened this season in the Razorbacks bullpen but emerged as the ace of a team ranked No. 1 for most of the season and topped all Southeastern Conference starters in ERA (2.11).

He doesn’t have the sexiest repertoire but he’s a lefty who has proven himself in college baseball’s toughest league. Wicklander usually works at 90-92 mph and can reach 96 with his fastball, which plays up because he creates deception with his delivery and it has good carry up in the strike zone. His sweeping 77-81 mph slider shuts down same-side hitters but is just OK against right-handers. He doesn’t have much trust in his low-80s changeup, which has some fade when it’s on but doesn’t land in the zone on a consistent basis.

Though Wicklander has less than overpowering stuff, he hides the ball and has a low release height, so hitters don’t get good hacks against him. He throws strikes and can use his fastball to get swings and misses in the zone and also as a chase pitch. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever as a pro.