Baseball Prospect Journal

Eric Hammond has made notable strides

Eric Hammond Eric Hammond, Twitter

Eric Hammond offers intriguing projectability. The right-handed pitcher has made notable strides over the last two years to develop into the state of Texas’ top prep arm.

Hammond, who’s 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, weighed 145 pounds just two years ago. His fastball sat 83 to 84 mph at the end of his freshman year. Now, as he prepares for his senior season, Hammond sits in the mid-90s.

He still has plenty of room to grow and add even more velocity. His development throughout his career at Keller High School has positioned him as a prospect for the 2021 MLB draft class.

“It has been awesome,” Hammond said. “I want to continue to build on that. To see how all the hard work paying off is really cool to see.”

Professional scouts project Hammond as a potential early-round pick in July’s draft. Major league teams will have to contend with his commitment to Southern California.

Hammond likely will have two viable options after he concludes his high school career. He’s trying not to focus on the future decision he will have to make. Instead, he’s trying to refine his skills and show improvement in his senior season.

“It has been fun,” Hammond said. “I know everything will turn out how I am hoping. I just want to have that day-to-day consistency to elevate my game, and I know everything will work out.”

Hammond throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup, slider, and sinker from a three-quarters arm slot. He uses a high leg kick out of the windup while featuring a deep and low arm action before moving towards the plate.

His fastball tops out at 95 mph. He commands the pitch well on both sides of the plate. He also occasionally mixes in his sinker.

His curveball is his best off-speed pitch that he uses to generate swings and misses. It sits in the high-70s.

Hammond has a strong understanding of how to sequence his pitches to get the best result.

“My mental game is my biggest strength,” Hammond said. “I feel like my focus and my one-pitch at a time mentality are my biggest strengths. Also, I take pride in being a good teammate. I have always been big on that.”

This offseason, Hammond has worked on his changeup and slider. He has started to use a new slider grip. He has moved away from using a cutter-type grip to more of a traditional slider grip, he said.

His new grip allows him to throw it out of the same arm slot as his curveball, which creates some deception. The pitch also now sits around 2,600 revolutions per minute compared to his old slider that was around 2,300 RPMs.

Hammond wants to continue to refine his changeup and slider this offseason while also adding more strength to his frame.

“I want to continue to get stronger,” Hammond said. “Also, I want to refine all aspects of my game with my command and mess around with spin rate a little bit. I just want to continue to test that new slider I have and the changeup.”

Scouts will flock to see Hammond pitch this spring. His results and growth on the mound this spring will factor into which path he takes after high school. Besides having the option to start a pro career out of high school, Hammond could elect to honor his commitment to USC.

Hammond has been familiar with USC for some time. His father, Jeff, worked as a volunteer assistant coach for the USC men’s tennis team in 2003 and 2004 before accepting an assistant coaching position at Texas Christian.

Hammond values academics, as he ranks ninth out of his 760-student senior class, he said. He plans on pursuing a business degree if he attends USC.

“During my junior year, I thought I would go check USC. I went there a couple of days after Christmas, and I really liked it there,” Hammond said. “I loved the coaches and the environment there. That was the first camp I went to my junior year and had been talking with a few other schools but really liked it there.”

Read more in-depth stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects at Baseball Prospect Journal.

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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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