Selected by the Texas Rangers in the 13th round in 2017 out of GateWay Junior College in Arizona, right-handed pitching prospect Seth Nordlin had a phenomenal first season in pro baseball this summer. Pitching for the rookie-level AZL Rangers of the Arizona League and pitching coach Jono Armold, Nordlin made 12 relief appearances in 2017, and finished 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA over 21.2 innings. In that time frame, the sinker/slider righty allowed just 12 hits and five walks, while striking out 34 hitters, putting up a 1.50 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, and holding opponents to a .164 batting average.
A low-three-quarters type with room left to grow into his thin frame at just 20 years old (DOB: September 4, 1997), Seth Nordlin has a deep repertoire with an advanced understanding of how to sequence his stuff and set up hitters on both sides of the plate. Seeing so much success in 2017 figures to get him on the inside track to start 2018 at Low-A Hickory, and while his deep arsenal would make him an interesting rotation arm next year or beyond, I really like his attack mode and pitchability out of the bullpen and the potential for that to play up with more velocity late in close games as he grows into his frame. Below, you’ll find our full Seth Nordlin scouting report, including velocities, pitch and tool grades, and game video on the Texas Rangers pitching prospect.
Seth Nordlin, Texas Rangers — 2017 Scouting Report
Dates observed in 2017: August 5; August 8
Seth Nordlin Scouting Report — Texas Rangers — 2017 Game Video
Seth Nordlin Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis
Seth Nordlin isn’t the traditional bat-missing, high-leverage reliever, in that he doesn’t sit in the mid-90s with a two-pitch arsenal consisting of a straight fastball and a power slider. The righty has a far deeper repertoire than you’d expect for his role and age, and he pairs it with some serious ability to execute on pitches down in the zone. A junior college product who turned 20 years old after the AZL season ended, it’s probably wise that the Texas Rangers started him in rookie ball this summer, but the righty proved too advanced for the league and should probably find himself in Low-A in 2018 depending on how the offseason goes.
Because of his deep arsenal, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rangers are tempted to turn him into a starting pitcher. That’s all well and good, and maybe there’s enough pitchability there to eventually slide him into the very back end of a big league rotation, but I think it’s likely Seth Nordlin settles into a middle-relief/set-up role with exceptional feel for how to draw weak contact, and the command profile and stuff to miss bats in high-leverage situations. Plus, he’ll add velocity as he builds on his lean frame over the next few years, and the Texas Rangers could find they have a mid-90s power sinker/slider guy who can very satisfactorily fill out a seventh/eighth inning role soon enough.
Seth Nordlin Scouting Report — Future Projection
Listed at 6’4″ and currently just 205 lbs., Seth Nordlin has plenty of room to grow into his body as he further refines and perfects his deep arsenal. When he does, he could be a monster, armed with a mid-90s power sinker and a harder, sharper slider and curveball to boot — and all that coming from an above-average command profile and low three-quarters arm slot. Taken together, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Texas Rangers have found themselves a diamond in the rough who could one day throw meaningful bullpen innings at the big league level. His command profile in particular suggests an exciting ceiling, if only because it’ll allow Nordlin to keep throwing strikes across his whole arsenal as he inevitably develops the power side of his repertoire.
He’s still very young, but the South Atlantic League feels like a realistic goal for the 2018 season, and as a reliever Seth Nordlin could move up relatively quickly from there. Unknown and underrated right now, and unlikely to ever be a high-profile prospect because of his role, the righty showed out very well in his debut season and he has a path forward if he can continue to execute on his entire arsenal. In a similar way to what the Colorado Rockies have in unknown catching prospect Javier Guevara right now, the Texas Rangers could be sitting on a seriously valuable pitcher in Seth Nordlin if his development path consistently moves forward from his exceptional 2017 showing.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): High-leverage, short stint set-up man (7th/8th inning); good enough arsenal and command profile to work in middle relief at floor (50/45)
MLB ETA: 2021