Then & Now: Will Kempner, RHP, Gonzaga

David Seifert
Director of College Scouting

THEN OCTOBER 28, 2017: Full body type with softer upper body, thick proportions, loose easy arm action with three-quarter release point, shoulder works quite well, good direction down the slope and maintains good body control throughout. Mostly mid-80s (T89) fastball came out easy though at times got rotational trying to get to higher velocities. Sink can be above average and life on all pitches was good. Works quickly and aggressively. Breaking ball is a slurve-type in the low-70s. Stuff is good, arm is good, body will have to likely firm up, to not only maximize his talent, but also to gain interest from the pro side. There is plenty to like in the arm talent.


NOW MARCH 5, 2022: BOOM! Welcome to the Hundy Club. Listed at 6-foot, 225-pounds, the right-hander is just more proof that dense mass equals gas. However, this righty is also a unicorn. He’s a sidearmer with a lightning bolt for an arm, one that touches 100 mph. It’s heavy heat that darts and dives. And also one that has caused control issues in the past. During his Saturday start at Oklahoma State, Kempner sat 96-98 during the first couple innings and was still touching 97 in the 6th and 96 in the 7th. His heater is also a high spinner (2630-2720 rpm) adding to its deception and the challenge for hitters to square it up. His best off speed offering was a lower spinning (1900s) firm changeup that ranged from 86-89. It played average to better as Kempner tallied three of his five strikeouts with this pitch. The sidewinder’s third pitch was a below average slider throw in the low-80s. It wasn’t much of a threat as he did not throw any for a strike, whether swinging or looking. It did not grade to be a present usable pitch for the pro level. On the downside, Kempner loses some draft value since there are many clubs that won’t consider a pitcher who doesn’t have at least an average present breaking ball. And although his control was average against Oklahoma State (3 walks, 5 strikeouts), his history paints a different picture with 48 walks, 48 strikeouts in 64 IP during his three-year career and 10 walks, 12 strikeouts in 16 IP this season at Gonzaga. Kempner may also benefit by showing his fastball up around the letters a little more often to move the hitters eyes, rather than pounding away at the knees with nearly every fastball. Although the home plate umpire did a great job after the first two innings adjusting to the velocity and life on Kempner’s heat, he will also benefit with pro umpires who likely have more experience with lively upper-90s heaters, as well as catchers who receive it more often. With all that stated, after the Top 50 overall picks it’s all about accumulating assets and Kempner’s status as an outlier (sidewinder who touches 100) is a definite different look asset. With continued control as to what he showed in Stillwater expect teams to consider him starting around the third round.

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