Tom Milone, LHP Oakland Athletics
Tom Milone was selected by the Nationals in the 10th round of the 2008 draft out of USC as a Junior. After signing for $65,000 he spent time at Rookie level Vermont and Low-A Hagerstown, combining for a 1-6 record and a 3.91 ERA. Unimpressive, but with a 3.8 walk rate there were early signs of elite command.
In 2009, Milone started seeing his command bring W’s in High A Potomac where he went 12-5 with a 2.91 ERA. His walk rate of 5.9% was ab=n elite rate while his K rate left much to be desired at just 17.3%.
In 2010, he spent time in Double A Harrisburg and went 12-5 again. This time with a 2.85 ERA which was supported by a 2.74 FIP. His K rate jumped to 23.8% while his walk rate actually dropped to just 3.5%. 23 walks in 158 innings with almost a K per inning.
Milone had another fine season in 2011 making his MLB debut late in the season. But before we get into the specifics of the season and the recent offseason trade to the Oakland Athletics, let’s take a look at his Pitch Arsenal and Mechanics while we delve into those 2011 numbers.
Milone again flashed elite level command in 2011, actually bettering his 2010 numbers and dropping his walk rate to just 2.7% while boosting his K rate to 26.4 in 148.1 innings for the Triple A Syracuse Chiefs.
The advanced command is what has allowed Milone to be successful thus far in his career. He works with a high 80s fastball which on occasion can reach 90-91. He is able to place the ball inside and outside and uses the corners well. Despite his elite level command he doesn’t get a lot of ground balls and sees even his offering lower in the zone, when hit, able to be lifted.
We’ll get into his mechanics in a minute, but his success also hinges on his changeup and cutter which he throws from the same arm slot as his fastball. Both pitches are average while his curveball is slightly below average despite coming from the same arm slot.
With a four pitch mix and elite command, Milone, is a pitcher that isn’t going to beat himself. But none of his pitches are more than average with the fastball and curve, two major offerings being well below average without his command of the pitches in the equation.
Milone has some deception working for him with his delivery. He hides the ball well and is able to easily repeat his simple albeit mechanical delivery. His deception allows his fastball to play up because it’s not seen until the very point of release and his ability to repeat allows him to hit his spots.
Will the deception and command allow him to succeed at the major league level?
Milone’s lack of a true plus pitch and overall average arsenal make his future success in a major league rotation a distant possibility. If he is able to play off of his deception and command he projects as nothing more than a serviceable 5th starter. With his trade to the Athetics, Milone finds himself in a spot where he should get the opportunity at the back-end of the rotation though.
The A’s did well to have Milone included in the trade that brought them both Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole. But make no mistake that Milone was not the prize of that trade. If Milone can give the A’s just a couple of seasons of average innings at the back-end of the rotation then Milone has paid his dividends.
Whether that is possible will soon be seen. Milone should have the chance to make the big league squad out of Spring Training.
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