Perhaps Tyler Mahle never got enough love as a prospect because he was just a 7th round draftee out of high school. Maybe it’s because his high school, Westminster (CA), produced only six drafted players between 1990 and when Mahle was picked in 2013, none of whom went higher than the 15th round - and none of whom ever cracked the big leagues.
The truth is, that Mahle never cracked a Top 100 overall prospect list until earlier this year is probably due to how much we all fawn over radar gun readings, and he’s not the kind of pitcher who makes hay by throwing 100 mph heaters. Heck, you’ll find Hunter Greene and his 102 mph fastball ranked way, way higher on prospect lists despite the 18 year old having logged just 4.1 IP as a professional. But the one thing Mahle has managed to do throughout his professional career is get opposing hitters out, which was on full display on Monday in the Cincinnati Reds victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon sure noticed.
“This guy has superior stuff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s got a plus fastball, plus breaking ball and he’s got this little jump at the end. He’s going to be really good. You may not have heard of him before, but if he stays well, you’re going to hear of him in the future.”
That quote comes from The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans, who penned an insightful look at Mahle - not just at his spectacular outing yesterday, but at the guy himself. And what stood out most from reading it is that Mahle’s teammates could not have been less surprised that the rookie was as effective as he was yesterday.
A quick trip over to Brooks Baseball for the breakdown of Mahle’s 6 inning, 1 hit outing yesterday gives a bit of a glimpse into why he’s got the ability to be so successful. Major league hitters today - especially those good enough to be everyday regulars for the Cubs - aren’t necessarily phased by velocity, even when its up in triple digits, if they know what’s coming. In Mahle’s case, his ability to throw the same pitch at significantly different velocities is what helps him keep hitters off balance, and that paired with pinpoint accuracy means he throws enough strikes to force opponents to swing at his pitches. Yesterday, that was on display for sure, as he threw his four-seam between 91 and 96 mph, threw his changeup anywhere from 79 mph to 86 mph, and moved his slider anywhere from 80 mph up to 85 mph.
That’s the kind of mixing and matching that can fool even the most patient and perceptive hitters, especially with a delivery that’s as repeatable as Mahle’s. Doing that while also hitting spots has the makings of a very, very effective big league pitcher, one who absolutely deserves more attention from all of us than he’s received to date.
In other news, we’ll soon get to see if Hunter Greene can keep A-ball hitters confused by changing speeds on his triple-digit fastball, as he’s slated to start for the Dayton Dragons on April 9th. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon has notes from senior director of player development Jeff Graupe on the where/why decision to start Greene’s season, and I’d encourage any of you within shouting distance of Dayton to try to nab a ticket to that game immediately, since it’s sure to be quite the show.
The MLB Pipeline crew tabbed one prospect from each NL Central system that has the biggest breakout potential in 2018, and Tyler Stephenson was the choice from the Cincinnati farm. It’s hard to argue with that selection, as it’s largely been injury that has kept Stephenson from breaking out to date, but the talent is obviously there in the former 1st round draftee. The 21 year old will begin his 2018 campaign in Daytona.
Finally, the Reds officially released Darnell Sweeney. The 27 year old spent 81 respectable games with the Louisville Bats in 2017, hitting .281/.355/.420 with 7 dingers and 11 steals in that time while playing absolutely everywhere on the field.