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Phillies 2019 draft preview: Brennan Malone, RHP

St Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

I’ve already written a short preview of Brennan Malone. The day after publishing I started seeing rumors of the Phillies having big presence at his games. That might mean nothing, as teams heavily scout guys they don’t draft all the time and at 14, the Phillies do need to have multiple options they’re interested in.

I’ve already written up the basics on Malone and I’m not going to recreate the wheel and reword it all here. Instead, I’ll insert my summary below and then we can go a bit more in depth.

Malone is a bit of a late riser. Early on rankings had Daniel Espino at the top among High School Pitchers, thanks to a fastball he can throw up to 100 MPH, and Malone at the lower end of the round due to inconsistent secondary pitches. Things have flipped. Malone isn’t ranked quite as high as Espino started the year, but he is ranked above him now. The reason for that is Espino is a little reminiscent of Tyler Kolek* who had a similarly huge fastball and basically nothing else (including much of an idea where said fastball was going). Meanwhile, Malone’s fastball is a tick behind Espino’s, but his slider shows much more consistent plus potential. His curve and change have also both improved. There’s a solid MLB bullpen floor, with a #3 starter ceiling (if you squint, maybe a #2 ceiling).

Malone is 6’4” 210 lbs (some places list 6’5” 220, but I’m going with BA’s numbers) and pitches for IMG Academy in Florida. He has a 4-pitch mix: a fastball he can throw up to 98, but usually sites in the 93-96 mph range; a slider which this spring looked pretty consistently above average and projects as a plus pitch; a curve which flashes plus, but is currently fringe average as the release point is inconsistent and a changeup that, like most prep pitchers, needs some work. There’s good velocity separation from his fastball and arm side run. The ceiling is probably 2 plus pitches, 1 above average and 1 average pitch, but if you are optimistic, you could project the curve to plus once the release point gets figured out, but the change probably tops out at average.

Malone has plus control of the fastball. I’ve seen above average reports on the slider, but the curve control is inconsistent across reports, but has looked plus at times. The change I have seen no reports on the control of it, as it’s used pretty sparingly. Now, 3 plus pitches with plus control is a #1 starter. I’m not quite that optimistic and I’d guess one of those, at least, ends up in the average to above average range. That’s still a #2 starter and the floor can reasonably be a #3 starter. That’s a wide delta, but such is the reality of drafting a prep player. Video from top velocity (skip to about the 3:25 mark for the bit on Malone).