Yesterday, I wrote about the potential number-one pick in this year's MLB draft, Stanford ace Mark Appel. Earlier this season, I also scouted Stanford's number two starter, left-hander Brett Mooneyham.
Mooneyham, a red-shirt junior who missed all of last season due to injury, is not going to go as high as Appel in the draft, but he could be a late first-round draft pick.
The 6'5" lefty struggled with his command and control in the first start that I scouted, back on March 10 against Rice. He continually missed up in the zone, which led to two home runs and two other deep flyouts. He walked four and had 10 three-ball counts in his six innings of work.
He finally settled down in the fifth inning, locating his fastball around the knees more and getting command of his changeup, which had been ineffective through four innings. Once he got his fastball down, he started inducing more ground balls.
Mooneyham's fastball sat at 89-91 Miles Per Hour (MPH), touching a high of 94 MPH in the first inning. He appeared to feature a four-seam fastball and did not throw many two-seamers.
His curveball was his best pitch, sitting at 74-76 MPH, and leading to most of his nine strikeouts. His changeup, which was between 75-78 MPH, was erratic in the early going but started getting a late downward bite that tailed away from right-handed batters as the game progressed.
In the second start that I scouted two weeks later against USC, Mooneyham flashed the same stuff but was a little sharper with his command. He again struck out nine while walking three in his seven innings of work. He pitched up in the zone with his fastball, which led to eight flyball outs against just three ground-ball outs.
Mooneyham finished the regular season with a 4.05 Earned Run Average in 80 innings of work. He recorded 88 strikeouts, but he also walked 35 and plunked an additional 14.
For Mooneyham to develop into a mid-rotation starter in the major leagues, he will need to improve his control significantly. He also needs to improve his fastball command within the strike zone to get the ball down around the knees more often. He only allowed five home runs all season, but that has more to do with his excellent stuff than his suspect command. If he continues to pitch up in the zone consistently in professional baseball, his home run totals will likely go way up.
As he moves up the professional ladder and the competition stiffens, he will not be able to get by on stuff alone. Therefore, he needs to improve his control and fastball command to avoid walks, hit batsmen and high pitch counts.
There are not many lefties in professional baseball with better stuff than Mooneyham. The team that drafts him is getting a big arm—but one that also needs some refinement.