Just because Tom Milone doesn’t have the velocity of Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole or Jarrod Parker does not mean that the left-hander wasn’t a key offseason acquisition for the Oakland A’s.
Drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 draft out of USC, Milone—the A’s No. 10 prospect—has been impressive over four minor league seasons.
In 2010, the left-hander started 27 games for Double-A Harrisburg and was 12-5 with a 2.85 ERA. Even more impressive was his impeccable command that resulted in a 155/23 K/BB rate over 158 innings.
Following a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse to being the 2011 season, Milone managed to improve upon his previous season by going 12-6 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and extraordinary 155/16 K/BB rate over 148 innings.
His overall consistency and ability to make quick adjustments in the upper-minors led to a late-season call-up with the Nationals as a 24-year-old.
In his MLB debut on Sept. 3, Milone allowed four runs on six hits while recording a pair of strikeouts in four-and-a-third innings. However, his debut will likely be remembered for his first big-league at-bat.
The surprisingly athletic Milone turned on the first pitch he saw, depositing it over the right-field wall for a three-run home run. (A well-deserved curtain call followed his trip around the bases, obviously.)
He ultimately made four more starts in September, and even picked up his first career win against the New York Mets. As he did in the minor leagues, Milone demonstrated advanced feel and control of his pitches, as he registered a 15/4 K/BB rate over 26 innings.
The left-hander has the potential for a lengthy career due to his excellent control and command of four pitches, each of which is slightly above average at worst.
His fastball typically sits in the mid-80s, although he’ll reach back for an 89-91 on occasion. Because he’s capable of locating the pitch basically wherever he wants, Milone’s heater plays faster than what any radar indicates, as he’s learned to effectively throw it in relation to his off-speed pitches.
He throws his changeup with fastball-like arm speed that has excellent fade and is effective against both right and left-handed hitters. Although it’s probably his weakest offering, Milone’s curveball gives opposing hitter’s a different look and is commonly thrown with the intention of generating a swing-and-miss out of the zone. He rounds out his four-pitch arsenal with a cutter that he commands to both sides of the plate.
Headed into the season, Milone is currently slated to be the A’s No. 3 starter behind Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. Given the injury history of the two aforementioned starters, there’s a realistic chance that Milone could log the most innings of any Oakland starter this season.
In an A’s rotation that will host a slew of power arms as early as 2013, Milone will serve as a perfect, left-handed, mid-rotation complement due to his excellent control. For a young pitcher who spots up as well as Milone, he should blossom in the pitcher-friendly Oakland ballpark.