The short-season leagues began, or will begin this week. The Billings Mustangs began their season on Monday night with a win on a walk-off balk that brought in the go-ahead run. The Arizona League Reds will begin their season on Saturday. Next weeks article will preview their roster.
You can see the entire roster for the Mustangs here. Now, it’s worth noting that as of the time that I’m writing this (early Tuesday evening) neither Jeter Downs or Stuart Fairchild have been assigned to a team and by the time that you read this, they could be joining the Mustangs.
Top Pitching Prospect
Right now there isn’t a clear top pitching prospect on the roster. No one would currently rank within my Top 25 Reds prospects list (which hasn’t been updated since before the season, but still wouldn’t include any players from this roster). That, however, doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting arms. If push came to shove, I’d say that Tyler Mondile and Dauri Moreta would be the top two guys from the pitching staff.
Tyler Mondile is the 6th round pick from the 2016 draft out of high school. He only pitched in four games last season in Arizona as the team wanted to keep his innings limited after a high school season. He’s been up to 96 MPH with his fastball, though he sits lower than that. Mondile is throwing a fastball, slider, curveball and a change up. He’s also added some good weight to his frame since last year.
Reliever Dauri Moreta jumped onto the prospect scene last season with the Arizona League Reds as a 20-year-old. In 30.2 innings there he posted a 2.05 ERA with four saves and 53 strikeouts. The right hander did walk 18 batters, though, showing some battles with the strikezone. He got a late season call up to Billings, pitching in two games before the playoffs began.
He’s got a fastball that reaches into the mid-90’s and a good breaking ball. Control will be something to keep an eye on with him this season, but his stuff is real. Also, keep an eye on Cory Thompson. The former shortstop has been converted to a pitcher and I’ve heard good things about the quality of his stuff since the organization decided to try him out on the mound. He was a draft caliber pitching prospect coming out of high school, with some teams preferring his arm to his bat.
Top Position Prospect
Much like the pitching staff, there’s not a position player that would currently rank in my Top 25 Prospects list, but that doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t have some interesting players on the roster. With that said, the top guy for me would be catcher Jake Turnbull.
He missed most of the 2016 season while dealing with a few different injuries. However, in 2015 he hit quite well in the Arizona Rookie League as a 17-year-old. The Australian teenager will probably see some time at first base as the Mustangs have four catchers on the roster.
Also keep an eye on outfielder Miles Gordon. Before he injured his shoulder last season with the Mustangs he was hitting .262/.372/.369 with 11 walks and 14 strikeouts through 22 games played.