Feature Photo: Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
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Dustin May, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Tulsa Drillers, Texas League)
The Dodgers’ third-rounder from a Dallas-area high school in 2016, May has emerged as the top pitching prospect in the organization. We recently ranked him the #47 prospect in baseball on the Top 125 entering 2019, and he backed up that praise with a strong season debut for Double-A Tulsa. The 21-year-old righty struck out nine in five scoreless innings of work, scattering two hits and a walk.
May’s fastball sat 94-to-97 mph this outing, able to reach back for a high-90s bolt late into the game. His long levers and deceptive three-quarters slot make it even tougher to pick up, playing as a plus pitch that could finish a 60-grade offering in the big leagues. May has limited walks well for a young power arm, but there’s some crossfire in his delivery that still impedes his in-zone command right now. He breezed through five innings against Arkansas, though he was battling his stride direction at times and often yanking fastballs across the plate to his gloveside. May’s best secondary is a hard slurvy breaker, coming in at 83-to-86 mph with hybrid slant between a curve and true slider. It flashes swing/miss potential and is aided by his funky release point. He’s working to improve his 82-to-84 mph changeup, a pitch he worked in more to lefties with a bit of fade.
May is a high-upside mix of stuff, present control, and remaining projection. There are still a few tweaks to iron out, though there’s ample time to do so. It’s impressive enough that he’s reached the high-minors so quickly, and May’s athleticism and track record of improving year-to-year bode well for him reaching his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
Matt Manning, RHP, Detroit Tigers (Erie SeaWolves, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’6” / 190 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 2m
Manning was the ninth overall pick in 2016, a two-sport star from the Northern California prep ranks. His father was a 6-foot-11 forward in the NBA, and that athleticism translates to his game on the mound. He’s coming off a big 2018 season, rocketing to Double-A as a 20-year-old and firmly establishing himself as one of baseball’s better pitching prospects. The #33 prospect on our recent Top 125, Manning was sharp in his first start of 2019. Back with Double-A Erie to begin the year, the righty struck out five in as many innings pitched, allowing one earned run on one hit and issuing three walks.
Manning controls his extra-large frame well for a pitcher his age, though there’s still some rigidity to his delivery that causes the in-zone command to be a work in progress. He won’t ever have to be pinpoint, however, as his velocity and natural extension make his fastball very effective up in the zone. The heater sat in the mid-90s and touched 95 mph this look; he touched 96-97 at best last year, and it’s reasonable to assume that’s in the tank as the weather warms up. The pitch has excellent late ride, exploding in the upper-third of the zone and beating barrels to elevated spots. Manning’s best off-speed is a hard curveball, a 77-to-80 mph downer with sharp 12-to-6 tilt. It was a bit hot and cold this outing, flashing the hammer enough times that it’s easy to project as a future plus. His changeup is less advanced than the fastball or curve, but it’s a developing third speed he worked in to lefties in the mid-80s.
There’s room to work on bettering his changeup and overall control/command, but Manning’s raw tools give the upside of a frontline starter. His size, velocity, and two plus pitches could fit a #2/#3 profile with continued development, though there’s no reason for a rebuilding Tigers team to rush him at this point.
Adrian Morejon, LHP, San Diego Padres (Amarillo Sod Poodles, Texas League)
San Diego broke the bank to sign Morejon, inking the lefty to a $22 million amateur bonus to sign from Cuba. He has rewarded that investment to date, ranking as one of the best pitching prospects in the California League last year as a 19-year-old and now ticketed for Double-A entering his age-20 season. The #54 prospect on our Top 125 entering 2019, Morejon’s stuff was as sharp as ever in his Texas League debut. He pitched better than his final line indicated, charged with four earned runs in four innings of work while striking out five.
Morejon was in control for most of the start, holding a solid Corpus Christi lineup scoreless through four frames prior to being pulled before recording an out in the fifth. He added and subtracted from his fastball with veteran’s feel, ranging from 91-to-96 mph depending on the situation. His control is extremely advanced for a young pitcher, showing sequences of sharp command as well. Morejon pulls off-line in his delivery occasionally, and while his fastball sails at times, the overall mechanical operation is sound enough to keep projecting on his in-zone location. Both his upper-70s curve and mid-80s changeup induced swinging strikes, the breaking ball looking like a potential 60-grade offering in time. He’s able to change the shape of the pitch, showing righties a hard downer versus a longer, three-quarters tilt to lefties that sweeps across the zone. Morejon’s changeup is much further along than many pitching prospects his age, able to get separation from his fastball and land for strikes down/away from righties. A rare mix of youth, stuff, and polish, the ingredients are here for a potential #2/#3 starter with continued development.
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