As expected, Tyler Moore and Tom Milone will be honored tonight before the Washington Nationals game as the organization’s minor-league batter and pitcher of the year.
Moore was the 2010 Carolina League MVP and led the league in HR’s, RBI and slugging percentage. After bottoming out with an 0-for-3 night in the first game of a doubleheader on a Monday night in Salem, Moore’s average stood at .191. He was given the nightcap off and with the next day a travel day, he returned to the lineup on Wednesday, July 14 and went 2-for-3 with a double. The next night, he homered and doubled to push his average over .200. Moore would hit safely in 34 of 37 games, including 14 straight, and win Player of the Week four times. He would club 21 of his 31 home runs from July 15th to the end of the season.
A 16th-round pick out of Mississippi State, Moore is expected to start 2011 in Harrisburg. He turns 24 in January, a fact that has been invariably held against him in the accounts written outside the Natmosphere. His asendance in some ways was blocked by a resurgence from Chris Marrero, who turned in a .359 June after a .235 May and finished the season at .294. At 22, Marrero is likely to begin the year at Syracuse.
Tom Milone was the ace of the Potomac Nationals in ’09 with a 12-5 mark and 2.91ERA. In 2010, he led the Harrisburg Senators in 2010 with… wait for it… a 12-5 mark and a 2.86ERA. Milone has gone largely unnoticed outside of Washington despite these numbers, though this accolade may wake up some folks at Baseball America. It certainly has gotten the attention of John Sickels:
One of the best pitchers in Double-A this year was Tom Milone of the Harrisburg Senators. A 10th round pick out of USC in 2008 by the Washington Nationals, he was excellent last year in the Carolina League (2.91 ERA, 106/36 K/BB in 151 innings, 144 hits, 12-5 record), but as a soft-tossing lefty who threw 85-87 MPH, many were skeptical that he could repeat this against advanced competition. Not only did he repeat his performance, he bettered it: 2.85 ERA, 155/23 K/BB in 158 innings, 161 hits, 12-5. Although he gave up a few more hits, a reduction in his walk rate and an increase in strikeouts resulted in a better overall ratio set. His FIP dropped from 3.55 in ’09 to 2.85 in ’10. Any time you see a pitcher improve his component ratios while moving up a level, you have to be impressed. Milone still doesn’t throw hard, but his changeup is excellent and he added additional bite to his breaking ball this year.
Milone has long been a favorite here at NationalsProspects.com, enough that we included him in our preseason Top 20 with full disclosure that the choice was in some parts sentimental. But the argument then remains the same now: You cannot discount a guy that has had amazing control no matter where he has pitched: 1.92, 2.21, 1.85 BB/9 in his three seasons at USC (’06-’08); 1.25, 1.45, and 2.14 at Vermont, Hagerstown and Potomac in ’08 and ’09. Never mind he’s lefthanded. As Sickels wrote, the scouts have been down on Milone because he doesn’t throw hard, but he throws strikes — more reliably than another 6’1″ lefty from California that came up in the early 1980s: Bobby Ojeda, who many forget was missing piece that the ’86 Mets added after a 98-win ’85 and led the team in wins and ERA.
Milone is likely to start 2011 in Syracuse. Like Moore, Milone turns 24 during the offseason (February) and will compete against the likes of Matt Chico, Shairon Martis, and Ross Detwiler for a chance to join the parent-club rotation or an emergency start.