Friday, June 20 - Asheville 4, Augusta 3
It was another brutal night for the GreenJackets. They failed to make routine plays in big spots, they ran into outs on the basepaths and continued to struggle driving in runs. They have left 16 on base over the past two games, including 10 in scoring position.
Mella's run total is misleading. The run in the first was the indirect result of an error. The run in the fourth scored despite the ball never leaving the infield. Both runs in the sixth were the result of poor defense. He gave up just four hits and one walk in six innings.
It was the best start from Mella this season. This isn't because he threw gas or had wicked secondaries. He simply pitched. The first words out of my mouth to manager Mike Goff after the game were, "He didn't throw, he pitched." Goff's response: "You're exactly right." When Mella is pumping 96-98, he tends to overthrow and loses command. Friday night, he lowered his velo a couple ticks and had the best command I've seen from him this season. When Mella overthrows, he's fun to watch from behind a radar gun. When Mella pitches, he's just fun to watch.
His fastball was 90-96. He hit 96 a couple times in the first inning and settled into 92-95 afterward. He was actually closer to 90 by the sixth, so the velo didn't hold that well, but he still showed the ability to reach back for some. His fastball didn't have the usual heavy sink that shatters bats, but he still had some sink and run that produced its share of ground balls.
Mella's curveball was easily the best I've seen from him, definitely in plus range. He threw it more often than I've seen, showing he had confidence in it for any count. It had good three-quarters break with solid bite and depth. He showed enough command to place it to either side of the plate. I've leaned toward Mella's changeup as his better secondary in the past, but the curve was the better pitch in this outing.
Mella's 10 strikeouts set a career high. He did it mainly off command. He spotted his fastball to the corners, which blew by several Asheville bats. The curveball picked up several whiffs later in the start, and he got a few more from the changeup. It was a nice balance from his three pitches.
When Mella pitches like this, he's much more capable of reaching his 2 ceiling. The 98 with sink is pretty, but the 94 with sink and command wins games. Goff has reminded me multiple times that Mella is still learning to pitch. He's only 20 years old, and he shows it when he overthrows. But this outing was the stuff of a veteran.
I'm going ahead and putting my name in the hat to drive the Mella train. I'm fully on board with this kid's potential. He's the most exciting pitching prospect to come through Augusta in some time. In my opinion, the only ceiling that rivals his in the Giants system is Kyle Crick's. I fully believe he could be the top prospect in the Giants system in due time.
Notable Augusta lines:
Keury Mella: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, BB, 10 K, 7 ground balls, 4 fly balls, 1 line drive, 14 swinging strikes, 90-96
Carlos Diaz: 1.2 IP, H, K
Ty Ross: 3-4, 2B (Second three-hit game this season)
Chris Lofton: 3-5, 2B, RBI
Rando Moreno: 2-4, RBI
Notable Asheville lines:
Antonio Senzatela: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, K, 11 ground balls, 5 fly balls, 3 line drives, 3 swinging strikes
Ryan McMahon: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI
Raimel Tapia: 1-3, RBI
Correlle Prime: 1-4, RBI