Posted June 20, 2014 05:02 pm

GreenJackets Gameday: Asheville's Antonio Senzatela vs. Augusta's Keury Mella

Friday, June 20 - 7 p.m.


Asheville Tourists (42-28)

RHP Antonio Senzatela (2014 A: 71.1 IP, 4.42 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 12.7 K%, 5.2 BB%, .279 BABIP)


Augusta GreenJackets (34-35)

RHP Keury Mella (2014 A: 60.1 IP, 4.03 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 20.3 K%, 4.6 BB%, .339 BABIP)


Mella really hasn't had that dominant outing this season that he's capable of considering his stuff, but his arsenal has been very live lately. I feel it may be only a matter of time.


Mella's most recent home start was two earned runs with no walks and six strikeouts in six innings against Rome on June 4. His fastball was the livest I've seen, sitting mid-90s and touching 98 with heavy sink. I wrote the following after that start:


"Mella's stuff was the livest I've seen from him. He pumped 95-96 and touched 98 in the first inning before settling to 92-95. The fastball was heavy and sank hard, resulting in nine ground balls. He worked up some on the pitch, and his command wasn't always there, which led to a few hard hit balls. But Mella seemed to have the game under control throughout.


Mella's secondary pitches were probably the best I've seen as well. His breaking ball was 78-80 with good three-quarters bite. He spun it well most of the time and kept two-plane action.  It flashed plus and remains a plus-potential pitch. Mella's changeup was easily the best I've seen. It flashed plus numerous times and you could probably say it was a plus pitch in this game. He showed good arm action and turned it over well at 84-86.


Mella induced 13 swinging strikes, many on the two secondaries. He showed his 2 ceiling in this start, perhaps more so than any start at home before Wednesday. Scouts behind the plate had a constant, positive chatter about Mella. It was the type of start that draws attention to his prospect status. Mella was the real deal in this outing."


Senzatela has a miniscule strikeout percentage, which doesn't bode well for upper-levels success. Pitchers usually have to show at least some ability to punch hitters out in the lower levels to help in big situations. Senzatela lives off weak contact and avoids walks. I wrote the following after an April 24 start at Augusta when he gave up six runs with no strikeouts in only 2.2 innings:


"The Asheville right-hander has some strength in his frame, including a strong lower half. His motion works uphill, so he tends to fight to stay on a downhill plane, and size isn't an advantage for him. His fastball ran up to 94, which was surprising, but it was relatively flat and hittable at times. He works in the zone a lot, so he has to command it well to get by. Senzatela's curveball works around 77-80 and is an average offering. It's the better of his secondaries between it and the changeup, but neither are above average. He's simply a strike-thrower without an out pitch."


The GreenJackets left eight on base Thursday, including six in scoring position. Manager Mike Goff said that was the difference in the game after an unfortunate wild pitch in the ninth led to the winning run for the Tourists.


After a tough start to the second half for Augusta, facing a familiar arm in Senzatela could get the offense going for at least one night.