Milone Goes To Oakland

One of the pitchers going from the Nationals to the Athletics in exchange for Gio Gonzalez is soft-tossing lefty Tom Milone.  Milone, who will be 25 in February, was a 10th round draft pick by the Nats in 2008 and has gotten by with excellent control (only 4.4% free passes throughout his MiLB career).  What might be turning some heads is that his strikeout rate, unspectacular in 2008 and 2009, has jumped up to one per inning over the past two seasons.  Considering that Milone got five starts in the big leagues last September, we can look at PITCHf/x data to get a feel for his repertoire.

Milone showed four pitches in his stint with the Nationals:

           n    mph
Fastball   212  87.9
Changeup   90   79.4
Cutter     67   84.9
Curveball  33   74.2

Milone, whose four-seam fastball typically sits in the high-80s, has similar velocity to fellow lefty starters Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Randy Wolf.  His cutter can blend in with the four-seamer both in terms of movement and velocity, but on average is 3 mph slower with ~4 more inches of cut and ~3.5 more inches of vertical sink.  His change is a fairly typical 8 mph off of his fastball and also gets 4 extra inches of movement away from a right-handed batter.  His curve doesn’t drop too much, generating only 3 inches of topspin.  (The biggest hooks in the majors – Barry Zito’s and Tim Collins’, for example – get over 10 inches.)

Milone’s MLB results from last season were solid, though do remember that we’re dealing with a one-month sample.  His trademark control was on display, as he only allowed four free passes in his 26 innings.  Of the 198 swings taken off of him, 35 resulted in swinging strikes.  That’s a rate of 17.7%, slightly under the league average for starters in 2011.  16 of the 35 whiffs came on his changeup, which looks like his preferred strikeout pitch.

His slow, fastball/changeup heavy repertoire seems conducive to a lot of fly balls, and that certainly was the case in September; his 89 pitches in play yielded only 26 grounders (29%).  Some cutters make for good groundball pitches, so that could be a way for him to keep hitters from teeing off on him.

With Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill traded and Brett Anderson on the shelf with an elbow injury, Milone might slot right into the Athletics’ rotation out of Spring Training.  His stuff isn’t impressive, but he has good control and pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum will provide him and his flyball tendencies with some security.

Pitch IDs are by the author. 

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11 Responses to “Milone Goes To Oakland”

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  1. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been obsessively monitoring Milone’s minor league career for the last two years and have been wondering what might become of him. Seems like the move to Oakland will be very good for him in that he’ll finally get a chance to start in the majors and will be playing in a pitchers’ park.

    Is it worth noting that his minor league GB% were significantly better, being over 40% in every level above low-A?

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  2. PepeShady says:

    Yes, it is worth noting RJB. I just can’t imagine a better situation for Milone.

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  3. Ben says:

    What would you say is the major league comp that is the likely ceiling for Milone, or just the closest comp overall? Like, is he the kind of guy more likely to have immediate success, or only later in his career after garnering a good amount of ML experience?

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    • Nats804 says:

      Milone has always shown a great feel for pitching, and I don’t think he’ll take very long to realize his ceiling. His ceiling is no more than a 4th/5th starter, but he has a chance to be a good one for a long time.

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  4. John says:

    I know that you should always temper expectations on a guy who — despite performing really well across the board at two levels— throws at 87, but millone looked in September like might be one of the few guys who can pull it off at the MLB level. Best case scenario: a’s got a young mark buerlhe. At the very least I think millone is a good bet to be a solid #4 or #5.

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  5. With Washington half of Milone’s walks were intentional also!

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  6. Gordon says:

    All I know is that there is part of Milone that i know can’t be happy with the trade ….. He won’t get to bat.

    Watching his first-pitch home run in his first major league at bat this past September was a lot of fun.

    I hope he has good success in Oakland. He seems to be a very mature, and likable kid.

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  7. Rob says:

    Milone reminds me of Scott Lewis a little bit. At least as far as handedness, velocity, and fastball useage. Milone’s strikeouts trended up and Lewis’ trended down as they ascended the minors. They are a little bit alike I guess. Actually, I just want to impress someone with the fact that I know who Scott Lewis is.

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