Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Abel among PDP League’s best on Day 1

@JimCallisMLB
June 20, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On the first day of games at the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League, pitchers dominated the action. None more so than Mick Abel. A Jesuit High (Beaverton, Ore.) right-hander who's one of the top prep pitching prospects for the 2020 Draft, Abel breezed through three scoreless innings

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On the first day of games at the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League, pitchers dominated the action. None more so than Mick Abel.

A Jesuit High (Beaverton, Ore.) right-hander who's one of the top prep pitching prospects for the 2020 Draft, Abel breezed through three scoreless innings in the Thursday nightcap as his Team Jones lost 7-6 to Team Howard. He struck out six of the 10 batters he faced, permitting only an infield single and a walk while throwing 33 of 47 pitches for strikes.

Abel recorded his six whiffs with three different pitches. Three came via a fastball that sat at 93-95 mph with good downhill plane, two on an 82-86 mph slider and one on an 86-88 mph changeup with nifty fade. He threw changeups for all three strikes in his first-inning strikeout of West Allegheny High (Imperial, Pa.) right fielder Austin Hendrick, whom he remembered retiring on a changeup in a matchup last summer.

Though the stands at IMG Academy were packed with scouts, Abel said he didn't feel any anxiety to perform.

"You get kind of used to it at all these big events, these national-type events," said Abel, an Oregon State recruit. "To me, baseball is a fun game and I really think there should be no pressure involved with it. I'm just trying to go do my thing and have fun."

Gatorade's Oregon state baseball player of the year for 2019, Abel still has plenty of projection remaining in his 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame. His velocity keeps climbing and his changeup continues to improve. He wants to keep getting better and believes the PDP League will help him toward that goal.

"I've never been to as high-powered an event," he said. "It's an amazing place to be for all of us 80 kids. I think it's going to provide us a lot of opportunities that we really didn't think about before. We're learning a lot from ex-MLB guys who are coming through and I think that's going to be crucial to our success and climbing the ladder as prospects."

Four other pitchers tossed three shutout innings on Thursday. La Mirada (Calif.) right-hander Jared Jones started against Abel and worked with a 91-95 mph fastball and notched four of his five strikeouts with his slider. Notre Dame High (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) lefty Lucas Gordon followed Jones for Team Howard and didn't allow a hit while fanning six of the nine batters he faced, relying heavily on an 86-89 mph sinker.

Orange (Calif.) Lutheran right-hander Max Rajcic began the opener with three scoreless frames for Team Jeter, dealing at 92-94 mph with his fastball and getting three of his five whiffs with his curveball. Smiths Station (Ala.) High righty Carson Swilling earned the save in the 5-2 victory for Team Larkin, getting four groundouts and a pair of whiffs with an 89-92 mph sinker.

Rajcic credited some of his success to advice from a three-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion who's serving as a PDP League coach.

"I felt my fastball and curveball were working," Rajcic said. "I could command my fastball especially and I threw more fastballs than curveballs for sure, at least 90 percent were fastballs. Coach Andy Pettitte was saying the best pitch is a located fastball, and that's what I thought I had."

There were position-player standouts as well. Hendrick hit the most impressive blast of the day, turning around a 90-mph fastball from Cardinal Gibbons High's (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Timmy Robbins for a lefty-on-lefty home run with an exit velocity of 109 mph. Three other players went deep: Westmoore High (Oklahoma City, Okla.) right fielder Jace Bohrofen (Team Jeter), Independence High (Thompson's Station, Tenn.) left fielder Robert Hassell (Team Larkin) and Garner (N.C.) High DH Nolan McLean (Team Howard).

Defensively, Santa Margarita Catholic High (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) shortstop Milan Tolentino made a couple of nice plays from the hole for Team Larkin. The Woodlands (Texas) High catcher Drew Romo erased both basestealers who tested him and Team Howard with strong, accurate throws.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.