MMO Top 25 Prospects: No. 15 Strikeout Leader Tony Dibrell

Kennesaw State Athletics

Tony Dibrell

Position: SP B/T: R/R Age: November 8, 1995 (23)
Acquired: 2017 Fourth Round Draft Pick from Kennesaw State University
Previous Rank: 24
Stats (Columbia): 7-6, 3.50 ERA, 1.267 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 10.1 K/9

When you are drafting players in the fourth round of the Major League draft, and when you are drafting players from Kennesaw State University, you are looking for a player with a projectable skill-set. You’re looking for a player who you can nurture and develop to help them realize their full potential in the hopes of that player being a Major League contributor.

That’s exactly what the Mets have in Dibrell.

In college, Dibrell had transitioned from a pitcher with a promising arm who threw in the low 90s to a pitcher who threw in the mid 90s and could top out around 97 MPH. He was also a pitcher who tinkered around with a curveball, slider, and change-up. As he improved and matured, he became a pitcher who was able to move from the bullpen to a promising starting pitcher. In fact, he would have a strong Junior season going 7-4 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, and a 9.7 K/9 leading to him being drafted by the Mets.

As seen in the above video, Dibrell throws from the 3/4 arm slot, and he has a violent delivery. The benefit of the delivery is it hides the ball a bit making his pitches seem more explosive. The delivery and arm slot also has the benefit of not just creating some extra MPH on his pitches, but it also creates more spin and movement. This is why his slider has a strong bite. It is also why he has control issues.

When Dibrell is not right, he is wild. It is why Dibrell issued the fourth most walks in the South Atlantic League last year while hitting nine batters. It is why in 10 of his 23 starts he walked three or more batters. That includes him having two five walk and two four walk games. Games like these get pitchers into trouble, and they prevent pitchers from going deep into games. When it happens to a prospect, you question his ability to stick as a starter.

The other issue is his ability to develop the third or even fourth pitch. In terms of the curveball, Dibrell does little more with the pitch than trying to keep batters honest. As he progresses through the minors, he is either going to hone the pitch or scrap it because better batters are not going to be as surprised when he spins one up just to mix things up.

If Dibrell is going to develop that third pitch to keep him in the rotation, it is going to be the change-up. Fortunately for him, he has the makings of a real good one. When he was drafted Baseball America noted “His changeup could be his best offspeed weapon, with some scouts grading it as a future plus offering.”

The change is a plus offering because it has good movement and sink. What makes the pitch all the more effective is how he has been working on throwing all of his pitches not just from the same arm angle, but also with the same speed. This permits him to fool batters thereby making his pitches all the more effective. To make the change all the more effective, Dibrell is going to have to work on and throw the pitch more.

For Dibrell, it may just be a matter of trust. As Dibrell said in an exclusive interview with MMN, he relies the most on his slider. In response to a question about which secondary pitch Dibrell relies on most, he said, “This is the first year I started throwing my slider to left-handed batters, so down and in they had a tough time and then my changeup was a very good pitch to get them off the fastball, the majority to lefties and then to righties also.”

Even with Dibrell remaining a touch raw and his having control issues, he has the ability to strike out batters at a high clip. Put another way, Dibrell knows how to get batters out. In analyzing players, that is an important skill which gets far overlooked, and it shouldn’t, especially with Dibrell leading the South Atlantic League in strikeouts. It’s that skill which has made Dibrell a real pitching prospect in the Mets organization.

Where Dibrell goes from here is going to depend on him. If he cannot trust his change or develop his curve, he is going to be a two pitch reliever who can ramp up his fastball into the high 90s with a sharp slider to strike batters out. If he does develop those pitches, he puts himself into the conversation as a potential mid-rotation starter. Maybe he can be more than that.

However, no matter what the path which ultimately lies ahead for Dibrell, he is going to have to cut down on his walks. Should he do that, he is going to take significant steps forward in 2019 and beyond.

Editor’s Note: Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, Gerson Bautista and Felix Valerio were all in our original Top 50 before they were traded.

Previous Rankings

50-46 Led by Michael Paez
45-41 Led by Ranfy Adon
40-36
Led by Anthony Dirocie
35-31
Led by Ryley Gilliam
30-26 Led by Chris Viall
25 Carlos Cortes
24 Ali Sanchez
23 Eric Hanhold

22 Luis Carpio
21 Freddy Valdez
20 Walker Lockett
19 Junior Santos
18 Gavin Cecchini
17 Jordan Humphreys
16 Christian James

 

About John Sheridan 738 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.