Thomas Milone could do amazing things with a football in his hand as a running back and kick returner. But the Rays believe he can do even better things with a bat. Desmond Jennings was selected by the Rays in the 2010 round of the 2006 MLB Draft after being a junior college wide receiver. Milone is also a football player, but even with that in mind, he’s advanced enough that the Rays drafted him seven rounds earlier.
Milone, 6’0″ and 185 pounds, coming out of Masuk High School in Connecticut, did not get too much of a chance to play baseball coming out of the Northeast, but you can’t describe him as raw. Milone is an outstanding athlete, but he steps into the batter’s box with an idea of what he’s doing. A Lefty hitter, Milone stands out at the plate for both his bat speed and strength, and this year he started making adjustments at the plate to use them. He worked on a step and a stride to give him a timing mechanism and use his lower half in his swings, and he lowered his wrists to take a shorter path to the ball and utilize his bat speed. He started adding some lift in his swing to start tapping into his power but at the same time stopped trying to pull everything and started using the whole field. He shows flashes of being an above-average hitter for both average and power. Milone just keeps getting better the more he plays, and who knows who good he can be when he commits to baseball full-time. He still does have plenty to work on. He turns his wrists as the ball comes in, something that also helped him time pitches him, but where he moved wasn’t always consistent, resulting in some wild swings and bat speed not up to his best. He has showed some solid pitch recognition but that will be a continued focus for him, and he will have to be more patient at the plate as well. But Milone’s ability to adapt so far certainly bodes well for him moving forward and inspires confidence that he will only continue to improve.
Milone is impressive enough at the plate, but don’t forget how athletic he is. Milone isn’t a burner but has well above-average speed, making him a stolen base threat but serving him extremely well defensively as well. He gets good jumps in centerfield, giving him the ability to stay at the position and even be a very good defender someday. His arm is average but certainly enough. Milone adds to his defensive tools with outstanding hustle and isn’t afraid to make contact with the wall, both carryovers from the football field. When you add in his offensive profile to his defense, you have a player with the ability to be a well above-average major league centerfielder. Milone is going to need time to develop and there’s always risk whenever you draft an athlete who hasn’t played all that much baseball. But Milone’s tools continue to excite and the aptitude he has shown so far is enough to make you believe that he really has a chance to put it all together. Each year playing baseball he has only gotten better and better, and the Rays believe that we haven’t even come close to seeing just how good he can be.