Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 38, Thomas Milone
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player is…
#38: Thomas Anthony Milone, CF, 20 years old
- Bats: Left Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 185 lbs
- Drafted: in the 3rd rd of the 2013 MLB draft, 97th overall
- Signed: for $528,100
- 2015 Affiliate: Bowling Green, LoA
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2019+
Milone’s 2015 Splits
- Went to Masuk HS, @MasukBaseball
- Was committed to UConn before the draft
- Ranked 27th best Rays prospect by BA post 2013. Did not make Top 30 post 2014
- Lowered his K% from 22.9% in 2014 to 17.7% in 2015
- While his Spd was encouragingly high at 6.7, but his wSB was negative at -0.4 because of his 14 CS in 40 attempts. His ISO was low at 0.76, and his wOBA lowest ever at .303. That led to a subpar wRC+ of 89
- Works out with Darren Bragg, also from the North East, who played in 11 MLB seasons including some time with the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees. He was a career .255/.340/.381 hitter and spent a lot of time in CF, experience we assume he shares with Milone
- Rocco “Baldelli had also took an interest Milone when he was still at Masuk, scouting him several times while working as a special assistant for the Rays.”
From Milone, his approach reference fielding and hitting:
"“I definitely take pride in my defense,” “Everyone wants to hit, be good at everything, but when you are not hitting you have to be able to rely on defense to pick it up. You can’t be bringing bad at-bats out to the field. If I don’t get a hit, I have the mindset that I’m not going to let them get a hit either.”"
Most intriguing quotes about Milone:
"“Bragg said that Bill Evers, the Rays’ former bench coach who’s now their minor league field coordinator, recently told him that Milone was the best defensive outfielder in the Midwest League.”“Milone’s defensive play has evoked memories of another former Hot Rod – current Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who made highlight plays throughout his season in Bowling Green in 2011.”"
Best Tools & Abilities
- Defensive Ability
- Overall Speed
- Improving approach at the plate
There’s a lot to like about Milone and his progress so far in the minors. He’s managed to continue to work on his hitting approach while providing some of the best defensive play in CF since Kevin Kiermaier went through the system. In 2015, the best news for him included the fact that he remained healthy in his first full season and managed to lower his strike out numbers as compared to 2014.
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The things he continues to need to work on, however, include completing his progress at the plate to improve both his average and on base abilities. The rise in caught stealing rates was somewhat worrisome, but for now we chalk that up to learning the trade. It definitely doesn’t seem like Milone’s speed is slowing down at all. And he knows he has to continue working on his hitting ability. As he puts it:
"“It’s a lot different from high school. A slump in high school was like going 1-for-3 two games straight. … Now a slump is, I don’t know, 0-for-a series? If I did that in high school, that’s half my season right there.”"
There’s no doubt that Milone is putting in the work required to make the most out of his tools. Articles point to his workouts with ex-Rays OF Rocco Baldelli and also Darren Bragg, and how he is taking anything they can provide to help him make it to the majors. If he doesn’t make it to The Show, it won’t be due to a lack of trying, that’s for certain.
It’s hard to tell at this point whether Milone will be able to hit well enough to earn a full-time role in the majors. Having come out of the North East and with split focus for most of his youth in Football and Baseball, the Rays are likely going to be as patient as ever in providing him the opportunity to improve at the plate. He’s extremely unlikely to ever show much power, but if they can get him hitting well enough to move the lineup along, it may be enough to get him a job in CF.
Milone will likely move up to HiA in 2016, but his bat could use the confidence of repeating LoA for a short period of time. With Garrett Whitley, Angel Moreno, Zacrey Law, and Oscar Rojas hot on his heels, he’s not going to get much breathing room if any moving forward. With this list of great OF prospects, you know the Rays will be able to pick the best combination of defensive play and offensively abilities.
You likely won’t find anyone that would dispute Milone being the best defensive CF in the system at this point. While some may have a better arm, he has the best routes combined with the best range. Should his bat come around and prove to project as average in MLB, he could get a look and become an option in CF in Kiermaier or Peter Bourjos style.
Next: Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects List: Pre-Season Edition
As a Rays fan, it has to be comforting to see so many CF options within the Rays system. Milone still has plenty of time to show the Rays that he’s their best option in the future, and we wish him all of the best. Whether it’s by becoming a demon on the base paths or by improving his hitting, we hope to see him in TB at some point and wish him all of the best as he continues to pursue that goal in 2016.