clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Enter McKenzie Mills

A look into who the Marlins acquired in the Justin Bour trade and what we can expect from him in the future.

Mills pitching for High-A Clearwater on June 24
Photo by @Threshers/Twitter

The day has finally come. Justin Bour is no longer a Marlin. We knew it would come and we always wondered, “What would be the return for Bour?”

His name is McKenzie Mills. The right-hander seems ready to contribute to the Marlins rebuild:

This trade gives Mills an opportunity to legitimately be considered for a spot on an MLB staff. With the growing pool of pitching talent the Marlins are acquiring, he may add real value to the organization.

Let’s dive in and investigate the new catch, McKenzie Mills.

McKenzie Mills is a 22-year-old pitcher that was drafted in the 18th round by the Washington Nationals out of Atlanta, Georgia. He seems like a high-character kid who loves the game if you peek at his Twitter feed.

Being a lefty listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds (almost definitely heavier), people will always be interested in him. One thing you notice immediately is his projectable frame, which presents the possibility of further increasing his velocity. His age quells some of that expectation, though.

Take a look at some tape on Mills from April of this year:

In the video, courtesy of 2080 Baseball, you’ll see a lefty with a very repeatable delivery that gets great extension from the beginning of his wind-up til releasing the ball. He does hide the ball well and this makes for a nice outcome when he is controlling his fastball and setting up hitters.

He has slight cutting action on his fastball (90-92 mph) and this will help him particularly against righties. He shows a solid change (76-80) that he plays well off his fastball. He can throw his change for strikes or throw it just off the zone to leave hitters in between. Working those two pitches in tandem is the best-case scenario for Mills as his curve looks like it will never be a plus pitch and will struggle to be average. He clearly will have to work on his curve to add the third offering requisite of a MLB starter. In addition to the third pitch, he will need to show the same command of ALL of his pitches, like he has at lower levels, in order to have success.

Something that has been concerning is his fly ball rate this year, which sits at 54%. On the flip side, some positives are his .254 BAA and 9% walk rate. Those are OK. The fly balls haven’t hurt him as he has only given up 7 HR in 89 innings.

His stuff is extremely average so, again, I cannot emphasize enough how important it will be that he refine his lower-level command to have any value as he moves up. Advancing from the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to the Southern League—he’s been assigned to Double-A Jacksonville—will force him to adjust.

Projected Outcome

Mills fits the profile of a spot starter/long-relief guy on a major league team. But let’s say he ticks up a little, he could definitely be a back-end rotation candidate. With this in mind, I still find it hard to believe he will add velocity as he is showing some size and may lose even more athleticism in his delivery as he ages.

The return for Bour may seem underwhelming to many, but Mills is only 22 and he will likely be pushed aggressively (as evidenced by his jump to Jacksonville). Expect him to spend most of 2019 at Double-A, and if he can show success, settle into a steady role at the highest level. Pitching depth is critical to building a contending team, so don’t overlook this prospect, even if he comes up short of his ceiling.

And one more thing...We want anyone that is willing to RE2PECT the Process to stick around for a long, long time. It seems like McKenzie Mills gets it. Easy to root for.