Nick Mondak Dominated Hitters In Futures League

Futures Collegiate Baseball League Top Prospects
Nick Mondak, lhp, Torrington (Fr., St. John’s)
Dylan Grove, rhp, Martha’s Vineyard (So., Oklahoma)
Ricky Constant, rhp, Nashua (Jr., Massachusetts-Lowell)
Dante Baldelli, of, Nashua (Fr., Boston College)
Jake Nelson, rhp, Nashua (So., Pennsylvania)
Isaiah Musa, rhp, Seacoast (So., Broward, Fla. CC)
Eric Hamilton, 3b/1b, Pittsfield (Sr., Oswego State, N.Y.)
Gavin Hollowell, rhp, Nashua (Fr., St. John’s)
Dillon Nelson, of, Martha’s Vineyard (So., Indian Hills, Iowa CC)
Mike Hart, of, Seacoast (Sr., Massachusetts)

SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects

Postseason Recap: The Nashua Silver Knights didn’t even need a decisive third game to dispatch the Worcester Bravehearts, winning 9-8 in Game One and 8-5 in Game Two to bring home the third Futures Collegiate Baseball League title in franchise history. The Silver Knights battled back from a three-run deficit early in the opener and ended up winning the game in the 11th inning, thanks in large part to five hits—two of which were home runs—and six RBIs from first baseman Ryan Sullivan (Southern New Hampshire). In Game Two, the Silver Knights’ offense was paced by two doubles from outfielder Yanni Thanopoulas (Amherst, Mass.), a pair of hits from DH Mickey Gasper (Bryant) and a pair of hits from outfielder Charlie McConnell (Northeastern). Collin Duffley (Massachusetts-Lowell) turned in a solid start (5 IP, 2 ER, 5 SO) to help stake the Silver Knights to an early lead they would not relinquish.

1. Nick Mondak, lhp, Torrington (Fr., St. John’s)

The lanky Mondak spent all summer dominating college hitters for Torrington, finishing with a 1.45 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 43 innings. But what was especially impressive for opposing coaches is that he put up those numbers while using his 88-92 mph fastball almost exclusively all summer. In one start against Seacoast, Mondak struck out 12 hitters in seven scoreless innings and Seacoast manager Ben Bizier estimated Mondak threw three offspeed pitches in the entire outing. The key is his ability to spot the pitch on either side of the plate and its subtle late life which helped him generate a lot of swings and misses. Mondak’s easy delivery and projectable frame (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) make many think there is more velocity in his arm and the fact that he was still throwing 90-92 late into some of his outings only served to reinforce that belief amongst opposing coaches. The effectiveness of his fastball meant that his changeup and curveball are still very much works in progress. They were effective this summer because Mondak’s easy arm action meant that all three pitches looked the same coming out of his hand. But the changeup doesn’t have a lot of sink to it yet and while the curveball does have some bend, it is more of a show-me pitch than a true weapon. The pitches aren’t sharp yet and weren’t used as more than a change of pace this summer, but Mondak made up for that by being able to throw his secondary pitches for strikes consistently. What makes Mondak such an intriguing prospect is that he is barely 18 years old. His ability to throw strikes with all three pitches, repeat his delivery and command his fastball is uncommon for pitchers fresh out of high school.

2. Dylan Grove, rhp, Martha’s Vineyard (So., Oklahoma)

Grove did not put up dazzling numbers and he might not have been the hardest thrower on his team. What he does have is a lively two-seam fastball, a potentially plus slider and a projectable frame, all of which helped make him an occasional weekend starter for Oklahoma as a freshman. Grove’s numbers this summer with the Sharks were solid (1-2, 3.73 with 40 strikeouts in 31.1 innings) if unspectacular, but his ability to throw three average to above-average pitches for strikes and his poise on the mound helped him standout immediately to opposing coaches. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, coaches described Grove as “scrawny” and “wiry” but also said he had plenty of room to grow into his body. The rising sophomore throws from a lower three-quarter arm slot that gives his 87-90 mph two-seamer hard arm-side run and helps him disguise his slider and his splitter. The slider is 79-81 mph and a much better pitch, but coaches agreed the splitter’s movement was hard and sharp too. Oklahoma wanted him to work on a changeup with Martha’s Vineyard coaches saying it will be fine once he learns to control it. He ran in to trouble with his command when he dropped down too low with his arm angle, but Sharks coaches thought that had as much to do with fatigue as it did with mechanics.

3. Ricky Constant, rhp, Nashua (Jr., Massachusetts-Lowell)

Constant is similar to Grove in repertoire thanks to a hard two-seam fastball with run and a hard, tight slider. He just doesn’t boast quite the same command or polish, and thus doesn’t have quite the same upside. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, Constant might seem like the perfect tall-and-projectable lefthanded starter, but there is some effort in his delivery and his two-pitch mix doesn’t play as well as a starter as Grove’s four-pitch mix does. Although he walked 22 batters this summer in just 31 innings, he also struck out 45 and posted a 2.90 ERA working primarily in a setup role for the Silver Knights. Although inconsistency and confidence are ongoing issues for Constant, the stuff is clearly professional-caliber. The two-seam fastball sits 88-91 mph but ranged anywhere from 85 to 94 this summer depending on the day. He can’t command the slider the same way Grove can, but it is almost as sharp and hard and from the left side; it presented a lot of problems for lefthanded hitters. The changeup is a full step below from the fastball and the slider as he has no feel for it and it is too firm to consistently fool hitters. Constant has trouble repeating his mechanics, which led to command issues and the large fluctuations in his velocity this summer. But it is still not easy to find a 6-foot-5 lefthanded pitcher with the frame to add strength and who is already touching 93 mph with the fastball.

4. Dante Baldelli, of, Nashua (Fr., Boston College)

The younger brother of Rocco Baldelli and an unsigned 37th-round pick of the Phillies in the 2016 draft, Dante Baldelli was limited to 55 at-bats before a wrist injury ended his summer, but he nonetheless made an impression in his short time in the FCBL. The 6-foot-4, 170-pound outfielder hit .309 with four doubles and a home run, but he also struck out 17 times. A graceful athlete, Baldelli doesn’t have elite speed, but he does move smoothly in the outfield and around the bases and he is a polished route runner with an average arm. He might grow too large to play center field as he puts on strength, but for now he is athletic enough to stay up the middle. He has the projectable frame and the tools to be a good professional, and he is barely out of high school. As a hitter, the power may come down the road, but for now, Baldelli has a little bit of gap-to-gap juice in his bat. What’s especially impressive is his short, compact swings, which allow him to work the middle of the field with line drives. His recognition on breaking balls needs a lot of work, but that’s common among players fresh out of high school.

5. Jake Nelson, rhp, Nashua (So., Pennsylvania)

A catcher for most of his high school career, Nelson has not been pitching for more than two years and is accordingly raw. However, Nelson can touch 95 mph with his fastball, so he shouldn’t have trouble finding teams willing to help him refine his mechanics. The velocity was enough to strikeout 25 hitters in just 23 innings as the Silver Knights’ closer this summer but, at least for now, that is all Nelson has—velocity. The fastball is hard, but it is also flat, and opposing coaches said their hitters were never really overpowered at any point. His secondary stuff is almost non-existent. He does throw a changeup but struggles locating it, and he worked on a slider this summer but it looks more like a hard cutter at this stage. Nashua pitching coach Kyle Jackson said that when he had Nelson drop down to a three-quarter arm slot, it helped the fastball move more. Part of what makes Nelson such an intriguing prospect is that physically, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he looks the part already. His command and mechanics need a lot of work, but he should get better by simply getting more reps on the mound. His arm strength is undoubtedly good enough that if he can sharpen the slider and turn the changeup into a serviceable offering, he will have a future at the professional level.

6. Isaiah Musa, rhp, Seacoast (So., Broward, Fla. CC)

Little used as a freshman at Miami, Musa came to the Mavericks around the all-star break and struggled in his first three outings. But once the Mavericks’ coaching staff got him in a throwing program, Musa got his confidence back, began to find his command, and flashed some of the better stuff of anyone in the league. It’s also worth noting that Ben Bizier, Musa’s head coach at Seacoast, is also the head coach at Broward (Fla.) CC, where Musa will play next season. After walking seven and striking out one in his first 1.2 innings, Musa had 10 strikeouts and two walks in his final seven innings for the Mavericks and became the team’s first man out of the bullpen by the end of the summer. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Musa won’t stick out in a crowd of righthanders but he touched 93 mph in his all-star workout this summer. He has little feel for his changeup, so his fastball-slider combination and stature project better in the bullpen. But the one-two punch of his fastball and slider is really good. The fastball sat 86-88 during most of his outings but there is more velocity in his arm, and its arm side movement makes it particularly difficult on righthanded hitters. His slider isn’t all that hard yet but does have good movement, and he used it effectively down the stretch.

7. Eric Hamilton, 3b/1b, Pittsfield (Sr., Oswego State, N.Y.)

Hamilton set Division III Oswego State’s single-season home run record (13) in the spring, while also batting .399, and the rising senior kept up the momentum in the FCBL. He finished second in the league in home runs (12), first in RBIs (63), second in the league in doubles (18) and first in the informal poll of opposing coaches on who would be the player most likely to put on a show in batting practice. Hamilton definitely has professional raw power and he showcased it to all fields and on pitches of all shapes and sizes as well. His swing is a little bit long and he could be beat with fastballs in on his hands, but his understanding of the strike zone and easy power were indicative of a more experienced player who wasn’t being challenged. Defensively, coaches agreed that Hamilton is likely not athletic enough to play third base at the next level. They did think he had the size and pop to play first base and some thought he could fit at a corner outfield spot as well, but his defensive issues and age hold him back as a prospect.

8. Gavin Hollowell, rhp, Nashua (Fr., St. John’s)

Hollowell is akin to a pitching version of Dante Baldelli in that he has the projectable body and raw tools to develop into a professional starter. But as an 18-year-old, he doesn’t stand out on the field quite yet. Hollowell’s summer was marred by inconsistency. On July 3, he held Seacoast scoreless for six innings and struck out five. On Aug. 8, he held Seacoast scoreless for seven innings and struck out five. In between, he was lit up in three outings and struggled with command. He won’t blow scouts away with his stuff. His fastball sat 87-89 mph and touched 92 but lacks movement and sink. He also throws a slider and curveball and changeup. The slider and curveball are basically just get-me-over pitches. The changeup is a little bit more effective and does have some depth, but it was also hit hard quite a bit. The opposing coaches who saw him pitch thought that he could be a good college pitcher but weren’t sold that he would be a great pro even if he did fill out once he got to St. John’s. His secondary stuff, command and fastball all need a lot of work before any of those pitches will consistently get good hitters out, but the size and frame will give scouts reasons to keep an eye on him.

9. Dillon Nelson, of, Martha’s Vineyard (So., Indian Hills, Iowa CC)

Nelson was one of the best hitters in the league this summer and unlike some of the other players atop the leaderboard, Nelson isn’t a rising senior and does have a long, athletic frame that projects well in the outfield. After torching the competition as a freshman at Indian Hills (Iowa) CC to the tune of a .341/.433/.447 slash line with four home runs and 12 stolen bases, Nelson delivered an impressive encore performance for the Sharks. The rising sophomore hit .331/.393/.417 with 11 doubles, a home run and 11 stolen bases in 163 at-bats this summer and flashed the defensive tools that made many coaches think he was at least worth a look at the next level. A sturdy 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Nelson has present strength and good but not great speed on the bases. An infielder last year with Indian Hills, the Sharks played Nelson primarily in right field, where his arm strength and speed make him an above-average defender. The concern is whether he will ever hit for enough power to play a corner outfield spot at the pro level. He isn’t a slap hitter by any means, but he won’t ever have plus pop either. His inside-out swing is short and quick, which helped him spray the ball to all fields the summer, but even gap-to-gap power might be a stretch for Nelson unless he continues to fill out.

10. Mike Hart, of, Seacoast (Sr., Massachusetts)

If grit was a tool measured by scouts, Hart, who broke his foot halfway through the season and missed just one game, might have been higher on this list. Every opposing coach raved about his approach, his hustle, his competitiveness and his toughness; he isn’t a bad prospect either. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Hart is a physical specimen with athleticism and speed. He stole 17 bases even with the foot injury and tracked down more than his fair share of fly balls in the outfield. The arm strength is at least average for a center fielder, and most coaches thought once the foot healed that he would have no problem handling the space in up the middle in the outfield. Offensively, the rising senior hit .364/.495/.616 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI, 33 walks and 17 stolen bases for the Mavericks this summer, showcasing bat speed and pop even with Seacoast’s extremely friendly home confines. A smart hitter with a discerning eye, Hart’s high strikeout totals (37) are mostly a result of his aggressive approach at the plate, although his swing can get long at times. Most of his power is to the pull side but he can hit it into the opposite-field gap with authority too. The speed is legitimate on the bases and when healthy, he could be a 6.7-6.8 runner with good instincts. The problem is that Hart will be a senior next season and while his numbers with UMass were also impressive—.313 average this spring—he will need to be a more selective and patient hitter if he wants to be successful as a pro.

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