Prospect Smackdown: Alan Horne vs. Kevin Mulvey
I am sick of talking about Joba Chamberlain, Phil Humber, Ian Kennedy, and Mike Pelfrey. So let's turn our attention to a couple of other interesting New York area prospects, Alan Horne of the Yankees and Kevin Mulvey of the Mets, both slated to appear in the majors sometime in 2008.
Background and Intangibles
Horne: Alan Horne was drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round in 2005, from the University of Florida. His journey into pro baseball took a number of odd turns. He was originally drafted in the first round by the Indians in 2001, 27th overall, out of high school in Florida. But he decided to go to college at Mississippi instead. He hurt his arm there, had Tommy John surgery, then transferred to Chipola JC. The Angels drafted him in "04 but he didn't sign again, choosing to transfer to Florida where he had a solid year in '05. This time he signed. After an erratic but promising 2006 season, he put things together in '07 with a very nice Double-A campaign for Trenton. Horne's difficult signability out of high school and junior college turned some people off, but there have been no complaints about his makeup since signing.
Mulvey: Mulvey was first drafted by the Cardinals in the 34th round out of a New Jersey high school in 2003. He chose to attend Villanova instead, then drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2006 draft. He was a three-year starter in college, pitching better in each season. He was considered a "safe" pick in the '06 draft, a polished pitcher who didn't have a lot to learn, at least in the low minors. Early in his college career, he showed some nervousness on the mound and would wilt a bit in pressure situations, but that hasn't been a problem since his sophomore year and he's shown no makeup concerns in pro ball.
Advantage: An interesting case. Horne had a higher profile as an amateur, but irritated people with his signability a few years ago, and Mulvey concerned people with his early lack of self-confidence. But both of them have been just fine over the last two years. I'll call it even.
Physicality, Health, and Tools
Horne: Horne is 6-4, 195 pounds, a righthanded hitter and thrower, born January 5, 1983 in Marianna, Florida. Horne has a mid-90s fastball in high school, but his velocity tailed off in college before and after his Tommy John surgery. It started to come back in 2006, and he is back to being a hard-thrower at 92-94 MPH, hitting 96 at times. His fastball has good movement in addition to velocity. His curveball is rated as above-average, but his changeup is still rather mediocre, although it has improved. Horne's control is still rather spotty at times, although he's not as prone to overthrowing as he once was. Refinements to his mechanics have helped in this regard. As stated, he's had Tommy John and there has been some concern about his durability, although he ate innings effectively this year and appears fully recovered from his arm woes. He's a solid overall athlete.
Mulvey: Mulvey is 6-1, 195 pounds, a righthanded hitter and thrower, born May 26, 1985 in Parlin, New Jersey.. His fastball has been timed as high as 96 MPH, but is usually in the 91-93 range. He also has a good slider, curveball, and changeup, giving him four solid pitches to work with. Scouts like his clean delivery and easy mechanics, and he's had no hints of arm trouble or durability issues. He keeps the ball low in the strike zone, generates grounders, and has given up just five home runs in his pro career thus far. He is efficient with his pitches, much more a pitcher than a thrower. Although not physically imposing, he's a good athlete. Coming from a cold-weather high school and college background, he doesn't have as much mileage on his arm as you might expect.
Advantage: Horne is bigger and throws a bit harder than Mulvey and is more capable of overpowering hitters, however Mulvey has sharper command and more consistent mechanics. I'd say that Horne's upside is a bit higher than Mulvey's, but Mulvey has a bit less risk. Overall I'd call it even.
Performance and Polish
Horne: Horne went 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 153 innings in the Double-A Eastern League this year, with a 165/57 K/BB ratio. He gave up 149 hits, allowing a .256 average against, and was touched for ten homers. Lefties hit .253 against him, righties .258. His home/road splits were pretty even. He seemed to tire down the stretch, posting a 6.00 ERA in August with slippage in his command. His batting average on balls in play was .341. His GO/AO was 1.44.
Mulvey: Mulvey went 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 152 innings in the Double-A Eastern League this year, with a 110/43 K/BB ratio. He gave up 145 hits, allowed a .252 average against, and was touched for four homers. Lefties hit .286 against him, righties .224. He was more effective at home than on the road, with an ERA split of more than one run. His batting average on balls in play was .305. His GO/AO ratio was 1.61.
Advantage:. Well, let's see here. They played in the same league this year, so a direct comparison is useful. They pitched virtually the same number of innings. Horne stuck out more guys, but Mulvey walked fewer. Their opposition batting averages were almost identical, but Mulvey had a better BABIP....is that better luck or a better defense or better skill on his part? I don't know. Mulvey had a somewhat stronger ground ball tendency and was harder to hit homers against, but he also had a much sharper platoon split. But on the other hand, Mulvey didn't tire down the stretch the same way Horne did. I really like Horne's superior strikeout rate, but Mulvey's ground balls and better control are nice, too. This really could go either way.
Horne: Horne is age 24, and his body type offers classic physical "projection." He has the stuff to be a number two starter, assuming his command sharpens up a bit more.
Mulvey: Mulvey is age 22, and his stuff seems to fit the number three, inning-eater type starter category.
Advantage: Horne is more of a classic pitcher physically, but Mulvey is younger and has a better injury history track record. Different, but their differences balance themselves out.
Can this get any closer in a smackdown? Both of them have had background and makeup questions that have been resolved in their favor. Horne has a bit better stuff, but Mulvey's command is better and he is younger. Their stats are similar, with an even balance of strengths and weaknesses. Horne has the body type desired by scouts more than Mulvey, but Mulvey is younger and hasn't had the same type of injury questions. I see them both as Grade B/B+ type pitching prospects. If I had a choice of one or the other, who would I pick? I think I'd probably go with Mulvey, but I might change my mind in 15 minutes.