Los Angeles Dodgers pitching prospect Matt Magill made his major league debut on Saturday, throwing 6.2 strong innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks, fanning seven. The Dodgers lost the game 6-4 due to bullpen problems, but it was a fine start for Magill's major league career. His path as a prospect is rather unusual, so let's take a look at Magill as Monday's Minor League Ball Prospect of the Day.
Magill was not a hot prospect as an amateur. As a high school pitcher in Simi Valley, California, he was just a 31st round pick in 2008, signing with the Dodgers for $75,000 on the recommendation of scout and former major league pitcher Chuck Crim. Magill was extremely raw at the time, with mediocre velocity and mechanics that needed a lot of work. Despite that scouting report, his pro debut was actually reasonably successful, with a 3.34 ERA and a 25/9 K/BB in 30 innings in the Arizona Rookie League.
Magill moved up to Ogden in the Pioneer League for 2009, performing decently enough overall (4.00 ERA, 55/30 K/BB in 72 innings, just 59 hits allowed) but showing some command problems. Those began to lessen in 2010, with a 3.28 ERA and a 135/52 K/BB in 126 innings for Great Lakes in the Midwest League. At this point he was getting noticed for a quality slider, but his mechanics and an average fastball kept him off most prospect lists.
He continued his one-level-at-a-time progression in 2011, posting a 4.33 ERA with a 126/52 K/BB in 139 innings for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in the California League. 2012 saw him eat 146 innings successfully for Double-A Chattanooga, with a 3.75 ERA and a 168/61 K/BB ratio and just 127 hits allowed. Before his promotion to the majors this past weekend, he had a 2.84 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Albuquerque, with a 23/14 K/BB in 19 innings.
Well-built at 6-3, 210 pounds, Magill has boosted his velocity over the last two years. Thanks to mechanical refinements and physical maturity, his fastball works at 89-94 MPH, averaging about 91-92. The pitch has movement as well as velocity, looking like a cutter at times, pairing well with an above-average traditional slider. He has a change-up but doesn't use it a great deal, relying on the fastball and slider for the most part. He's proven he can stay healthy and absorb a starter's workload, and his makeup is considered a positive.
Magill's control still gets wobbly. . .note the K/BB ratio at Albuquerque. . .but he has quality stuff and has the look of a workhorse. If he continues to refine his command, improve his change-up, and avoid injuries, he should be a successful mid-rotation starter, or at worst a power relief arm.
The top pitching prospects in most draft classes are obvious, but the acme of scouting and player development is finding guys like Magill in the later rounds.