As has been written any number of times, this is a truly special year for prep shortstops in the MLB Draft. There stands a reasonable chance five or even six high school middle infielders will be selected in the first round this July, something that simply never happens.
By now, you’ve been introduced to Jordan Lawlar, Marcelo Mayer, Brady House, Izaac Pacheco and Kahlil Watson. That’s five names I fully expect to go in the first round. But today’s the day you’re introduced to Alex Mooney, one of the more balanced profiles in the group of prep bluechips, and another talent I’d expected to go in the first 35 picks.
Mooney is an absolute gamer. He may not have the physical tools or projection some of the other names do, but he’s performed at the highest level over and over and over. Mooney was showered with MVP honors at the 2020 Perfect Game All-American Classic and followed that up with an impressive performance at the Baseball Factory All-Star Classic a month later.
At 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, Mooney isn’t the most physically imposing player on the field, but what he lacks in physicality, he more than makes up for in grit and hit-ability. While he may not have a superstar ceiling, Mooney is a pretty good bet to be an above average regular as a pro. He’s the top-ranked player coming out of Michigan this year, a state with a knack for sending talented shortstops into pro ball. In 2012, Jake Cronenworth was selected by the Rays. In 2007, it was DJ LeMehieu (granted, he didn’t sign and up going to LSU). In 1992, it was some hack named Derek Jeter.
Mooney’s whole package will certainly have suitors lined up in July. He’s a name you’ll want to familiarize yourself with, especially if he happens to slip just a little.
Tools (Future Value)
Mooney’s hit tool is going to be the tool that collects most of the headlines, and for good reason. The kid can rake.
Mooney sets up with an ever-so-slightly open stance and moderately-high hands. It’s a very minimal leg kick with quick, explosive hands that stay short to the ball and drive the ball to all-fields. There’s just not a lot of actions or variables in Mooney’s swing. It’s pure bat-to-ball without a lot of noise mixed in.
Mooney does a really nice job avoiding punch outs. He puts the bat on the ball and allows his speed to eat on the base paths. For my money, he’s one of the best bets to hit in this class.
I’m not sure Mooney will ever hang his hat on the thump at the plate, but there’s more in the bat than his frame would probably suggest. The quick bat and attack angle are both really, strong, and there’s more muscle to come in his frame. He’s already got some sneaky-gas in the stick and I think there’s more coming.
Mooney reminds me a great deal of Dylan Moore at the plate. There’s impressive explosion in his swing following by some Barnie Rubble get-up-and-go out of the box.
Boy, there is a ton of similarities between Dylan Moore and 2021 SS Alex Mooney... pic.twitter.com/yMqMkfSzDs— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) September 17, 2020
I’m not sure Mooney will ever be a 20-nuke kind of guy, but I do think he’s going to have valuable pump at the plate and might find himself running into a number of 15-15 seasons as a pro.
Mooney is arguably a double-plus runner right now, clocking times like this 4.12-second home-to-first infield ground ball in September.
Mooney is a supreme athlete. He’s a four-year letterman on the basketball court at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS, something that’s a lot more rare than you’d expect from top-tier draft prospects. I do think that versatility in different sports will lend themselves well to the baseball field as well. Mooney’s speed will come into play on the base paths of course, but if he were to eventually make a move to the outfield, the wheels would be a definitive asset there too.
I think much of this projecting on the defensive side of the ball depends on Mooney’s ultimate position. I think he eventually ends up a do-it-all type utility player who can handle the middle infield, as well as left field and centerfield.
Mooney’s speed and lateral mobility allows him the luxury and covering a lot of ground anywhere on the field. He’s sure-handed and athletic in his actions on the dirt. He’s probably a plus defender at second base, a half-tick below at shortstop. The throwing accuracy might limit his ability to play shortstop full-time, but it’s certainly good enough to handle the position when necessary.
Mooney has plenty of arm strength, but accuracy has wavered at times from the shortstop position. He’s particularly reliable when he has the chance to set his feet, though moving on the run has given him some issues in my limited looks. Mooney’s throws have plenty of carry and pace behind them, they simply find themselves off target when the game speeds up on him.
Moving Mooney around on the dirt or into the outfield likely optimizes what looks to be at least above average arm strength. The talent and pure ability appears to be there to handle shortstop at the next level, adding some versatility to his tool-belt works well with his strengths.
There’s a ton to like about Alex Mooney and what he can do to contribute to a winning ball club on the field. He’s a hard worker with fantastic instincts and hustle on the field. The hit tool is among the best in the class at a premium position up the middle.
Mooney reminds me a great deal of Dylan Moore, though he’s probably a half-grade or better than Moore at shortstop. Mooney comes from great coaching and talent-rich competition. He’s performed at the highest levels of high school baseball and whomever ends up selecting Mooney should rest easy knowing his ceiling.
Mooney makes a lot of sense for the Mariners at pick no. 12. It’s unlikely he lasts to pick no. 50, so it’ll be a now-or-never situation for Seattle early-on.