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Fabio Martinez-Mesa: Angels Top Prospect #6

6) Fabio Martinez Mesa, 10/29/89 - RHSP, Rookie Ball

4 wins, 2 losses. 3.85 ERA, 67.2 IP, 102 K/38 BB. +4 runs saved.

Ranking in a Nutshell:  Before last year, Eddie Bane mentioned in an interview with Stephen Smith that Martinez Mesa's fastball was something special, and needless to say, the Dominican teenager lived up to the billing. There's currently more hearsay on him out there than real information, but he's generated enough hype to land in the top ten of most major organizational prospect rankings: he ranked sixth with Baseball America, sixth with John Sickels, fifth with Baseball Prospectus, and eighth with Baseball Intellect. Due to his career 11.9 K/9, I'll drink the kool aid, but am eager to see him in action.

Track Record:  Again, it's all about the K's: he delivered a 10.7 K/9 in two seasons with the DSL Angels and a stunning 12.5 K/9 in his state-side debut. Walks have consistently been a problem: his 3.8 BB/9 in the DR was ok, but in the states he lost control so frequently that he averaged 5.1 BB/9. The wildness contributes to making him difficult to hit (who wants to dig in against a guy who has no idea where his 97 mph fastball is going?), helping him to limit hitters to a .197 BAA last season. While he's not strictly a flyball pitcher, recording 48% of balls in play on the ground in ‘09, I wouldn't be surprised if he transitions into one against more advanced competition. Currently, he does a very good job of inducing weak contact in the air, getting 22% of his balls in play as pop ups. He did yield two homeruns in as many outings in the Pioneer League last year, but I'll wait to see what he gives up in full season league before labeling the fly balls a red flag.

Win-the-Lottery-Ceiling: A front of the rotation starter who leans heavily on a plus fastball and wipeout slider combo, like Jake Peavy or Ervin Santana in 2008. He's also a candidate for a shift to the bullpen, where the quality of his stuff would instantly put him in to "Angels' closer of the future" discussions.

Scouting Report: (beneath the jump)

Because so much of the book on Martinez Mesa derives from too few quality scouting reports, it's difficult to find substance amdist the hype.  Conflicting accounts don't help: Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus reports, "he makes it look effortless with a smooth delivery," while Alex Eisenberg at Baseball-Intellect relays accounts indicating that Martinez Mesa's "overall effort" would play better in the bullpen. What everyone does agree on, however, is that Mesa still has considerable projection remaining in his 6'3", 190 lbs frame; his arm slot is a high three quarters (not quite completely over the top); his delivery is "deliberate" and slow to the plate, making him prone to yielding the stolen base; and that his change-up is currently nothing special. Keep an eye out on for spring training footage on him. I'll try to get some footage on him in the Midwest League in April as well.