Mizzou’s Bryce Montes de Oca earned a spot among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 MLB Draft prospects.
MLB Pipeline, MLB.com’s scouting department, released its latest Top 100 MLB Draft prospect rankings on Friday. In addition to the star of the Missouri Tigers’ pitching staff, Tanner Houck, who was ranked 18th on the list, righthanded starter Bryce Montes de Oca also made the list, coming in at No. 71.
Off-the-field circumstances aside, Montes de Oca is a scout’s dream, as he stands 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, possesses a high-90s fastball, and throws an above-average curveball. His durability is a major question mark, though; Montes de Oca had Tommy John surgery in high school, which led him to fall to the Chicago White Sox in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, and he missed almost the entire 2016 after having nerve transposition surgery on his elbow.
As Pipeline writes, though, Montes de Oca may still be an imposing bullpen weapon even if he’s not durable enough to be a starter, making him a worthwhile gamble in the second or third round:
Montes de Oca’s fastball has an overpowering combination of velocity and life. He operates at 92-96 mph as a starter, tickles 100 in shorter stints and has so much heavy sink that makes it nearly impossible to lift his heater. As he has gotten more work this spring than in the previous four years combined, his curveball has improved and shows signs of becoming a plus pitch.
Whether Montes de Oca can make it as a starter remains to be seen. His changeup remains in its rudimentary stages, and he still has little history of finding the strike zone or staying healthy. Scouts love his makeup and see closer potential if he winds up in the bullpen.
Though his command has been less-than-stellar, Montes de Oca has had a pretty good junior season for the most part at Mizzou. The righthander is 3-3 with a 3.58 ERA, .185 opponent batting average, 34 strikeouts, and 29 walks in 37 2/3 innings spanning 10 appearances (eight starts). That’s solid considering that this is his both his first season in the rotation and his first full collegiate season.
The MLB Draft takes place on June 12, so Montes de Oca still has several weeks to try to turn himself into a potential first-rounder.