His Twitter handle is @wrkhrdplayhardr. Obviously, the full spelling was probably taken prior, but "work hard, play hard" is exactly what Keynan Middleton does. A talented community college point guard took the baseball route, and is now one of the elite Angels pitching prospects. He is young, throws hard, and needs some work after just becoming a pitcher within the last two years. But, there is something raw about this prospect that the Angels like, and so do we.
The strongest and most important part of Middleton's game is his mindset. Not many young men have the mindset and attitude towards the game. He has an attitude towards self improvement, and a win only mindset. Middleton will go far and excel with this.
His mindset isn't the only thing that could make Middleton excel. He has great pitches. He has a pair of fastballs. His four-seam has good upward movement, but sometimes flattens due to his 2/3 arm slot. This tends to sit between 90-93, and has touched 95 at times. He has potential to grow and add some velocity to this pitch. His two-seam is nearly the same speed, and has become a good fastball to fool batters when the four-seam isn't working at it's highest level.
Middleton has an above-average curveball, especially for a pitcher his age. With development, his 12-6 curve should become his two-strike, strikeout pitch. So far, it has been a swing and miss and get caught staring pitch that he has good command on.
Middleton has a plus slider as well. It doesn't have the speed you'd expect most sliders to have, but breaks well and is his "go-to-pitch" against right-handed batters. It is very deceptive due it's late drop as opposed to a "sliding motion" that most sliders have now.
Middleton also has a changeup that is rarely used, and if he wants to become a starter, he will have to develop more.
He has some problems with command and control, but it is his main focus to adjust. This has something to do with his inexperience of being a pitcher, but it's not horrible. Another part of it is his mechanics. He has a good delivery with a high-kick and hides the ball well, but he drops his arm slightly after throwing a lot of pitches, which forces location mistakes.
Middleton has become a good pitcher at a very young age, and will most likely, only get better. He mixes up his pitches well that goes with his six-foot-two, 185 pound frame that brings a certain athleticism to his game that most don't have.
Right out of the draft where he was selected in the 3rd round (96th overall), he was sent to the Pioneer League and Orem Owlz. Statistically, he did what most 19-year-olds do out of the draft and put up pretty poor numbers. Almost every start went the same way, and after six games, Middleton found himself with a 8.10 earned run average, and 1.886 WHIP.
Middleton was sent to Arizona where he excelled. In his four appearances, one went bad, and really bad. A save opportunity where he walked a pair of gave up two hits, leading to four runs in just two outs. Other than that, he was perfect! His three other appearances, he allowed one hit, and one walk, in five innings of relief, not allowing a run.
EXPECTED OF THE FUTURE:
He's 20-years-old, hasn't pitched a lot in his entire life, and has some very serious talent. 2014 and on will be learning curves for Middleton, that he will most likely take by the horns. Expect a full season in Rookie Ball next year, most likely with Orem in the Pioneer League. He has a shot at Low-A near the end of the season depending on how the Angels want to use him, and how much he develops.
As for his future with the Angels, it's a challenge because of his age. If he progresses well, and develops properly, he could make the Major Leagues sometime in late 2018 or early 2019. It's more likely the latter will be the case.
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