102.1, 102.1, 101.1, 101, 100.8, 99.7, 99.6, 99.3. No, these aren’t fastball velocities from an Aroldis Chapman or Jordan Hicks appearance. These fastball velocities come from a Spring Training game, and they are from player you’ve most likely never heard of. Even more significantly, there were only four pitchers last season that topped the 102.1 mph four-seamer thrown by the this pitcher. Chapman, Jordan Hicks, Tayron Guerrero, and Felipe Vazquez.
The pitcher that blew up this Spring Training radar gun was Giants reliever Melvin Adon. A 24 year old right-hander, Adon is the #23 prospect in the Giants organization, per FanGraphs. Reigning from the Dominican Republic, he started out his professional career as a starter in the lowest ranks of the minor. After working his way up the organizational ladder, all the way to High-A this season, and having a few different variations of success, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to work as a reliever.
He showcased his ability to the highest degree in the AFL, pitching in 12 1⁄2 innings across ten appearances, striking out 21 and walking only three. This performance was enough to earn him a look in big league Spring Training, where so far he’s appeared in three games, striking out five and walking none.
His scouting report screams reliever, citing a lack of advanced secondaries, but the fastball obviously stands out here.
“Adon has an electric fastball that parks at 95-98 mph when he starts, touches 102 when he relieves and features quality running life. His upper-80s slider has more velocity than bite but operated as a solid second pitch more often in 2017. His changeup has a chance to become an average offering. Though the Giants have deployed Adon as a starter to give him innings and make him develop his secondary pitches, he’ll almost certainly be a reliever in the long run. He’s still learning to repeat his mechanics and may never have average control or command. It would be easier to keep his delivery in sync in shorter stints and he’d likely sit in the upper 90s with his heater.”
A comparison to Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks is about as obvious as any comparison can be: struggled as a minor league starter, inconsistent command, average-ish secondaries, and impresses in Spring Training after pitching in High-A. As a matter of fact, Hicks and Adon were both given the same exact future scouting grades from FanGraphs (70, fastball, 50 slider, 50 changeup, 40 command).
Prospects with FV grades matching Melvin Adon
The fastball has it’s clear strength. An imposing figure on the mound, standing at six-foot-three and 235 pounds, he adds in plus vertical movement, making hitters look foolish at times. This one absolutely ate the hitter up, running up and in.
The changeup flashes potential, as in this one that had the bottom fall out on it. He’s unfair if he’s feeling this.
It’s seem unknown as to what level Adon will start the 2019 season. If the Giants continue their slow path with him, it seems palpable that he could win up in Double-A. If he continues to impress in Spring Training, it doesn’t seem impossible that he could break camp with the big league club.
Jordan Hicks took the baseball world by storm early last season, as his talents made hitters look little league at times, created awe-striking GIFs, and helped make a name for himself. If Melvin Adon can find his footing as a full-time reliever at the big league level, don’t be surprised if he’s the next pitcher to light up your Twitter feed.
Patrick Brennan loves to research pitchers and minor leaguers with data. You can find additional work of his at Royals Review and Royals Farm Report. You can also find him on Twitter @paintingcorner.