Alex Mooney dominated high-end high school pitching throughout the showcase circuit last summer.
The prep shortstop from Rochester Hills, Michigan, participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase, Area Code Games, Perfect Game All-American Classic, and Under Armour All-America Game while also playing club baseball with the highly-regarded Canes National travel team last summer.
He received MVP honors in the All-American Classic after notching three hits, including a triple that landed right in front of the 415-foot sign in the left-center field gap.
“It was awesome to win the MVP award with all those other top players there,” Mooney said. “To be the performer of that game was cool, especially on that big stage. It was just a lot of fun to go there and meet everyone you hear about. I still talk with a lot of those guys today.”
Mooney’s success playing with the Canes and on the showcase circuit has put him squarely in MLB draft considerations. Professional scouts project Mooney as a potential first-round pick in July’s draft.
Michigan hasn’t had a prep shortstop selected in the first three rounds of the draft since the New York Yankees drafted Derek Jeter sixth overall in 1992. Mooney likely will snap that 29-year drought.
“It has been awesome,” Mooney said. “It is every kid’s dream to be looked at by MLB scouts. I try not to pay too much attention to it. You sometimes see guys who let it get to their head a little bit. I just try not to pay attention and stick to my grind.”
Over the last five years, the Midwest has produced an influx of prep baseball talent for college and pro ball. The 2021 draft isn’t any different, with numerous highly-regarded prep players from the Midwest expected to go in the draft’s early rounds.
Mooney has been motivated by the stigma surrounding high school baseball players in the Midwest. It has caused Mooney to dedicate significant time to refining his craft in hopes of showing evaluators that Midwest players are just as talented as players from warm-weather states.
“You hear about the northern stigma that you can’t play baseball up in the north and stuff like that,” Mooney said. “You always have that in the back of your mind to prove them wrong. Us kids in the north are just as good as the kids in the south, if not better. I think a lot of kids in the north are starting to show that stigma isn’t true.”
Mooney, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed hitter, has a simple and compact swing with overall clean mechanics that he repeats consistently each time he steps into the batter’s box.
He currently has more gap-to-gap power but showed solid power potential his sophomore year. As he continues to mature physically, Mooney should add more power to his loose and easy swing.
Defensively, Mooney has solid athleticism, smooth fielding actions, and a strong arm that will allow him to stick at shortstop long-term. He also gained position versatility last summer as he gained experience playing second base and third base.
Overall, Mooney is just a consistent producer who has a well-balanced toolset.
“I feel like I am a well-rounded player,” Mooney said. “I think I have all five tools. That plays big for me. Mentally, I feel like I slow the game down really well and don’t let the pressure get to me.”
Mooney takes pride in consistently working on all of his tools. He has kept that same mindset this offseason while also adding additional strength to his frame.
He has already gained about 10 pounds and believes the additional muscle weight will positively impact his game, especially offensively.
Mooney hit one home run his freshman year in 2018 and then blasted seven home runs as a sophomore in 2019. His junior season ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mooney believes the added strength and overall growth offensively over the last two years will likely lead to a higher home run total this spring.
“I am working on getting stronger right now, and hopefully that’ll benefit all of my tools, especially with hitting the ball harder,” Mooney said. “I am trying to hit more home runs this year. I’m not trying to force it or anything, but hopefully, it’ll just come with being stronger.”
This spring, Mooney has high expectations for his final season at Orchard St. Mary’s High School in Michigan. In 2019, St. Mary’s won the Michigan Division 2 state championship with a 26-0-2 record.
Last year, St. Mary’s didn’t have a chance to defend its title due to the pandemic. But with an extremely talented roster back this spring, Mooney hopes to guide his team to another state championship.
After high school, Mooney will have to decide between attending college or embarking on a pro career.
Mooney credits his development to his father, Joe, who played collegiately at the University of Michigan. His father coached him from ages 8 to 12 years old and has assisted him with advice and support throughout his career.
While Mooney considered Michigan during the recruiting process, he ultimately felt Duke University was the best fit. He and his family place high importance on academics. Mooney currently has a 4.22 GPA and was the class president his sophomore and junior years.
Duke’s academics and successful baseball program stood out to Mooney during the recruiting process.
“You are playing in a great conference, which was big for me,” said Mooney on Duke. “Academics, you can’t beat those at Duke. That always was important to me. The coaches, the weather, and just everything was the perfect storm for me. I fell in love with the campus.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.