Brennan Malone will play his final season of high school baseball this spring at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
He relocated from North Carolina to further his development. He called IMG Academy “an athlete’s heaven” and said his old school didn’t allow him anymore room to further his mental and physical development.
It wasn’t a surprising move for the top prep pitcher in the country, who has aspirations of playing professional baseball.
MLB.com considers Malone as the top prep pitching prospect and the 10th-best prospect in this year’s draft class due to his impressive starter traits, projection and athleticism.
“It’s just a thing that I don’t pay too much attention to it,” Malone said. “I’m trying to get better every day and do my thing and not focus on the attention too much. You really can’t because otherwise you might screw up and hurt yourself, which is the opposite thing you need to do.”
Malone, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-handed pitcher, throws a four-seam fastball, sinker, curveball, slider and changeup. He has a low-effort, repeatable delivery and throws from a slight three-quarter arm slot.
His fastball reaches 97 mph and is one of the best in this year’s draft class. It’s his top pitch, as his secondary pitches are still developing offerings.
“The mental side is my biggest strength,” Malone said. “I feel like I can block out errors and people making mistakes because I know that type of stuff happens. I am pretty good at accepting failure because baseball is a game of failure.”
He’s comfortable with his 91-93 mph sinker and remains focused on refining his other secondary pitches this offseason. He’s shown glimpses of throwing above-average 12-6 curveballs and sliders but hasn’t done it consistently.
Throwing his secondary pitches for strikes is the top area he wants to improve this spring, Malone said.
“I’ve really focused on my secondary pitches and getting those consistent,” he said. “I’ve also worked on my mechanics and getting those consistent. I’ve been working on separation and timing because when my separation is off and I am a little late, I tend to drag my arm and leave pitches a little high sometimes, which leads to command issues.”
Malone took an extended break from throwing this offseason after a busy summer on the showcase circuit. He first picked up a baseball in early January and plans on starting bullpen sessions at the end of the month, he said.
Malone, a University of North Carolina commit, is trying to remain focused on his development instead of his future.
“The biggest goal I’ve set for myself is to hit 100 mph with my fastball,” Malone said. “I think that would be really awesome. That’s not really as important as command, but it would be a really cool thing to do. I also want my secondary pitches to be out pitches for me and to be able to work those in consistently.”
(Photo courtesy of Brennan Malone)
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.”