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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 33, RHP Jose Mujica

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It seems really odd to have someone who was added to the 40-man roster this far back in our rankings, but that’s where he lands as some think his performance will continue, and others have questions about how it’ll translate to MLB.

No.33, RHP Jose Angel (Morao) Mujica, 21 yrs old

Born: Jun 29th, 1996 in Valencia, Venezuela

Height/Weight: 6’2” 235 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: by the Rays in 2012 for $1,000,000

Twitter handle: N/A

Twitter profile statement: N/A

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as high as 21st in 2013 before sliding back to 30th in 2015 and off the list thereafter.

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 27th
  • Low: 54th

Jose Mujica: Abilities

  • Plus change up
  • Low to Mid-90s fastball, can hit 96 MPH
  • Slider has made strides, curve is still work in progress
  • Noted as having above-average command
  • Abilities notes: The ability to keep hitters off-balance and throw off timing combined with aggressiveness on the mound is what sets Mujica up for success. His arsenal allows for him to throw in speeds ranging from the high 70s through the mid-90s.

Joined the Rays by way of....

Latest Transaction: November 20th, 2017, Tampa Bay Rays selected the contract of RHP Jose Mujica from Durham Bulls.

Note - Mujica has moved up the ranks quickly, most notably leaping through HiA Charlotte, where he only needed 2 starts to earn a promotion to AA in 2017.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • In 2014, Mujica missed the majority of the season (all but 2 games) with a foot injury, but has been fairly injury free from that point onwards.
  • After healing from his foot issues, Mujica put up 65 IP at 2 levels in 2015, 130 IP at BG in 2016, and just put up 165.2 IP in 2017.
  • The yearly innings increase is notable and that strength was on full display over the last 12 games of the 2017 season, when Mujica remained effective and put up an impressive 13.3% SO/9 and lowered his HR/9 to 1.01 while keeping hitters to a .226 average.
  • Despite starting the season in A+, he pitched well enough to earn a Mid-Season All-Star team selection in AA’s Southern League.
  • Had many dominant performances in 2017 (such as the Tweet below indicates), which ultimately led to the young 21 yr old earning a promotion to AAA.

Stats

Jose Mujica 2017

GP 27
GP 27
GS 27
IP 165.2
W 14
L 8
Sv (SvO) 0 (0)
H 139
BB 45
SO 90
HR 19
AvgA 0.226
Whip 1.11
BAbip 0.235
LOB% 79.00%
GB% (AA) 41.00%
FB% (AA) 40.00%

Stats Notes: To his credit, he’s always managed a great WHIP (high of 1.25 over last 3 seasons). Unfortunately he also has allowed 9.3 HR/FB and 9.4 HR/FB per season in 2 of the last 3 seasons (other was 4.5 HR/FB).

Interesting Comparison: Dan Straily

  • Both are right-handers, both are 6’2”, but Mujica has a slightly heavier body at 235 vs Straily’s 220. But it’s their use of and effectiveness with the circle change and low to mid-90s fastball that that makes them similar.
  • If the Rays do wind up using Mujica in 2018 or 2019, getting a performance similar to Straily’s 2012 season seems like a decent bet. Some struggles with HR/9 but a solid outcome overall, and something to build on thereafter.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

Hopefully the Straily comp doesn’t get anyone down, but there have been enough doubters out there that I believe many would take that kind of outcome and run all the way to the boxscores with it. After all, Straily has managed to get himself to the 2.0 WAR level, which is nothing to scoff at.

For Mujica to get there, he’ll have to keep the ball down in the zone and make fewer mistakes high. Because if he can keep the ball in the park, he’s the kind of pitcher that could make leaps and bounds above what anyone expected he’d achieve. His aggressiveness and faith in his skills on the mound, which some have compared to Freddy Garcia’s and Felix Hernandez, are what helps make him so effective.

If he can keep up that intensity and continue working on his secondary stuff, his change up is strong enough as a plus pitch to sustain him in the rotation. With the build, strength, and 165.2 innings on his arm in 2017 mostly at the AA level and at 21 years old, you immediately consider him a potential mainstay in a rotation. He could be someone you could count on to give you 170+ innings year-after-year.

For now, we’ll wait and see how he performs at the AAA level, and whether or not he can get a handle on those HR/9. With a strong trio of arms ahead of him in the pecking order in AAA, he’s unlikely to get a look until mid-season, but with his being on the 40-man roster, you never know what can happen and how quickly we’ll get to see him pitch at the Trop.

Jose Mujica: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 50 Rays Prospects