Royals MiLB prospect Alec Mills joined the organization as a rather anonymous 22nd round draft pick in 2013 from University of Tennessee-Martin. After moving to the rotation at A Lexington in 2013, he tore his UCL, pretty much taking him off everyone’s radar.
Mills didn’t return unitl late in the 2014 season, pitching in the rookie Pioneer League before returning to full-season ball at Lexington. He did post a good 2.35 ERA in 57.1 innings, but he wasn’t drawing much notice outside the KC Royals organization.
He hit High A Wilmington in 2015, now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, posting an impressive 3.02 ERA in 113.1 innings with an 8.8 K/9. While a successful season since he was able to take a regular turn in the rotation, many pitchers put up big numbers at Wilmington due to an unusually difficult hitting background at the Blue Rocks home park.
However, in 2016, Mills has dominated.
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He started the year earning a promotion to AA NW Arkansas. In 12 AA starts, the now 24-year-old Mills put up an impressive 2.53 ERA with a career high 9.0 K/9. He even got a shot as the 26th man during a double-header with the big club, giving up 1 run in 0.2 innings. Mills recently earned another promotion to AAA Omaha, and has a 3.09 ERA in two starts and 11.2 innings pitched.
Mills strong showing his last two seasons has transformed a guy who was expected to be little more than minor league filler into a prospect. Coming out of high school, the 6’4″ Alec Mills barely hit 85 mph on the radar gun. Today, his fastball can touch 95 and he regularly sits 92-93 mph.
At this point, Mills is on track to get a September call-up with the big club if he continues to succeed at AAA Omaha. Mills ranks no. 13 on mlbpipeline.com’s list of top KC Royals prospects, up from no. 24 at the end of last season. Some analysts even believe that he has mid-rotation upside in major-league baseball.
2016 has been a big year for Alec Mills. Let’s hope he can keep exceeding expectations.