Name: Bryce Montes de Oca
Born: Lawrence, Kansas
Age: 22 (4/23/1996)
Height/Weight: 6’7”/260 lbs.
School: University of Missouri
Bryce Montes de Oca underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2013, while a junior in high school, but he recovered from the surgery, a year later, not only was he the valedictorian of the graduating class at Lawrence High School, but was also widely considered to be one of the best high school pitchers available in the 2014 MLB Draft. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, but did not sign with them and instead honored his commitment to the University of Missouri. He only appeared in seven games as a freshman in 2015, posting a 6.75 ERA in 8.0 innings, allowing 3 hits, walking 9 and striking out 10. The following year, he appeared in a single game, striking out the only batter he faced. He was removed from the game because of elbow pain and missed the rest of the season after undergoing ulnar nerve transposition surgery.
He returned to the mound in 2017, making 15 appearances and starting 12 games for the Tigers. He posted a 4.43 ERA in 61.0 innings, allowing 43 hits, walking 42, and striking out 61. De Oca limited batters to a .205 batting average and surrendered just 15 extra-base hits for the year, the fewest among all Missouri starters. His return to the mound with no real loss of stuff prompted the Washington Nationals to draft him with their 15th round pick. He turned them down and returned to Mizzou this season. Despite excelling in the rotation, Montes de Oca pitched just 11 innings over the final two months of the season, and had his role changed from starter to reliever without explanation, appearing in 9 as a starter and 6 as a reliever. In 54.2 innings in total, he posted a 3.13 ERA, allowing 32 hits, walking 33, and striking out 65.
Standing 6’7” and weighing 265, Montes de Oca is an imposing sight on the mound. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot, dropping and driving off of the mound with some violence. His arm action is quick and whip-like, with a soft stab in the back of his arm circle. His mechanics are simple and should be repeatable, but like other tall pitchers, he sometimes has trouble doing so, contributing to control problems. He loads his shoulders a bit, forming an inverted W when he pushes off the rubber.
His fastball sits in the sits in the low-to-mid-90s, touches the high-90s, and has touched 100 MPH at times. His height and long stride gives good extension gives his pitches late life and exceptionally heavy downward sink, making the pitch a true plus fastball. His durable frame allows him to maintain his velocity deep into starts.
de Oca complements the fastball with a slurvy slider, true wipeout pitch thanks to its power. The pitch sits in the mid-80s and flashes being an above-average-to-plus pitch, even if its shape more loose than tight, which is less than ideal. de Oca sometimes has trouble getting on top of the pitch, leading to hanging breaking balls. In addition, he has a feel for a changeup. It sits in the high-80s-to-low-90s and is considered by scouts and evaluators to be a below-average pitch.
A redshirt junior this season, Montes de Oca can return to the University of Missouri next season.