15. Tony Dibrell, RHP
Height: 6’3”, Weight: 190 lbs.
DOB: 11/08/95 (23)
Acquired: 4th round, 2017 Draft (Kennesaw State University, Georgia)
23 G (23 GS), 131.1 IP, 112 H, 60 R, 51 ER (3.50 ERA), 54 BB, 147 K, .300 BABIP (Low-A)
Tony Dibrell impressed during his time at Chattahoochee High School, where he lettered four times as a varsity player, but he never garnered much major league attention. Though he posted a 2.47 ERA in 51.0 innings with 27 hits allowed, 36 walks allowed, and 75 strikeouts, the 6’1”, 200-pound right-hander went undrafted in the 2014 MLB Draft. Though interested in attending a variety of schools with strong baseball programs, Dibrell made a verbal commitment with Kennesaw State University and went through with it, donning the black and gold and becoming an Owl. He didn’t exactly impress in his first year at Kennesaw State, pitching out of the bullpen and appearing in 11 games for the Owls. He posted a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings pitched, allowing 18 hits, walking 3 and striking out 18. He had a bit more success in 2016, appearing in 14 games- 7 as a starter- and posting a 4.64 ERA in 54.1 innings with 54 hits allowed, 30 walks, and 66 strikeouts. There was clearly promise in his big frame, but it wouldn’t manifest itself until that summer, when he participated in the Cape Cod League. Playing for the Bourne Braves and the Chatham Anglers, Dibrell posted a 1.66 ERA in 38.0 innings pitched. He allowed 28 hits, walked 18, and struck out 36, earning All-Star honors. He returned to Kennesaw State riding on that success he had in the cape and had the best season of his collegiate career. Taking the reigns as ace of the Owls pitching staff, Dibrell posted a 2.45 ERA in 95.2, the third-lowest ERA in a single season in Kennesaw State University history. He allowed 77 hits, walked 39, and struck out 103 batters. On draft day, the Mets selected him with their fourth-round pick, signing him $380,000, $33,100 below slot value.
Dibrell began his professional career with the Brooklyn Cyclones, getting into 12 games with them in the summer of 2017. All in all, he posted a 5.03 ERA in 19.2 innings, allowing 19 hits, walking 8, and striking out 28. He was promoted to the Columbia Fireflies and began the 2018 season there. Somewhat surprisingly, he spent the entire year there, not getting promoted when others were. All in all, the right-hander posted a 3.50 ERA in131.0 innings, allowing 112 hits, walking 54, and striking out 147- tied for the most in the South Atlantic League in 2018 along with Jhonathan Diaz and Spencer Howard. Perhaps the Mets foresaw the improvements Dibrell would make under Jonathan Hurst’s tutelage, as he was an improved pitcher in the second half. In the first half of the season, he posted a 3.67 ERA in 61.1 innings, allowing 48 hits, walking 33, and striking out 72. In the second half, he posted a 3.36 ERA in 69.2 innings, allowing 64 hits, walking 21, and striking out 75.
Dibrell throws from a high three-quarters arm slot. His delivery is a bit violent and he is not always consistent with his mechanics, leading to control issues. When his mechanics are on, he is able to harness the full extent of his stuff, which is quite good. His fastball generally sits in the low-to-mid-90s, and is able to top out at 96 MPH. The pitch doesn’t have too much movement, but is heavy with sink, especially when thrown down in the zone. He complements his fastball with a slider, a changeup, and a curveball. His slider is generally considered his best secondary, an above-average pitch sitting in the low-80s with hard biting action, generally used to get swings-and-misses from right-handed batters down and away. His change-up is considered a pitch just as good as his slider, but is thrown much more sparingly. It also sits in the low-80s, showing good fade and tumble to the arm side, especially when thrown down. Rounding out his arsenal is his curveball, a pitch in the low-to-mid-70s with soft break used to keep hitters off-balance by changing their eye level. The ability to command his pitches has given Dibrell trouble throughout his career, and he often has had trouble finding the strike zone or staying sharp within it.
Steve Sypa says:
I’ve been a fan of Dibrell since day one, and the right-hander remains criminally underrated among Mets prospect circles. During the 2018 season, I made the case that Dibrell wasn’t that different from top prospect Justin Dunn, control issues aside, and that he was every much a top 10 prospect in the system as Dunn was. With Dunn now a Seattle Mariner, and the recently acquired Franklyn Kilomé out for the year, the case can be made that Dibrell is the Mets’ top right-handed pitching prospect. I was puzzled that the Mets held him back when David Peterson and Anthony Kay were all promoted from Columbia to St. Lucie at the beginning of the summer, but his control was a lot better in the second half, so perhaps it was a calculated move that paid off.
Lukas Vlahos says:
Dibrell didn’t make my Top 25 list, which might’ve been a mistake. A 4th round pick in 2017 out of college, the Mets have done their thing and placed him way to conservatively. The results were good with Columbia- 10.10 K/9, 3.50 ERA, 3.66 FIP- but hardly otherworldly, and Dibrell is 23 already. He does seem to have improved his control, which was a big knock on him coming out of college, but the pitch-mix is more good than elite regardless. Still, in a Met system extremely thing on starting pitching depth, he’s not that far down the depth chart, and should receive an upper-minors assignment this year that will establish whether he’s a potential back-end starter or just an org arm.
Kenneth Lavin says:
2018 proved to be a pretty successful season for Dibrell, despite spending the entire season in the South Atlantic League for some reason. The Kennesaw State product led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts, although he was also a little old for the level. In the end, Dibrell posted a 3.50 ERA in 131.0 innings pitched, having struck out 147 hitters and walked 54. The one flaw in Dibrell’s game thus far has been his command, having walked more than 3.5 batters per nine innings in each of the last two seasons. While I still have hope that Dibrell can remain a starter long term, I do think he has the potential to be a very good high leverage reliever, especially if his mid-90s fastball gains a little velocity in short bursts.