20. Mason Albright (172 points, 19 ballots)
Albright was one half of Colorado’s trade return from the Los Angeles Angels for Randal Grichuk and CJ Cron (the other was PuRP No. 24 Jake Madden). The 21-year-old 6’0” lefty starter was the lone high schooler in LA’s famed all-pitcher draft in 2021, an over-slot signing in the 12th round for $1.25 million. No individual pitch stands out in Albright’s mix (maybe the curveball); rather it’s the overall polish and feel for pitching he displays that sets him apart.
After pitching most of the 2022 season in Low-A and getting absolutely shelled (8.67 ERA, 1.96 WHIP), Albright made some slight delivery adjustments and has saw much better results in 2023. In 79 2⁄3 innings in 15 games with the Angels’ Low-A affiliate at 1.9 years younger than league average, Albright posted a 3.62 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 9.7 K/9 rate against a 2.3 BB/9 rate.
In the Rockies organization, Albright made one dominant Low-A start (five scoreless innings, two hits, two walks, nine strikeouts) and then got assigned to High-A Spokane, where he was 3.1 years younger than league average. Albright made five starts with Spokane and kept the good results coming, posting a 2.88 ERA (4.91 xFIP) with a 1.44 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 rate, and 4.3 BB/9 rate in 25 innings. The elevated walk rate and higher xFIP indicates the run prevention numbers were a bit fortunate, but overall Albright had a very successful debut in Colorado’s system.
Here’s some video of Albright from 2021 fall instructs, courtesy of FanGraphs:
[Albright] gives the Angels interesting raw stuff with which to work, but he is not all that projectable for a 20-year-old and will have to find velocity via means other than physical maturation. He sits 91-92 mph, but his fastball does have diverse utility, as Albright can create sink and tail from his low slot, but can also run his heater up the ladder because his slot creates such a shallow approach angle. He also has a dandy curveball, a shapely mid-70s pitch with an above-average combination of depth and bite. Guys with this slot and arm-side fastball shape are fairly well-suited to develop a changeup with shape that mimics the two-seamer, but Albright’s arm action and athleticism aren’t round-up traits when it comes to projecting on that offering. He’s a fine long-term starting prospect whose middle-of-the-road outcome is probably that of a second lefty reliever in the ‘pen.
Albright is not your prototypical high school projection case, as the six-footer is more about his feel for pitching than raw stuff. His fastball typically has been sitting in the 90-92 mph range, though it can get as high as 94. It also plays up because he can command it and misses bats thanks to deception in his delivery. His curve has the chance to be a solid pitch, though it can get slurvy at times, and he has feel for his changeup and is developing a cutter.
While the southpaw can throw all four pitches for strikes, there was concern about his long arm action in the back and his consistency out front with his delivery that hampered his stuff and his command. The Angels shortened Albright’s arm action this year to great results — his walks went down and his strikeouts went up — proving he was young enough to correct some of those mechanical issues. He could land in the back end of a big league rotation if he continues to develop.
Keith Law of the Athletic wrote about Albright when evaluating the trade package for Grichuk and Cron:
[Albright] has a very long arm action but throws strikes, with a fringy fastball but some promise to the slider and change along with an old-fashioned slow curveball.
He posted a 9 ERA in limited time in low A last year as a 19-year-old, but he’s returned to the level this year and has a 3.62 ERA with improvements across the board.
I have a hard time envisioning him as a starter with this delivery, but if his fastball trends upward, the Rockies have to let him stay in the job given his two secondaries and the solid-average or better control. One odd note — he has been killed by left-handed batters this year in a limited sample, especially on his fastball, which tells me they’re just seeing the ball too well because of that delivery.
To Law’s point, lefties had a .880 OPS against Albright while the OPS for righties is .674.
There are some differing opinions on the quality and projectability of Albright’s stuff among scouts, but he seems likely to remain a starter as he jumps up the minor league ladder at a young age. Like fellow PuRP Victor Juarez, Albright shows polish and feel but doesn’t have a ceiling that jumps out at you, but he’s posted good results and is left-handed.
I ranked Albright 22nd on my list as a 40 FV prospect due to the polish and improved results in 2023. He’ll likely begin 2024 in High-A again as one of the younger players in the league, where we can get a better idea of if his improved strike-throwing will stick. If it does, Albright could be in the big league rotation mix as soon as 2025.