Age (Majority 2021 season): 25
Height: 6’4 Weight: 190
Acquired: International Free Agent – 2015
Rule 5 eligible: Eligible
Background & Info – 2020 status: The right-hander made his debut in 2016 with the DSL club striking out 41, walking 28 across 60 innings in 13 starts. He was promoted to the AZL for 2017, where he struck out 73, walking 32 in 58.1 innings across 18 appearances (8 starts). 2018 Brought another promotion to Mahoning Valley where he provided the best season of his career, striking out 63, with 18 walks logging 68.1 innings. Two promotions were in-store for 2019; first, Lake County, and his second, Lynchburg. The righty produced 113 punchouts with 49 free bases spread over 111.1 innings of work across both levels. A victim of the canceled 2020 minor league season, Mota, now another year older and still unrefined, is biding time with his prospect status fading. Mota is tall, well built with a strong pitchers build. Slender in his upper body. Not a lot of room for projection left, but has long legs and arms.
Delivery: Listed 6’4, 190 (he looks larger), Mota utilizes his height with a lower three-quarters release point with a downward plane. He brings his lead leg up quickly to his waistline and leans back with a long inverted elbow behind his back. He enters his load and uncoils his pitch as he brings the ball back up and through his delivery. He falls off to the first base side, indicative of his reliever projection.
Fastball: He has added velocity to his fastball that was one-time sitting 93-96, touching 98. Mota is now hitting as high as 100-101. It’s nasty when it’s on up in the zone and hard to catch up to, but his control holds it back.
Slider: The righty throws a hard power slider in the upper 80’s that shows potential to be an asset. Unfortunately, for Mota, it doesn’t offer enough control to be an out pitch.
Changeup: Mota’s change remains unrefined and is of little use; it sits upper 80’s and touches 90 with diving action. Like the right-hander’s other two pitches, he doesn’t command his changeup.
Command+Control: The Dominican Republic native shows appears to be more of a thrower at times than a pitcher. He looks like he is trying to direct his pitches to his target, giving the appearance that he is throwing a shot put instead of a baseball. In 2019, he posted a 4.9 BB9 and averaged more than 4 BB9 over three of his first four seasons.
Grade: Control 35 – Command: 30
Developed primarily as a starting pitcher to log innings and garner experience Mota will likely shift to the bullpen when minor league play resumes. There is a chance his control will improve from the bullpen, that transition has been beneficial for plenty of arms over the years, but it’s difficult to project who will successfully make the change and make enough gains to stay a prospect. It is a make or break season for the right-hander, and he will need to respond quickly, or he will become lost in the shuffle.
If lots of power with minimal control sounds familiar, it should. Tribe fans have seen several power arm reliever types come and go through the organization. Mota could easily find himself in that category if his control doesn’t make significant gains relatively quickly. Somewhat, to no fault of his own. He was an older international signing (generally, a good sign the players viewed as a late bloomer/lacks upside). While he has made velocity gains on the bump, his control is still scattered shot, limiting his upside and likely mitigating his effectiveness. He has been developed as a starter to this point in his career. Already 25, he has yet to pitch above (formerly) High-A Lynchburg. The righty will likely be pushed to the bullpen, where his lack of control may be better accommodated. That said, there’s enough upside to suggest he could get a cup of coffee at some point because of sheer velocity. Mota has been both left unprotected and went unselected in the 2019 and 2020 Rule 5 drafts.
Future/Roles: At this point in his career, Mota is trending toward an emergency call-up and depth option. His clock is ticking, and he may end up an organizational arm as has other flamethrowing relievers that lacked control.
2021 Status: Double-A Akron