11/19/14

Tom Brennan - A CALL TO ARMS - VOL.7 - DISAPPOINTING AND INJURED METS PROSPECT STARTERS

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A CALL TO ARMS – VOL.7 - DISAPPOINTING AND INJURED METS PROSPECT STARTERS by Tom Brennan

So far, in Volumes 1 through 6 of My “A Call to Arms” series, I state what I feel is the obvious: when it comes to starters: the Mets' cupboards are bursting. 


A list of 16 guys:
Seven current big league starters: Colon, Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Niese, Gee, and Montero.
Two uber-prospects who on many other teams could be in the starting rotation in April 2015: Thor and Matz
Three dudes who have made quite the case as to being major league ready, or nearly so: Logan Verrett, Matt Bowman, and Tyler Pill. (Volumes 1, 2, 3 of my series)
Three pitchers (well, 4, as it was a tossup on the last 2, so you pick 1 of them), who are a step further down from those above: Erik Goeddel, Gabe Ynoa, Darin Gorski and Greg Peavey.

But like those late night commercials say, “WAIT. THERE’S MORE!”

I actually have two more categories, the one today, and in my next update, I’ll do Volume 8, which is  the large list of youngstarters we have who have done real well so far and are nearing the developed prospect radar screen. 

For today, though, it’s VOLUME 7, in two Departments:

In the "Disappointing So Far Department”, we have 4 dudes: Messrs. Fulmer, Tapia, Koch and Cessa. 

In the “Injury Department”, we have one dude - Luis Mateo. 

16 + 4 +1 brings us up to 21 starters through this Volume 7.



Let’s start with "the Disappointments" (knowing that the disappointments of 2014 can become the high performers of 2015):
 
DISAPPOINTMENT #1: Michael Fulmer:

Fulmer has been a disappointment so far, due to a number of injuries, including the need for him to have chips removed from the elbow of the arm that throws the baseball in late 2014.  Maybe this clean out will be the catalyst for a great 2015.  Time will tell.


Michael was the 44th pick of the entire 2011 draft, a hard throwing righty with good pitching size.  He will turn 22 in spring training, so he still has time to develop.  So far, he is 16-21, 3.62, a WHIP of 1.34, and a good but not great 240 Ks in 258 innings.  But the 258 innings is the worst of his stats, as injuries have kept him from exceeding 108 innings in a season.  In 2014, in St Lucie for 19 starts and Binghamton for just 1 rough start, he had a mediocre 1.54 WHIP. 


When we got Noah Syndergaard in the RA Dickey trade, I wondered who would be better – him or Fulmer.  Noah was drafted 6 slots higher at 38th, and one year earlier.  He’s been better, and a lot of that is likely due to Fulmer’s injuries.  With guys with his talent, disappointments can turn into raves pretty quickly. 
Let’s hope we’re raving about Mr. Fulmer in 2015.  We need another ace desperately – every team can use a half dozen (or even 20) aces, right?


DISAPPOINTMENT #2:Domingo Tapia:

Tapia will be 23 next spring, and he to me has been a puzzle.  Gifted with a high 90s fastball, he has only struck out 316 in 433 innings career to date over 87 starts; walks 3.7 per 9 innings (actually worse the past 2 years), and a 25-31 record and 3.96 ERA, which also happened to be his ERA in 2014 in St Lucie in his second full year there.  He has deteriorated in his K’s per 9 down to a poor 4.6/9 in 2014. 


Entering his 6th year, my hopes are not high, as the AA and AAA level are much tougher, but maybe he gets switched to the pen.  But then there is that walk thing, not a good thing for relievers.  Maybe he shocks us and becomes Jeurys Familia in the pen in 2015.  But he has to step up.

DISAPPOINTMENT #3: Matthew Koch:

Koch is another guy who I have been puzzled by.  He was a 3rd rounder in 2012.  He is 16-8 over the past 2 years (nice) but sports a career 4.70 ERA (not nice), and a high 1.44 WHIP in 2014 in St Lucie.  Oddly, the man had pinpoint control in 2013, walking a ridiculously low 4 batters and hitting 2 in 82 innings in Savannah.  In 2014, he slipped a lot in that category, with 45 combined BBs and HBPs in 120 innings, a pretty normal rate actually. 

The big puzzle for this hard thrower is, like with Tapia, his low strikeout totals, with just 4.7 Ks per 9 innings in 2014. My guess is the Mets will push him towards AA in 2015 – could be a real challenge. 


DISAPPOINTMENT #4: Luis Cessa


Maybe a tad harsh here.  Or way too harsh.  Cessa will be 23 next spring, and this junior member of the elite 2012 Brooklyn rotation really has not been much of a disappointment, so perhaps that is very unfair.  I just hoped he’d do better in 2014.   He had a very nice 2013 in Savannah (8-4, 3.12, and 8.6Ks per 9). 2014 (20 starts in Lucie, 1 in Binghamton) were not as kind, resulting in him going 7-9, 4.26, and just 6.5 Ks per 9 innings. 


Hopefully, this is just growing pains for the 6’3” 190 righty and he’ll rebound in AA in 2015.  But the slippage in Ks concerns me (although he exceeded the paltry strikeout rates both Tapia and Koch).


DISAPPOINTMENT #5 – Rainy Lara


Lara is another guy who really, like Cessa, has not been disappointing truthfully…I was just hoping for him to show more star potential in 2014.  So he is disappointing, but only ever so slightly.


Lara was one of the 2012 Brooklyn Fab 5 starters, putting up an 8-3 record, 2.91 ERA and 77 K’s in 68 innings.  With an ERA of around 2 in the DSL and GCL in 2010 and 2011, he looked like a possible stud.

A great 8 starts in 2013 in Savannah (1.42 ERA, and a K per inning) cemented that possibility further.  Just a terrific minor league career to that point.

Then some headwinds in St Lucie in the latter half of 2013, taking him down a notch or two in my estimation at the time: 4-5 in 14 outings, 3.76, and only 54 Ks in 79 innings.  Certainly not bad, but off his earlier pace.
Good enough, though, for a promo to Binghamton in 2014 – he had an OK season, but not great (6-4, 4.31, 1.37 WHIP, only 71 Ks in 109 innings).

To his credit, he tossed a nice playoff game (6 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 Ks), and tightened up in the last month of the season, with a 2.61 ERA in 5 August starts.

The 6’4” 180 righty will only be 24 in March.  Maybe he’ll still show he has the makings to be a #5 major league starter.

Yeah, probably too harsh to put him down as disappointing – that can happen in my mind, though, when there is so much pitching competition to be compared to.


Injury Department
Finally, in the "Injury Department” portion of this analysis, we have one Luis Mateo. 

Luis put up great #'s in the DSL in 2011, followed by his Ace of Aces performance in 2012 for the Cyclones, who had great starting pitching that year.  Luis struck out plenty, walked almost nobody, and was stingy with the hits, too.  After the season, one ranking showed him as the #7 Met prospect. Exciting.

Most guys go from Brooklyn to Savannah.  Not Luis.  St Lucie was chosen for him in 2013, leapfrogging Savannah. So my concern to that point, that his Brooklyn #s were just a slightly older guy too good for a rookie league, went out the window.  Then Mateo's first start for the Lucies was superb, 6 2/3 shutout innings, 9 Ks. Wow!  Then another wow - after 1 start, they now want him to pitch a game in AA.  No one moves up that fast.  I'm thinking "superstar on the way, perhaps?" 

Then the splash of water in the face.  Mateo crashed to earth as he hurt his elbow in that game, ultimately getting Tommy John surgery in June.  In mid-2014, he comes back, tosses a few relief innings, I’m excited, but goes right out again.  Little word, but the guess is there was some post-surgical discomfort, so they decided to rest and restart later.

So in 2015, do we see Mateo emulate Steve Matz, and pick up where he left off in early 2013, dazzling us?    

Or will Mateo struggle to regain as much of his old form as he can?  Time, as they say, will tell.

I am anxiously awaiting spring 2015 to find out.  I'd like to see him pitch like a #7 ranked guy once again.  But check out this You Tube video segment on the healthy pre-TJ Mateo - some really nasty pitches.  Come back healthy in 2015, Luis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE39lbVWKMM

So that wraps up my thoughts on possible future starters 17 through 22. 


Volume 8, a few days from now, will zero in on the small # of guys lower down in the system what's got da goods.  Well, not so small – I count 12 of them.  12 + 22 = 34.  That's nuts, man.

Until Volume 8, then, best wishes to you if you read this far!

7 comments:

eraff said...

"That's nuts, man."

Absolutely correct on That!

Thomas Brennan said...

Yep, Eraff, it isn"t long since Met fans hoped Eddie Kunz would be something, and there wasn't much else around (well, the disappointing Brad Holt was). Now, we have legions of pitchers.

Hobie said...

Big hopes for Grover Powell too.

eraff said...

They're all Syd Finch

eraff said...

I have a Name for you: Kurtis Horne. Very Young Lefty who pitched at GCL.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey eraff

I tried to steer clear of GCL guys, regardless of talent, because they throw so few innings, it's hard to gauge much.

There's always 2015.

Thomas Brennan said...

Grover Powell almost made it. But I couldn't decide between him and Colin Powell so I left them both off.

Grover's minor league record would not have gotten him in my top 34. Maybe top 50.

The only Sid F who'd ever make one of my lists is El Sid, Sid Fernandez, one of the greatest 6 inning pitchers of any era.

Mack's Mets © 2012