While everyone is salivating about the six pitchers the Mets have available to them to start their games when the 2015 major league season begins, how many people are aware of just how deep the rotation will be out in Las Vegas? If you take a look at the minor league numbers of some of the folks in the desert it may rival what other franchises are starting at the major league level.
- Noah Syndergaard -- There’s nothing much new to be said about “Thor” that most fans don’t already know. He dominated the lower levels of the minors before hitting a hiccup in Las Vegas last season. His AAA numbers were not pretty – a 4.60 ERA and nearly 1.5 runners per inning pitched. Still, the 6’6” righty was able to strike out better than one batter per inning and even with this outlier season his career minor league line is an impressive 3.25 with 474 Ks in 427 IP. How much of it was the PCL effect and how much of it was adjusting to the next level of competition, we don’t know. However, his name was always the first one mentioned in trade requests, so obviously professional baseball people haven’t soured on him at all.
- Stephen Matz -- After missing a large chunk of his minor league development time due to Tommy John Surgery, the lefty control specialist dominated hitters during 2014 with a stint in St. Lucie and finishing the year in Binghamton where he was even better. Overall he posted a winning record with a 2.25 ERA and allowing just over 1 baserunner per inning pitched. He struck out nearly 1 per inning and in AA delivered an insane nearly 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Perhaps even more amazing, he has yielded less than one home per every THREE starts. Everyone should be excited to see how he adjusts to facing stiffer competition in Las Vegas.
- Rafael Montero -- With all of the press the current major league starters and the top two minor league starters have been getting, Rafael Montero has become something of the invisible man. It’s surprising, really, since his minor league career arc is not far off from Matz’ dominant numbers. His four year career record is 34-20 with a 2.69 ERA, allowing fewer baserunners per game than Matz and only a slight uptick in giving up home runs, still just 1 per every 2.5 games. Perhaps it is because Montero didn’t dominate right out of the gate as did Matt Harvey and Jacob de Grom, but in a pair of September starts against the Rockies and Astros over nearly 11 IP he gave up a combined single earned run and struck out 13, demonstrating the type of talent he has. There’s no room at the inn for him in Queens, so I would expect him to log a full season in Las Vegas.
- Matt Bowman -- Even further off the radar is righty Matt Bowman who has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his minor league career. Manager Wally Backman is already on record stating Bowman is a major league caliber pitcher. Since being drafted out of Princeton University he’s done far better than you would have expected from a 13th rounder. He’s got a 3-year record of 22-14, 3.07 and a 3.7 K:BB ratio. He’s whiffing 8.4 batters per 9 IP and giving up on average ½ of a home run per game. Bear in mind that he’s at the back end of this rotation
- Cory Mazzoni -- Right now the least heralded of the 51s pitching rotation would appear to be Cory Mazzoni. He’s been a serviceable pitcher throughout his minor league career. After being drafted out of North Carolina State University he took four years to ascend to AAA where he finished the season with 9 starts, going 5-1 with a 4.67 ERA. He showed good control but was hittable and had a little bit of a gopher ball issue which could be attributed to the thin air out there as it was not evident previously in his career. His numbers don’t scream sure thing, so the best he can probably hope for is a trade to a pitching-thin organization where he’ll be higher on the depth chart.
- Darin Gorski -- An honorable mention goes to the non-roster Darin Gorski who flat out dominated AA for two years with a 1.83 and 2.22 ERA but hit the proverbial bump in the road when he was given a brief trial in Las Vegas. At 27 years of age, the soft-tossing lefty’s prospect window has slammed shut but his career record of 42-30, 3.46 ERA, 1.212 WHIP and a nearly 3:1 K to BB ratio suggest there is talent there. No one grabbed him when the Mets took him off the 40-man roster, so at this point he’s probably just high quality organizational filler at a younger age than the retreads like Giancarlo Alvarado who got way too many starts for Las Vegas last season.