HOW SOON? METS MINORS PITCHERS EDITION - Tom Brennan
Last Tuesday, I started out with "A lot of folks clamor for Michael Conforto to be promoted to the Mets ASAP". Well, our prayers were answered quickly.
I wrote a Mack's article about a year ago on the Mets Minors incredible pitching surplus. Since then, Matz and Thor have been promoted, the 3 guys above just got traded (as did Brad Weick), Wheeler and Molina went down with major elbow injuries, and Pill and Bowman have appeared more supect than prospect in 2015...and they still have starter prospect depth, not even including draftees in 2015.
Before I move on to our remaining guys, a few words on Meisner, Whelan and Gant.
- Casey Meisner - outstanding at a very young age as he has progressed thru all levels of A ball. The 20 year old could have been a mid-2017 call up. Maybe he still will be - for the As.
- Whelan is 21, a 12th rounder out of HS. He was great before this year (143 IP, 99 H, 38 BB, 140 K, 30 earned runs), but this year in St Lucie, the WHIP and ERA jumped, although still at good levels; he allowed 38 runs in 83 innings. Remains to be seen how good he'll be as major leaguer. My projection is he'll be a 5th starter.
- Gant was a 21st rounder, about to turn 23, and was terrific in 2013-15 in A ball (235 IP, 70 earned runs (plus 20 unearned), 243 Ks. In AA, he hit headwinds - ERA up to 4.70, WHIP up too, lower K rate. I also project him as # 5 starter.
I wish them all well - except down the road vs. the Mets.
I am leaving off Logan Verrett and Rafael Montero, since in my view, they've already successfully made it to the bigs, even if they are still in the minors as of right now. But those are two already.
Michael Fulmer - more and more he is looking like a #2 or #3 level starter, so perhaps he will be good enough to be good the Mets' 5th starter! He has been fantastic in AA of late, and most importantly, has plus major league velocity. The next month may dictate if he makes the Mets' rotation opening day 2016, but more likely he is a post Super 2 call up.
Gabe Ynoa - Ynoa was getting little love from me when he entered mid June with an ERA of nearly 6 with a very low strikeout rate. So he promptly shut me up with an outstanding stretch of pitching over his last 9 starts. Maybe ready to start in the bigs by mid-2016 as a #5. Walks no one, but needs to miss more bats.
Luis Cessa - part of the great Cyclone rotation in 2012 (Robles, Ynoa, Lara, Cessa, and rehabbing stud Luis Mateo - even Matt Bowman pitched there, mostly in relief). Luis has struggled against AAA hitters in the PCL so far (8.84 ERA in 19 innings), but pitched really well at AA earlier this year (2.56 ERA in 13 starts). Still 23, throws hard, may be a solid bullpen piece, trade chip or ML starter.
Seth Lugo in AA, also has turned heads. A hard throwing righty defying his 34th round 2011 draft slot odds, he has refined his slider to go with his curve, learned to mix his pitches better this year, and spots a 3.20 ERA with 8 Ks per 9 IP over 98 innings this season. Red hot of late, with just 1 earned run in his past 4 starts. A few more starts like his recent ones, and maybe he is a trade chip or 2016 pen guy. Can't rule out major league starter if he keeps refining his stuff.
Rainy Lara - Like Cessa, Lara recently made AAA. Like Cessa, he is finding out AAA is a super challenge. After posting a 5-3, 3.57 Mark in 12 AA starts, he is sputtering with a 7+ ERA in 24 AAA innings. Time will tell as to whether he is hitting his ceiling or can conquer AAA and make the majors in some capacity.
OTHER GUYS OF NOTE: I've listed 5 guys above, plus Montero and Verrett - that is still a lot of "inventory." But there are more "down under".
Other notables are: Matt Bowman, who is trying to slay the AAA Dragon that has been flummoxing him badly for most of this year; Marcos Molina, who may be a top tier major league starter if he fully recovers from his elbow issues; Scarlyn Reyes, having gone 10-4, 3.40 in Savannah, and just promoted to St Lucie, and...
Martirez Arias, who got rolling late (he actually was in the system for 2009-12 very unimpressively, but in Kingsport rookie ball in 2014 as a 23 year old, flipped the switch: he has been fine in rookie and A ball this year and last: (11-4, ERA around 2.00, strikeout per inning, including a recent great first start for St Lucie). Some really tall guys like him take a while.
NOW FOR THE 5 RELIEVERS: righties except for Alvarez and Secrest:
1. Paul Sewald - not the hardest thrower, but simply tremendous in his 175 innings since being the Mets' 2012 10th round selection (204 Ks, 1.79 ERA). Should be a solid bullpen piece in Queens in 2016.
2. Dario Alvarez - since June 1, 15 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 22 Ks. Bullpen lefty in Queens in 2016. Just promoted to AAA, where he threw a pefect 0.2 innings to get the win Sunday.
3. Akeel Morris - before he was called up to Queens for one lousy relief outing, he was invincible. Since then, spotty. I believe he will rebound and be a bullpen piece some time in 2016 in Queens.
4. Christian Montgomery - one bad outing so far in 2015, a lot of great ones. Hard throwing righty who may show up in Queens by 2017, IMO.
5. Kelly Secrest - been a very solid reliever since he was drafted in 2014. The lefty, now in St Lucie and 6-2 there, is 9-3, 2.34 and a K per inning since turning pro.
There are plenty of other good relievers in the system, some recently drafted, who could be pushing their way onto the list in the future. One guy I hold out hope for is Luis Mateo, getting back on track after essentially ax2 year Tommy John hiatus.
Good times in Sandy's minor league pitcher production factory.
Who knows? A few more may depart as trade chips this week. Sandy's doing some deep sea fishing these days and needs plenty of bait...
So stay tuned.