The presidential campaign is now long over, with the right-leaning Donald J. Trump coming out on top.  The progressive leftists have absorbed a stunning defeat. 

Enough of politics, though – the important question is: who are the progressive lefties in the system, the ones showing that they have future major league pedigree?   I see 4 guys, with 5 others trying to enter the Progressive Lefty Radar Screen in a lefty-sparse Mets system:

PJ CONLON – the mercurial but soft-tossing lefty (born in Belfast) was a 21 year old 13th rounder in 2015, and anyone in a round that late is wishful thinking as far as making the majors.  But PJ made a limited but strong statement with the Brooklyn Cyclones – in 17 games spanning 17 innings, he fanned 25 and allowed exactly zero earned runs.  Do I hear 2016 promo?

Yep, PJ went to full season Columbia in 2016, and in 12 starts, 8-1, 1.84, 1.00 WHIP.  These guys were too easy, so let’s bump him to St Lucie, the thinking certainly went.  No adjustment period there – in 11 more starts and a relief appearance, 4-1, 1.41, 0.96 WHIP.  The only very slight blemish?  His K rate dropped to 7.8 K per 9 IP, still strong but not WOW.  He may only be a high 80’s arm, but startlingly good results like that make one think he will see continued success in AA in 2017.  Future # 5 starter, or LOOGY? One to watch closely.

DAVE ROSEBOOM – to recap what I wrote about Dave recently, the deft lefty put up spectacular numbers in AA last year: 

52 games, 52 IP, 1.87 ERA, 14 of 15 saves.  Nothing shabby there.

Lefties crushed him - oh, sorry, it was the other way around, with them hitting just .141 (11 for 78, with 30 Ks) against the Boomer.  Can you say SWISH?

Knowing how much Sandy and Terry love experience, and love not having guys skip AAA, I have to say that nevertheless, Roseboom earned real consideration - he dominated AA last year, and at minimum wage, he’d be far cheaper than Blevins and Logan, so maybe he and Edgin duke it out, or both make the opening day 2017 pen in Queens.  More likely he will have to visit hell in Las Vegas first.

BEN GRISET – the 24 year old 13th rounder from 2013 did very, very nicely as a set up guy for St Lucie – 32 games, 60 IP, 4-2, 1.84, 1.03 WHIP, 66 Ks.  It will be very interesting to see if he can emulate Dave Roseboom’s success in AA in the coming 2017 season.

TOM SZAPUCKI (pictured above) – the gold standard of all Mets lefty prospects, for 2 reasons – first, he’s named Tom, and second, he is devastating.  The flamethrower was 4-3, 1.38 ERA in 9 rookie ball starts in Brooklyn and Kingsport, with an 0.88 WHIP and an insane 86 Ks in 52 IP.  His ERA was under 1.00 until his last start, in which he nonetheless fanned 10 in 5.1 innings.  Control was decent, with 20 walks, but surely will improve. One has to wonder: can he be better than Steve Matz, who happens to be really good.  And how fast can he fly through the system?  My guess is he puts up similar performance to Conlon in 2017, but with a lot more Ks.


Kyle Regnault, Albert Baldonado, and Kelly Secrest are lefty relievers who reached AA last year that warrant some watching as well. 

Taylor Henry had a strong short relief Cyclones season in 2016, too. 

Blake Taylor, a young 2013 2nd rounder acquired from the Pirates, only threw 21 innings in rookie ball the last 2 years due to Tommy John  (and only 83 IP in 4 seasons) – with his pedigree, he is worth watching in 2017.

Full Disclosure – I am also a lefty, one who used to do very well pitching in stickball games. So I am partial to lefties - in baseball, that is.

AND A NON-PITCHING NOTE: Dom Smith, as now listed on the AA roster, is 6’0” and TWO HUNDRED FIFTY POUNDS.  The next Prince Fielder – or Hey Hey Hey Fat Albert?  We’ll see.


Reese Kaplan said...

PJ Conlon better not be a student of Mets history lest he uncover what happened to the last soft-tossing lefty who dominated as high as AA -- Darin Gorski. Teams have no respect for soft tossers unless they have a trick pitch like a slurve, knuckleball or forkball.

bgreg98180 said...

Thinking back to Alderson's reputation with building the Oakland A's.....

He focused on finding the value in the unappreciated abilities. Those players whose talents were overlooked because the rest of baseball was focused elsewhere.

With this in mind..... doesn't it make sense that Alderson would.have placed more interest in the softer-tossing pitchers that demonstrated success but are overlooked in today's velocity focused baseball world?

Tom Brennan said...

True, Reese, while lower minors success gets folks' attention, PJ will continue to have to WOW folks - and hopefully for him, succeed in AAA. But another successful non-flamethrower, Paul Sewald, even did well in AAA in 2016, but his major league debut and future remain uncertain.

Tom Brennan said...

Bob, it is one thing to draft soft tossers that are overlooked, another thing to actually promote them to the majors. Sewald, Roseboom, and Conlon will test their willingness to try these guys in Queens.

Mack Ade said...

Guys -

I just don't see a future for soft tossers.

Give me 3-4 flame throwers that can throw 95+ for 17-21 pitches each and I have a successful pen

Reese Kaplan said...

Bad Mets history notwithstanding, didn't a soft tossing lefty by the name of Glavine do pretty well in the majors? I think the problem may be that soft tossers are ill-suited to 8th and 9th inning roles where many are pushed with the thinking, "Well, what am I supposed to do with a guy whose fastball can't break a pane of glass?" Maybe I'm wrong, but movement and location are just as important (perhaps more so) than velocity, though I do agree with Mack that for short stints a flamethrower is highly effective.

Tom Brennan said...

Flamethrowers like Parnell and Black flamed out...softies can be more durable

Unknown said...

On the Dom Smith thing. I seem to recall that when he was first drafted, his mother went off to cook for him while he played in the minor leagues. Is he getting a few too many of Mom's biscuits?

Tom Brennan said...

Richard, I dunno, but my sense is 230 should be his top weight. Bartolo colon said he disagrees, and he carries a lot of weight..

Mack Ade said...

Richard -

Smith seems to be taking his body serious at this point in his career and is adding muscle without the emphasis on gaining weight.

Mack's Mets © 2012