Rebuilding The New York Mets, One Pitcher at a Time
People love to kick the New York Mets when they’re down. It’s been seven seasons since they last made the playoffs. Mets fans have suffered through a pennant race collapse, the schizophrenic pitching of Oliver Perez, a ponzi scheme nearly bankrupting their ownership, Bobby Bonilla’s 25 year contract deferment and continued disappointment. There have been bright spots, like Jose Reyes’ batting title, R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young season, Johan Santana’s no hitter and Matt Harvey’s herculean rise. All were short lived triumphs. Reyes left via free agency, Dickey was traded, Santana’s shoulder fell off and Harvey blew out his elbow. The perpetual fog smothering this franchise suffocated the most optimistic fans.
That fog is slowly lifting. The ownership’s cash flow problems forced the New York Mets to reorganize their budget. Instead of wasteful spending, the Mets pumped money into scouting and player development, while also maximizing returns in trades. They stockpiled young pitching. Guys like the aforementioned Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler have already made impressive debuts. Throw in relievers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Vic Black, a youthful core has ascended on Queens. Others are not far behind.
New York Mets Pitching On The Horizon
The crown Jewel of the Mets’ farm system is right handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Acquired, along with catcher Travis d’Arnaud in the RA Dickey trade, Syndergaard possesses the rare combination of overpowering stuff and impeccable control. His mid to high 90s two-seam fastball is a vicious pitch with inhumane arm side run and potent accuracy, barreling downhill from a 6’6” frame. His changeup is advanced and his 12 to 6 curveball shows continued improvement, described by New York Mets manager Terry Collins as a “hook from hell.” Syndergaard looks to start the 2014 season in Triple A Las Vegas with a mid-season call up expected.
Joining Syndergaard in Vegas is right hander Rafael Montero. With a three pitch repertoire, Montero will be the first starting pitching prospect called up in 2014. Known for plus command and late life, Montero’s low 90s, two-seam fastball yields ground balls in bunches. He throws a low-to-mid 80s changeup, with solid arm/body action. A quick, biting slider is more of a weak contact pitch than a swing-and-miss offering. The knock on Montero is his build. At 6’0’’, 170 pounds, Montero guards against durability issues by staying balanced and limiting effort in a near flawless delivery.
An older prospect at 25, converted collegiate Shortstop Jacob deGrom was a tremendous find. Featuring a low-to-mid 90s sinker with sharp drop, this right-hander is a strike throwing machine. His mid-90s, four-seam fastball lacks life but plays up due to his pinpoint command. Reports indicate that his secondary pitches, a slider and a straight change continue to make strides.
Mets Pitching a Few Seasons Away
In High A Port St Lucie, Michael Fulmer is a right-hander at full physical projection. He features two offerings with plus upside, a low 90s two-seam fastball, with solid arm side run, and a swing-and-miss slider. He spent much of the 2013 season on the DL with a MCL tear in his right knee, only making a few late season starts. When I scouted Fulmer in 2012, his changeup was flat and raw. The refinement of the pitch would skyrocket Fulmer’s prospect status.
Not enough people are talking about oft-injured left hander Steven Matz. On Sunday, during Grapefruit League action, Matz’s fastball was up to 97 MPH, displaying the same filthy movement I saw eleven months earlier. He also threw two, excellent 12-6 curves during the outing, a pitch that was revived after the Mets scrapped it for a slider during Spring Training last season. His changeup combines deception, good arm side run and sink. Not many pitchers go unnoticed flashing three plus pitches with good command. Of course even fewer pitchers miss their first three professional seasons with injury and live to pitch in big league camp.
These are just the New York Mets’ five top pitching prospects. Blessed with depth, Gabriel Ynoa, Jack Leathersich, Domingo Tapia, Jeffrey Walters, Matt Bowman, Marcos Molina, Miller Diaz, Chris Flexen, Andrew Church, Luis Cessa, Rob Whalen and Casey Meisner are other arms to watch. These pitchers have Major League upside and can be leveraged as trade chips.
The New York Mets were forced into a rebuild by forces beyond the control of players on the field. Because of this, they’re positioned for long term success. Contention is still a year away, but 2014 should be exciting with the debuts of Syndergaard and Montero on tap.
4 Mar 2014 / Chris Blessing /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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