12 Rookies That Could Pitch In New York Mets’ Bullpen in 2014
12 Rookies That Could Pitch In New York Mets' Bullpen in 2014
Thus far this offseason, the New York Mets have ignored their bullpen. This is somewhat odd as just about every major league team has work to do on its bullpen every offseason, and the Mets are no exception, especially with some concern over the health of closer Bobby Parnell and losing veteran LaTroy Hawkins in free agency. With the Mets not making any moves to address their bullpen, they could be left with a young group of relievers in 2014 which may not be such a bad thing.
There’s been a lot of buzz growing over the past year or so regarding the Mets' top pitching prospects, specifically guys like Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, but there is considerable less publicity given to potential relievers in the Mets' farm system.
General manager Sandy Alderson has had a difficult time putting together a viable bullpen the past few seasons. Instead of taking chances on journeyman relievers with hopes but no guarantee that they’ll perform at an acceptable level, the Mets may be better off trying to use a homegrown crop of young and powerful arms to fill their bullpen.
Assuming he’s healthy, the Mets feel good about moving forward with Parnell as their closer with Vic Black being a possible replacement. The Mets may also be able to pencil in young guys like Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin and Carlos Torres to be contributors to their bullpen, but that also leaves plenty of open spots still available. Here is a list of Mets’ prospects that have never pitched in the big leagues but could contribute in the bullpen in 2014.
12. Jacob deGrom
The Mets will give deGrom a chance in spring training to compete for a spot in the starting rotation, although he’ll likely begin the season as rotation depth in triple-A. However, there’s a chance that deGrom could end up in the Mets’ bullpen later in the season. If his secondary stuff doesn’t develop to the extent that he can be a major league starter, he could end up being a reliever long term as he’s a hard thrower with a heavy fastball that could be useful in getting guys out in that role.
11. Hansel Robles
The Mets are quite high on Robles. While they hold out hope that he can remain a starter, his lack of ideal size means that he could ultimately end up in the bullpen. The Mets also think he’s someone that could move quickly through the system, so even though he’s never pitched in double-A, there’s a chance he could end up in the big leagues by the end of 2014.
10. John Church
Church hasn’t really been on the Mets’ radar, but he’s always been a solid reliever in the minors and ended the season in triple-A where he had an ERA of 3.21 in a hitter-friendly environment. Depending on how things shake out in the Mets' bullpen for 2014, he could be one of the first guys considered for a call up early in the season if the bullpen needs an extra arm.
9. Darin Gorski
Gorski has been up and down during his minor league career, but he’s not too far away from being a guy the Mets give a chance to in the big leagues. He’s been mostly a starter, but the Mets have tossed around the idea of putting him the bullpen where he would be a lefty that can face batters from both sides of the plate.
8. Hamilton Bennett
Bennett is a lefty specialist that had a great season in 2013, putting up an ERA below two and a low WHIP between high-A and double-A. He likely moved up the LOOGY depth chart a few spaces with his performance over the course of the season, and he could be ready for major league duty in the latter half of 2014 if things continue to go well for him.
7. Adam Kolarek
Kolarek is a guy the Mets could look to if they need an extra lefty in 2014. He profiles as a lefty specialist, but he was actually more effective against right-handed batters last year in double-A. He’ll likely have to prove himself in triple-A before getting a chance in the big leagues, but he’s high on the depth chart of lefties the Mets could plug into their bullpen at some point in 2014.
6. Logan Verrett
Verrett was brilliant to start the 2013 season, but after his first handful of starts he was rather ordinary in double-A. Although he’s been a starter during his time in the minors after the Mets drafted him in the third round in 2011, he isn’t likely to be anything better than a replacement level starter in the big leagues, meaning his future could be in the bullpen. He has one of the best sliders in the Mets’ farm system as well as a low 90s fastball which could make him a rather useful fastball-slider reliever for the Mets as soon as 2014.
5. Chasen Bradford
Bradford wasn’t much of a prospect before 2013, but he had an exceptional stint at double-A. He ended up with a 0.71 ERA in 20 appearances, and he held his own in the Arizona Fall League. The fact that the Mets sent him to the AFL means they’re intrigued by what he has to offer, and the fact that he pitched well in the AFL means he's definitely on their radar heading into 2014.
4. Erik Goeddel
Goeddel was added to the 40-man roster so obviously the Mets have a plan for him in the near future. He has been a starter his entire career and is coming off a solid -- albeit up and down -- season at double-A in 2013. He’s not going to be high on the list of possible starters if the Mets need one, but the Mets may be able to use him as a reliever this season. Goeddel has two pitches that are above average, if not better, and that should be enough to survive as a major league reliever if he shows consistency in shorter outings.
3. Jack Leathersich
Some thought Leathersich would make his MLB debut at some point in 2013 after blowing away double-A hitters, striking out 55 in less than 30 innings. However, things went south after he got promoted to triple-A. He still struck out a lot of batters, but he walked 29 and gave up 32 hits in 29 innings with an ERA over seven. If the Mets need another lefty out of the bullpen at any point, Leathersich is going to be a distinct possibility, but only if he can show better control and be more effective in triple-A.
2. Jeff Walters
Walters had an incredible 2013 season, saving a franchise record 38 games for double-A Binghamton. His ERA was just about two and his WHIP was barely above one. He struck out more than a batter per inning and allowed just two home runs all season. Walters doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors, and all signs point to him competing for a bullpen spot on the Mets’ opening day roster next spring. Even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, it’s likely that he’ll be in the big leagues at some point in 2014.
1. Cory Mazzoni
If not for injuries, Mazzoni could have made his MLB debut at some point in 2013. Although he’s been a starter throughout his time in the minors, Mazzoni will likely find his eventual home in the bullpen where he’ll be able to throw with more velocity and succeed in shorter outings. As a former second round draft pick, the Mets have high hopes for him, and if called upon he may be able to help out the Mets early in the 2014 season by possibly winning a spot on the opening day roster.