Mets Minors: Could Logan Verrett Profile as a Reliever in the Majors?
He’s a baseball alchemist with a potent mix of pitches proven to flummox even the most accomplished batters in Double-A’s Eastern League. With 12 wins, Binghamton starting pitcher Logan Verrett shares the top of the league in this category with two other pitchers. Yet, watching Verrett capably mix four different pitchers over five innings of work on Sunday, I couldn’t help but wonder if Verrett profile as a future relief pitcher for the Mets given the depth of young arms in the minor league system.
Verrett throws a fastball, slider, curve ball and change. The 23-year old right-hander flashes pinpoint command of his fastball. Sunday Verrett used 36 fastballs, throwing 14 of 15 during his first three innings in the strike zone and finishing at 27 of 36. Impressive. Take a look at Verrett’s fastball speeds in the five inning outing.
Of Verrett’s 15 fastballs over his first three innings, all but one reached 90 miles per hour or higher. All six of his fastballs reaching 92 mph or higher were thrown during these innings. Clearly, a majority of Verrett’s fastballs over five innings came in at between 89 through 91 miles per hour. Could those fastball speeds trend upward averaging perhaps in the 91 through 94 mph range if Verrett was used for one or two innings at a time working out of the bullpen? Would an increase in speed really matter?
Adding to the potential of ramping up the fastball velocity is the fact Verrett is only 23- years old. Although he stands 6’2, he weights just 180 pounds. As he continues to mature and gets stronger, it’s reasonable to predict the Met prospect could find a natural uptick in his pitching speed.
The speed of pitches is important, but, so too, is a pitchers mix and their confidence in throwing a variety of pitchers. Verrett’s has a four pitch mix with growing assuredness using his off-speed stuff. Sunday he threw 36 fastballs and 31 off-speed pitches.
Here’s a summary of Verrett’s off-speed selections on Sunday.
The B-Met ace faced 18 batters, throwing first pitch fastballs to 11 and an off-speed selection to seven (1 slider, 3 curves, 3 changes). Four times, Verrett went to three-ball counts, throwing a 3-2 slider and choosing his fastball on three, 3-1 counts. Verrett’s slider is a go-to pitch, but it’s the righthander’s change-up that fascinates me.
Try as I might, I can never pick-up the change. There is simply no difference in the pitching motion Verrett uses throwing his fastball and his change. As he has each time I’ve seen him pitch, Verrett selects more and more change-ups the deeper he pitches in a contest. Would a four pitch menu with Verrett having good command of every pitch choice be an asset coming out of the pen?
The final asset is Verrett’s command. Navigating sticky situations is the life line of an effective relief specialist. That chore is difficult at best and near impossible when pitchers add to the challenge by surrendering base-on-balls. That has not been a part of the B-Met mid-season Eastern League all-star’s pitching profile as a starter this year.
Over 146 innings, Verrett has struck out 132 batters and only walked 31. Sunday Verrett threw 14 of 18 first pitch strikes. The B-Met ace was ahead after the first 3 pitches of the count 11 of 14 times. That kind of command, the ability to get ahead of batters in the count, makes Verrett’s use of multiple pitches more effective. Ahead in the count he can change speeds and locations and use his pitching intelligence to out with opposing batters. Would this factor in even more during
pressure situations with a game on the line in the final innings?
One issue Verrett has faced this year in the home run ball. Verrett surrendered a two-run blast on Sunday his 21st gopher ball of the season. That averages about one home run every seven innings. Start or relieve, that’s one part of the game I’m certain the young B-Met pitcher intends to improve.
With all their young pitching guns looking forward, the Mets have many tough decisions to make. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Noah Snydergaard, and Rafael Montero might mean guys like Logan Verrett are expendable. Not so fast. Before any move is made, the assets Verrett brings to the mound should be weighed carefully as a potential part of the Met starting rotation and as a relief pitcher coming out of the New York bullpen.
(photo credit: Gordon Donovan)
About the Author: John Bernhardt
John Bernhardt is a retired public school teacher and administrator, who still coaches high school baseball. Growing up in a Yankees household, Bernhardt was an ardent Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra fan. When the Yankees fired Yogi in his first season as the Bomber manager, curiosity turned to passion when the Mets signed Berra as a player/coach and he has pulled for the Mets ever since. In retirement, John writes the sports for a local weekly, The Catskill Mountain News and hosts Tip-Off, a Friday morning sports hour, from 8:00-9:00 on WIOX, 91.3 F.M.
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