Mets Need More Left-Handed Pitching In The Pipeline

An article by posted on May 30, 2014

USATSI  jon niese

The Mets farm system is looking a little better these days. Where as a few years ago there were hardly any, the system now boasts a number of real prospects. Although he continues to come under intense fire for the present state of the major league roster, GM Sandy Alderson has managed to improve the quality and depth of the Mets minor-league system. He has added legitimate position-player prospects at catcher, first-base, middle infield, outfield, and even increased the organizational depth in right-handed power arms.

With the recent promotion of Josh Edgin to the Mets, where he now joins Jon Niese and Scott Rice as the only left-handers on the team, it suddenly occurred to me that our organizational depth at left-handed pitching (or lack thereof) will soon be affecting things on the big league club. With only one lefty starter and two in the bullpen, what would happen I wonder if a sudden need for another lefty were to suddenly emerge? Is there a southpaw down on the farm that could come up to pitch at Citi? And be effective? Let’s see.

At AAA Las Vegas right now the only left-hander on the roster after the Edgin promotion was 30-year-old minor league journeyman Dana Eveland. He has made seven starts for Wally in the dessert and in 41 innings this year, is 3-1 with a 3.95 ERA. That necessitated a call-up of Darin Gorski to AAA Las Vegas on Wednesday. There are also two relievers at AA Binghamton who could help the Mets as soon as this season. Although it would be a longshot for any of them as they are not quite ready yet, lets look at all three to see how far away they might actually be, and who would be ready first.

Adam Kolarek

Arguably the closest one of these players to getting a call-up. He may not be the hardest thrower here but has exhibited all the tools of a competent reliever at each step of his minor league career. Now 25 and having spent his last two plus seasons at Binghamton, Kolarek might be called up to Vegas at any time.

If a reliever is needed and he continues to pitch the way he always has and has success for Wally’s team, he could be brought to Flushing. In five seasons as a Met he has logged 250 innings all in relief. He has a lifetime ERA of 2.60 with 27 saves, a 7.3 H/9 and a 258/97 K/BB ratio. This year in 20 innings at Bingo, Adam is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA, one save, and a 12/6 K/BB, while the Eastern league has hit him at a .241 clip.

Darin Gorski

The oldest one of these players Gorski was in his third season at Binghamton as a 26-year-old this year, before heading to Vegas yesterday. But for a left-hander to start to really put things together at that age is not that unusual, and no one should give up on a south-paw that soon. It seems as if the patience the Mets have shown in bringing him along slowly is beginning to reward the franchise.

Gorski is the softest tosser of this group, barely touching 90 with his best fastball, but his devastating change-up, and smarts in the way he uses his array of off-speed pitches make him the ideal candidate for the call up to Vegas. He really had nothing left to prove at AA as was obvious after his last outing on Monday. Pitching at home before a holiday crowd, Gorski limited New Britain’s hitting attack to a measly two hits, no runs, one walk and six strikeouts, while spinning a nine-inning complete game victory.

In nine starts over 53 innings this year Darin has now gone 4-2 with a 2.22 ERA, he has given up just 41 hits with the league batting an anemic .212 against him and a 54/12 K/BB ratio. If Wally can help Gorski limit the long ball a little bit and keep him progressing, it would not be unheard of for him to be making his debut sometime later this summer.

Jack Leathersich

In three plus years as a Met, this hard-throwing lefty reliever has done one thing extremely well…he punches out opposing hitters. His strikeout rates are always very high, but his walks are too. For this 23-year-old, command is the main thing keeping him from the big leagues. But since lefty hurlers are usually late developers, “The Rocket” still shows a lot of upside. Whether he finds his groove at AA this year is up for conjecture, but if he does, he will come on very fast. In 20 innings he is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA, one save, and a remarkable strikeout rate with a K/BB of 37/12.

steven matz

Besides those three AA and AAA players, there is one other left-hander in the system that, in a perfect storm, could find himself pitching this year in front of his friends and family at Citi Field.

Steven Matz

The 6′ 2″ 200-pounder from Long Island is the only one here who is already on the Mets 40-man roster which makes the young fire-baller a legitimate dark horse candidate. Not only that, despite being the farthest away from the majors, as he is still in high-A ball at St. Lucie, he has the highest upside of the four, and has been supposedly “fast-tracked” by the organization after two seasons wasted by injury.

Matz who will turn 23 on Thursday is equally effective against righties and lefties. He throws hard and although he has been a starter so far in his career, he could prove dominant coming out of the pen. It would also be a good way to lessen his innings since he will not be asked to throw any more than 150 innings, which would be the maximum this season. In his 51 innings so far this year, over nine starts, Matz is 2-3 with a 1.95 ERA, and a 47/16 K/BB ratio. The Florida State League is managing a .253 batting average against him so far.

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Now these guys show significant promise, and I’m pleased with their respective rates of progress. But are they all locks to be successful in the big leagues? Of course not. With young pitchers, especially those quirky southpaws, you can never be 100 percent certain. That’s why when they first coined the phrase “There’s safety in numbers,” they were referring to minor league baseball prospects…you can never have enough and they are not all going to make it.

Leading up to the major league draft every June, my little heart starts to go pitter-patter as I gear up for the big day, which this year begins in a week, Thursday June 5th. I do my pre-draft ritual consisting of lot’s of research, lot’s of coffee, lot’s of donuts, compiling lot’s of categories, orders of priority for picks, players I like, players I don’t like, revised lists that keep getting shorter, more research, until I finally whittle it down to that one player, the perfect pick for the Mets.

Ask Petey 6

Your probably wondering if I’ve ever been correct. Your asking yourself “Hey Petey, did you ever guess right and pick the guy the Mets ended up drafting?” And I would say I’ve been right every single year, it’s the Mets who seem to always pick the wrong guy. I’m only half serious of course. Their picks lately have not been that bad, some are rather intriguing, and show real potential. But I know what this organization needs right now and that is an in-flux of left-handed pitching into their minor league system.

Well guess what? 2014 is considered one of the deepest draft pools ever for an MLB draft. And what’s more there are not one, not two, but four left-handed power arms available in the draft this year that are projected to go in the top 15 to 20 picks. Unfortunately two of the four are certain to be long gone by the time the Mets pick at number 10. That would be high-school arm Brady Aiken and college pitcher Carlos Rodon.

But there are two more, one is a college pitcher that may still be available when the Mets pick, in University of Hartford starter Sean Newcomb, who was just detailed in a piece by Joe D last week here on MMO.

sean newcomb hartford

Newcomb who stands 6’5″ and 240 lbs. may be the first pitcher to make the bigs out of this draft class, due to his maturity and level of development. He was tabbed by Keith Law as the Mets first-rounder in his most recent mock draft, and he’s the one I am crossing my fingers on. The one spot that worries me in regards to Newcomb is the Mariners at number six. If anyone is going to draft him before the Mets pick it would happen there.

If Newcomb is gone there is one more excellent lefty that the Mets could still grab at number ten. He is a college hurler from Evansville that stands 6’4″ 185 lbs. with three above average pitches by the name of Kyle Freeland. He is considered the “work-horse” type, with a deceptive delivery and gets tremendous movement on his fastball as a result of his three-quarters arm angle. I suppose if Newcomb is taken already, I’d be okay with Freeland, what do you think?

Regardless of who they take with their first pick on June 5th, the Mets have a glaring shortage of left-handed pitching and that needs to be addressed. Do you have a preference as to which player or position the Mets draft in the first round? If so use the comments section to let us know who or what you are thinking about.

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Before I go I wanted to mention that I’ll be hitting the road for MMO this weekend to cover the three-game B-Mets series against the Twin’s AA team in New Britain, CT. I am planning to get there early enough on Friday afternoon where I can look up some old friends.

There are the two AA lefties I featured in this piece, Leathersich and Kolarek, who I plan to touch base with. And I will be interviewing several top Mets prospects including catcher Kevin Plawecki who is raking in the Eastern League this month, and much much more!

I’ll also be tweeting from the press-box during the games starting at 6:30 pm on Friday evening. You can find me on Twitter at: @PeteyPete_MMO If you have any questions for Larry the score-board operator I’ll be sure to pass them along.

MMO

About the Author ()

A dedicated Mets fan since 1967, Petey is pained to see that the promise of a new millennium in Metdom has fizzled and sputtered the past 14 years. For the sake of the young fans who have been deprived of the magic that once made the Amazins a thing of legend, he hopes that will change soon. That somehow this franchise finds the leadership it so desperately needs to grow itself into a winner.

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