Prospect Pulse: Power Arms For The Mets Pen

There is no doubt that one of the weakest aspects of the 2012 Mets so far has been the bullpen. The Mets bullpen ERA is second to last in the National League at 5.04. Their bullpen’s WHIP is at 1.51, good for 14th place in the league. The Met bullpen this year is also fourth in the National League in giving up hits, and also fourth in giving up HR’s.

So rather than scratch our heads and except this mediocrity, lets get proactive and see who might be toiling away down on the farm, guys that might actually be able to come up and give the Met bullpen a boost.

Here are some guys that could be called up at any time, and could I believe, help out in the bullpen. Unfortunately none of them are on the 40-man roster so someone else would have to be waived, but here’s the list just the same, and what each player has done so far this year.

There are two relievers on the 40-man roster who are players the Mets could promote without subjecting anyone to waivers if need be. Of course both have been up before: RHP D.J. Carrasco (presently on minor league rehab), and LHP Rob Carson. But if the team were to go in another direction, who would be the candidates to come in and contribute for the big club?

Fernando Cabrera (RHP) The power-armed closer for the Bisons is a veteran of parts of seven seasons in the major leagues. As a member of the Red Sox, Indians, and Orioles, Cabrera amassed a lifetime major league record of 8-7 with an ERA of 5.24 over 175 innings.

This year as the Herd’s closer he has been virtually untouchable in 9 games. Over 10.1 IP, he is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.87, four saves, and the league is hitting .171 against him. At 30-years-old, 6’4″ and 225 lbs., Cabrera has the experience and the tools to help out in the Mets bullpen when needed.

Jack Egbert (RHP) According to his manager Wally Backman, Egbert has his velocity back to where it was when he was pitching in the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 2009. Backman also likes Egbert’s sinker/slider combo, and thinks he’ll be back in the big leagues soon.

Egbert, who will turn 29 in May, stands 6’3″ and 220 lbs., and has been very good this year for the Bisons. In 14.1 innings spread out over nine games, he has only surrendered three ER’s. His overall record is 1-2 with a 1.88 ERA, ten hits, four walks, and ten K’s. The league is hitting .200 against him, but right-handed hitters are hitting just .167.

Josh Edgin (LHP) Had arguably the best spring training of any pitcher in big league camp. If not for the fact that he had never pitched above single-A before this year, he might have made the big league ball club. Instead he went to AA Bingo for seasoning, and after dominating there for the first two weeks of the season was quickly moved up to AAA Buffalo to be tutored by baseball guru, Wally Backman.

Overall this season Edgin is 1-0 and two saves, with a 1.74 ERA over nine games, 10.1 IP’s. He has surrendered two ER’s, on eight hits, and four walks while striking out ten. Opposing hitters are hitting just .205 off the 6’1″ 225 lb., 25-year-old south-paw. Perhaps just a little refinement of his off-speed pitches and Edgin should hit the big league scene to stay sometime later this season.

Brad Holt (RHP) With new improved mechanics, a faster delivery and a dominant curveball, Holt, now 25-years-old and 6’4″ 194 lbs., seems poised to take that next big step in his development. It’s doubtful he would get a call-up before the first three pitchers on this list, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Holt make his debut sometime late this summer. This seems to be the year Holt is finally putting it all together.

So far between AA Bingo and AAA Buffalo this year,  Holt has pitched rather unevenly, at times getting pushed around, but for the most part he has been able to show flashes of brilliance on the mound in tough situations. Holt is just turning the corner and it’s too early to see the improvement reflected in his stats which are a combined 0-0, one save, and an ERA of 7.04, five walks and eight strikeouts over 7.2 IP’s. By mid-season I expect Holt to have built his confidence, and to be ready for his next big challenge.

Elvin Ramirez (RHP) Ramirez has been simply lights out so far in the AA Eastern League. The challenge of AAA looms straight ahead for the 6’3″ 210 lb., 24-year-old power pitcher. After that, quick success at Buffalo could continue to accelerate Ramirez towards his own debut with the big boys later this year.

I’m sure the opposition in the Eastern League will not be sorry when Ramirez gets called up to AAA. This season for Bingo he is 0-0 with a save, and a 0.00 ERA in 11.1 IP’s over seven games. He has surrendered only three hits and five walks all year, to go with 16 strikeouts. His WHIP stands at 0.71, and opponents are batting 0.79 against him. I’m sure glad the Nationals were forced to return him to the Mets in the Rule V Draft last year.

Armando Rodriguez (RHP) A developing set of off-speed pitches have enabled Rodriguez to show a new level of consistency this year. Despite being removed recently from the 40-man major league roster, Rodriguez continues to shine in the Eastern League in 2012. At 6’3″ and 250 lbs., the knock on the 24-year-old Rodriguez used to be his lack of secondary offerings but this season he is showing confidence in his two change-ups, and it seems to be paying dividends for him.

I spoke to Armando in Binghamton the first week of the season and he explained to me that he was working very hard to master his change-ups, of which he throws two, one to lefties and another to righties. He showed me his grip on the change he throws to right-handed hitters, which looked to me like a circle change grip, held with the seams. Then he spun the ball so that he was holding the change across the seams and said it was one he learned from Johan in ST, and he was using it against lefty hitters. Whatever he’s doing it must be working. In eight games and 14 IP’s, Rodriguez is 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA, two ER’s, seven hits, three walks, 12 strikeouts, a WHIP of 0.71, and an opponents batting average of .149. At this rate, he could move very quickly, like some of the other players on this list.

RHP’s Jeremy Hefner and Jeurys Familia are already on the 40-man, but they have been starters this season, and Familia should be left that way. How do you feel about these Mets bullpen options for 2012? Are there players on this list you would have confidence in in tight situations? Or would you rather wait to see if the current Mets bullpen gets itself straightened out? Whatever your point-of-view, always remember: