Mets prospect Gerson Bautista may have never thrown a pitch above Single-A, but that won’t stop him from trying to play in Queens this year.
The right-hander is one of the youngest players at camp, but also has one of the most potent fastballs in the system, which he believes will punch his ticket to the majors in 2018, according to Tim Healey of Newsday.
“This is the year I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Bautista said through a translator. “My goal is to stay in Double-A for a month or maybe two. I want it to happen very fast.”
Like many young flamethrowers, one flaw to Bautista’s came is his tendency to be erratic. His ceiling is undeniable, but in order to make the majors, he will have to work on mastering his accuracy.
The Mets acquired Bautista along with Jamie Callahan and Stephen Nogosek at last season’s trade deadline from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Addison Reed. While he was the unproven, wild card of the deal due to his raw skillset, New York felt it was worth the gamble.
“Because you have the velocity, it’s something to work with,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “That was our attitude.”
In 14.1 innings with Single-A St. Lucie last year, his troubles with Boston seemingly disappeared. He registered a 1.26 ERA and an 0.907 WHIP with a 12.6 K/9 in 10 appearances. Most importantly, he limited his walks, as his BB/9 went from 5.6 to 1.9.
“When he came in that trade, the scouting report was wild, trouble throwing strikes,” said Single-A St. Lucie manager Chad Kreuter. “We saw none of that.
“We saw the numbers. We saw OK, yeah, this is going to be a little bit of a project. Kid came in and it was like, OK, that was pretty good. Then you throw him back out there a couple of nights later and it was like, oh, that’s really good.”
Bautista said he didn’t make any changes that led to his success, but just continued doing what he had been all along.
“There was no change I made,” Bautista said. “I tried to keep going with my routine and keep doing my job like I’ve done it before.”
Kreuter, however, believes perhaps Bautista benefited from a change in scenery.
“For some reason, they may be in a rut, the living situation isn’t good, whatever it may be,” Kreuter said. “They’re banging their head against the wall and they can’t get out of that rut they’re in. And so for him, it was coming here, breath of fresh air, clean slate, a new staff. Everything. He gets to start new.
“If he was deemed a good guy, bad guy; indifferent. We judged him on the time he walked in the clubhouse.”
For Bautista, his Spring so far in Major League camp has shown flashes of his potential. He has his goals set on Binghamton to begin the season and then Queens not long after that.
“He’s commanded the strike zone a lot better than we thought he would,’’ pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “So it’s been, I don’t want to say surprise, but it’s been really good to see.
“He’s a guy that could potentially come up quick. But let’s not overevaluate in spring training.”