The New York Mets’ farm system got some much needed reinforcements this week when the four prospects the team got in trades for Lucas Duda and Addison Reed joined the organization. All four players are right handed relief pitchers who throw hard, power arms that add some depth to the organization to replace players who had been traded over the past few years. Each young hurler has the potential to be a bullpen contributor for the Mets, making them the focus of this week’s edition of Minor League Mondays.
The pitcher closest to the major leagues is righty Jamie Callahan, one of three prospects the Mets got for Reed from the Boston Red Sox. Callahan, the Red Sox’ second round pick in 2012, is now ranked as the 29th best prospect in the Mets’ farm system according to MLB.com. After struggling as a starter, Boston shifted Callahan to the bullpen where he has thrived. Callahan’s fastball now sits between 94-96 miles per hour, a significant uptick over the low 90’s fastball he used to showcase as a starter. The other main pitch in Callahan’s repertoire is a cutter which serves as an effective secondary pitch. Callahan has pitched well this season, going 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA across two levels, but the main issue that will need to be addressed is his control. Walks have been an issue for him in the past, as Callahan walked 71 batters in 155 innings over the previous two years, but he appears to have turned a corner this season, lowering his walk total to 13 in 43 innings pitched. If all goes well, Callahan could make his big league debut this September when rosters expand.
Another prospect who could be a factor for the Mets next season is righty Drew Smith, the lone prospect the team got back from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda. Smith is rated as the Mets’ 30th best prospect, and he thrives on a high octane fastball and a potentially above average curveball. The ceiling is high for Smith, who could become a set up man in the future, but for now the Mets have assigned him to AA Binghamton. Smith will likely be in the mix to compete for a bullpen job in spring training next season.
The other two relievers the Mets got from the Red Sox are further away from the majors. Both Stephen Nogosek and Gerson Bautista have been assigned to High-A Port St. Lucie, meaning both are at least two years away from the majors. Of the two, Nogosek has the higher ceiling, ranking 23rd on the Mets’ prospect list. Nogosek features four pitches in his arsenal, a rarity for a reliever, and he has shown the ability to miss bats. The Red Sox quickly escalated their sixth round pick from a year ago through the system, and he could do the same for the Mets. Bautista is another hard thrower, but he appears to be more of a project, not even rating among the Mets’ top 30 prospects. Like the other pitchers the Mets acquired, Bautista throws hard but has severe control issues. Bautista has walked 28 batters in 47.1 innings pitched, an unacceptable rate, that the Mets will have to hope corrects itself if he can develop control.
The one thing that is clear is that the Mets are looking to invest in young power arms as a cheap way to develop bullpen pieces. The bullpen has been a big issue for the Mets this year, and General Manager Sandy Alderson hates throwing a ton of money at relievers since they are more volatile than other players. Developing young flamethrowers out of the pen is a strategy that has paid dividends for multiple contenders, including the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles. If one or two of these arms develop into capable bullpen pieces for the Mets, Alderson will have scored a big win in this sell off.