While there is a lot of talent in the lower levels of the New York Mets’ farm system, the upper levels may be of more interest to the current front office. The Mets have designs on winning this season, so they will be hopeful for some reinforcements from the farm to help down the stretch. There isn’t a ton of top shelf pitching after Justin Dunn was shipped to Seattle in the Robinson Cano trade, but the guy to watch here could be lefty Anthony Kay. Kay, the Mets’ other first round pick in the 2016 draft besides Dunn, is the focus of the first edition of Minor League Mondays for the 2019 season.
The Mets decided to be aggressive with Kay in 2019, assigning him to AA Binghamton to start the season. Kay split time between Low-A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie a year ago, going 7-11 with a 4.26 ERA in 23 starts, but he is 24 years old and should get pushed. The early returns have been positive for Kay, who has tossed 8.1 shutout innings for the Rumble Ponies, racking up eight strikeouts in the process. Kay’s big concern is his command, as he has also walked five batters in that span, a higher rate than he had in A ball (49 free passes in 122.1 innings pitched).
Assuming he can get the walks under control, Kay has the stuff to make a quick move through the Mets farm system. The Mets tend to promote their prospects who are successful at midseason, so if Kay is able to handle the Eastern League he would be at AAA Syracuse by late June. This would put him just a step away from the majors, potentially leaving Kay in line for a September call up to the big club.
The Mets will certainly be keeping their eye on Kay given the lack of upper level pitching depth in the organization. Jason Vargas’ struggles have led Mets’ fans to scream for Dallas Keuchel, but the team is committed to Vargas for now. That could change if Vargas continues to have short outings that deplete the bullpen, and Kay could be a part of a potential long term solution. Both Vargas and Zack Wheeler are slated to be free agents after this season, and the odds the Mets retain both or have two veterans signed to replace them, so Kay could be in the mix for a job as soon as next spring. An excellent minor league campaign could accelerate that process, so Kay may be the most important prospect to track as the season advances for the Mets.