One area where the New York Mets could certainly use some help in the near future is their bullpen. Injuries have really wreaked havoc on the unit, sidelining key arms like Robert Gsellman and Drew Smith, while short stints from the starters have really taxed the bullpen’s key relievers. There are some interesting candidates emerging in the minor leagues though, including righty Eric Orze, who is the focus of this week’s edition of Minor League Mondays.
The Mets’ fifth-round pick in 2020 out of the University of New Orleans, Orze has an inspiring story as a two-time cancer survivor. Orze pitched just 12.2 collegiate innings in 2020 due to the pandemic so the Mets assigned him to High-A Brooklyn this season to begin his professional career. A solid start for the Cyclones convinced the Mets to bump Orze up to AA Binghamton, where he absolutely dominated the competition by going 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA with a hold and four saves in 11 appearances. Opponents hit just .190 against Orze, who compiled an outstanding 25:1 strikeout to walk ratio in 17.1 innings pitched.
That command helped earn Orze yet another promotion to AAA Syracuse, where he racked up four strikeouts in two innings during his first appearance. Orze already has a strong fastball, which can touch 96 miles per hour, along with a nasty splitter that can be a strikeout pitch at the big league level. There is also a slider in Orze’s repertoire from his days starting in college but it isn’t nearly as advanced as his other two offerings.
The Mets will undoubtedly be watching Orze’s next few outings for Syracuse with great interest as they see whether he can help them out in the big league bullpen as soon as September. Orze is not currently on the 40-man roster, which works against his chances, but there are easily removable pieces on it that could clear a spot for him. Even if the Mets opt not to bring Orze up before the end of the season his strong performance in the minors will give him an excellent chance to earn a spot in the bullpen during spring training in 2022.