Minor League Mondays: Bryce Montes de Oca could be a future bullpen option

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One of the few questionable areas for the New York Mets as they hit the stretch run is their bullpen. General Manager Billy Eppler only added one reliever at the trade deadline, Mychal Givens, while shipping out Colin Holderman to acquire Daniel Vogelbach. Having Edwin Diaz at the back end of the bullpen certainly helps but the Mets do need to work on improving their bridge to him from the starting pitchers. There are a few intriguing relievers in the Mets’ farm system, including Bryce Montes de Oca, who is the focus of this week’s edition of Minor League Mondays.

Montes de Oca, the Mets’ ninth round pick in 2018 out of Missouri, came into the farm system as an intriguing relief pitching prospect thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame and ability to throw hard. The Mets had to wait until last season to see Montes de Oca in action after a litany of injuries and the pandemic forced him to miss two years of action. Now healthy, Montes de Oca has become a fascinating prospect thanks to his incredibly easy ability to throw hard.

Montes de Oca routinely touches 100 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball, a pitch that sits in the upper 90s and has gotten as high as 102 miles per hour. Combining that pitch with a wipeout slider has helped Montes de Oca pitch to a 3.32 ERA between AA Binghamton and AAA Syracuse this season while racking up an absurd 64 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched. Opponents have hit just .188 against Montes de Oca, who has racked up seven saves since moving to Syracuse this summer.

The reason that Montes de Oca isn’t quite ready for the majors yet is that his command still needs work. Montes de Oca has walked 30 batters in 43.1 innings pitched this season, which is problematic for a potential high-leverage reliever. The walk totals have improved slightly since Montes de Oca was promoted to Syracuse but he likely needs to demonstrate further improvements to be a consideration for the Mets in the near future.

Montes de Oca is a name to keep in mind over the winter since he is eligible for the Rule V Draft, which will return after being scuttled for this season due to the lockout. The Mets didn’t protect him at this point last season but Montes de Oca’s proximity to the major leagues, along with the fact that pretty much the entire Mets’ bullpen is set to hit free agency this winter, could warrant him being added to the 40-man roster prior to the Rule V Draft deadline. Montes de Oca’s combination of stuff and his massive frame make him an intriguing project for the Mets but time will tell if he is a priority for them going forward.

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