It is little secret that the current Mets braintrust loves their lefty relievers. However, there’s not much in the organization in terms of lefty starters. A quick scan of the system’s four full-season leagues shows 15 lefty relievers and only four starters. It’s not much better in the short-season leagues, with only two lefty starters and one is already 24, so he’s unlikely to have any future with the Mets.
Here are the lefty starters in the organization
Dario Alvarez – Spent three years in the DSL with the Phillies organization and then resurfaced last year with the Mets in Brooklyn after a three-year layoff. He fanned 57 batters in 58 IP as a 24 year old for the Cyclones.
Mark Cohoon – Started in 21 of 25 games at Double-A last year and posted a 3.99 ERA in his fourth season in Binghamton. Got knocked around in his four relief appearances
Darin Gorski – Had a fantastic season in Double-A but needs to be added to the 40-man or risk being lost in the Rule 5 Draft. The organization does not seem to think much of him.
Steven Matz – Injuries have sidetracked the 2009 second-round pick, who made his full-season debut last year. Pitched well but needs to make up for lost time. Matz also needs to be added to the 40-man this offseason.
Alex Panteliodis – A ninth-round pick in 2011, Panteliodis had a 4.75 ERA and a 4.9 K/9 mark in the Hi-A Florida State League this past year.
Carlos Valdez – Originally signed by the Angels in 2008, Valdez joined the Mets in 2011. He’s advanced from the DSL to Kingsport to Brooklyn. Last year with the Cyclones he had a 2.58 ERA in 45.1 IP.
Actually, there’s one more lefty starter in the organization but you have to go down to the DSL to find him. Given Matz’ health issues, it’s entirely possible that 17-year-old Jose Medina is the best lefty starter in the system.
While he pitched this year in the Dominican, Medina is from Mexico, where he was signed by scout Gabriel Low. This year in the DSL, he appeared in 12 games, all starts, and posted a 0.35 ERA with a 6.8 K/BB ratio.
That performance led him to be the starting pitcher in the DSL All-Star game and also his selection as a Sterling Award winner. On the press release announcing the Sterling Awards, it said that his 0.35 ERA was the lowest in minor league baseball among pitchers with at least 50 IP.
The further away from the majors a player is, the more important scouting reports are in determining a player’s chances at ever making the majors. So, take a second to jump over to your favorite places to get a scouting report on Medina.
None of the big boys that I checked had one.
But a little digging was able to come up with some information. In a report by losreyesdelbeisbol.com Medina gave the following quote:
“Fue mi estatura de 1.90 mts lo que más les llamó la atención a los Mets. Además les gustaron mis picheos rompientes tanto el cambio como la curva”
Basically, they liked his height (6’2) along with his change and curve.
Isn’t that always the case – you want to know about the fastball and they like the offspeed stuff. So, is he just a soft-tossing lefty with advanced breaking stuff that is playing with inexperienced hitters? Fortunately, beisbolsinaloa.com had some info on his heater:
“Su recta alcanza las 86 millas por hora pero su fuerte está en los pitcheos rompientes y presencia en la loma.”
Since you studied abroad in Spain, you were probably able to determine that his fastball was at 86 mph. What may have skipped by you is the mention of his breaking balls and mound presence.
So, he’s not blowing balls by hitters. But if at age 16 he’s already 6’2 and throwing 86 mph, scouts would likely project him to add some velocity in the future.
It’s too bad he doesn’t throw 95 but it’s still comforting to know that the Mets have at least one lefty starting prospect in the pipeline who’s had some success and is not at an advanced age for his league. The Mets were impressed enough that they invited Medina to come to the Florida Instructional League, where he’s playing with the organization’s top younger prospects, like Dominic Smith, Dilson Herrera and Robert Whalen.
It will be interesting to see where Medina pitches in 2014. There’s absolutely no reason for him to return to the DSL, so he should be in one of the club’s three short-season leagues. The most-likely destination is the Gulf Coast League. However, if he shows up in the Appalachian League, like Amed Rosario did in 2013, then we’ll know the Mets think they have something special.