The Mets’ system doesn’t have any elite, can’t-miss guys. They have a bunch of talented young guys in the lower levels who might develop that way. They’ve got guys with elite skills who haven’t been able to stay healthy. And they’ve got Corey Oswalt.
My top 50 list had Oswalt third overall but that was higher than he ranked just about anywhere else. Here’s where some of the big boys had him in their lists:
Amazin’ Avenue – 13
Baseball America – Not in top 10
Baseball Prospectus – 5
John Sickels – 11
Keith Law – Not in top 10
MLB Pipeline – 27
Prospects 1500 – 17
Prospect361 – Not in top 10
So, why the higher grade from me?
Hits 95 and also throws a curve, slider and change
Had 2.98 K/BB ratio in Double-A, along with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.176 WHIP
It seems odd to me that a guy could claim the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Award and be ranked as low as 27 (!!) by a reputable source. And that low in a system that most everyone agrees is in the bottom third among MLB orgs. You don’t think he’s anything more than a fringe major leaguer, that’s fine. But 27th seems outrageous.
So, what are the cons?
For a big guy, he doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate. Last year’s 8.0 K/9 is the second-best mark of his career. And while he throws other pitches for strikes, they’re not considered plus pitches. And he’s a tad older than you’d like, performing last year at age 23 in the Eastern League.
Oswalt pitched in the very first Spring Training game this year and hurled two scoreless innings, with four strikeouts. While he has no chance to make the club out of Spring Training this year, Oswalt does have the opportunity to impress Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland and position himself to be a depth starter somewhere down the line in 2018.
In 2017, Oswalt pitched well both home and away and against both righty and lefty batters. After scuffling some in his first two starts, Oswalt had a 1.95 ERA in his final 124.1 innings. He goes to Las Vegas this year, which presents a challenge for all pitchers. Throughout his career, Oswalt has done a good job of keeping the ball in the park but he’s never pitched in an environment like the PCL
We’ve seen Las Vegas overwhelm some pitchers. Even Noah Syndergaard struggled some in his first exposure there, as he put up a 4.60 ERA in 133 IP back in 2014. But if you can survive those conditions, you’re well positioned to make a successful leap to the majors. It will be interesting to see how Oswalt and the other guys who did so well in Binghamton last year fare in the desert.
And while Sickels wasn’t necessarily fired up about Oswalt, he did have this report which might offer some hope:
fastball is now in the “good enough” range at 90-95, which works due to his ability to locate; has a complete arsenal of secondaries with curve, slider, change; all pitches generally considered average, nothing terrific but he knows how to use them; likely a fourth starter but could max out along Collin McHugh lines.