The curious case of Corey Oswalt

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?

6’5, 250
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.

14 comments for “The curious case of Corey Oswalt

  1. Name
    February 26, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    I think you were looking at last year’s list for MLB pipeline.

    They have him at 16th this year.

  2. February 26, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I will be very glad to put Las Vegas in the Mets’ rearview mirror after this year.

    • Mike Walczak
      February 26, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      I live in Raleigh Durham, so I am excited about the Mets moving AAA to Syracuse next year. So, I will be able to see them play the Durham Bulls. Hey Brian, maybe next year we could go catch a game.

  3. Eraff
    February 26, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    He’s 1.3 years below the average age for an Eastern Leaguer—let’s keep in mind that not everyone is a Wunderkind. …deGrom Debuted at 26.

    He’s a Big Kid who keeps taking the Ball and Getting better…he certainly has a shot.

    • Mike Walczak
      February 26, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      deGrom also had a couple of mediocre years before he debuted.

    • February 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      I don’t believe average age of the entire league is what you should look at. There are a bunch of guys in their mid to late 20s playing in the Eastern League who will never make the majors. I’m more interested in the average age of guys who make the majors.

      I’d like a guy to be 21-22 in Double-A if we’re talking about him as a top prospect.

      • Eraff
        February 27, 2018 at 6:47 am

        I’d like him to be 20-21…the point is that He’s not Old. He’s not a Wunderkind. I haven’t seen Oswalt Pitch. Guys like Flexen and Oswalt have a chance to pitch in the Majors…taking the ball and being productive is a repeatable talent that can’t be dismissed.

        • John
          March 2, 2018 at 11:43 am

          I saw Oswalt pitch last year. It was interesting in that he really didn’t impress me, until I realized it was the 7th inning and he had only given up one run and no one really hit the ball hard against him. He is a big kid and you were expecting a big fastball. But that wasn’t the case. Rather he kept hitters off balance, and dialed it up when he needed to.
          The next day after I had a chance to think about it, i realized he pitched pretty well.

          Who knows how he will do as he has to face more advanced hitters who are more disciplined and have better pitch recognition. But he does know how to pitch and had pretty good command the night I saw him. That means he has a shot at being a mid to back end of the rotation guy.

  4. Jeff oswalt
    February 26, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    You could be right or Corey might just be a very nice blue collar, innings eating Winner!

    No question the PCL is a tough task for any pitcher but if the 2016 Arizona fall league (desert) is any indication Corey will meet the challenge and do what he’s done before, Win games!

    • February 26, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Hey Jeff – thanks for reading and commenting!

      I’ve got to ask, is the last name just a coincidence or are you related to Corey?

      • Mike Walczak
        February 26, 2018 at 11:03 pm

        I hope he turns out to be a very good pitcher. I am going to try to draft him in my dynasty fantasy baseball league.

  5. TJ
    February 27, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    For what it is worth, and given that I have no skill in assessing baseball talent nor first hand knowledge of any of the prospects, I am not convinced that the Mets have a bottom third system. Guys like Oswalt, DeGrom, McHugh, Dan Murphy, Justin Turner are the reason why. Even deep into minor league careers it is tough to sort out the big league performers from the big league reserves from the AAAA players. I will remain optimistic that guys like Corey, along with some of the other higher picks that under-performed last year, take a solid step forward.

    • February 27, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      Farm system rankings are just a snapshot in time while careers are constantly in motion. I’m comfortable with Keith Law’s ranking of the system at #21. But I could easily see it rebounding to top 10 this time next year.

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