So much injury in one group of players, it’s enough to make you cry. Anthony Kay was finally healthy in 2018 and turned in a mixed performance between his two levels of play, Franklyn Kilome was a nice acquisition from the Phillies but he’s since had Tommy John surgery that will shelve him for all of 2019 and Thomas Szapucki hasn’t been healthy in a long long time.
Besides the injuries, these three pitchers have another important thing in common. That is front of the order potential. If even one of these three pitchers lives up to that potential it will make the Mets front office seem a whole lot wiser than many think they are.
Port St. Lucie could have a very interesting (very lefty) rotation in 2019 with Szapucki, Kay and David Peterson all possibly in the fold. I don’t recall a grouping of three similarly talented lefties in all my time covering the Mets and I may not see it again.
8. Franklyn Kilome, RHP (EAS) – The Mets acquired Kilome in 2018 for Asdrubal Cabrera. Even if Kilome’s potential as a starter flames out, the Mets look to be the savvy team in this deal as they traded an aging veteran they did not need for, for a fireballing prospect who should have a future as a reliever, if not a starter, in the majors.
Kilome, rightfully, draws lots of comparisons to Justin Dunn. Both are right-handed pitching prospects with a lot of power and some control problems. Dunn grades out better at present but a lot could change in a short amount of time. My prediction is that Kilome makes the transition into relief and becomes a setup/closer candidate but I don’t claim to have a crystal ball on the matter.
Gus: Just a tick below Dunn in velocity, he also has plus movement that hasn’t been harnessed yet. Kilome is a two pitch pitcher and that will give him problems going through a lineup multiple times, but he may be able to add a splitter to act as his off-speed pitch when he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Chris: The imposing righty came to the Mets in the Cabrera trade. If he can get some control, the velocity he already offers is great. Like David says, he is probably destined for the pen, but that would be fine as the bullpen becomes more and more vital to a team’s success.
9. Thomas Szapucki, LHP (SAL) – I have written about Thomas Szapucki a few times at this point. I introduced him to Met fans in 2016 after he dazzled in a debut for Brooklyn. I talked about seeing him live and I bemoaned his 2017 season which began and ended with injury. Had he accepted the surgery at the start of 2017 he might well have earned his ticket to Binghamton but that didn’t happen and the promising Met prospect spent an entire year recovering.
We have no way of really knowing what we will get from a pitcher who hasn’t ever pitched a full season of minor league baseball. I, and many other people, are still fond of him as a prospect and have faith in the lefty whose breaking pitches and control are both top notch. Hopefully he makes up for lost time the way that Steven Matz once did.
Gus: A lefty with plus velocity and good control, Szapucki has to develop consistency for his third offering – a changeup. It’s a shame Frank Viola left the Mets because he could have been perfect for Thomas. Szapucki has very little pitching experience, coming into the Mets organization in 2015, but Alderson’s slow approach to prospects will leave him with just 83 total professional innings when he comes back from surgery – probably in Columbia – and he will need to be protected from Rule 5 next winter.
Chris: There is a lot to like about Szapucki when he’s throwing the ball. Lefty with a 3/4 arm slot and strong velocity. Has a quality breaking pitch as well. He has the feeling of Steven Matz, which David noted above. If the whole starter things doesn’t work, he has enough movement and power to potential work in the bullpen.
10. Anthony Kay, LHP (FSL) – A pitcher on the other side of injuries, Anthony Kay returned to the field in 2018 and after some early stumbles began to really shine for the Columbia Fireflies. He followed David Peterson in a mid-season promotion to Port St. Lucie where his success took a hit.
There is still plenty of reason to be “Glass Half Full” on Kay who is still on track to tag along with Peterson as the pair rise through the minors. It will be important to see him look more confident in Advanced A to start the year and we’ll certainly be paying attention.
Gus: A bit inconsistent after missing a year due to TJ surgery but showed enough to expect at minimum a mid-rotation starter once he regains his form, his best pitch is the off-speed pitch. A fringy 91-93 fastball his a below average curve makes Anthony Kay either a trade piece or a #5 starter if his spotty control doesn’t improve.
Chris: Another lefty with a simple, repeatable motion. Now past Tommy John surgery, and doing well. His pitches don’t look particularly special, but he changes eye level and seems to move the ball all over. Will be interesting to see how this plays as hitters improve both swinging and learning patience