There is a lot of excitement, and all of it is well-deserved, for Anthony Kay. Why shouldn’t there be? He has begun to tear up AA ball for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies this season, and has quickly garnered the eye of fans. With a lot of the inconsistencies coming with this year’s Mets pitching staff, many are looking at Kay as a solution. While it is easy to just slot Kay into the role of rotation saver, that is looking at the problem with a very idealist point of view. It would be nice to be able to simply use Kay in the major league rotation, but the Mets need to be cautiously optimistic when thinking about Kay.
The Kay situation is strikingly similar to that of P.J. Conlon. While Kay is a much more highly regarded prospect than Conlon was coming out of college, both began seeing success in breakout fashion at one level in the minor leagues. For Kay, his breakout level has been AA. For Conlon, it was pitching at A ball in 2016. During that season, Conlon pitched to an 8-1 record with an ERA of 1.84 and WHIP of .996 for the Columbia Fireflies.
It took until 2018 for Conlon to break into the big leagues, which he did after being called up from the Las Vegas 51’s. His short stint in the majors did not go so well, and after having a four day cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Dodgers after he was designated for assignment, Conlon finds himself being a depth pitcher in the minor leagues. Essentially, the Mets rushed their judgement on Conlon, and his quick ascension to the big leagues proved to not work in his favor. While Kay and Conlon are two separate individuals, they have profiles that stack up very similarly to each other.
The obvious similarity that the two share is that they are both left-handed starters. When you dive deeper into things however, it seems that the two are more similar than you’d think. No, Kay was not born in Northern Ireland like Conlon was. Their similarity lies in the style of pitching that they both incorporate. Looking at the scouting reports for Conlon as he was coming up, he was touted for his ability to control the ball, while not possessing the most electric “stuff.”
Kay was known in college for producing a lot of ground ball outs, and focused on contact rather than strikeouts. With Kay starting to gain more national prospect, his manager, Kevin Boles told Tim Britton from the Athletic that Kay is now able to control all three of his pitches, which is something that he had originally struggled with. This is control that Kay had to work towards getting back after his Tommy John surgery.
So what will separate the Long Island native, Kay from the Belfast native? Well to start, Kay has started to develop into more of a strikeout pitcher, thanks to his curve. The pitch has turned from “slurvy” to elite for the southpaw. The Mets should still be cautious when evaluating Kay however, and look to not rush him onto the scene like they did Conlon last season.