What do you know? Jenrry Mejia is thriving in the bullpen

Jenrry Mejia 3While some in the Mets’ circle (be it fans, media, what have you) begrudgingly did not like the fact that Jenrry Mejia was taken out of the rotation and put in to the bullpen, you really can not argue with the results.

Ever since going to the bullpen on May 12 after going 3-0 with a 5.06 ERA as a starter, Mejia has been a godsend in the bullpen, while eventually working his way to become the full-time closer. In his first relief appearance he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees while picking up the win in the process. It has been smooth sailing for Mejia ever since.

Since May 12 Mejia has pitched 9 1/3 innings while allowing just one run (unearned at that) on only eight hits and three walks while striking out nine batters. He has not blown any saves and is a perfect four-for-four in his chances. In his short time as closer, he already has the most saves on the team even though we are nearly two months into the season. So that should tell you how bad it’s been so far this year in the bullpen.

While Mejia does have electric stuff and a few pitches to work with, he clearly struggled in the rotation. His issue was getting through the lineup the second and-more specifically-the third time out, and almost predictably, it ended with him melting down.

Mejia may have just found his niche in the bullpen. With Bobby Parnell out for the year (and who knows how he’ll be when he comes back), and retreads like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde proving to be over the hill and broken down, the Mets finally have some youth at the back end of the bullpen, which is something they sorely lacked.

Sure, his prior health issues are a concern in the bullpen, as he often has to get up and stretch himself out on a nearly daily basis. But, so far ,so good on that front.

Mejia has already pitched in both games of a doubleheader (last Sunday) while also pitching two innings to close out the Mets 4-2 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday night. There have been no issues with Mejia taking on the extra load.

With the back of the bullpen being a major weakness, Mejia has calmly eased into the role while fortifying the position tenfold. Considering the Mets have a crop of decent arms on the staff and more down on the farm (not to mention Matt Harvey coming back eventually), this move, in retrospect, made all the sense in the world.

While management has made some pretty terrible and baffling decisions, this is one move they can hang their hat on, as Mejia has found his groove in this role. Even though he expressed some trepidation about going to the bullpen, Mejia has looked awfully comfortable back there. Or is that just me?

Let’s just hope that the people in front of him do their jobs so he can have more opportunities. For now, let’s enjoy that Mejia may have found his true calling.

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Jenrry Mejia’s struggles could lead to promotion of Montero and or deGrom

Jenrry Mejia2Like it or not, Jenrry Mejia may be ticketed for the bullpen after all.

Reports are surfacing that the New York Mets are strongly considering the idea of promoting either Rafael Montero and/or Jacob deGrom and using one of them in the rotation while pushing Mejia to the bullpen and possibly grooming him to be the closer. Then again, maybe Montero or deGrom will be used in the bullpen.

At this moment, it’s a very fluid situation and it’s mostly just speculation about who goes where and when. Make no mistake, though, help is probably on the way.

Maybe Mejia belongs in the closer role. He has been sensational to start games, as the first two times through an order he is masterful. It’s when he gets his pitch count up and deep into games that he breaks down-almost predictably.

Sure, Mejia wasn’t a hit in the bullpen when he first went there in 2010, but that was a foolish plan from the start. For a guy who has been around the block for a few years, maybe this is where Mejia finds his stride.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s still a little too early to dictate if he should head to the bullpen. However, if his late-inning troubles persists, the Mets will be left with little choice. Safe to say, he is skating on this ice.

With the Mets having a deep crop of steady pitching especially with Montero, deGrom and Syndergaard only a call away, perhaps it’s time to kill two birds with one stone and call up either Montero (who is more likely to get the call if they need a new rotation member) or deGrom. This way you still put an elite arm in the rotation and upgrade a huge weakness (fortifying the bullpen) in the process.

With such a deep and talented stable of arms (especially young and tantalizing ones), what exactly do you do? If proponents of Mejia want to keep him in the rotation, what do you decide to do with Las Vegas arms? Because, it’s sounding as if they’re ready and why delay it any longer?

I suppose keeping Mejia in the rotation and having him overcome his struggles could up his trade value, so there is some logic there. Even if the Mets do move Mejia to the bullpen, and call up Montero and put him in the rotation, they still basically have (including Daisuke Matsuzaka) eight pitchers that could be part of this year’s staff and 10 (when you include Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner) for next year.

With that glut of pitching, you almost certainly have to be thinking trade at some point.

In the meantime, though, this is move that just may have to happen out of necessity.

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Jenrry Mejia getting the short end in rotation battle

Even without Matt Harvey, the New York Mets have themselves a fine rotation with Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and free-agent newcomer Bartolo Colon set to anchor the staff. However, one question mark that remains is who will grab hold of the fifth spot?

Terry Collins has publicly stated that he would like to have a veteran presence for the fifth spot and is leaning toward tabbing either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan for the spot. It’s not a terrible line of thinking, considering when healthy, Matsuzaka and Lannan have made for dependable arms in the past.

However, the thinking here should be that Jenrry Mejia is ready to blossom and he should be given every chance to claim the spot. But for whatever reason, he is not.

Mejia’s potential for success could prove to be the x-factor for the Mets this year. After starting five games last season and doing well (compiling a 2.30 ERA and fanning 27 batters in 27 1/3 innings) in his time in the rotation last year, Mejia had to be shutdown with elbow soreness. He would go on to get surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

It looks like Mejia is healthy now, though, and has done well in spring training thus far.  He has pitched four innings while giving up only one unearned run on one hit and two walks. Seeing as though you should want the best pitcher to win the spot, he should be the one to get the most consideration.

With the way he ended 2013, Mejia should be given the chance to earn this role. He earned that much. I mean, what if he continues to dazzle during the spring while Matsuzaka and Lannan struggle? What then? Will Collins’ opinion be swayed on wanting a veteran no matter what?

One would hope he is not that stubborn.

Simply put, putting Mejia in the bullpen is a mistake. The Mets put him there back in 2010 and it was disastrous. Mejia has starter stuff and it would be a waste if they shuttle him to the back end of the bullpen.

While one can appreciate the veteran services of Matsuzaka and Lannan, most Mets’ fans want to truly see what they have in Mejia. Between his years with debilitating injuries, being jettisoned between the rotation and the bullpen and being shuttled back in forth in the minors, it’s time we give Mejia his chance at starter. If not now, then when?

With the likes of Niese, Wheeler, Colon and Gee ahead of him, Mejia will not feel any undue pressure and he can go about his business in a normal-like fashion. This way, even if he does succeed it would only enhance his value and with the Mets having a young, stable of crops of reinforcements (Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, etc.) only a call away, Mejia could be a great bargaining chip.  And with Harvey presumably back next year, the time is ripe to showcase Mejia. 

If Mejia goes to the bullpen, at this point it should be for good. And that inherently is the problem. With Mejia still in prime position to make an impact in the rotation you should give him every chance to lock down the fifth spot. If he goes to the bullpen that may be the end of him as a starter, at least with the Mets.

And that’s too bad.

Jenrry Mejia and his future in the Mets’ rotation

While it wasn’t a jaw-dropping performance, Jenrry Mejia had himself quite a second start when he dropped a 3-2 decision on Wednesday night to the Miami Marlins.

Although he didn’t receive the win, Mejia battled in an out of trouble (after giving up three runs in the second and third innings) and looked poised while on the mound. Mejia now has two quality starts under his belt after coming off the DL with elbow inflammation last week. After two starts, Mejia is now 1-1 with a 2.07 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Mejia has also 11 strikeouts to just one walk in 13 innings pitched.

So, with Mejia pitching this well, it begs the question: Where does he stand in the rotation going forward?

After being yo-yoed between the rotation and the bullpen for most of his professional career, Mejia has the looks of a pitcher who feels comfortable being part of a staff.

Although he’s had a history of various injuries, Mejia appears to be blossoming into the pitcher we all thought he could become. His recent success is just a bonus to a Mets’ franchise that is pitching heavy.

No one should argue that Mejia should remain in the rotation for the rest of the season—even when Jonathon Niese comes back. Mejia has to stick in the rotation so we can finally see what this kid (and at 23, he still can, in essence, be called a kid) is made of.

With Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler about to be preserved due to innings limits, Mejia’s impact couldn’t have come at a better time. With the Mets not likely to be in contention in the fall, Mejia will be given a good, long hard look. If Mejia is to be a future starter with the Mets, he has to be adequately stretched out and these last two months should give us a good indicator of the pitcher Mejia can be. This should be the audition that really distinguishes what Mejia will become.

If anything, Mejia could be a nice trading chip to work with in the offseason. If not traded in the offseason, we could be looking at the Mets’ fourth or fifth starter for the foreseeable future—and that may not be such a bad thing.

Jenrry Mejia on the mend, but is he part of the solution?

The Mets obviously have a lot of problems—pick your favorite.

You can pick from the struggles of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, the whole mess of an outfield, the bullpen, etc.

And of course, you can look at the rotation (sans Matt Harvey) for a lion’s share of the blame. I don’t need to rehash the struggles of the back-end of the staff.

That being said, the Mets are always looking at ways to improve the staff and one name that could possibly help is Jenrry Mejia.  Remember him? While we all clamor for Zack Wheeler, Mejia has become a forgotten man by many. It wasn’t too long ago that Mejia was being touted as a difference maker.

Mejia is rehabbing in Port St. Lucie at the moment. In his first start in St. Lucie last Thursday, Mejia definitely showed signs of rust and only completed two innings while allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. The good news is that Mejia did strike out six batters.

The Mets are once again trying to stretch Mejia out as a starter. Between being part of the rotation and the bullpen, Mejia has only amassed 55 innings pitched in his MLB career, while sporting a mediocre 4.91 ERA and unsightly 1.73 WHIP.

Mejia has been jettisoned between being a starter and being part of the bullpen for most of his Met’s career. Ever since he made his debut in 2010 in the bullpen-which was a huge mistake from the start-Mejia has suffered significant injuries. Mejia had to undergo Tommy John Surgery prior to the 2011 season and this year he is recovering from forearm tendinitis. Throughout all these troubles, the growth and maturation of Mejia has been severely stunted.

With the way Shaun Marcum, Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner have pitched this year, Mejia (if he eventually rights himself) could help give the rotation a nice shot in the arm. Some fresh blood could be what the Mets need. They will certainly get that jolt when Wheeler gets the call, but Mejia may not be too far behind. Well, then again, Mejia needs to show he is healthy before any call up can be even entertained.

With the Mets epically struggling, what they have to do this time is stay true to Mejia as a starter and let him work through his struggles—and no doubt he’ll run into some trouble. They have to remain patient with Mejia and fully support him as he tries to harness his stuff as a starter.

You always have the luxury of sending Mejia back to the bullpen in the event he fails as a starter, but that clutch should be used as a last resort. Give Mejia the time to develop, regroup and refocus and see what you got in the kid. After all, Mejia is still just 23 years-old.

At this point, what do the Mets have to lose?

Should the Mets go “Back to the Future” with Jenrry Mejia’s role?

Last week Mets fans saw something scary: Jenrry Mejia made his first spring-training appearance. The outing was less than ideal. In only one inning of work, Mejia gave up five runs total — four of them coming from a grand slam by Casey Kotchman. Mejia’s performance has come as a bit of a shock. The Dominican right-hander has been on the radar for a while as a Mets top prospect, however it seemed as though nothing would really come of him.

Mejia’s lackluster outing last week doesn’t help his case to make the rotation this year. Since the Mets have an abundance of pitching for the fifth spot with the likes of Shaun Marcum, Collin McHugh, and potentially Zack Wheeler, it would be unlikely that Mejia will be able to perform well enough to snag a starting job. However, Mejia does seem to struggle out of the bullpen. Last year, at Triple-A Buffalo, Mejia had a 5.48 ERA in 21 innings of work as a reliever, however a 2.75 ERA in 52 innings of work as a starter.

This puts Mejia in a strange place: He’s not good in the bullpen, but also wouldn’t be good enough as a starter. This idea may be a little radical, but if Mejia is the type of pitcher who needs to eat up innings, maybe the Mets should consider using him as a three-inning closer, similar to how closers were used in the 1970s and early ‘80s. In the table below are three pitchers: Goose Gossage, Tug McGraw, and Jesse Orosco, and the number of saves they got for the number of innings they pitched in one appearance.

Name Year # of Saves in 2 inning Appearances # of Saves in 3 inning Appearances # of Saves in 4 inning Appearances Total Number of Saves
Goose Gossage 1977 12 4 1 26
Jesse Orosco 1983 4 4 1 17
Tug McGraw 1972 7 2 0 27

The setup of the modern bullpen favors the type of guys who can be “lights out” for one inning. However, closers have been successful in going more than one inning. Gossage is a prime example. Twelve out of his 26 saves came from more than one inning pitched, which is almost half of his saves. Orosco and McGraw are examples of how this approach has worked for the Mets. Mejia has clearly demonstrated that he can’t handle one-inning situations, nor can he handle being a starter. Fashioning a hybrid between the two in the form of a three-inning closer may solve the dilemma of what type of pitcher Mejia should be. It gives Mejia the ability to have longevity in ball games, but at the same time not tire out. Since there has been success in the past with this approach, it’s a solution Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins should consider if Mejia fails to develop the secondary pitches necessary for him to be a starter.

Jenrry Mejia: The Mets’ forgotten ace

When people talk about the future of the Mets’ rotation, they always talk about Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, as well they should. If he isn’t included in a trade, Jonathon Niese will be there, too. I’ve heard some mention Dillon Gee and while I’m still a bit skeptical about that one, after the half season he had in 2012, I won’t dismiss the possibility. Minor league followers will talk about Michael Fulmer and Rafael Montero.

And lost in the shuffle is Jenrry Mejia.

Apparently, it’s a little too easy to forget that he was once the top prospect in the organization. In 2009, he dominated the Hi-A Florida State League (1.97 ERA, 1.132 WHIP) as a 19 year old, and earned a promotion to Double-A and a spot in the Arizona Fall League, where he ran into some trouble against more advanced competition. Here’s what prospect maven John Sickels said about him following that year:

Mejia is still a premium prospect due to the quality of his fastball, his youth, and the combination of a high strikeout rate with plenty of grounders. I think he needs a full year of Double-A to refine his secondary pitches, but his ceiling remains that of a number one starter. He just needs more time.

Unfortunately, the Mets did not fire Jerry Manuel after the 2009 season. Manuel, knowing he was on a short leash, did not give Mejia the time he needed. Despite not winning a game above A-ball, Manuel brought Mejia to the majors as a reliever, envisioning that he would develop into a quality set-up man. Omar Minaya, operating with the same short leash as Manuel, did nothing to stop it and allowed this move to happen.

This is one of the reasons that you hear the phrase – Alderson was brought in to be the adult in the room. Can you imagine a scenario where Terry Collins wanted to convert Harvey or Wheeler into a setup man and Alderson allowed it to happen? Alderson would tell Collins – Look, I’ll indulge your lefty reliever fetish but there’s no way I’m going to let you turn a 200-IP stud into a 75-IP guy.

The results were tragic. Mejia did not turn into a stud setup man, wound up injured and needed Tommy John surgery and is now stuck in nowhere land. Because of service time, he’s no longer a rookie, he’s bounced back and forth between starting and relieving and the results have not been good. His star has faded and he’s essentially a forgotten man. Most Mets fans are content to throw him into the bullpen competition in Spring Training, figuring that’s where his future now lies..

Except that a bullpen role is still wrong.

Mejia saw action at three different minor league levels last year, but he spent most of his time at Triple-A, where he posted a 3.54 ERA in 26 games. He made 26 appearances for Buffalo last year, including 10 starts. Here is his starting/relieving breakdown last year in Triple-A:

SP – 52.1 IP, 16 ER, 2.75 ERA
RP – 21.1 IP, 13 ER, 5.48 ERA

Mejia also made two starts apiece last year for St. Lucie and Binghamton. In his 14 minor league starts, he had 3.03 ERA.

Just as it was in 2010 – there’s no reason to turn Mejia into a reliever right now. He’s not a finished product but he’s also not given any indication that he should be turned into a reliever. Generally, you do not turn a productive starter into a reliever. Instead, you give a pitcher every chance to make it as a starter until he proves incapable of handling the role. Then you switch him to a reliever.

Mejia should begin the year at Triple-A. If the Mets do not make a trade, he should be second in line to move into the starting rotation, behind only Jeremy Hefner.

Here’s where we also need to keep in mind the offensive environment not only of Las Vegas but the Pacific Coast League in general. It’s extremely unlikely that Mejia will duplicate last year’s 2.75 ERA as a SP in Triple-A. Yet Mejia could have a 4.25 ERA and still make strides as a starter. Watch his K/IP and K/BB ratios more than his ERA. Check to see if he’s still getting his share of ground balls.

Most importantly, leave him as a starter all year. It would be great if he could be healthy and complete the entire season as a starter, something he has not done since 2009. Not coincidentally, the year he became the Mets’ top prospect.

Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Mejia – that has a nice sound to it, doesn’t it?

Most important Mets’ September call up: Jeurys Familia or Jenrry Mejia?

While the Mets are not likely playing for any postseason glory this September, that’s not to say that the final month is inconsequential.

It’s that time of year again; when call-ups audition for their future with the club. For the Mets, they have two intriguing prospects in Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, who have a lot to prove and how they fare in September could go a long way in determining their role with the Mets going forward.

To begin with, Terry Collins and Mets’ management have to decipher what Familia and Mejia are. Are they future rotation arms or will their talents best be utilized in the bullpen going forward?

Both Familia and Mejia have electric stuff and have long been figured to be front-end type pitchers. Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about Familia, but scouts love his slider and above-average fastball. Enough so, that many scouts label him a reliable No. 3 or 4 starter for the Mets. And while the sample was incredibly small, I like how the ball jumped out of Familia’s arm in Tuesday’s night’s game when he made his debut and struck out one batter and gave up a hit in his first inning of work.

Mejia on the other hand has been jettisoned between being a rotation guy and a bullpen arm for far too long. Eventually his future, permanent role has to be defined. In 2010, Mejia was prematurely rushed to the big leagues and was out of place in the Mets’ bullpen. After suffering from an elbow injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, Mejia maybe best utilized in the ‘pen, as to not overwork his arm.

For a team that has been burned by their meandering, frustrating bullpen, it all but seems inevitable that at least one of Familia and Mejia-if not both- will go to bullpen next year. Before the Mets go outside for help in the bullpen for 2013, it would be great if they can look internally to upgrade the relieving corps.

My bet is on Mejia being inserted into the ‘pen, with Familia getting every chance to become a starter. That’s why I view Familia as the most important September call-up. The Mets need to know what they got in Familia. To some degree, they know what they have in Mejia since he has been up with the big club before, but Familia could be the wild-card this September.

The hope is that Familia can play well in the ‘pen this month and then get an invite to Spring Training next year and ‘compete’ for a rotation spot. The likely scenario is that Familia will once again start in Buffalo next season with a chance to come up late in 2013 if the need for an extra starter is warranted. With R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee almost guaranteed to be the Mets’ 2013 starting rotation, Familia has some work left to do. Familia has to work on his control before he can be a trusted arm in the rotation.

With Zack Wheeler also expected to get the call in 2013, this could not be a more critical month for Familia and Mejia to prove their worth to the club.

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Mets Minors: Jenrry Mejia to the bullpen

In an effort to make me cringe, the Mets have decided that the best move for the team is to shift a promising front-line starter prospect, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, into the bullpen.  I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let us review the facts.

The Mets signed Mejia as an Amateur Free Agent in 2007.  In 2009 he emerged as a pitcher of note as he obliterated FSL hitters in his first year in the league.  His display in Port St. Lucie earned him a call to Buffalo where he struggled but the Mets were now paying attention.

During the Spring Training of 2010, Mejia turned a lot of heads.  Met fans began to wonder if they were seeing the future Ace of the staff emerge before their very eyes.  Jerry Manuel, the Met skipper hoped he had his salvation in the form of a positive media story.  What followed is a tale of what not to do with a talented young arm.

The Mets used Mejia in relief… but not frequently and only in lower pressure situations.  When it became evident he wasn’t necessary they sent him down to stretch him out to start.  He made a few MLB starts but the 2010 season was a wasted year in his development.  2011 was little better as he made only a few starts before requiring the season ending Tommy John surgery.

Now the Mets are at it again.  They are moving Mejia out of the starting rotation and into a relief role for a future undefined role with the big league bullpen.  This move likely removes any remote chance of Mejia being a starter to begin the 2013 season and could hinder his development overall.

Could Mejia be a closer of the future?  Sure, maybe.  Will he close in 2012? No, probably not.  Should the Mets have left him starting in AAA all season?  You betcha!

Silver Lining: The path is now clear for Wheeler and McHugh to be promoted.

Around the Minors:

AAA:

Fred Lewis Ready in Reserve – The Mets don’t need a lefty OF, but Fred Lewis has been really good in AAA and might be worth a shot if Baxter’s injury lingers.

Jeurys Familia… That’s More Like It! – 5.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s and no runs.  It’s still not the dominating stuff I think Jeurys can hurl but it’s much improved.

AA:

Matt Den Dekker Best Hitter in Eastern League – His season OPS is .960 which is good but his 10 game OPS is 1.219 and that’s frigg’n absurd.  His batting average is now .340 but I’d want to see his BABIP before I got too crazy.  He still doesn’t walk and strikes out more than once per game.

Eric Campbell Still Hitting – He’s doing enough to stay on my radar.  He’s still on the fringes of the radar picture.

Jefry Marte’s Streaky Power – It seems Marte goes quiet in terms of power for weeks at a time and then busts out with lots of extra base hits all at once.  We just had a deluge… hopefully it lasts.

Zack Wheeler’s Last Start in AA? – 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 Run (not earned), 4 BBs and 7 K’s.  With Mejia now in the pen… what is stopping the Mets?

Darin Gorski Back on Track? – He’s had some bumps in the road but his 8 inning performance on the 9th was pretty nice.

Adrian Rosario Hits a Pot-Hole – He had been cruising through 2012 until he had an ugly outing on the 10th.  Hopefully he straightens out quickly.

A+:

Wilmer Flores Plays Second – More on this later in the week.  Where do the Mets get the most bang for their buck?

Wilfredo Tovar Ready for AA – He’s not a big bopper or a base stealer but his good glove and solid approach could make him a MLB SS similar to Ruben Tejada.

Tyler Pill up to A+ – Pill’s shown great mechanics and control this season and earned his promotion.

A:

Camden Maron Josh Thole Jr. has his batting average up to .273 and has discovered doubles power.  In his last 10 games he has 5 doubles and a triple.

 

Jenrry Mejia: Starter or reliever?

The Mets pitching has more than one problem right now. After placing Miguel Batista on the DL, they only have four starters, and their bullpen is ranked as one of the worst in the league. With all the pitching problems the Mets may be looking for some changes. They could look outside of the organization, but for a team that is looking to cut back on costs, they’ll most likely stay within to fix the problem. And if the Mets farm system is known for anything, it’s their promising young pitchers.

Between Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, and Zack Wheeler, the Mets have a bright future for their pitching staff. One name that is often forgotten from the list of prospects is Jenrry Mejia, who missed most of the 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery.

Now Mejia has started to make his comeback a year after having the surgery. He’s made two starts at single-A St. Luice going 11 innings, giving up three runs, eight strikeouts, and two walks. He then got moved up to double-A Binghamton yesterday for a start, going three innings, giving up one run,  three strikeouts, and no walks. Mejia was only pulled after the third inning because he was on a pitch count.

According to Adam Rubin, the Mets may be looking to move Mejia to Triple-A Buffalo in order to get some work as a relief pitcher. After being moved to Binghamton it’s unclear whether he will stay there and what his role will be. With Mejia coming back from this major surgery, the Mets need to pick whether they want to use Mejia as a starter or a reliever.

Looking at the young arms the Mets have, putting him in the bullpen might be the smarter move. With Harvey and Wheeler looking to become fixtures in the rotation soon, there might not be room for Mejia in the rotation.

Where there is room for him is in the struggling Mets bullpen. Mejia still needs more time in the minors before the Mets can bring him up, but they need all the help they can get right now, and quick. And with the fading confidence in Frank Francisco as closer, the Mets may want to think of Mejia as the potential 9th inning guy.

I’ve always been a fan of having a strong bullpen and trying to put your efforts there, but I saw Mejia as a starter before the surgery. Now, with more arms in the farm system, I think it would be wiser to move Mejia to the bullpen.

Personally, I see Harvey and Wheeler in the rotation, and Familia and Mejia in the bullpen. However, it’s going to take a while for them all the reach the majors, but with struggles of the pitchers right now, I’m hoping they can get up here soon.

Jenrry Mejia and Chris Young both eyeing Mets’ rotation vacancy

Port St. Lucie has been the home to some exciting developments in 2012: The resurgence of Wilmer Flores, Corey Vaughn and Cesar Puello, the developing power of Daniel Muno and the great pitching of Chase Huchingson and Adam Koralek.  Most recently Port St. Lucie witnessed the first rehab starts of, prospect pitcher, Jenrry Mejia, and, voted most likely to be injured by August, Chris Young.

On Thursday May 9th: Jenrry Mejia went out and threw 5 innings of work.  He gave up 4 hits, 2 ER, walked 2 and only struck out 1, but it was nice to see him healthy.  You might recall that Mejia was pitching in AAA Buffalo in 2011 when he injured himself and required Tommy John surgery.  His start puts him slightly ahead of the schedule I had set for him, but I would bet on Mejia joining Harvey and Familia by Mid-June.

When he does get rolling there is still plenty of debate about his future role for the team.  Some people maintain that his mechanics and size aren’t sustainable for a starting pitcher (ala Pedro Martinez) and that he’s destined to be a reliever.  Others point to his success as a starter in AA and AAA (there are flaws but he still had success) and don’t want Mejia wasted as an RP when he might be a front-end starter.  Personally: I would have Mejia start in 2012.  We should see who among Harvey, Familia, Mejia, Wheeler, McHugh, Gorski and whoever else might be ready to compete for the rotation.  If Mejia isn’t good as a starter in 2012… he’s a closer for AAA to start 2013.

On Friday May 10th: Chris Young threw 5 masterful innings of work.  He gave up 5 hits, 0 Runs, 2 Walks and struck out 4.  Young and Mejia are not in the same boat.  As soon as Chris Young proves his arm is up to speed and he can go 100 pitches, he’s in the rotation.  Met fans can’t expect too much from Young, who seems to always pitch well… but never stay on the mound too long.  If Young can bridge the gap to Harvey or Familia being ready at the end of the year to get their feet wet… it’s all we could have ever hoped for.

On the side of all this is another… less attractive option.  D.J. Carrasco is in AAA and he’s actually pitched alright.  He needs to build up some stamina… but if the options remain Schwinden, Hefner and Batista for too long… Carasco isn’t exactly a terrible 4th option.  Here is hoping that Chris Young is ready before the Mets need to consider it.

Mets Minors: End of season wrap-up

The regular season for Mets minor leaguers ended on Labor Day and the Class A St. Lucie Mets were eliminated in the championship series of the Florida State League playoffs and Savannah is one win away from a low Class A title in the South Atlantic League. With the offseason quickly approaching, now is a good time to take a snap shot of the prospects the Mets will be counting on in coming seasons.

The top storyline in the Mets farm system this season has to be Matt Harvey, the 2010 first-rounder who got off to a great start at St. Lucie and ended the season at Class AA Binghamton. He looks on pace to join the Mets late next season and perhaps the rotation full-time by 2013.

Easily the biggest surprise in the organization is 23-year-old shortstop Jordany Valdespin, who hit a combined .294/.333/.460 at Class AA and AAA with 32 doubles, three triples, 17 homers and 37 stolen bases. While the lefthanded hitter played shortstop this season, making 32 errors, he has a lot of experience at second base and could fill the long-lasting void at that position.

However, no matter how pleased the front office could be over Harvey and Valdespin, frustrations must continue to grow over its top pitching and hitting prospect entering the season. The elbow injury suffered by Jenrry Mejia was a huge blow to the organization, stunting the growth of the 21-year-old flamethrower for a second straight season. Now, the Dominican’s estimated return to Citi Park is probably 2013. Top hitting prospect Wilmer Flores had a baffling season at St. Lucie, hitting just .269/.309/.380 – showing no significant improvement over his half season there in ‘10.

But back to the positive – for now.

Harvey wasn’t the only minor leaguer to live up to expectations. Zack Wheeler, acquired from the Giants in the Carlos Beltran deal, looked impressive in the FSL with a mid-90s fastball and improved command, albeit a short sample size. Righthander Jeurys Familia, another 21-year-old with a plus arm and stuff, quickly passed his re-test at St. Lucie and averaged over a strikeout per frame at Binghamton, splitting eight decisions with a 3.49 ERA in 17 starts.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Reese Havens and Zach Lutz, three upper-level hitting talents, produced good results but battled injuries in 2011 – nothing new for Havens and Lutz.

Nieuwenhuis was well on his way to a second-half callup when he went down with a shoulder injury two months into the season. The 23-year-old hit .298/.403/.505 at Class AAA Buffalo. Havens finished strong at Binghamton, batting .289/372/.455, and even better, stayed healthy the second half of the season. Lutz continued to crush the ball, hitting .295/.380/.500 at Buffalo, and could be an option at either infield corner spot down the road.

Among pitching surprises, Class AAA hurlers Josh Stinson, 23 and Chris Schwinden, 24, neither of whom possess the stuff to be prime prospects, had solid seasons, and now the Mets hope they’ve found another Dillon Gee.

Lower down the ladder, lefthander Darin Gorski had a breakout season at St. Lucie, joining the rotation a month in and ending as the staff ace. He was the FSL’s Pitcher of the Year after going 11-3 with a 2.08 ERA. Greg Peavey pitched well at two Class A spots and Armando Rodriguez fanned 74 batters in 75 innings at St. Luice. Lefthanded closer Josh Edgin, who possesses a 92-95-plus mph heater and a good slider, dominated at both Class A stops, posting 27 saves, a WHIP just over 1 and 76 strikeouts in 66 frames.

At Savannah, 23-year-old Taylor Whittenton rode a 1.63 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break to a South Atlantic League ERA title. The righthander posted a 2.49 ERA, finished 5-5 in 26 games, including 22 starts, and parlayed his repeat season into an Arizona Fall League invite. He’ll be joined there by another marginal prospect, Collin McHugh, who went 7-0, 1.45 ERA in 10 games after the break at Binghamton.

Among surprising position players was center fielder Matt den Dekker, who continued to impress defensively, and although he struck out 156 times, the 23-year-old showed power with 32 doubles, 11 triples and 17 homers to go along with 24 steals. He hit just .265 between Class A and AA but posted a .797 OPS, and more importantly, demonstrated to the brass that he’s more than just a defensive stalwart.

Twenty-two year-old outfielder Juan Lagares made the organization take note when he hit .349 at Class A and AA. And former Padres first-rounder Allan Dykstra hit .267/.389/.474 with a Binghamton-team best 19 homers after joining the organization in March.

At the Class A level, St. Lucie third baseman Jefry Marte hit .248 and played in the Futures Game but slumped badly after a hot start. Aderlin Rodriguez hit 17 homers as a 19-year-old third baseman in the SAL but hit just .221 with a .265 on-base percentage. Nineteen-year-old catcher Gilbert Gomez showed improved hitting skills to go with his plus defensive skills at a position the Mets sorely lack quality prospects. Short-season Class A shortstop Daniel Muno will get some attention after batting .355/.466/.514 at Brooklyn.

Mejia and Flores weren’t the only disappointments.

Class AAA outfielder Fernando Martinez had another injury-plagued, underwhelming season and toolsy St. Lucie outfielder Cesar Puello, much like Flores, failed to break out. The 20-year-old hit .259 with a .710 OPS and 19 steals. Outfielder Cory Vaughn, 22, got off to blazing starts at both Savannah and St. Lucie but slumped tremendously at both, finishing a combined .255/.362/.402 with 13 homers. Shortstop Robbie Shields also played at both spots and did nothing to help his future utility infield prospect status.

Darrell Ceciliani, who won a New York Penn batting title a season ago, hit just .259 at Savannah, and catcher Blake Forsythe never heated up until blasting two homers in a playoff game. He batted .235 with nine bombs during the regular season. Brandon Nimmo, the first-round pick this summer who never played high school baseball in his Wyoming High School, went 8-for-38 with two homers in his rookie-level pro debut.

Soft-tossing lefthander Mark Cohoon, the Mets’ Pitcher f the Year in 2010, was 5-14, 5.29 ERA at AA and AAA, squashing any hopes Mets fans had of the 23-year-old booming onto the major league scene. Class AA hurlers Brad Holt and Robert Carson solidified themselves as non-prospects with extremely underwhelming seasons at Class AA. Juan Urbina, just 18 and considered the top teen arm, was 4-6 with a 5.95 ERA and a 1.571 WHIP in 12 starts at rookie-level Kingsport.

The offseason top-10
1. Matt Harvey
2. Zack Wheeler
3. Jordany Valdespin
4. Kirk Nieuwenhuis
5. Jeurys Familia
6. Jenrry Mejia
7. Cesar Puello
8. Reese Havens
9. Wilmer Flores
10. Brandon Nimmo