When the Mets drafted Christian James in the 14th round from the 2016 draft, the consensus opinion of the 18 year old was he was a pitcher.
At 6’3″, he had the build, but it was more than that. He had the poise and mound presence you want to see from a starter. It also didn’t hurt he was a three pitch pitcher with a good feel for all three pitches. In fact, when naming him a top 30 Mets prospect entering the season, Baseball America opined:
James pitches at 89-91 mph and tops out at 93 with plus sinking action, and could add a few ticks of velocity as he matures. He already throws a strong curveball in the 78-84 mph range that could develop into an out pitch. He has begun to show feel for a mid-80s changeup that shows occasional average fading action. James mixes pitches well and exudes mound presence
With the promise he had, he started his season early pitching for Binghamton and St. Lucie. In those two starts, he more than held his own allowing just one earned in nine innings pitched while striking out nine and walking just one. Seeing those performances raised the bar for James as he was assigned to Brooklyn where he would be the team’s Opening Day starter.
By and large, James has cleared that raised bar. Entering last night’s game, he has pitched well in the New York Penn League being in the top 10 in ERA, starts, and innings pitched. In those 10 starts, he has had some impressive performances with last night’s performance being perhaps his best.
In a 2-0 win, James would need just 89 pitches in a career high seven innings while matching his season high with six strikeouts. James completely and utterly shut down the Connecticut Tigers with 1-2-3 innings in four of his seven innings pitched. In fact, Connecticut would not send more than four batters to the plate in any inning. Ultimately, Connecticut would not even come close to scoring with just two players having reach second safely during the seven innings.
James would finish this game strong. He the last 16 batters he faced, and Connecticut did not have a base hit since there was one out in the third inning. James would strike out the last two batters he faced.
With the win, James is now 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP.
His performance last night and his season as a whole is a large reason why he was considered one of the Mets best prospects entering the season and why MMN recently ranked him as the Mets 14th best prospect. As James continue to pitch like this and he continues to mature physically, we should see him not only rise through the rankings but also through the Mets farm system.