As part of our series of Mets Minors All-Stars, our staff has selected the relief pitchers. When ranking these players, we selected them based up on their performance during the 2017 and not their prospect status:
Adonis Uceta, RHP
Level: Columbia, St. Lucie, Binghamton
Stats: 6-0, 1.51 ERA, 41 G, 14 SV, 67 K, 0.905 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 10.1 K/9
The 23-year-old Uceta shined across three levels in what was his best season to date. After starting the season in Columbia, he would quickly advance through the Mets minor league system finishing his season with Double-A Binghamton to help them in their postseason push.
Using his hard fastball in tandem with his excellent change-up proved to be a lethal combination for the Dominican-born righty. Both pitches worked much better for him in the bullpen than it did in the rotation with him posting career bests in strikeouts per nine and WHIP. After a dominant season like that, it seems as if Uceta is just scratching the surface leaving the Mets to hope he will not be selected in next week’s Rule 5 Draft.
Tyler Bashlor, RHP
Level: St. Lucie & Binghamton
Stats: 3-2, 3.44 ERA, 46 G, 13 SV, 84 K, 1.309 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 15.2 K/9
Utilizing a deceiving stretch and plus stuff, Bashlor was able to record an astounding 15.2 K/9. While his His WHIP was higher than you would like from a reliever of Bashlor’s ilk, he did yield a .438 BABIP, which would indicate he could put up even better stats next season. This goes a long way in explaining why the Mets protected the dominant right-handed reliever from the Rule 5 Draft.
It was also a reason he was promoted to Binghamton to help with their postseason push. In Binghamton, he really shined. Bashlor failed to allow a single run in any of his 12 appearances for the Rumble Ponies. Moreover, not only was he able to maintain an impressive strike out rate, (14.1 K/9), but he was able to significantly cut down on his walk rate (5.4 BB/9 to a 2.5 BB/9).
With progress and stuff like his, Bashlor looks to be a part of the Mets’ plan moving forward in the bullpen. With continued dominance in 2018, the right-hander could have a well-deserved major league promotion in the cards.
Austin McGeorge, RHP
Level: Columbia & St. Lucie
Stats: 2-2, 1.78 ERA, 31 G, 2 SV, 66 K, 0.987 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 11.7 K/9
In just his second professional season, Austin McGeorge turned quite a few heads. The Long Beach State product improved upon his 2.89 ERA as a Cyclone in his debut season, turning in a sparkling 1.78 ERA in 2017, across both Columbia and St. Lucie. The right-hander also raised his strikeout rate to better than a punch out per inning, at 11.7 K/9. The 2016 seventh rounder also maintained a WHIP below 1, as he walked just 17 batters in 50.2 innings and kept opposing hitters at a .185 average.
Impressively, McGeorge managed to only allow single homerun all season, matching his total from his Cyclones tenure in 2016. With just two homeruns allowed through two professional seasons, limiting the longball appears to be a strength for the righty. McGeorge was able to do so with an astounding 66.2% ground ball rate in his 38-inning stint in St. Lucie. Oddly, McGeorge allowed 15 wild pitches in 2017, which is a number the right-hander will look to decrease as he enters his age-23 season.
Matt Blackham, RHP
Stats: 4-2, 1.43 ERA, 40 G, 8 SV, 82 K, 0.988 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 13.0 K/9
After missing the entire 2016 season with a fracture of the olecranon in the right elbow, Blackham returned to the mound in 2017, and he proved himself to be an even more dominant reliever than the one he was in his first two professional season. Blackham dominated opposing batters striking them out at a high rate and limiting them to a .185 batting average. The end result was a career best WHIP. With this season, Blackham is more than back on track. In fact, he looks poised to be a quick riser in the Mets farm system.
Stephen Villines, RHP
Level: Kingsport & Brooklyn
Stats: 3-2, 1.65 ERA, 19 G, SV, 41 K, 0.878 WHIP, 0.3 BB/9, 13.5 K/9
Steve Villines’ first professional season went as well as anyone could have hoped. The right-hander was the Mets’ tenth round selection in the most recent draft, and excelled in 19 relief appearances between Kingsport and Brooklyn. The University of Kansas product found success by using a sidearm delivery to deceive hitters and garner added movement. The end result was high strikeout rate with an astronomically low walk total (he walked just one batter all season).
Tim Peterson, RHP
Level: Binghamton & Las Vegas
Stats: 5-3, 1.86 ERA, 43 G, 7 SV, 55 K, 0.862 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
In 2017, Peterson unlocked a level of run prevention that he had never been able to sustain over a full season. This was largely fueled by his ability to cut down on an already good walk rate and an ability to strand 84.1% of base runners. He would be a large reason why the Binghamton Rumble Ponies had a surprising season, and why they made the postseason.
For his efforts, Peterson was rewarded with being assigned to the Arizona Fall League. Peterson would similarly shine in the Arizona Fall League. In his seven appearances, he was 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA and a 0.774 WHIP.
Jasson Pena, RHP
Stats: 2-3, 2.29 ERA, 12 G, 2 SV, 39 K, 0.864 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
Part of the 2016 International Free Agent signing class, Pena impressed in his first professional season. The righty held the opposition scoreless in exactly half of his relief appearances on the season. He was largely able to do that by keeping the ball in the ballpark and by limiting opposing batters to a .174 batting average.
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