Mets Minors Position Breakdown: Starting Pitching

By Mets Daddy

November 28, 2017 2 Comments

(Jennifer Nieves/

Las Vegas 51s

RHP Ricky Knapp
7-13, 5.35 ERA, 29 G, 29 GS, CG, 171.2 IP, 97 K, 1.439 WHIP, 5.1 K/9

Like most pitchers who pitch to contact, Knapp struggled pitching in the Pacific Coast League.  This was evident from his .327 BABIP.  Still, Knapp would show just how good a pitcher he was when he was sent to Binghamton to help with their postseason push.  Over his four starts there, he was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.037 WHIP, and a 7.3 K/9.  It will be interesting to see if that run will entice a team to select him in the Rule 5 Draft as the Mets once again left him unprotected.



Binhamton Rumble Ponies

RHP Corey Oswalt
12-5, 2.28 ERA, 24 G, 24 GS, 2 CG, SHO, 134.1 IP, 119 K, 1.176 WHIP, 8.0 K/9
MMN Rank: 14

Oswalt had a great year putting all of his pitches together.  As a result, he was a mid-season and a post-season All Star, Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, and the Mets organization’s Pitcher of the Year.  Judging from the stats, his mid 90s fastball and slider were enough to dominate the Eastern League.  With him being added to the 40 man roster to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he may get a chance to pitch in the majors should the Mets pitching staff face a similar slate of injuries that it has over the past two seasons.

LHP P.J. Conlon
8-9, 3.38 ERA, 28 G, 22 GS, 3 CG, 3 SHO, SV, 136.0 IP, 108 K, 1.236 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
MMN Rank: 22

Heading into the 2017 season, many interested to see how Conlon’s stuff would translate to a higher league like the Eastern League.  As it turns out, the answer was pretty well.  After an initial adjustment period, Conlon had a good second half.  From July to the end of the season, he posted a 1.91 ERA and a 1.255 WHIP, which is in line with his numbers in the lower levels of the minors.  One important note for a pitcher the Mets considered as the second lefty in the bullpen, left-handed batters hit .252/.273/.358 off of him.

RHP Mickey Jannis
8-7, 3.60 ERA, 21 G, 21 GS, 2 CG, 122.1 IP, 83 K, 1.251 WHIP, 6.1 K/9

Normally at 29, you’d argue his a non-prospect, but knuckleball pitchers are a different animal.  Once they put it together, they can pitch at any level, and as we’ve seen, they can pitch into their 40s.  After a tough 2016 season, Jannis put things together putting himself back on track.  After May, Jannis got progressively better as the season wore on, and he had an outstanding Arizona Fall League season.  Like with Knapp, there is a danger in losing him as the Mets did not protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

RHP Marcos Molina
5-10, 3.21 ERA, 18 G, 17 GS, 2 CG, 106.2 IP, 86 K, 1.125 WHIP, 7.3 K/9
MMN: 17

In his first season back from Tommy John, Molina showed improved mechanics, but the question remains if it’s been sufficiently improved to the point where he can stick as a starter.  It will be interesting to see how well he works with Glenn Abbott next year to refine that delivery while still preserving Molina’s good control and ability to get batters out.

RHP Chris Flexen
MiLB Stats:
6-1, 1.76 ERA, 10 G, 10 GS, 2 CG, SHO, 61.1 IP, 63 K, 0.815 WHIP, 9.2 K/9
MLB Stats: 3-6, 7.88 ERA, 14 G, 9 GS, 48.0 IP, 36 K, 2.021 WHIP, 6.8 K/9

Flexen became the first Mets starter since 2006 to make the jump from Double-A straight to the majors.  With Flexen struggling in the majors, it was apparent his seven starts in Binghamton weren’t enough to make him Major League ready.  Still, he has an impressive fastball-curveball combination that will help him get back to the majors.

Photo By Ernest Dove

St. Lucie Mets

RHP Justin Dunn
5-6, 5.00 ERA, 20 G, 16 GS, 95.1 IP, 75 K, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
MMN Rank: 7

Dunn did little this season to dispell the concerns he was better suited to the bullpen than the rotation posting a 5.74 ERA as a starter and a 1.59 ERA as a reliever.  Still, Dunn is a good athlete who has good mechanics, does not throw with much effort, tops out at 97 MPH, and already throws a good curve ball and slider with a developing change.  Certainly, he’s got the stuff to start.  He just needs to put it all together, and it is important to remember that this was a his first full season starting.

RHP Andrew Church
12-9, 5.06 ERA, 26 G, 26 GS, CG, 156.2 IP, 98 K, 1.430 WHIP, 5.6 K/9

The former second round pick showed the ability to get ahead of batters with his mid 90s fastball, but unlike last year, he had trouble putting batters away.  In order to take that next step forward, he is going to have to develop one of his other secondary pitches to compliment the fastball and to help him put batters away.

RHP Nabil Crismatt
6-13, 3.95 ERA, 26 G, 25 GS, CG, 145.2 IP, 142 K, 1.352 WHIP, 8.8 K/9
MMN Rank: 15

In Crismatt’s first full season as a starter, he got off to a terrific start pitching to a 2.70 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP through the end of June.  At that point, he had made 14 consecutive starts which was one fewer than the amount of starts he had made in his entire professional career.  After that point, he would struggle perhaps suggesting he still needs to build better endurance.  Hopefully that is the case because he has a terrific change-up.

RHP Joe Shaw
7-5, 4.97 ERA, 18 G, 18 GS, CG, SHO, 99.2 IP, 83 K, 1.485 WHIP, 7.5 K/9

Shaw has the ability to get his fastball up to 97 MPH, and he has a developing curve or change.  However, he’s inconsistent with all three pitches due to his not having fine tuned his mechanics.  Once he makes the necessary adjustments, he could prove to be a real starting pitching option.  If not, he may eventually need to move to the bullpen.

Columbia Fireflies

LHP Gabriel Llanes
6-11, 4.48 ERA, 24 G, 24 GS, 2 CG, 142.2 IP, 67 K, 1.430 WHIP, 4.2 K/9

Llanes is a fastball-slider pitcher who can get his fastball into the low 90s with natural sink on the ball.  Typically, he pitches to contact, and batters typically hit ground balls against him.  With him being this type of a pitcher, his success is largely going to result on the quality of the contact against him, and somewhat related, the BABIP against him.  If he can develop a changeup to with his other pitchers, his ceiling will be much higher.

RHP Harol Gonzalez
9-9, 3.53 ERA, 23 G, 23 GS, 3 CG, 137.2 IP, 100 K, 1.257 WHIP, 6.5 K/9
MMN Rank: 31

Gonzalez has shown the ability to go deep into games, and at times, dominate.  That’s largely because he throws strikes leading with a very good 94 MPH fastball.  His secondary pitches are fairly developed, but the main issue with them is he doesn’t miss many bats.  To that end, he is going to have to either work on better locating his pitches in the strike zone, or he is going to work on one of his pitches to help develop it into a true strikeout pitch.

LHP Blake Taylor
1-9, 4.94 ERA, 18 G, 17 GS, 85.2 IP, 72 K, 1.541 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
MMN Rank: 36

Since his return from Tommy John surgery, Taylor has struggled locating his pitches walking 5.1 batters per nine.  Overall, Taylor is still getting his stuff back, and he is still one pitch short of being a starting pitcher. He is also building up his stamina after missing time due to Tommy John.  He’s got the talent with a mid 90s fastball and a good curve, but ultimately, he’s going to need to develop a third pitch and get back to throwing strikes.

RHP Jordan Humphreys
10-1, 1.79 ERA, 13 G, 13 GS, 2 CG, SHO, 80.2 IP, 83 K, 0.868 WHIP, 9.3 K/9
MMN Rank: 20

Humphreys was in the middle of a great season this year completely dominating the Sally League.  It was not complete hyperbole to say he was unhittable. Unfortunately, his season would be cut short due to his needing Tommy John surgery.  It will be interesting to see if he’s able to regain that dominant form when he returns to pitch in 2019.

LHP Thomas Szapucki
1-2, 2.79 ERA, 6 G, 6 GS, 29.0 IP, 27 K, 1.172 WHIP, 8.4 K/9
MMN Rank: 6

Szapucki was one of the few Mets starters who were viewed upon as a frontline starter.  This was due in large part to his mid-90s fastball, sweeping curveball, and quickly developing changeup.  The question now is whether he will ever reach that ceiling.  He started the season with a shoulder impingement, and he ended it needing Tommy John surgery.

RHP Gary Cornish
1-3, 3.07 ERA, 5 G, 5 GS, 29.1 IP, 20 K, 1.193 WHIP, 6.1 K/9

Cornish was a pleasant surprise out of Brooklyn’s bullpen in 2016 leading the team to convert him to a starter.  The 2017 season wasn’t as good for him as he began the year serving a 50 game amphetamine suspension, and he would only last five starts before succumbing to injury.

(Jacob Resnick/Mets Minors)


LHP David Peterson
0-0, 2.45 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 3.2 IP, 6 K, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9
MMN Rank: 5

Peterson was the Mets first round draft pick, and the team just wanted him to get his feet wet after throwing over 100 innings in college.  He’s got the stuff to be a front line starting throwing a fastball that tops out around 95 MPH, a terrific changeup, and a slider that needs refinement to become a real out pitch.

RHP Nicolas Debora
1-4, 2.33 ERA, 14 G, 7 GS, SV, 54.0 IP, 56 K, 1.352 WHIP, 9.3 K/9

For the second time in three seasons, Debora was a Sterling Award winner.  He’s a strike thrower with a low 90s fastball that he pairs with a plus changeup.  He’s still working on a breaking pitch.  He was a bit old for the New York Penn League, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against a higher level of competition next year.

RHP Christian James
2-3, 4.18 ERA, 11 G, 11 GS, 51.2 IP, 58 K, 1.355 WHIP, 10.1 K/9

James has the repertoire to be a starting pitcher.  The real issue with him is consistency.  There’s a lot going on with his delivery with him turning his back to the batter and his throwing from a 3/4 arm slot.  It’s a difficult delivery to repeat, but when he does he has the ability to throw strikes and strike batters out.

RHP Jaison Vilera
3-1, 1.88 ERA, 11 G, 8 GS, CG, 62.1 IP, 56 K, 0.963 WHIP, 8.1 K/9

Like Debora, Vilera was a Sterling Award winner this season after a dominant season in the Gulf Coast League.  He’s got a heavy sinker and until this season, he generated a high number of ground balls.  For what it’s worth, the drop in Vilera’s groundball rate has coincided with an increased strikeout rate.