Minor League Spring Notes: Conlon, Pitchers, Purke, Viola

By Jacob Resnick

February 22, 2018 3 Comments

After it was reported earlier in the week that P.J. Conlon will move to the bullpen full-time in 2018, Mickey Callaway, the southpaw’s manager during spring training, had nothing but good things to say.

“His change-up is going to play against lefties,” Callaway told Larry Burneal of News 12 Binghamton. “I asked [Jay] Bruce, ‘Hey, what do you think about his change-up left-on-left?’ and Bruce was like, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty good.’ I think he’s another piece of the puzzle that can help us sometime in the near future.”

Conlon, who is slated to open the season in Las Vegas, posted a 3.38 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies last season.

After four seasons coaching the pitchers with the Las Vegas 51s, Frank Viola is excited to join the Rumble Ponies in 2018. He told Burneal, “It was really fun working with the Syndergaard’s and Matz’s and so on and watch them make their tracks to the big leagues, but I kind of missed the family. [The Mets] gave me the opportunity to go to Binghamton this year. I get to work with some young kids, some prospects. That’s what it’s all about, trying to make these kids better. I’ve got my daughter living an hour away from me in Scranton. My wife already has three trips mapped out to come visit so it’s going to be a very enjoyable summer.”

More Minor League Spring Notes

The Mets have settled on their pitching schedule through Sunday, according to Tim Britton of the Athletic. Minor leaguers abound, as Tyler Bashlor, Jamie Callahan, Corey Oswalt, Drew Smith, and Jacob Rhame will get their work in on Friday against the Atlanta Braves, while Gerson Bautista, Conlon, Marcos Molina, and Corey Taylor will make their spring debuts on Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Speaking of Bautista, the 22-year-old has been opening some eyes among Mets brass, says Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Although Bautista is rawer than Callahan, Rhame, or Smith, he is still viewed as a potentially key piece of a future Mets bullpen. Bautista struggled with his control prior to the trade with Boston last July, walking 5.6 batters per nine innings at High-A Salem, but he recovered to limit his free passes to only 1.9 per nine in 10 outings for St. Lucie.

Matt Purke, in camp on a minor league deal, had nearly 10 offers over the winter, but ultimately chose the Mets due to the coaching staff and opportunity to make the major league roster, Purke tells Matt Ehalt of NJ.com.

With only one left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster in Jerry Blevins, Purke, 27, could put himself in a position to win a bullpen spot with a strong spring. In 48 appearances with Triple-A Charlotte of the Chicago White Sox organization last season, he held left-handed batters to a .192 average, with only two extra-base hits (a pair of doubles) allowed in 121 plate appearances against same-side hitters.