The New York Mets traded two of their top pitching prospects for Marcus Stroman last summer, but the team could fill those voids next month.
While the New York Mets may own one of the best pitching rotations in the league, their pool of young hurlers has certainly been thinned out over the last few seasons.
Since Brodie Van Wagenen took over as the general manager after the 2018 campaign, the Mets have traded away a number of young arms including Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson and Justin Dunn.
Luckily, Van Wagenen and his staff will have a chance to restock their minor-league system during next month’s first-year player draft. With just five rounds in 2020, the Mets can’t afford to miss with either of their first two picks this year.
With that in mind, it would make a ton of sense for New York to select a pair of pitchers during the first two rounds. Despite holding the No. 19 and No. 52 overall selections, the team will likely have plenty of talented arms to choose from at those spots.
Here are three potential pitching targets for the Mets.
With the Mets in desperate need of pitchers who possess front-of-the-rotation potential, selecting Carmen Mlodzinski during the opening round would provide the team with an arm who could quickly rise through the minor leagues.
Despite struggling through his first two seasons at South Carolina, the 21-year-old hurler broke out in a huge way in the Cape Cod Summer League during the 2019 campaign. As a result, he put his name on the map and ultimately became one of the top arms in this year’s class of prospects.
Over Mlodzinski’s 29.1 innings of work last summer, the right-hander produced a 2.15 ERA, 1.74 FIP, 0.65 WHIP, 4.6 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 37% strikeout rate, and 3.7% walk rate.
While the 6-foot-2 hurler was able to carry his success into the start of this spring, he battled with his command and was hit around at times during his final two starts of the season. After allowing just one earned run along with a pair of walks during his first two spring starts, the former Gamecock surrendered seven earned runs and six walks over 11.1 innings to conclude the year.
In total, Mlodzinski recorded a 2.84 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 20.8% strikeout rate, and 7.6% walk rate over his 25.1 innings pitched during a shortened 2020 campaign.
Despite laboring through his final two starts of the season, scouts agree that Mlodzinski carries the potential to develop into a front-line starter in the major leagues. Furthermore, the exciting young arm already features two plus pitches (fastball and slider) and could add another dominant pitch to the mix once he fully develops.
Over the last two seasons, Mlodzinski’s repertoire has consisted of a mid-90s running fastball, a low-80s power slider, and a mid-80s sinking changeup that still needs a little more developing. If he’s able to consistently control the trio of pitches at the next level, the hard-throwing righty could become an All-Star in the near future.
Here are some of Mlodzinski’s highlights from this spring:
CJ Van Eyk
Similar to Mlodzinski, CJ Van Eyk also carries the potential to become an impact arm in the major leagues. While he could be selected in the first round next month, questions about his long-term future in the rotation could allow him to fall to the Mets in the second round.
Ironically, New York selected Van Eyk out of high school in the 19th round of the 2017 draft. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-1 hurler refused to sign with the team and headed to Florida State instead.
During his freshman year, the 21-year-old was primarily utilized as a reliever. He made just five starts during the 2018 campaign. Despite starting his college career in the bullpen, he was able to make a smooth transition to the rotation in 2019.
Overall, Van Eyk made 18 starts and produced a 3.81 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 8.1 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 29.8% strikeout rate along with a 9.5% walk rate over his 99.1 innings of work during the 2019 season.
For the right-hander, he was able to keep hitters off-balance by mixing speeds with his mid-90s heater and 12-to-6 high-70s curveball. In addition, the former Seminole has also occasionally featured a low-80s changeup, but he’ll need to create more sink with it at the next level.
Before the remainder of the college season was canceled, Van Eyk was able to build off his impressive performance from last season. With that said, he did struggle with his command, leading to an increased walk rate in 2020.
Over his four starts, Van Eyk compiled 20.2 innings of work and generated a 1.31 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 4.8 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 28.4% strikeout rate, and a concerning 13.6% walk rate.
Even though some teams aren’t confident about Van Eyk’s ability to remain a starter, his three-pitch mix profiles him to develop into a complete pitcher at the next level. Furthermore, his effectiveness with mixing speeds should keep hitters guessing as he works into the later innings.
Here’s Van Eyk’s 11-strikeout performance against NC State during the 2019 campaign:
During the 2019 MLB Draft, Van Wagenen proved he wasn’t afraid to target players who came with red flags. He’d be emulating that same attitude if the Mets selected J.T. Ginn this year.
After leaving his season debut with elbow soreness this spring, Mississippi State ultimately announced Ginn would need Tommy John surgery. This will keep him sidelined until 2021. Despite this health-related concern, the right-hander was very successful on the mound last year and earned National Freshman of the Year honors.
During his inaugural season with the Bulldogs, the 6-foot-2 hurler produced a 3.13 ERA, 1.73 FIP, 1.05 WHIP, 7.5 H/9, 0.1 HR/9, 29.7% strikeout rate along with a 5.4% walk rate over his 86.1 innings pitched.
While Ginn’s health will likely be a deal-breaker for most teams, the Mets could take advantage of that mentality and grab an arm who has first-round potential in the second round. In addition, the 21-year-old’s repertoire features some of the best movement throughout this year’s class of hurlers.
Ginn’s mid-90s fastball continuously fooled hitters with its late-breaking movements last season. His wipeout slider’s mid-80s velocity and side-to-side movements also prevented batters from creating hard contact against it in 2019. The righty’s mid-80s sinking changeup additionally showed flashes of becoming a plus pitch during his freshman campaign.
Once Ginn is fully recovered, he’ll need to continue toning down his delivery to preserve his arm for the long term. If successful, the young hurler could undergo a lengthy career as a starter in the major leagues.
Here’s Ginn’s impressive performance against Flordia during the 2019 campaign: