Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia: A tale of two pitchers
Adam Rubin wrote a gushing article in advance of Zack Wheeler‘s first spring training start tomorrow, comparing the Mets prospect to Stephen Strasburg.
Rubin quotes pitching coach Dan Warthen:
“Zack Wheeler is going to be Zack Wheeler. He’s not going to worry whether he’s Stephen Strasburg. Right now, if I know Zack like I think I do, he thinks he’s better than Strasburg.”
“We have an unbelievable new program called PitchTrack, where we put him side by side with Strasburg,” Warthen explained. “According to the PitchTrack, his stuff was better than Strasburg the other night.
Warthen later notes Saturday was the first time he’d watched Wheeler pitch.
David Lennon and Anthony DiComo wrote about Jenrry Mejia, who pitched today against the Miami Marlins and took the loss in a 7-5 spring training defeat.
Like Wheeler, Mejia was once consider the top pitching prospect in the Mets farm system and we all hoped he’d be a future star. I remember standing on line at a New Jersey mall with dozens of other Met fans for the privilege paying $20 per signature for Mejia’s autograph in 2010. Several years and a Tommy John surgery later, it’s not clear that Mejia has a future in the major leagues – never mind stardom.
It’s difficult to figure out where Mejia fits in the Mets’ current plans. He started Tuesday against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, and to say he was ineffective would be generous. In one inning of work, Mejia threw away a comebacker and allowed three hits, including a grand slam to Casey Kotchman.
One scout in attendance had Mejia throwing in the low 90s, but his fastball no longer seems to have the same natural cut that made him more of a weapon at age 20. In the scout’s mind, Mejia projects to the bullpen, and Warthen agrees, based on his mechanics.
As for Mejia, his ceiling remains unclear. Though the Mets are once again trying him in the rotation, he may not stick there unless he develops three reliable pitches. He may be a starter now, but his ultimate fate could also be a life in relief.
“You’ve got to look at everything involved,” manager Terry Collins said. “Down the road, maybe Jenrry’s best slot is going to be coming out of the bullpen. He’s got a great arm. If he can regain the cutter that he had three years ago, that’s a pretty dynamic situation.”
I’m already frustrated watching Meija and his successor as the Mets’ ballyhooed pitching prospect, Jeurys Familia. I hope they both have successful major league careers, but I no longer expect that they will.
With Zack Wheeler, the Mets have another highly-regarded young pitcher who’s getting way too much attention from fans and the media. But current GM Sandy Alderson is much less likely to rush him to the major leagues than Omar Minaya was with Mejia.
For once, Alderson’s obsession with saving Fred & Jeff Wilpon’s money might work out – if Wheeler spends the whole year in the majors, he’s that much closer to arbitration and free agency. If he stays in the minors for the first half of the season, both can be delayed one year…
Of course, that’s assuming Wheeler is even still part of the Mets organization by Opening Day… there were reports of a rumored trade proposal that would send him and catcher Travis d’Arnaud to the Marlins for slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Would I trade my two best prospects – a starting pitcher and a catcher – for an established young home run-hitting outfielder? I don’t know… but thinking about the Mets’ track record with prospects, I’m probably a little more tempted than I should be.