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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.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Pitching coach Dan Warthen (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

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.

Autographed 2010 Topps Jennry Mejia card from my collection
Autographed 2010 Topps Jennry Mejia card from my collection

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.

Lennon writes:

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.

DiComo writes:

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.

Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton (FLA) and Gerald Laird
Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton (photo credit: d-deee via Flickr)

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.


Hufflepuff. Level 43 entertainment junkie and Mets fan. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind.

11 thoughts on “Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia: A tale of two pitchers

  1. I think I told you at the time they were going to ruin Mejia. And they did. Familia I was never all that impressed with. I think Alderson’s approach with Wheeler has at least as much to do with developing him properly as it does with saving money. I’d be happiest to see him spend ALL of 2013 in the minors, save, perhaps, a September call up. If he’s tearing up the minors and the Mets suck, their hand might be called. But keep in mind that the Nats shut down Strasburg in the middle of a pennant race. And that was the right call. You really have to baby good young pitchers to a point. You might not like hearing that, but its true. Both psyche and arm are still in development in the early 20s. Wheeler’s the real deal. I wouldn’t trade him for Stanton or Upton or Bryce Harper for that matter. Mets fans who want to rush the future are more likely to ruin it instead. Patience, grasshopper. Instant gratification rarely ends well. Remember Mejia. I know a lot of people think the line about rebuilding the farm system is just that–a line. But they’re wrong. We’ve got some great young talent whose names you haven’t even heard yet. I think the middle and bottom of our Alderson drafts are where the gems were. The top picks, maybe not so much. But there’s talent there, now, that wasn’t there under Omar. And, if we let it develop properly, this club is going to be something to behold in 4 or 5 years.


    1. I agree that Zack Wheeler should get to spend all of this season in the minors unless he forces the Mets to promote him by dominating Triple-A.

      I’m not ready to give Sandy Alderson another 4-5 years on top of the 2 going on 3 years he’s already had. You’re the only Mets fan I know who’s willing to wait for 2018.

      This year, I’ll be satisfied if some players take steps forward. Next year, I want to see visible progress towards contending, and by 2015 at the latest, I want to watch a team that has a realistic shot at playoff baseball. Those are the limits of my patience.


    1. That was an amazing catch. He impressed me when I saw him in Double-A last year, but it didn’t look like he handled the adjustment to Triple-A pitching all that well.


      1. Offense is highly overrated. Pitching and defense win ball games and championships. Always have, always will. I don’t care if he hits .077, I’d rather watch him in center this year than the rest of our choices.


      2. With all due respect, MJ, if you seriously ‘don’t care if [an outfielder] hits .077’, then the Mets should’ve held onto Jeff Duncan or more recently, Gary Matthews, Jr. by this logic. Even Rey Ordonez with his stellar glove had a marginal major league career, when all was said and done.

        I like Matt den Dekker and think it’s too early to assess his skills. But, center field is a traditional power position and some indication of ability to hit for power and average should be demonstrated at the Major League level.


  2. I wouldn’t trade the kids for Stanton quite yet. I want to see more of them before I make that kind of trade. Wheeler should spend most of the year at AAA, with a late season call-up, mid-year at earliest, and only if he’s absolutely dominating in AAA.


  3. Center Field is a traditional power position? I don’t know what game you’re following, but it ain’t baseball. Center Field is a traditional DEFENSIVE position. Always has been, always will be. Your traditional power positions are the corners. Up the middle, its all about defense. Duncan wasn’t all that great as a fielder, Matthews was 158 years old when the Mets had him and Ordonez, at best, was slightly above average defensively. At best. Harrelson couldn’t hit a lick. Nor could Belanger. They both started in the ’69 Series, one on each. Jerry Grote was, outside of a year or two, a very poor hitter, but damn near the best defensive catcher in baseball. Paul Blair, now THAT was a center fielder. I go back to ’67. The Mets added Tommy Davis (who, by that time, was playing on one leg). Davis had one of his best seasons at the dish, but the outfield was a mess. So they traded Davis for Agee. Sure, Agee had a bit of pop, when he was hot, but it was his defense that made the difference. He wasn’t anywhere near the hitter Davis was, but his glove improved the club immensely. Immeasurably. Offense is largely irrelevant. It’s all about pitching and defense, especially up the middle. By YOUR logic, we should put Duda in center, I suppose. Maybe Boog Powell should have replaced Blair on the Orioles.


    1. Perhaps my memory is biased by all of the the Hall of Fame centerfielders, but yes, it is a position that I expect offense from. In the 21st century, a major league team can carry a catcher who doesn’t hit. Every other position needs to provide some offense, though the middle of the field spots are more defense-oriented.

      Matt den Dekker belongs in Las Vegas until he figures out what to do with Triple-A pitching. He does have power – 9 home runs in 295 at bats for Buffalo isn’t bad… but a .256 on-base percentage and 90 strikeouts sure are. You bring up Paul Blair as an example of a light-hitting centerfielder – but he had a career .302 on-base percentage and never struck out more than 94 times in a full season. If den Dekker could do that, I’d be thrilled to have him for his glove.


  4. MJ, I’ll begin again by saying: “with all due respect”…..give some. You’ll get some. That’s how it works. Try it.

    My morning coffee wore off when I typed above. You wanna say the corner positions are the traditional power positions? All right, I give that to you. I do remember Joe D., Willie, Mickey and the Duke being centerfielders. And power hitters of renown, to boot. So I threw that out there.

    Your “.077” benchmark jumped out and I reacted by saying, wow, an MLB centerfielder has GOT TO hit his weight AT MINIMUM to stay in the bigs. Don Bosch, Rich Chiles, Jerry Morales, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Jeff Duncan, Gary Matthews Jr., and Andres Torres were just a sampling of plus defenders in the OF over the years but couldn’t hit, or stopped hitting, by the time they reached the Mets. So as a result, their tenures in Flushing were short. That’s the way it goes. Defense is highly desirable, but not at the expense of a black hole in the lineup. Ideally, a team puts a man in CF who has good use of four of five of the baseball tools. Let’s agree on that. And for what it’s worth, I go back to 1970…not as far back as 1967, but pretty far back as well.


    1. I’ve been a Mets fan since 1962. I was using 1967 as an example. The Mets thought they needed a bat, so they went and got Davis. And Davis did his part–he hit. But the team was not any better for having his bat. The team was miles better for dumping the bat and getting the glove of Agee. I wouldn’t count any of those guys you named as plus defenders, personally. And, sadly, since the steroid era, most everyone’s forgotten what the game is about. Its about pitching and defense. Full stop. You can have virtually an entire lineup that’s a “black hole” at the plate, if your pitching and defense is good enough. Fact. Here’s the secret about baseball–and it really is this simple–you can always score runs…the trick is not to give any up.


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