New York Mets: 5 Best Power Pitchers in the Farm System
Power pitchers are the kind that fans love to see. They are excited by fastballs that light up the radar gun and pitches that rack up the strikeouts.
It's not hard to find a pitcher throwing 95-plus MPH anymore, but it isn't quite as easy to find someone that throws that hard and is also able to control his stuff and pitch effectively.
The Mets have a few of those types of arms currently rattling around their minor league system and some of them have real promise. If some of these pitchers can continue developing and learn to harness their fastballs, the Mets will have a very talented staff in the future.
5. Domingo Tapia
Domingo Tapia is currently only really a one-pitch pitcher, but that pitch is outstanding. Tapia boasts a fastball that sits in the high 90s and can touch 100. It also tends to be difficult for hitters to get lift on Tapia's fastball because he is tall, which puts good angle on it.
Last season in Kingsport, Tapia pitched well, sporting a 3.78 ERA in 50 innings. Something that looks very good is that in those 50 innings, Tapia walked just 16 batters. A lot of pitchers who can light up the radar gun tend to struggle with their command. Tapia struck out just 30 in those 50 innings, which is a number you would like to see increase.
After Kingsport, Tapia had a brief stint in low A ball with Brooklyn. He threw six innings, giving up five hits, no runs, no walks and struck out six. Tapia currently has a subpar breaking ball and really hasn't found a change-up grip that suits him. If he can refine a secondary pitch to go with his plus fastball, Tapia has the potential to be an excellent reliever for the Mets.
4. Jenrry Mejia
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Jenrry Mejia missed most of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery. This is something we're seeing more and more with hard throwers. He is continuing his rehab and should be able to get back into the flow of things shortly. There is a good chance he will be back in AA or AAA by midseason.
Before the surgery, Mejia had a fastball that consistently sat in the 94-96 range and could work its way up into the high 90s. His fastball also has some good sinking action that causes it to miss the hitters' barrels.
Mejia compliments his fastball with a change-up that is a very reliable pitch. He uses it as a swing-and-miss pitch against righties and a weak contact pitch against lefties. His curveball is below average, but he still has time to develop it.
Mejia's biggest challenge currently is his command. If he can improve his ball placement within the strike zone, it will allow him to be much more effective. Mejia has a shot at the starting rotation some day, but it seems much more likely that he will be one of the power arms that ends up as a reliever.
3. Jeurys Familia
Familia kicks off the Mets' "Big 3" on this list. That would be the Mets' top three pitching prospects who are all ranked among the top 100 prospects in major league baseball. Hopefully this "Big 3" works out better than the last time the Mets had a one, known as generation K.
Anyway, back to the point. Familia is another Central American arm that lights up the radar gun. He consistently sits at 94-96 and can get it up to 98-99. Both his breaking ball and change-up are still inconsistent pitches for him, which leads most people to believe that he will eventually end up in the bullpen.
He did make improvements with his command last year, but he still has a long way to go. After walking 74 batters in just 121 innings in 2010, he managed to lower that to just 43 batters in 124 innings last year. In those 124 innings, he also struck out 132 hitters, a good sign of his potential.
If Familia can develop both his curveball and change-up, there will be a spot in the rotation for him someday. However, if only one of those pitches becomes a quality major league pitch, look for Familia to end up somewhere in the back end of the bullpen. Either way, he should be in the major leagues before long.
2. Matt Harvey
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Although Harvey doesn't throw as hard as the first three pitchers on this list, he is definitely a more complete pitcher. This list isn't just the hardest throwers (otherwise Tapia would be No. 1), it is the best all-around power pitchers.
Harvey clocks in on the gun at 93-95 but is more than capable of getting up to 97. He also gets great movement and sink on his fastball, which makes it very hard for hitters to square up.
Harvey also boasts a terrific slider which is a classic power pitcher's out pitch. A curveball and change-up are also part of Harvey's repertoire, but they both still need considerable work in order to be good major league pitches.
There is a good chance Harvey will see some major league time before the end of 2012.
1. Zack Wheeler
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Along with being the Mets' best power-pitching prospect, Wheeler is also the Mets best overall prospect. Acquired from the Giants in July of last year in the Carlos Beltran trade, Wheeler wasted no time showing his stuff.
In 27 innings with Port St. Lucie, Wheeler gave up just six runs and walked just five batters while striking out 31.
Wheeler sits in the 93-95 mph range, but can touch 96-97 on a regular basis. He complements his plus fastball with a curveball that can be devastating at times. He throws his curveball hard and it often buckles hitters' knees; they just don't have enough time to react to the sharp break. However, that is at the A-ball level, so we'll so how Wheeler fares with a level jump this year.
Wheeler also mixes in a change-up and cutter that have shown promise, but both still need plenty of work to become quality major league pitches.
Wheeler turns just 22 on May 30 of this year, so he still has plenty of time to fully develop, but the feeling around the league is that he won't need to much longer and we'll probably see him in the majors sooner rather than later.