When the Mets signed free-agent closer Francisco Rodriguez to a three (possibly four) year deal back in December, there was one person who probably expressed a little bit of disappointment.
That person is Eddie Kunz.
Kunz, selected by the Mets out of Oregon State in the 2007 MLB Draft, was envisioned to close games in Queens after Billy Wagner’s four-year stay with the team was over.
However, after a series of events including a potential career ending shoulder injury to Wagner, Kunz will have to wait a few years or so before the ninth inning is his.
This is not to say that the team has lost faith in Kunz’s abilities. Prior to last season, there were many within the organization who likened his potential to that of New York Yankees star, Joba Chamberlain.
While we all know that Kunz did not perform very well in his first taste of the big leagues (13.50 ERA in four appearances), he did have a nice year at the Double-A level where posted a 2.79 ERA and racked up 27 saves.
Last year, Kunz also worked on his pitching repertoire and perfected his sinker fastball, which tops out at 95 mph. He is also noted for his ability to get ground outs.
While he is efficient at getting ground ball outs, Kunz is also a strike out pitcher. Thich is evident by the 47 strike outs he recorded in 54 minor league innings last year.
His performance in the minors was good enough to warrant him a selection as a Topps Double-A All-Star. He was the lone Met to receive this honor.
While Kunz had a rather forgettable Arizona Fall League stint, he rebounded nicely in Spring Training where he pitched three scoreless innings in minor league camp.
The fact that Kunz is a mere 22 years old can only help his chances with the ballclub.
The only thing the Mets need to keep an eye on with Kunz is an arm injury due to his unique pitching delivery.
This year Kunz hopes to build upon his success and improve his skills at the Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo Bisons. Expect to see Kunz appear for the Mets here and there this season, but I wouldn’t expect any significant time in the majors until at least next year.