New York Mets Prospect Jenrry Mejia Strong in Dominican, Oliver Perez Struggles

Ash MarshallSenior Analyst IDecember 11, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 15:  Jenrry Mejia #32 of the New York Mets pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 15, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York Mets pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia scattered two hits while walking one and striking out four over three shutout innings for the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League on Friday.

The 21-year-old, making his second start of the fall, fanned three Aguilas batters in the first inning, working around a one-out double followed by a walk, and he recorded three ground ball outs in the second frame to set down the side despite an error by veteran first baseman Wily Mo Pena.

Mejia surrendered a double to Hector Luna, who finished 5-for-6 with three RBIs, in the top of the third frame, but got Edwin Encarnacion to ground out to short and Kevin Barker to fly out to center to complete his outing.

The start was much sharper than his first appearance last Sunday—his first game since being sidelined with shoulder problems in September—in which he gave up a pair of runs on three hits and three walks over 2.1 innings to Escogido.

ESPN’s Adriano Torres reported that Mejia got up to 96 mph on his fastball and that Licey pitching coach Guy Conti was impressed with his progress and poise.

Mejia, who was 0-4 in 33 appearances with the Mets in 2010, will likely start the 2011 season in Triple-A Buffalo where he will be further stretched out as a staring pitcher.

In nine starts across four Minor League levels last year with the Gulf Coast Mets, St. Lucie, Binghamton and Buffalo,  the right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.28 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 42.1 inning. He also threw a complete game shutout for the B-Mets in the Eastern League.

But while Mejia continues to make a positive impression on members of the Mets Minor League field staff, the same cannot be said for headcase Oliver Perez who, unfortunately, is likely to play a much bigger role in the early stages of next season at the Major League level.

Perez faced just one above the minimum over the first three frames in his start for the Tomateros de Culiacan in the Mexican League on Friday night before imploding in the middle innings.

He yielded back-to-back two-out homers in the fourth inning and then gave up a leadoff double in the fifth that came around to score to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth. Perez recorded two outs in the sixth but was unable to finish his start on a high note, walking first baseman Japhet Amador and surrendering a single to No. 7 hitter Mario Valenzuela. Both baserunners would come around to score.

The final line on Perez read six earned runs on six hits with two walks, three strikeouts and two home runs over 5.2 innings.

The loss was the southpaw’s second in a row and he now sports a 5.73 ERA over nine appearances.

Perez was hit-and-miss in his first two starts and even though he struck out eight and walked six over a combined 10 innings, he kept putting up zeros.

Things have not been as smooth in his last two outings, where he has allowed 15 baserunners nine runs in seven innings.

Perez obviously still has some things he needs to work on throughout the winter and hopefully he will be able to respond next Wednesday with a more positive performance.