New York Mets top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia tops the list of a dozen players on the team's 40-man roster getting some offseason work in the Caribbean Winter Leagues.
Joining Mejia in the warmer climates is left-handed headcase Oliver Perez, second-round Rule 5 Draft pick Pedro Beato, prospects Armando Rodriguez and Manuel Alvarez and veteran closer K-Rod.
Here's a brief update to look at what these six pitchers have been up to in the Caribbean.
Also be sure to check out here.Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner and Brad Emaus are performing in the Winter Leagues
Top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia has made two starts for the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League.
In his first game since being sidelined with shoulder problems in September, he gave up a pair of runs on three hits and three walks over 2.1 innings to Escogido. He followed that up by scattering two hits while walking one and striking out four over three shutout innings against the Aguilas.
We should get a third and final look at Mejia on Friday when Licey travels to Estrellas. Unfortunately, though, that will be his final start of the winter, with the Tigres well out of playoff contention at 9.5 games back.
ESPN’s Adriano Torres reported that Mejia got up to 96 mph on his fastball after the start against Cibaenas and that Licey pitching coach Guy Conti was impressed with his progress and poise. Let's hope getting at least a few competitive innings will point him in the right direction before spring training.
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 starting 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.
Perez has made 10 appearances for the Tomateros de Culiacan in the Mexican League.
He tossed 10 scoreless innings while fanning eight and walking six over his first two starts, but he then gave up three walks on four hits and three walks over 1.1 frames against Mochis. Following five days rest, Perez allowed six earned runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 5.2 innings to Guasave in a game he started well before melting down in the middle innings.
The big nail in this coffin came in the form of back-to-back two-out homers in the fourth inning. The loss was the southpaw’s second in a row.
On Friday, Perez continued to struggle with his command in his fifth start of the winter.
He walked six and yielded two runs on three hits while striking out five over six innings, as the Tomateros defeated the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, 13-2.
While he still wasn’t particularly sharp, the one big improvement to note was that almost two-thirds of his outs were recorded on ground balls. Perez isn’t really known as a guy who gets batters to swing over a lot of pitches, so I can only assume that he did a better job at keeping the ball low in the zone against a good hitting team that is at the top of the Mexican League.
The pitcher, who has allowed 24 baserunners and 11 runs over 13 innings in his last three outings, has a 5.14 ERA for the winter over 10 total appearances.
Perez went 1-1 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts between St. Lucie and Buffalo in 2010, and 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA in 17 Major League appearances, including seven starts.
He is expected to fight for a bullpen job in spring training in March. GM Sandy Alderson reportedly said Perez will not make the 25-man roster unless he thoroughly earns his spot.
Beato was a nice and simple pickup for the Mets at the Winter Meetings from Buena Vista in Florida earlier this month, and it will be interesting to see how he fits into the team's overall plans over the next two years.
As far as winter ball goes, though, Beato has made only two appearances and none in the last two weeks.
He gave up two runs in his first appearance for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Republic and gave up a solo homer in 1.2 innings against the Gigantes.
The sample size is obviously too small to draw any real conclusions, but the book on him is still pretty clear. He is a tall right-hander with an overpowering fastball and occasional command problems. He was pretty dominating in the Eastern League, where he was a Mid-Season All-Star in 2010, and after four years in the Minor Leagues he appears to be coming into his own.
The former first-rounder hasn't maybe lived up to his expectations yet, but there are signs to suggest he is on the right track.
Twenty-two-year-old Armando Rodriguez has been getting some good experience with Leones del Escogido in the Dominican this winter.
He has appeared in seven games in an early relief role and he sports a 4.05 ERA with nine Ks and three walks in 6.2 innings. He has a reputation for being a flamethrower and hopefully the time he is spending in the Caribbean Winter Leagues will help him make the leap from the Sally League in 2011.
Rodriguez is one of a dozen pitchers assigned to major league rosters on the staff and being the second-youngest hurler on the team gives him a great opportunity to learn and develop alongside veterans.
He has the stuff to fill a setup role in the minors, and if he can harness his control a little more he could shine in Binghamton next season. He's only 22, so he should be about to end his prime over the next season or two if it's going to come.
Alvarez has appeared in 17 games out of the pen for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League and he has predominantly been used in the mid-to-late innings.
He has a 2.95 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 21.1 innings, and with the exception of one bad outing two weeks ago when he gave up three runs against Margarita, he has been excellent.
In fact, if you take out that appearance, the Venezuelan native would have a 1.77 ERA which would be good enough for the league lead if he had enough innings under his belt.
Alvarez, who turns 25 on Saturday, pitched over three levels in 2010, posting more than a strikeout per inning and showing elite control. It's no surprise to see that he was tested as he went through the system and it's likely that he will see more time in the International League in 2011.
I don't want to focus too much on K-Rod, but out of completeness I will mention that he has made one appearance for Tiburones de La Guaira in Venezuela.
We know what Rodriguez brings to the table and he will be the most valuable member of the Mets pen in 2011, regardless of how many save opportunities he gets.
In his only winter outing this season, Rodriguez earned a five-out save on Dec. 2 against Zulia. The following day he pleaded guilty in connection with an altercation with his father-in-law at Citi Field last August.
K-Rod will earn $11.5 million in 2011. Depending how many games he finishes, he could also be in line to pick up $17.5 million in 2012.