Chris Schwinden, starting pitcher for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons, has definitely not gotten to the minor leagues the conventional way.
Schwinden was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2004 MLB Draft, but did not sign and instead went to Fresno Pacific University for college. He was then drafted by the Mets in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft.
Any time a player is drafted in a round that high, it is unlikely that they are signed and thus advance through a team's minor league system or even reach the majors.
There is even an exception to this rule on the Mets roster, as young stud pitcher Dillon Gee was drafted in the 21st round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Mets, and since has advanced all the way to the big league club. He is arguably the team's best healthy starter right now.
Although he has been in a mini-slump lately in the International League, Schwinden looks like the next Mets pitcher to break the aforementioned rule. On the season, Chris has compiled a record of 3-3 with an ERA of 3.20.
The record may not look very promising but considering the Bisons' poor 26-34 record on the year, it is very respectable. In addition, Schwinden doesn't give up many base runners as he has a very good 1.08 WHIP on the season.
For those of you who don't know, WHIP is a stat that counts the amount of walks and hits a pitcher averages each inning. It is calculated simply by dividing the total amount of walks and hits the pitcher has allowed in one season by the amount of innings pitched in the same season. A good WHIP is anything around 1.00, and Schwinden's falls into that category.
Just like his fellow late-round draftee Dillon Gee, Schwinden is not an exciting pitcher and doesn't have lights-out stuff. He is able to succeed solely on his pitching smarts, control, command and pitch movement.
Schwinden's repertoire includes a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup—nothing out of the ordinary.
His fastball only tops out at 90-92 mph, which is not slow, but is not overpowering by any extent of the definition. Chris excels in keeping the ball low in the zone especially with his fastball. This lets him get away with having non-overpowering stuff and yet still manages to strike batters out and hit ground balls with.
Schwinden's best off-speed pitch is his changeup which can range in speeds from 77 to 84 mph. This range helps to keep batters always off-balanced, because one changeup could come in slow and the batter would be too early on it and foul it off.
The next changeup might be a little faster and while the batter is trying to slow down his bat to adjust to the pitch, the quicker changeup could blow right by him for another strike. Even with this said, the pitch is a lot more effective at lower speeds and when used in conjunction with his other off-speed pitches, can be very effective in getting batters out.
Schwinden also has a run-of-the-mill slider and curveball to wrap up his repertoire. The slider consistently reaches about 84-86 mph and can be effective as an out pitch when he is aggressive in its usage.
Schwinden has been cited by his pitching coaches for trying to place his slider too much instead of just letting it fly and have confidence in the pitch.
His curveball is a standard overhand curve that maxes out at about 78 mph. When Chris can keep his arm at 12 o'clock (straight overhand) while throwing the pitch, it has a nasty bite and strikes out many batters.
When he does the Oliver Perez (sorry for the bad memories) and drops his arm to more of a three-quarters position, the curveball hangs in the zone and that's when he gets hit hard.
Truth is that Schwinden might not be the sexiest option for the Mets to call up in the case of a needed-spot starter along this year or in the future, but he, like Dillon Gee, will most likely get the job done and be an effective major league starting pitcher.
Even with the bigger-name prospects like Jenrry Mejia and Brad Holt still in the minors, and the absurd amount of high school and college pitchers drafted by the Mets this year, Chris Schwinden deserves to be given a shot in the rotation either later this year or in the years to come.