By Mike Steffanos
While it's impossible to cover ever pitcher in the Mets system that has a chance of contributing to the major league club in 2007, I have tried to be fairly comprehensive in the pitching previews I have written for the past month. Between eight rotation and 15 bullpen previews, I feel fairly safe that the 11-12 pitchers that will be on the Mets opening day roster will come out of those names. However, there are a few guys -- all suggested by readers -- that fall into that next tier of candidates, minor league depth. They'll be important, because if last year taught us anything it's that you can never have too much pitching depth.
Here are four other pitchers you just might see in 2007:
Mulvey was the first player taken by the Mets in the 2006 draft. He was a second round pick out of Villanova University, but the Mets felt he should have been a low first round pick. The Mets seem to think a lot of him, pushing him to AA-Binghamton for a handful of games after he signed. Baseball America selected Mulvey as the number six prospect in the Mets system following his first taste of pro ball. Here is a portion of Matt Meyers' scouting report:
Strengths: Mulvey came to pro ball with a feel for four pitches. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph and touches 96. He has good leverage in his delivery, which allows him to maintain his velocity and might give him more as he matures physically. His 82-84 mph slider has short, late break. He's effective at changing batter's eye level with his mid-70s curveball. His changeup should at least provide a weapon against lefthanders. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with a fluid arm action and little effort.
Weaknesses: Though he can throw all four of his pitches for strikes, Mulvey's command within the zone needs work. His changeup is still a below-average pitch at this point, and he lacks a true putaway pitch.
Kevin Goldstein ranked Mulvey as the Mets' #7 prospect for Baseball Prospectus:
The Good: ... Has four quality pitches with low-90s fastball, good slider and solid curve and changeup. Throws strikes and goes after hitters.
The Bad: Body offers little projection. Scouts love the depth of his arsenal, but wish he had that one offering that graded out as a dependable out pitch.
In A Perfect World, He Becomes: A average major league starter who can eat up innings, and get to the majors quickly.
I considered doing a preview for Mulvey. After all, I did one for Joe Smith and he was taken in the same draft. Smith has a chance to contribute this year because he's a specialist type reliever, and they often don't need much minor league development. Mulvey is a starter, and has some work to do with his changeup and curve. While his fastball and slider are probably good enough to serve him as a middle reliever, I don't think the Mets will let him develop in the minors as a starter. Look for him to follow the familiar path by starting the year in St. Lucie and advancing to Binghamton when the weather gets warm. What happens after that will depend on how fast he develops consistency with the changeup and curve.
Devaney is one of those kids who doesn't throw very hard but enjoys success in the minors thanks to knowing how to pitch. A 23rd round pick in the 2004 draft, he'll have to constantly prove himself at every level. Soft-tossing righties don't get anything handed to them.
Scout.com selected Devaney as the number 31 prospect in the Mets farm system last November. They had this to say in a scouting report on the young right-hander:
Pitching. Devaney is a balanced pitcher, using his offspeed and breaking pitches to set up his fastball and slow down opponents' bats. He has excellent command of his curveball and when he's commanding his fastball and changeup, he can be really hard to to hit. He's a bulldog on the mound who attacks hitters and off the field he's a perfectionist who never stops striving to be the best he can be.
Projection. It's hard to argue with the results thus far. He is an amazing 27-9 with a 2.77 ERA in his career and he has been able to do that without a true plus pitch in his repertoire. He doesn't throw particularly hard and his command can falter at times, but yet he keeps getting batters out and that's the name of the game. Drafted as a 23rd round pick, he had to put up numbers to get his shot and that's exactly what he has been doing. If he can continue to show the same type of success while improving the command of his fastball and changeup, Devaney projects to fit nicely at the backend of a big league rotation.
If Devaney can refine his command it's conceivable he could see time in New York as either a back end starter or middle reliever. While pitching prospects that throw plus pitches are a lot sexier, I think one of the things that separate good organizations from the pack is the ability to develop players to fulfill secondary roles with the team. With the price of even sub-par pitching skyrocketing, coaxing usefulness out of the Michael Devaneys in your system has a huge value in today's MLB landscape.
The 29-year-old Dominican right-hander existed on the fringe of being a true prospect for a while. He only has 12 major league innings under his belt, but has throws a decent fastball and a good slider and knows how to pitch. He has a strikeout rate of 10.5 per 9 innings in over 500 minor league innings. His hit (8.0) and walk (3.1) numbers per nine are also good. With the dearth of decent middle relief in the game, it's somewhat surprising that no one has given him a shot at a major league job.
Here is a brief Baseball America scouting report on Vasquez from 2004 when he was still with the Royals organization:
Vasquez has a great slider and great command of it. He also shows a low-90s fastball, that he needs to use a little more because some outings he'll rely only on the slider. He reminds some in the organization of 2002 Rule 5 pick D.J. Carrasco and will have a shot to make the Kansas City bullpen in spring training, just as Carrasco did last year.
The Mets signed him to a minor league deal, and he provides some of that organizational depth that Omar Minaya prizes.
A soft-tosser like Devaney, the 27-year-old left-hander was originally drafted by the Braves in 2001. He has yet to pitch a major league inning, spending four years in the Braves organization, two more with the Angels and last season in AA-Binghamton and AAA-Norfolk with the Mets. He's had very solid numbers and displayed excellent control -- picked by Baseball America as the pitcher with the best control in the Mets minors last season -- but lacks the "wow" stuff that earns top prospect status. Being suspended for testing positive for steroids in 2005 didn't help, either.
Chances are we'll never see Collazo in New York, but a lefty that how to pitch and throws strikes always has a chance of showing up in a major league bullpen. Like Vasquez, his role is to provide depth that the club hopes it never needs.
Okay, we're serious this time. No more previews. We'll wrap up the pitching with one more article summing everything up. Thanks for all of the feedback and interesting commentary on all of these previews.
2007 Bullpen Previews:
Chan Ho Park
Four Other Names for You (This Article)
2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up