Jenrry Mejia is back-sort of. Almost year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Jenrry Mejia will start today for the St. Lucie Mets, taking the next step on the comeback trail to the Majors. The top pitching prospect has a world of potential, but still many unanswered questions about his career.
Mejia features a wicked arsenal that includes a cut fast ball, four-seamer, two-seamer, sinking changeup and a curve-all the tools to
succeed at the big league level. However, he still needs time to hone his pitches, which will be complicated by the rehab process. How he develops his repertoire will determine whether he enters the starting rotation or the bullpen. Specifically, he’ll have to develop his control.
Of course, it doesn’t help that Mejia was essentially given the Joba Chamberlain treatment in 2010. At the age of 20, the native of the Dominican Republic was thrust into the bullpen (thank you Jerry Manuel) where he was OK, allowing ten earned runs on twenty-nine hits and fifteen walks with seventeen strikeouts in twenty-seven and two-third innings. He was then sent back to the minors over the summer in order to be stretched out for the rotation. Mejia returned to the Majors and made three starts, none of which were very good. Over eleven and a third innings as a starter, he surrendered ten earned runs on seventeen hits and five walks, fanning five.
Mejia’s minor league numbers offer a better picture of what he has to offer. In 280.2 minor league innings, Mejia owns a 2.66 ERA, 1.165 WHIP and 8.7 K/9, in addition to serving up just eight home runs. However, he’s also been wild, posting a BB/9 of 3.9. In 2011, he made five starts in Buffalo before the injury, compiling 28.1 innings. During that time, he proved difficult to hit (allowing just 16 hits) but also wild (14 walks) and the strikeouts (21 were down).
The most important thing to remember about Mejia is his age: he is still only twenty-two years old, more than six months younger than Matt Harvey and the same age as Jeurys Familia (technically, Mejia is one day younger). He blazed through the system but clearly needs more seasoning before he can return to the Majors. That being said, Mejia should absolutely remain in the rotation as he begins the march towards Queens, as his stuff is too good to start to start in the bullpen. If he still can’t find his control, the Mets at the very least, might have found their future closer.