The New York Mets gave pitcher Gerson Bautista a chance to pitch early in 2018. Clearly out of his element, the kid is a lot better than his early statistics show.
The 22-year-old pitcher barely cracked the team’s top 30 prospects according to MLB.com yet still managed to make the leap from Double-A to the majors. We can thank the geographical location of Las Vegas for this.
The Mets needed a pitcher and they figured, why not give Bautista a chance? He has pitched very well in his professional career. Though he faced some struggles in 2017, Bautista has a chance to develop into a nice back-of-the-bullpen arm for the Mets.
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The Red Sox helped the Mets by moving Bautista to a relief role in 2016. Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Bautista finished the year with a 2.55 ERA. The most notable change for Bautista was how his strikeout rate jumped up. He averaged over a strikeout per inning.
In 2017, the trend continued. Bautista averaged 11 strikeouts per nine over the course of the season. While his ERA did go up to 4.22, he surrended only a pair of home runs in just under 60 innings.
Control is one issue for Bautista. As we saw early with the Mets, finding the strike zone is a challenge. This has been a weakness throughout his professional career. Before he has any major impact on the big league club, I see a need for him to master this a bit more.
Depending on what the Mets decide to do with Jeurys Familia at the end of the year, they could potentially look at Bautista as a closer candidate in the future. He’ll need to make improvements for sure and make fools out of minor league batters a little while longer.
As an aside, I find it interesting that the Mets have used their number 29 and number 30 prospect this year. Behind Bautista on MLB.com’s list is Jacob Rhame who we’ve seen take the mound for New York already.
The Mets don’t exactly have a top-flight farm system so getting anything from anyone this year is noteworthy. Bautista and Rhame don’t appear ready quite yet for the show, but giving them a nibble may have some positive effects.
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I fully expect Bautista and Rhame to bounce up and down between New York and Las Vegas this year. Maybe one picks up a hot streak and stays in the Mets bullpen.