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Mets prospect Anthony Kay making a strong case for big league promotion

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 21: Anthony Kay #79 of the New York Mets poses for a photo on Photo Day at First Data Field on February 21, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 21: Anthony Kay #79 of the New York Mets poses for a photo on Photo Day at First Data Field on February 21, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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New York Mets pitching prospect Anthony Kay is off to a hot start and making a strong case for a big league promotion as soon as this season.

With the back end of the New York Mets pitching rotation struggling a bit over the past few weeks due to the forearm injury of Steven Matz and the lackluster outings from the newly acquired Wilmer Font and veteran Jason Vargas, the team would be wise to look at some of the young arms who are exceeding expectations down in their Double-A and Triple-A farm systems to stabilize the rotation.

One such prospect who has been dominating over the past few months and raising eyebrows is southpaw Anthony Kay. Kay was a first-round pick for the Mets back in 2016 and was considered a polished pitcher coming out of the University of Connecticut. He grew up and pitched on Long Island for Ward Melville High School in Suffolk County, the same high school Steven Matz had attended. In his junior year at Uconn, Kay put up an impressive 2.65 ERA, striking out 111 batters in 119 innings pitched.

After the Mets drafted the Stony Brook native, Kay spent the entire 2017 year on the injured reserved list as he was diagnosed with a UCL tear in his pitching elbow that he needed Tommy John surgery to repair. In 2018, the southpaw made 23 starts in Single-A for the Mets and struck out 123 batters in 122 and 2/3 innings pitched with a 4.25 ERA. He did show better command of his pitches as the year progressed.

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Just a few days ago, the 24-year-old pitched seven masterful innings for the Double-A Binghamton team as a starter, striking out eight batters and allowing just three hits, no runs, and one walk. It was his second recorded 8+ strikeout game of the season for the Double-A Rumble Ponies.

In his eight starts at Double-A for the season, Kay is posting a 4-2 record with a 1.24 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and has 45 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched. He throws a fastball that ranges from 93 to 96 MPH and has movement as well as features a devastating curveball known to have a high spin rate as well. Aside from his heater and his curve, Kay has been known to mix in a mid-80 MPH changeup and a slider from time to time.

In the past, Kay was known as a pitcher who left more than his fair share of pitches out over the plate and was thus prone to giving up a lot of base hits despite his high strikeout rate.

However, he has done a good job of pounding the outside corners of the strike zone with more accuracy in 2019 and is thus forcing less hard hit contact while pitching to opposing batters for Binghamton. Currently, Kay is considered to be one of the best performing pitching prospects in all of baseball at the Double-A level.

Many would argue that it would be best for the Mets to hold up calling up Anthony Kay to the big league level and give him three to four starts in Triple-A Syracuse first to see how he fares.

I disagree.

The Mets are struggling to play .500 baseball through the first quarter of the regular season and it looks like things might slip away from them further as their starting rotation ERA is still in the mid 4.00’s. I think it would be beneficial for the Mets to give this young pitcher some starts right away at the major league level in hopes that he can jump-start the team to playing winning baseball again.

The Mets pitching depth has been nothing but atrocious so far in 2019. With the poor outings thus far made by the likes of Corey Oswalt, Hector Santiago and Wilmer Font as spot starters, as well as the nearly 6.00 ERA posted by veteran punching bag Jason Vargas, why not trot out a polished youngster who has shown that he can shine after making adjustments at the minor league level? Especially with his tremendous upside.

To me, it seems like much more positive and good can be attained than bad should Anthony Kay get called up within the next week or two

We have seen young pitchers like Chris Paddack spend most of their time at only the Single-A and Double-A levels, come up to the Majors and dominate. So there is some precedence there. Plus, there is no better experience and learning curve to improve upon than pitching at the highest level of competition – good, bad or ugly.

To me, it seems like much more positive and good can be done than bad should Anthony Kay get called up within the next week or two.

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And we all know that quality starting rotation depth is going to be key for the Mets if they are going to have any chance of playing plus .500 baseball from here on out. It would make sense for Brodie Van Wagenen to see what he has to rely upon early on in the season so he can adjust accordingly, should he have to make a few trades later on (preferably before this team falls out of contention before Independence Day).

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