New York Mets minor league pitcher Matt Blackham is someone who may be able to step right in and help the bullpen in 2020.
It’s no secret. The New York Mets minor league system has only a small number of pitchers who have any chance of contributing in 2020. David Peterson is the most noteworthy prospect, but even he may need to wait until later in the year to taste big league coffee.
An under the radar minor leaguer we could see compete for a spot in the bullpen at some point next year is Matt Blackham. An underdog in a variety of ways, he put together a solid year in 2019.
Blackham was born in Utah and joined the Mets in 2014 when drafted in the 29th round. Slight of frame at 5’10 and 150 pounds, he’s not built like many pitchers in the show.
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This hasn’t stopped Blackham. Since moving to the bullpen down on the farm, he has been quite terrific. In fact, he has been consistent at preventing runs and striking out batters throughout his stay in the Mets minor league system.
Blackham combined to go 8-2 with a 2.60 ERA with Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse in 2019. In his 55.1 innings, he struck out 70 batters for a rate of 11.4 per nine.
The righty reliever is now 21-9 with a 2.38 ERA in professional baseball with an average of more than 12 strikeouts for every nine innings he pitches. He has bounced back nicely since missing all of 2016 due to elbow issues and I’m beginning to think the Mets could have the next Seth Lugo coming up through the pipeline.
Blackham will still need to prove himself further at Triple-A. However, if his 12 appearances last year are any indication of what he has planned for 2020, it may not be a long stay in Syracuse.
One obstacle to overcome is a lack of control. While Blackman can pile up strikeouts quickly, he can also issue a few too many free passes.
The Mets are still desperate for relief help even with the additions made this winter. They could especially use a guy on a minor league deal who still has youth on his side.
Sure, Blackham isn’t the blue-chipper who needs a fake ID to buy a beer. This doesn’t mean we should overlook the potential he has moving forward.
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Over the last decade, multiple Mets have debuted in the big leagues later than the average man and found success. Lugo, Jeff McNeil, and even Jacob deGrom all played their first MLB game at around Blackham’s age. In 2020, this kid from Utah could join that club of fan-favorites.