Mets: Ariel Jurado is the former top prospect nobody is talking about
The New York Mets have another young arm they recently acquired down in Brooklyn, who many in the organization hope can turn his major league career around.
With Major League Baseball’s Trade Deadline fast approaching on August 31st, many fans are left wondering which moves, if any, the New York Mets are going to make. What many Mets fans don’t realize is that our wheeling and dealing General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen already jumped ahead of the gun at the beginning of the month and made an under the radar trade.
On August 5th, the Mets acquired right-handed pitcher Ariel Jurado from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later and cash considerations. He was immediately added to the Mets 40-man roster and assigned to the Mets alternate training site in Brooklyn.
The 24-year old Jurado had been designated for assignment on July 31st, but the Mets must have liked what they had previously seen from the former Rangers top prospect. Jurado is not a player without much pedigree as he was ranked as high as number six in the Rangers system back in 2016 by MLB.com.
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Jurado had signed with the Texas Rangers organization as an international free agent back in 2012 out of his native country of Panama for only $80,000 as he was not on many clubs radars at the time.
That would all change as the right-hander would put together a strong debut season with the rookie-level DSL Rangers with a 2.39 ERA over nine starts while striking out 47 batters and only walking three.
Throughout his Minor League career, Jurado has posted a solid career 3.40 ERA over his 540 innings pitched throughout multiple levels. He also has posted a sparkling 1.25 career WHIP at the Minor League levels.
Unfortunately, that success has not translated at the Major League level thus far.
Jurado made his Major League debut for the Rangers on May 19, 2018, and allowed four earned runs on six hits in 4.2 innings against the Chicago White Sox. In 177 innings pitched, including 26 starts, over his career at the big league level Jurado has posted an ugly 5.85 ERA and 1.51 WHIP.
Jurado is not going to overpower batters on the mound as his average fastball tops off at 93 MPH, but his fastball does contain some great sinking action which allows him to get on top of hitters. Jurado also has displayed in the lower levels of the Minors command of his other offerings which include a well-established sinker, plus changeup and slider.
The key for the 24-year old right-hander to be successful at the Major League level is to keep the ball low and on the ground with his sinker and his four-seam fastball that contains a natural sink to it. Last season which was his worst statistical season at this point in his career, he produced his lowest ground ball percentage ever with both the Rangers and in Triple-A Nashville at a 42.6% clip.
Long term for the Mets, Jurado is still young enough and could prove to be an asset if his woes are figured out down in Brooklyn. It was a low-risk, high-reward trade for Van Wagenen and company. Depending on how things shake out at the Major League level, Jurado could make his Mets debut at some point this season with the lack of bodies in the rotation currently if he’s deemed ready.
If Jurado does not make his debut this season, he is currently a member of the Mets 40-man roster and could be given a clean slate to start next spring. That is provided he has not been designated for assignment this offseason, which is tough to envision right now. He will be an interesting follow over the next several months to see if he will be given another opportunity at the Major League level to unlock the potential he has previously shown in the Minor Leagues.
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At best I can see Jurado as a back-end rotation starter similar to Jon Niese who carved out quite a career for the Mets as a ground-ball machine. At worst I could see Jurado filling out a spot-starter type role for the Mets who can come in and give you four to five solid innings. All in all the Mets have another young arm in the farm system who could turn out being a steal if they can get Jurado back to the pitcher many thought he would become down at Brooklyn.