Under-the-radar Mets prospect is blowing away batters with outlandish strikeout numbers

If you didn't know the name Jonah Tong, you know it now.
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves / Alex Slitz/GettyImages

You’re not sick of Christian Scott content. You’re ready for Calvin Ziegler to show us all why the New York Mets drafted him so high. You can’t get enough of imagining Tyler Stuart stacking himself on the mound at Citi Field in an intimidating fashion wearing the home team’s colors.

What about Jonah Tong? The 20-year-old Canadian righty is with St. Lucie and in his second appearance continued his early season dominance. Coming off of a 6.00 ERA performance last year that included a ton of walks but plenty of strikeouts, Tong is splitting the two further apart.

Tong has now tossed 8.1 innings and the results are astounding. Only 3 hits, an unearned run, and 21 strikeouts.

Add Jonah Tong to your list of Mets pitching prospects to keep tabs on

Tong was a seventh round pick from 2022 which fits the mold of many of the other high-performing Mets pitching prospects. By some chance or scouting mastering, many of the top Mets pitching prospects were taken in the fifth round or later. Round five isn’t exactly an outright thievery, but it shows some sort of special intelligence with those selections. Of course, we’ll first need to see pitchers like Mike Vasil excel at the major league level to truly understand how good of a later pick any of these were.

Tong’s 22.7 strikeouts per 9 are beyond sustainable. However, even with his struggles last season, Tong had a rate of 16.3 per 9 in 21 innings of work.

The big difference between last year and this one so far is the control. Tong walked more than a batter per inning last season. Thus far in 2024 he’s at 5.4 per 9 which is high yet hardly a problem when no one is even making contact. He does have a pair of wild pitches already. Through all of the wildness, Tong has hit only a single batter in 29.1 innings since joining the Mets organization.

One might suspect Tong is throwing 100 mph on every pitch but that’s not the case. Still breaking radar guns in the process, he topped out at 97.2 mph in this appearance.

Tong is a work in progress with some outlandish strikeout numbers to start his season. We’ll take half as many strikeouts in exchange for fewer walks, for sure.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Mets use him as more of a starter or reliever. In the lower minor leagues, even starting doesn’t necessarily mean much. The downside to getting so many swings and misses is it will inevitably lead to a higher pitch count. A potential high-leverage reliever in the future or even a closer with this kind of stuff, Tong is the exact kind of pitching prospect fans should be rooting to see have a room in the club’s distinguished pitching lab.