Last week, MLB.com published a story on the pitching prospect for each team with the best fastball. The New York Mets currently don’t have a farm system flush with top-tier pitching prospects so it was going to be interesting to see which member of their farm system has the deadliest fastball of them all.
Their choice was a guy not even in the organization’s top 30 prospects. It was 24-year-old righty Michael Otanez, a pitcher the Mets moved from a starter to a reliever last year and are beginning to see the benefits form in 2022.
Mets minor leaguer Michael Otanez has the best fastball among all prospects within the organization
Otanez throws heat and as the writers of this list pointed out, it came with some control issues last year. Otanez walked just over a batter per inning in 2021, issuing 41 free passes in 40.1 innings of work. Amazingly, he hit only 3 batters but threw 15 wild pitches. Otanez was never a master of control during his previous years as a starter but he also wasn’t this wild.
With young flamethrowers, it’s numbers like these to watch most. The same way you might grow concerned if a minor leaguer is striking a ton, a hard-throwing reliever will make people wonder about his future if there is an issue finding the plate.
If there’s one promising takeaway for us to look into, it’s that the transition from starter to reliever has already begun. Although successful as a starter, the Mets saw a benefit of moving him to the bullpen. Hard-throwers that consistently hit triple-digits are no longer unicorns. However, if they can pitch smart and do more than try to blow hitters away with every pitch, they can be some of the most effective—especially working four innings a week exclusively out of the bullpen.
The Mets are going to need some bullpen arms as soon as next season. Otanez, an outside shot to make it there, will have to have a more controlled year on the farm in 2022 to go along with what has been classified as the best fastball in the Mets minor league system. In his first 10.1 innings, he has walked only two batters and one was intentional. He carries with him a 1.74 ERA in those handful of innings and should be on the radar as a future candidate for late, high-leverage frames.