Knowing the growing list of New York Mets non-roster invitees to St. Lucie this spring will help to better understand what’s going on in those early games. Who’s that running onto the mound wearing number 97? It’s a nearly-30-year-old 12th round draft pick who spent three years in the Independent Leagues.
As meaningless as a large portion of spring training is for some players, the non-roster invitees get their first true showcase for the coaching staff in live action. When the clock hits and the season begins, it’s these five current non-roster invitees who should get every inning possible to show what they can do.
1) Cole Sulser
On his way to his age 34 season, Cole Sulser brings with him to the Mets a lifetime ERA of 3.87 in the major leagues. Not too shabby. The problem is that outside of the 2021 season with the Baltimore Orioles, he hasn’t been consistent. Nearly the recipient of a World Series ring last year because of his 4 games pitched with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he spent more time in the minors pitching to a 5.55 ERA.
Sulser is a product of the Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays organizations where he has spent most of his professional seasons. Two franchises that pride themselves on developing pitching, Sulser just hasn’t been able to turn it into major league success outside of the one season in Baltimore.
He stands out a little more than some of the other non-roster invitees brought in because of his age and a remaining minor league option available. He’d fit in best as one of the rotational relievers whom the Mets can push back and forth between the majors and minors.
A two-time graduate of Tommy John surgery, it was a shoulder strain last year that limited his innings. As with many non-roster invitees, the expectations aren’t high. It’ll still come in handy to know exactly where Sulser falls on the pecking order.