Mets Top Prospects by Position: Relief Pitchers (2024)

The New York Mets enter the 2024 season with a bullpen headlined with Edwin Díaz coming back from his gruesome patellar tendon injury that he suffered during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. You can expect to see some familiar faces late in games after the Mets brought back Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, and Drew Smith. The Mets also took advantage of the free agent period by brining in Jake Diekman, Shintaro Fujinami, and Jorge López to help round out the pen.

In The Bigs

Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, Drew Smith, Jake Diekman, Shintaro Fujinami, and Jorge López

The Brewers had opened each of the last two seasons with at least eight relief pitchers (8 in 2022, 9 in 2023), so it is likely that the Mets begin the season with at least eight pitchers in the pen. It will be interesting to see if the Mets look to bring in another veteran pitcher, or if they will allow Phil Bickford, Michael Tonkin, Sean Reid-Foley, Grant Hartwig, Josh Walker, or others to compete for the final bullpen spot.

At the major league level, the Mets head into 2024 with Edwin Diaz back to closing things down. The last time Mets fans saw Edwin Diaz, he was the most dominant closer in Major League Baseball striking out 118 batters over 61 innings while posting an ERA of 1.31 and WHIP of 0.84. By brining Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, and Drew Smith back into the fold, the Mets’ bullpen looks quite similar to the 2022 back-end that helped the Mets win 101 games.

The additions of Diekman, Fujinami and López are interesting. Diekman, a lefty, has experience pitching in high-leverage situations against tough left-handed hitters, and provides some certainty behind Ottavino and Raley before handing the ball to Diaz. Fujinami is a hard-throwing righty, with the ability to consistently hit 100 MPH. While his statiscs are not impressive, the hopes are that the Mets pitching lab will help further unlock Fujinami’s potential. With López, the Mets are hoping to he can regain the success that made him an All-Star in 2022 after a down-year in 2023.

Prospects On The Farm

Mets Top Prospects by Position: Relief Pitchers (1)

Paul Gervase, Photo by Matt Kipp

No. 1 Paul Gervase

Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6’10″, 230 lbs
Acquired: 2022 MLB Draft (12th Round)
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: 30

Gervase absolutely dominated during his first professional season, striking out 15.2 batters per nine innings and posting a 2.05 ERA across 57 innings while appearing 38 games between High-A Brooklyn (31) and Double-A Binghamton (7). Gervase was an important piece of Binghamton’s playoff run and he was relied on to close out the 2023 Eastern League Semi-Finals against the Somerset Patriots.

Coming into 2023 the tall right-hander offered a solid fastball in mid 90s with the ability to hit as high as 97 that runs in towards right-handed batters and a sweeping slider in his repertoire, while working on developing a splitter.

Gervase recently spoke on the development of his splitter on the MMO Weekly Podcast and stated that while it was a work in progress last season, he has worked hard this off-season to gain command and confidence in his new pitch.

After an impressive stint in Double-A, Gervase will likely start the season with Binghamton. If Gervase can replicate the success he has last season, it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Mets front office will be with his development.

No. 2 Nate Lavender

Age: 24
Height/Weight: 6’2″, 210 lbs
Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft (14th Round)
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: 31

After an impressive 2022 in which the lefty pitched to a 1.70 ERA across 47.2 innings after appearing in 26 games between the St. Lucie Mets (10) and Brooklyn Cyclones (16), Lavender followed that up with a solid 2023 where he pitched the majority of his games in Triple-A Syracuse.

Lavender stated the 2023 season in Double-A Binghamton for only 7 games pitching to a 1.74 ERA and striking out 16.5 batters per nine innings. In Syracuse, Lavender appeared in 35 games pitching to a 3.27 ERA across 44 innings. For the first time in Lavender’s professional career, the long-ball became an issue for him (1.4/9) giving up 7 home runs after allowing just 1 in his previous 64.2 innings pitched.

Lavender might be the first one off this list to reach Queens if he regain the success he had in Single-A and Double-A next season with a second stint starting in Syracuse.

Mets Top Prospects by Position: Relief Pitchers (3)

Wilkin Ramos, Photo by Bronson Harris of Binghamtom Rumble Ponies

No. 3 Wilkin Ramos

Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6’5″, 165 lbs
Acquired: 2023 Minor League Rule-5 Draft
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: Not Ranked

After being selected by the Mets in the 2023 minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft the Mets saw quick results as Ramos showed strong signs of development through 21 games with High-A Brooklyn before being promoted to Binghamton where he really started to take off. He posted a 1.47 ERA across 18.1 innings while appearing in 12 Double-A games.

Ramos is mostly a two-pitch reliever, however, his sinker is very impressive sitting in the mid 90-s and averaging about 4 inches of vertical break with 18 inches of movement that ties up right handed-batters. One of his highlights from this past season was where he struck out fellow NL East top prospect, James Wood. Ramos’ curveball sits around 80 MPH, but does not properly compliment his strong sinking fastball and doesn’t garner a high swing-rate.

Despite his early success in the Mets’ system, Ramos will likely need to develop a third pitch that better compliments his sinking fastball to have success in the upper levels of the minor leagues and in Queens.

No. 4 Trey McLaughlin

Age: 24
Height/Weight: 6’2″, 210 lbs
Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft (16th Round)
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: Not Ranked

McLaughlin has spent the last three seasons developing in the Mets organization and has earned mid-season promotions each of those three. McLaughlin’s most impressive season came in 2023 where he appeared in a career high 35 games in High-A Brooklyn (10) and Double-A Binghamton (25) and a slight career high in innings pitched (51.2).

McLaughlin had great success in Brooklyn where he pitched to a 1.65 ERA and stuck out a career-high 14.3 batters per nine innings. He was then promoted to Binghamton where he pitched to a 3.31 ERA over 35.1 innings and appearing in 25 games. While McLaughlin had a career- low HR/9 (0.9) and career-high K/9 (11.1), he continued to walk batters at a high rate of nearly three batters per nine innings.

If McLaughlin is to have success in 2024 and beyond, he will need to find better control of the strike zone.

No. 5 Daniel Juarez

Age: 23
Height/Weight: 5’11″, 190 lbs
Acquired: 2018-19 International Free Agency
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: Not Ranked

Juarez, signed by the Mets late in the 2018-19 international free agent signing window in January 2019 as an 18-year old from Venezuela struggled after being assigned to the Dominican Summer League in 2019, but has since shown why the Mets signed the left-hander reliever pitching to a sub-2.60 ERA in each of the last three seasons.

Juarez has earned promotions from Rookie Ball with the FCL Mets in 2021 all the way up to Double-A in 2023. In 2022, the lefty pitched to a 1.66 ERA and struck out 12.3 batters per nine innings across 43.1 innings while appearing in 31 Single-A (26) and High-A (5) games.

In 2023, Juarez dominated High-A out of the gate allowing just a single run over 15.2 innings. He was soon promoted to Double-A where he struggled to a 3.27 ERA and allowing four home runs after allowing only four home runs his previous two seasons combined.

Juarez will likely begin the season in Double-A with hopes of another mid-season promotion.

Mets Top Prospects by Position: Relief Pitchers (4)

Photo by Herm Card

No. 6 Eric Orze

Age: 26
Height/Weight: 6’4″, 195 lbs
Acquired: 2020 MLB Draft (5th Round)
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: Not Ranked

Orze is a prospect who had success in his first professional season, but has since struggled in back to back seasons with Triple-A Syracuse. In 2021, Orze split his season with High-A Brooklyn (13 games, 4.50 ERA), Binghamton (11 games, 2.60 ERA), before being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse (10 games, 2.19 ERA) showing better results after each promotion.

He struggled to find the same success he had after appearing in 32 Triple-A games pitching to a 5.13 ERA across 47.1 innings in 2022. Orze’s HR/9 doubled from 0.9 to 2.0 and allowed 7.9 hits per nine innings compared to 6.9 just a season before. Orze had similar struggles in 2023, pitching to a 5.31 ERA across 61 innings in 39 games, however, he was able to bring his HR/9 back to a reasonable 0.9.

At 26 years old, Orze will need to show he can pitch in Triple-A before being given a shot in Queens.

Mets Top Prospects by Position: Relief Pitchers (5)

Nolan McLean, Photo by Ed Delany of Mets Minors

Unicorn, Nolan McLean

Age: 22
Height/Weight: 6’5″, 214 lbs
Acquired: 2022 MLB Draft (12th Round)
2024 MMO Prospect Rank: 23

The most interesting prospect on this list is the Mets 2023 3rd round selection, Nolan McLean, who offers a unique skill set from both the pitcher’s rubber and the batter’s box. While McClean was a jack-of-all-trades at Oklahoma State for three seasons pitching, playing first-base, second-base, third-base, and multiple outfield positions, the Mets used him exclusively as a pitcher and DH during his first professional season.

McLean appeared in only two games and threw only 3.1 innings as a professional in 2023 after pitching 57.1 innings and appearing in 39 college games the last three years. In his final season at Oklahoma, McLean appeared in 14 outings (3 starts) and pitched to a 3.30 ERA across 30 innings while striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings and didn’t allow a single home run.

McLean had a terrific collegiate career with the bat slashing .270/.396/.561 with 36 HR, 96 RBI in 146 college games. McLean will need to decrease his strike out rate and increase his walk rate to have an impact at the upper minor league levels. In 8 games between the FCL Mets and St. Lucie Mets, McLean struggled striking out 11 times in only 16 at-bats.

McLean has the ability to provide an impact from both sides of the field and it will be up him and the Mets development staff to help him reach his highest potential.

Honorable Mentions

Cam Robinson,Saul García and Dylan Terbrake

Robinson has spent the last six seasons developing in the Brewers minor league system after being selected in the 23rd round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft by now-Mets Head of Baseball Operations, David Stearns. Robinson’s overall production is not entirely impressive as his career ERA hovers around 5 (4.97) and struggles with a high walk rate of 5.7. Robinson has worked as a closer the last three seasons garnering 43 saves. It will be interesting to see if Robinson is one of the first arms called up to Queens in this summer.

García, a international free agent signed during the 2021-2022 signing period. He has struggled through his first 44 appearances (12 starts), pitching to a 5.14 ERA over 117.1 innings. While García has struck out an impressive 12.5 batters per nine innings, he struggles to keep the ball in the strike zone with a walk rate of 6.1 batters per nine and has been credited with 14 HBP. At only 20 years old, García has the chance to continue to develop his sinking mid 90’s fastball, sweeping slider, and changeup.

Tebrake was a 8th round draft pick in 2022. During his first professional season, Tebrake pitched 31 innings across 18 Brooklyn (14) and Binghamton (4) games. The righty posted an impressive 2.61 ERA with a 13.65 K/9, 1.13 WHIP without allowing a single home run. After battling injuries throughout 2023, it will be interesting to see if Tebrake can stay healthy and fins his way to Syracuse before the end of the year.

Mets Top Prospects by Position: Relief Pitchers (6)

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