One of the more interesting rookies of 2017 is right-handed pitcher Robert Gsellman of the New York Mets, who has been named as the fifth starter. Let’s take a look.
Gsellman was drafted in the 13th round in 2011 from Westchester High School in Los Angeles, California. Following his highly successful 2016 season, he ranked second in the system on the 2017 New York Mets prospect list with the following comment:
2) Robert Gsellman, RHP, Grade B+: Age 23, 13th round pick in 2011; posted 3.99 ERA with 88/31 K/BB in 115 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, then 2.42 ERA in 45 MLB innings with 42/15 K/BB; excellent down the stretch, best stretch of pitching in his entire pro career; fastball up to 95-96, mixes in plus slider, plus curve, mediocre change-up; secondary pitches looked better in the majors than they did in the minors, reflected in higher strikeout rate while maintaining lots of grounders; undoubted parallels to Jacob deGrom and not just due to the hair, development paths very similar; while a longer track record would be nice, overall I think this is mostly real. ETA 2017.
His trajectory has been upward over the last 12 months. Entering 2016, I had him rated as a Grade C prospect. That improved to a C+/B- when he reached the majors last August. His strong run last fall convinced me that he was legitimate and as you can see in the comment above I moved him up to a B+ before spring training, ranking him at Number 45 on the Top 205 prospects for 2017 list.
Gsellman continued to pitch well in spring training (2.31 ERA, 15/5 K/BB in 23 innings) and has retained the increased velocity he developed in 2016, hitting 95-96 so far. I don’t see any reason to think he’s not for real, and while he carries the risks inherent in all young pitchers, I am confident in his chances to succeed, as long as he stays healthy.