Last month, the New York Mets called up Chris Flexen from Double-A Binghamton to make his major league debut. Despite Flexen no longer being in the Rumble Ponies rotation, there is still plenty of pitching talent in Binghamton. One of the names to keep an eye on is right-hander Corey Oswalt (no relation to Roy).
In 19 starts this season, Oswalt has been one of the best pitchers in the Eastern League. He is 8-4 with a 2.43 ERA and has 86 strikeouts to 32 walks in 103.2 innings. Right now, he leads the league in ERA and is second on the Rumble Ponies in innings pitched (P.J. Conlon has 125).
For his great pitching this season, Oswalt was named an Eastern League All-Star and ended up starting that game for the East division in New Hampshire. He only went one inning, but it was a 1-2-3 inning where he got Indians catcher prospect Francisco Mejia to ground out to second.
Earlier this year, John didn’t have Oswalt on his Top 20 Mets prospects list. However, he is on the rise for an organization that lost one of its top pitching prospects in the A.J. Ramos deal before the trade deadline (Merandy Gonzalez).
On Thursday, Oswalt faced the Trenton Thunder in game one of a doubleheader and had an excellent performance. After the first two runners reached base via single, the 23-year-old retired the next 20 hitters he faced.
In that outing, Oswalt struck out six and did not walk anyone on 79 pitches in a game that took under 90 minutes to complete (seven innings). Here is video of the last strikeout and the last out of the game:
While wins and losses don’t mean much in the grand scheme of minor league baseball, Oswalt hasn’t lost a game since May 20. Over that stretch of 11 appearances, he has given up two runs or fewer and has gone six innings or more in nine of those games.
Oswalt, who was drafted in the seventh round out of James Madison High School (San Diego, Ca) in 2012, hasn’t had many strikeouts this year (7.5 strikeouts per nine innings), but he has stayed under three walks per nine innings in each of the last two years.
As for his pitch arsenal, Oswalt has a fastball that can reach up to 95 miles per hour along with a curveball, slider, and a changeup. While the strikeouts haven’t come in bunches, he does do a good job pitching to contact. Since May 25, he’s given up a total of three home runs (all solo).
As Oswalt told Michael LeBoff of MILB.com after his last start, one of the keys for him this year has been the command of his pitches:
“I've also been able to throw all of my pitches for strikes consistently. I've been going out there to compete everyday and letting everything else kind of take care of itself. I know my ability so I'm not surprised. This is just another step forward for me."
For the Mets this season, one of the themes of the year has been injuries to the starting rotation as Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Robert Gsellman (rehabbing in Binghamton) are all on the disabled list.
Oswalt is not one of the elite names in the system such as Justin Dunn, Conlon, or Marcos Molina, but consistency can go a long way into moving someone up the ladder within an organization.