In the first two weeks of the season, New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway has had to use his bullpen frequently during the team’s 12-3 start. That means the Mets need fresh arms immediately. Due to that need, they made the decision to call up right-hander Gerson Bautista from the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies:
Bautista was one of the three pitchers that the Mets acquired from the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline when they dealt Addison Reed to Boston. He is the second of those three pitchers to get the call-up to the big leagues (Jamie Callahan appeared in nine games last season).
When John made his list of the top prospects in the Mets system, Bautista was ranked 15th. Here is what he had to say:
15) Gerson Bautista, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, signed by Red Sox out of Dominican Republic in 2013, over with Callahan in Addison Reed trade; 4.22 ERA with 73/31 K/BB in 60 innings between Low-A and High-A; best pure arm of this group of relievers, fastball can hit 100; good slider, too; command needs work and he’s not as close to the majors as Callahan and Bashlor; ETA 2020; QUESTION MARK: grading relievers is problematic.
Back in 2013, Bautista ended up receiving a 50-game suspension for a positive steroid test. Once his career got started in 2014, he held opponents to an under .200 batting average for the first three seasons of his professional career (Rookie ball-Low-A Greenville).
While it is only a small sample size, Bautista has dominated against Double-A hitting this season. In five innings of work, he held opponents to a .118 batting average, struck out 11 batters, and did not walk anyone (one hit batter). Back on April 5, he threw two perfect innings against Akron and struck out five on 26 pitches (19 strikes). In fact, 54 of his 81 pitches (66.6 percent) thrown this season have been strikes.
As John wrote, the problem with Bautista is going to be his control. If you are going to have a fastball that can reach 100-101 miles-per-hour, you have to be able to control it. Last season, while at High-A, he had 31 walks to go with his 73 strikeouts over the course of 59.2 innings.
In addition to his fastball, the 22-year-old also has a slider and a changeup in his arsenal. In his short time with High-A St. Lucie last year, he did a good job of getting opponents to hit the ball on the ground (51.7 percent according to FanGraphs).
Now, the jump from Double-A to the big leagues is a huge step. However, the Mets have seen good early returns on the reliever trades they made last year. For example, Jacob Rhame, who was acquired in the Curtis Granderson trade, ended up getting his first Major League save on April 8.
It remains to be seen how long Bautista will be up in the big leagues, but his fastball will sure be something to watch at Flushing when he gets a chance to pitch. If he can harness some control with that pitch, then the National League East better watch out.