Jenrry Mejia, Still Younger Than You Think

Marc Serota

You may not have noticed but Jenrry Mejia made his 2012 debut yesterday, pitching the final two innings of last night's 0-3 whitewashing. After pitching a 1-2-3 eighth, he came back out for the ninth, allowing a Dan Uggla solo home run before retiring the side. Command was a little spotty but the stuff was there, as he hit 97 mph more than once and flashed that excellent 12-to-6 curve -- though Uggla's shot happened to be off a curve that he hung.

Regardless, what's interesting to me about Mejia is how quietly he's slipping under the radar right now. From what I've seen, there's been a lot more clamor around this team for Harvey -- deservedly so -- Familia and even McHugh. Meanwhile Mejia isn't exactly an afterthought but he's certainly not garnering the attention he once did as a 20-year-old. It's almost like he's getting the 'Oh yeah, that guy' treatment.

Over at his blog the other day Toby Hyde described the Mets one-time top pitching prospect as 'almost exactly a year older than (Jeurys) Familia.' That, of course, is not accurate. Mejia is actually one day younger than the recently recalled Familia.

And so it goes for the 22-year-old Mejia, who seems like he's been in the collective consciousness of Mets fans for a whole lot longer than the two-plus years since Jerry Manuel first coveted his services. And it should; Mejia has been through more than his fair share of bends on the road to Major League prominence these last few seasons.

By this point it subconsciously feels like Mejia should be in that 23-25 range, where a starting pitching prospect is beginning to reach the point of make-or-break. So it's only natural -- if somewhat unfortunate -- that as a result the bloom is off Mejia's rose just a bit.

Yet, what we've got to keep in mind here -- aside from the fact that he's still within the generally recognized 12-18 month recovery range from Tommy John surgery -- is that the kid is still pretty damn young. Younger than Matt Harvey. Younger than Collin McHugh or Josh Edgin. Younger than Robert Carson. In fact, despite making his Major League debut back on April 7, 2010, Mejia is still the second-youngest player — and the youngest pitcher — on the Mets' 40-man roster. Only Ruben Tejada can claim a later birthday, and only by a couple of weeks at that.

In fact, Mejia is not only younger than any other Mets pitcher, he's actually younger than most Mets full-season Minor League pitchers (click image to embiggen):

Minorleaguepitchers_medium

So, yeah. This guy's still got a long way to go and, more importantly, plenty of time to get there.

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