When Chris Flexen returned to the mound on June 24, 2015, after sitting out slightly less than a year because of Tommy John surgery, he performed better than almost anyone would have expected. He showed virtually no complications from the procedure, and that was evidenced by his sterling 2.42 ERA in 52 innings split between the GCL Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, and Savannah Sand Gnats. So impressive were the results that the Amazin’ Avenue minor league team judged the right-hander to be the Mets’ 10th top prospect going into the 2016 season.
While the Newark, California native did not have what would be considered a poor season by any means, he was not as dominant as had been during his small sample from 2015, effectively making 2016 something of a disappointment. Pitching 134 innings for the High-A St. Lucie Mets, Flexen had a 3.56 ERA with 51 walks and 95 strikeouts. The slight trending of his peripheral numbers in the wrong direction, along with the development of numerous other prospects in the system led to the right-hander being dropped to 21 in the 2017 Amazin’ Avenue Top 25 Mets Prospects list.
Flexen will start the 2017 season as a member of the inaugural Binghamton Rumble Ponies team, but he will unfortunately not be available Opening Day. Flexen underwent surgery in mid-March to remove a bone chip in his right knee, an issue that led to him being scratched from his first—and only—scheduled spring training start. With a recovery time of up to a month, he’ll begin the season on the disabled list.
Despite slightly-diminished returns and reevaluated expectations for 2017, there is still much to be excited about with Chris Flexen. The Mets would not have added the 22-year-old to their 40-man roster this past November if they did not expect big things from him in the near future. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, topping out at 96 MPH. Combined with its excellent arm-side tailing action, the pitch is solidly an above-average offering. Complemented with a curveball that has the makings of an average-to-above-average pitch, a slider that has shown some promise, and a developing changeup, Flexen has a solid base to work off of—and the makings of a player who can contribute to the team in some way in the very near future.