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The 10 best Mets minor league pitchers I saw this year: 8, Ryder Ryan

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Counting down the best minor league pitchers I saw in 2018.

Ryder Ryan
Steve Sypa

Disclaimer: This is a ranking of the best players that I saw during the 2018 season. I saw a wide cross-section of teams in 2018, seeing the Kingsport Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, Columbia Fireflies, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but I did not see the GCL Mets, St. Lucie Mets, or Las Vegas 51s, nor did I attend every single game of the teams that I did see. As such, this is not a comprehensive Mets prospect list. If a player is not on the list, I either did not see him, or considered the listed ten players better.

Name: Ryder Ryan

Team: Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Position: RHP

Born: 5/11/95 (23)

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 205 lbs.

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: Trade (Cleveland)

2018 Season: 42 G (0 GS), 53.0 IP, 41 H, 21 R, 19 ER (3.23 ERA), 15 BB, 59 K, 3 HBP, 0 BLK, 9 WP, .276 BABIP (High-A/Double-A)

Date(s) Seen: June 20 @ Trenton (1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K)

The Man

Ryder Ryan has an interesting family. His grandfather, Tim Ryan, is a musician that wrote songs and recorded albums with Hank Williams Jr. and toured with the Marshall Tucker Band. His great uncle, Ed Madjeski, played catcher for the Chicago White Sox, New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics during the 1930s. His uncle, Jason, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 9th round of the 1994 MLB Draft and pitched in the minor leagues for 11 seasons before pitching in the majors for the Minnesota Twins in 1999 and 2000. His father, Sean, was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 38th round of the 1990 MLB Draft and progressed as high as Triple-A. After retiring from organized baseball, Sean, among other things, coached travel teams. In 2012, Kevin Wilson, the athletic director of North Mecklenburg High School reached out to him to fill their empty coaching position. Sean agreed, and in doing so, became the coach of his two sons, Ryder and River.

Under his father’s tutelage, Ryder hit .597 and posted a 0.28 ERA as a junior and hit .536 and posted a 0.57 ERA as a senior. Although he was projected to be selected early in the 2014 MLB Draft, he was not selected until the 40th round due to his commitment to the University of North Carolina. He did not sign with the Cleveland Indians and instead enrolled at UNC. He did not play much, and when he was on the field, spent the majority of his time at third base. He received just 14 at-bats in 2015 and 26 in 2015, and pitched just a single inning over both years. The Cleveland Indians drafted him once again, selecting him in the 30th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, and this time, he chose to sign with them rather than return to the Tar Heels.

The 21-year-old made his professional debut that summer, pitching for the AZL Indians, and had a solid debut, posting a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings, allowing 21 hits, walking 9, and striking out 24. He began the 2017 season with the Lake County Captains and spent the majority of the season there, posting a 4.79 ERA in 41.1 innings, allowing 44 hits, walking 17, and striking out 49. On August 9, he was traded to the Mets in exchange for outfielder Jay Bruce. He was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies and posted a 2.08 ERA in 13.0 innings, allowing 6 hits, walking 5, and striking out 13. He began the 2018 season with the St. Lucie Mets and posted a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 5, and striking out 23. He was promoted to the Binghamton Mets at the end of May and spent the rest of the 2018 season there, posting a 4.13 ERA in 32.2 innings, allowing 27 hits, walking 10, and striking out 36.

The Pitcher

Ryan throws from a three-quarters arm slot. His mechanics in high school, despite his father’s tutelage, were very crude, leading to a release point that bounced around and terrible control. The Indians smoothed his mechanics a bit, and the Mets streamlined things a bit more, leading to better control. It can still be problematic at times, but it has improved vastly over the years.

His fastball sits in the mid-90s, topping out at 97 MPH. The pitch does not have much movement, but he is able to command it well enough to consistently elevate the pitch and change hitters’ eye levels. He complements his fastball with a mid-80s slider that flashes average-to-above-average and occasionally throws a changeup. The change is thrown sparingly, making Ryan primarily a fastball/slider pitcher.

Looking To 2019

Ryan gives up too many fly balls, which makes him susceptible to the long ball. His flyball percentage in Binghamton was 48.3 % and his flyball/home run percentage was 11.9 %, both extremely high. In order to have success in the future, Ryan needs to keep the ball both in play, and on the ground. While he spent the majority of the 2018 season in Binghamton, I would not be surprised if the right-hander began the 2019 there. Ryan is still raw as a pitcher, and there is no need to rush the 23-year-old up the minor league ladder. In addition, many of the players that the Mets recently released were relievers that may have been assigned to pitch for the Rumble Ponies in 2019, meaning the right-hander’s services may be needed to buoy the Binghamton bullpen.