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The 10 best Mets minor league pitchers I saw this year: 7, Marcel Renteria

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

Marcel Renteria
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: Marcel Renteria

Team: Columbia Fireflies

Position: RHP

Born: 9/27/94

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 185 lbs.

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: 2017 Draft, Round 6 (New Mexico State)

2018 Season: 15 G (15 GS), 76.2 IP, 77 H, 12 R, 12 ER (4.23 ERA), 23 BB, 72 K, 7 HBP, 1 BLK, 1 WP, .329 BABIP

Date(s) Seen: July 14 @ Lakewood (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)

The Man

Baseball runs in Marcel Renteria’s blood. Though he is not part of a storied baseball family, he is related to not one, but two former players: Dave Oropeza, who played in the Montreal Expos system but never made it past Low-A ball, and Gil Heredia, who had a ten-year career between 1991 and 2001 with the San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics. A First-Team All-Conference pitcher out of Nogales High School in Arizona, Renteria did not garner much interest from major league clubs during his senior year and went undrafted in the 2013 MLB Draft. He attended Pima Community College, a junior college in Pima County, Arizona, and in his first year there posted a 2.00 ERA in 72.0 innings, allowing 57 hits, walking 37, and striking out 75. In his second year there, he pitched only 26.1 innings, posting a 3.76 ERA, allowing 23 hits, walking 17, and striking out 18.

The right-hander transferred to New Mexico State University in 2016 and posted a 4.74 ERA in 79.2 innings in his first year there, allowing 84 hits, walking 44, and striking out 79. In 2017, he posted almost identical numbers. He posted a 4.78 ERA in 79.0 innings, allowing 81 hits, walking 30, and striking out 86.

The Mets selected Renteria in the 6th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, assigning him to the Brooklyn Cyclones. He posted a 9.53 ERA in 11.1 innings there, allowing 15 hits, walking 7, and striking out 17. Though he was never put on the disabled list, he was clearly compromised, as his fastball velocity was down. He began the 2018 season with the Columbia Fireflies and came out of the box struggling once more. He was put on the disabled list twice early in the season, suffering from arm discomfort. He was eased back into the swing of things after being reactivated in mid-July hit and hit his stride late in the season. All in all, he posted a 4.23 ERA in 76.2 innings, allowing 77 hits, walking 23, and striking out 72. He was much better in the second half than the first half, posting a 5.61 ERA in 33.2 innings in the first half and a 3.14 ERA in 43.0 innings in the second.

The Pitcher

Marcel Renteria was drafted on the power of his arm. When fully healthy, his fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, capable of touching as high as 99 MPH. Renteria has spent much of his Mets career pitching compromised, either dealing with fatigue or injury. Throughout much of 2017 and 2018, his fastball velocity was down significantly, getting as low as the mid-to-high-80s. When I saw him, he was fresh off of the disabled list and was sitting 91-95 MPH. While the pitch has velocity, it lacks much movement. He complements his fastball with a slider-cutter hybrid that sits 86-89 MPH.

Looking To 2019

Health has been an issue in Renteria’s short career, but he seemed to get past his arm discomfort in the second half of 2018 and will hopefully avoid the injury bug in 2019. Given his size, durability is a concern, and at some point, Renteria may be better suited pitching out of the bullpen. The Mets have vowed to keep the right-hander a starter until it is clear he cannot start, but given his lack of a third pitch and the crowded pitching rotation that the St. Lucie Mets will likely begin the year with, Renteria might find himself starting the 2019 season in the bullpen.