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Gerson Bautista will aim to refine his command in 2018

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A hard thrower, can Gerson Bautista become a more complete pitcher and have an impact on the 2018 season?

Gerson Bautista warms up at Mets spring training in 2018.
Chris McShane

Signed by the Boston Red Sox in April 2013, Gerson Bautista has had a minor league career in which he has flashed high potential but has been held back by problems he’s caused on his own. The right-hander did not actually make his professional debut until 2014, a year after he signed, because of a positive PED test. In the years since, Bautista has fluctuated between pitching well and struggling because of control issues.

Before being acquired by the Mets, Bautista was well into having one of the worst seasons of his young career. Playing with the Salem Red Sox, Boston’s High-A affiliate, Bautista posted a 5.16 ERA in 45.1 innings, allowing 54 hits, walking 28, and striking out 53. Upon being acquired by the Mets as part of the Addison Reed trade, a light seemingly went on. It was like night and day for the Dominican reliever in the 14.1 innings he threw with St. Lucie. He walked only three while allowing ten hits and striking out 20.

Bautista has a live arm, possessing one of the better fastballs in the system. The pitch sits in the mid-to-high 90s and regularly touches 100 miles per hour. He complements his fastball with a fringy high-80s slider that flashes average or better and a fringy high-80s changeup that hasn’t flashed much better, meaning that Bautista is still primarily getting by with throwing, as opposed to pitching. The control issues that have historically plagued him stem from the violence in his delivery—he opens early, rarely follows through in the same position, and sometimes jerks his head to the point that his hat has fallen off. If Bautista is able to calm his delivery down while maintaining his elite fastball and promising slider, his control should improve and the high ceiling that the right-hander has might be realized.

Bautista will be turning 23 during the 2018 season and will likely begin the year with either the St. Lucie Mets or the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but it would not be a stretch of the imagination to see the right-hander getting major league innings at the end of the 2018 season and beyond.