In order to make room for outfielder Matt den Dekker on the 40-man roster, Marcos Molina has been released. The 23-year-old right-hander, who was placed on the Double-A disabled list on July 4th, currently has a cumulative 6.94 ERA in 81.2 innings split over fourteen starts with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and two with the Las Vegas 51s.
Signed by the Mets out of the Dominican Republic in January 2012 as an unheralded rookie, Molina burst on the scene in 2014 when he was a member of the Brooklyn Cyclones. He would post one of the best seasons in Brooklyn Cyclones history, posting a 1.78 ERA in 76.0 innings, allowing 46 hits, walking 18, and striking out 91. Despite being only 19 and not having made it to full-season ball, Molina was a special talent and was named ninth top prospect for the 2015 season. He began the 2015 season with the St. Lucie Mets but struggled, and was eventually put on the disabled list due to a strained right elbow. He and the team opted to rehab the injury naturally, and he returned to the field later that year, but succumbed to Tommy John surgery nonetheless.
He missed the entire 2016 season, finally returning to the mound during the Arizona Fall League. In the small sample of the Arizona Fall League, it looked like Molina had not skipped a beat during his time off from pitching. On the surface, his 2017 numbers suggested the same thing. In five starts with the St. Lucie Mets and twelve with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Molina posted a 3.21 ERA in 106.2 innings, allowing 94 hits, walking 26, and striking out 86. Below the surface, it was apparent that Molina was not the same. His fastball, which sat comfortably in the low-to-mid 90s before the Tommy John surgery, averaged 91 MPH for the season and often backed up into the mid-to-high 80s for entire starts. His slider, which flashed plus before surgery, looked greatly diminished.
There were questions as to whether or not Molina was a diminished pitcher or was merely shaking off the rust of his layover from pitching, but the right-hander looked equally poor in his fourteen starts this season. While, in today’s day and age, Tommy John surgery is performed with regularity and is almost always a success, Marcos Molina is a reminder that there is no guarantee.