10. Anthony Kay, LHP
Height: 6’0”, Weight: 220 lbs.
DOB: 3/21/95 (23)
Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft (University of Connecticut, Connecticut)
13 G (13 GS), 69.1 IP, 73 H, 41 R, 35 ER (4.54 ERA), 22 BB, 78 K, .356 BABIP (Low-A)
10 G (10 GS), 53.1 IP, 51 H, 28 R, 23 ER (3.88 ERA), 27 BB, 45 K, .321 BABIP (High-A)
Steven Matz, the Mets’ second-round draft pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, is one of the most high profile pitchers to come out of Long Island in recent years. Playing for Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, Matz set a variety of school records and was named Newsday’s Long Island Player of the Year and was given the Yastrzemski Award as the best high school ballplayer in Suffolk County in his senior year. Anthony Kay picked up the torch of excellence that Matz lit, setting 27 pitching records for the Ward Melville Patriots. Looking to strike gold twice, as Matz had just completed a successful season with the Kingsport Mets and was dominating the South Atlantic League with the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Mets drafted Kay in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. They offered Kay a six-figure signing bonus, but the left-hander chose to honor his college commitment and attended the University of Connecticut instead. Kay appeared in 18 games in his freshman year and was effective as both a starter and reliever, posting a 3.49 ERA in 67.0 innings, allowing 62 hits, walking 40, and striking out 56. That summer, he played in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, pitching for the Wareham Gatemen. He posted a 2.74 in 39.1 innings, allowing 39 hits, walking 17, and striking out 24. He returned to UConn in the fall and had an excellent season, earning American Athletic Conference First Team All-Conference, ABCA/Rawlings All-Northeast Region Second Team, and NEIBA All-New England First Team honors. Making 17 appearances, 14 of which were starts, he posted a 2.07 ERA in 100.0 innings, allowing 72 hits, walking 23, and striking out 96. That summer, he pitched for the Gatemen once again and accepted an invitation to play on the 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, posting solid numbers in limited innings on both teams. Kay returned to UConn for his junior season that fall and was excellent for coach Jim Penders, helping lead the Huskies to a 38-25 record, and winning two games in the best-of-seven ACC Tournament. He made 17 starts and pitched 119.0 innings, posting a 2.65 ERA with 99 hits allowed, 37 walks, and 111 strikeouts, earning a spot on the All-Conference First Team and being named American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.
The Mets selected Kay in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, 31st overall, using the compensatory pick they received after the Washington Nationals signed Daniel Murphy. The left-hander did not sign until late and was one of the last high-profile draftees to sign with a team before the July 15 deadline. With a first-round slot value of $1,972,100, he and the Mets agreed to an under-slot $1,100,000 signing bonus. It was believed that it took so long to sign Kay, and that he signed for under-slot value, because of concerns that showed up in his elbow during his physicals. Specifically, x-rays showed fraying in the UCL ligament in his left elbow. He did not suit up professionally for the Mets after signing, and sure enough, it was announced in October that he had undergone Tommy John surgery. The southpaw missed the entire 2017 season, but his recovery was without setbacks and he made his professional debut in 2018. He began the season with the Columbia Fireflies and posted a 4.54 ERA in 69.0 innings, allowing 73 hits, walking 22, and striking out 78. He was promoted to the St. Lucie Mets midseason and pitched 53.0 innings there, posting a 3.88 ERA with 51 hits, 27 walks, and 45 strikeouts.
Kay has a small frame, and as such, maximizes his delivery to get every ounce of velocity he can. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, hiding the ball well from hitters with his angle and leg kick. There is effort in his arm action, but his delivery primarily generates power from his lower half, making it otherwise clean and repeatable. He repeats his release point well, affording him excellent control and the ability to command all of his pitches. As a left-hander, he has a quick pick-off move, but Kay has a particularly good one. His fastball sits in the low-90s, topping out as high as 95 MPH on occasion, with a bit of sink and arm-side run. He generally has good command of the pitch, and can spot it to all four quadrants, working up and down to change the eye level of hitters. He complements the fastball with a changeup and a curve. The changeup was considered his best pitch, an above-average, potentially plus pitch, but was very firm all throughout his 2018 season. When Kay has it working, it sits in the low-to-mid-80s, and gets excellent fade and tumble, though he regularly telegraphed it, throwing the pitch from a lower arm slot and with less explosive arm action than his fastball. His curveball, which sits high-70s, has slurvy 1-7 drop and generally considered a below-average pitch, needing work on getting tighter and thrown with more consistency.
Steve Sypa says:
Anthony Kay’s selection in 2016 didn’t exactly excite me, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad pick at the time. In retrospect, it looks a bit worse now, with his needing Tommy John surgery and his unspectacular return from it combined with Cameron Planck turning into a dud due to shoulder injuries. His upside isn’t tremendous, but there is value in being able to pitch every five days, and Tommy John aside, Kay has shown the ability to do just that.
Lukas Vlahos says:
I almost didn’t rank Kay, and I maintain that he was one of the worst draft picks of recent memory- a low-upside lefty with a ton of miles on his arm that got run into the ground in college and then was selected in the first round. His results after returning from Tommy John were thoroughly unimpressive in Low-A and High-A, which is worrying for an older college arm as well. At best, Kay will be a backend starter, and similar to Peterson. He’s failed to move quickly through the system, arguably the only reason to select him in the first place.
Kenneth Lavin says:
Having underwent Tommy John Surgery almost immediately after the Mets drafted him in the first round of the 2016 draft, Anthony Kay finally made his professional debut in 2018. His performance last season was uninspiring from a statistics point of view. He ended up posting a 4.28 ERA with 123 strikeouts and 49 walks in 122.2 innings pitched between the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League. But, having missed so much development time at this point in his short professional career, being able to pitch a full season’s worth of innings is a major victory for the University of Connecticut product. Kay’s repertoire consists of a low-90s fastball from the left side, with a curveball that has improved significantly since his amateur days. He also throws a change-up, which was considered his out pitch in college, but he has struggled to consistently command the pitch since returning from Tommy John Surgery. Kay should be slated to move a little quicker now that he’s more than a full year removed from his elbow surgery, and should begin the season in the Binghamton rotation.