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The 11 best Mets minor league pitchers I saw this year: 10, Nick MacDonald

Counting down the best minor league pitchers I saw in 2019.

Nick MacDonald
Steve Sypa

DISCLAIMER: This is a ranking of the best players that I saw during the 2019 season. I saw a wide cross-section of teams, attending Kingsport Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, Columbia Fireflies, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies games, but I did not see the GCL Mets, St. Lucie Mets, or Syracuse Mets, 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 players better.

Name: Nick MacDonald

Team: Kingsport Mets/Brooklyn Cyclones/Columbia Fireflies

Position: RHP

Born: 6/11/98 (21)

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 175 lbs.

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, Round 23

2019 Season: 18 G (0 GS), 23.1 IP, 21 H, 8 R, 7 ER (2.70 ERA), 7 BB, 34 K, 2 HBP, 0 BLK, 3 WP, .380 BABIP (Rookie/Short-A/Low-A)

Date(s) Seen: August 13 (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K), August 16 (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K), August 17 (1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)

The Man

The nephew of former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ray Nelson, Nick MacDonald played baseball at Charles Flannigan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, where he was named Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and team MVP in 2016. After being recruited by multiple colleges, he settled on Florida International, where he posted a 4.29 ERA in 71.1 innings in his freshman year, allowing 67 hits, walking 30, and striking out 67. He was remarkably consistent in his sophomore and junior years, posting a 4.26 ERA in 67.2 innings in 2018 and a 4.59 ERA in 76.0 innings in 2019 with similar peripherals. All in all, he posted a cumulative 4.14 ERA in 214.1 innings over three years as a Golden Panther, allowing 230 hits, walking 76, and striking out 205.

The Mets selected him in the 23rd round of the 2019 MLB Draft, the 688th player selected overall and he signed for $125,000, the maximum allowable for a 10th+ round draftee without having to dip into a team’s bonus pool. He was assigned to Kingsport and spent the majority of the season there, posting a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings over 16 relief appearances. He allowed 18 hits, walked six, and struck out 28, saving three games in four opportunities. After the Kingsport season ended, he was promoted to the Columbia Fireflies, where he appeared in a game, and then sent to Brooklyn, where he appeared in a game.

The Pitcher

MacDonald uses an over-the-head windup, throwing from a low-three-quarter, almost sidearm arm slot, slinging the ball with a whippy arm action. His fastball ranges from 89-93 MPH, sitting 91-92 MPH. Thanks to his arm slot and slingy arm action, the pitch gets a lot of arm-side movement on it. He is able to command the pitch and hit his spots. He complements his fastball with a curveball and changeup, both of which he has a good feel for and consistently mixes in. His curveball ranges from 78-82 MPH and generally sits 81-82 MPH. The pitch has 11-5 shape and is his primary weapon against left-handed hitters, generally backdooring it against them. His changeup, which ranges from 82-85 MPH but generally sits 84-85 MPH, is his primary weapon against right-handers, as it has good tumble and fade.

Looking to 2020

MacDonald spent the entirety of the 2019 season as a reliever, but he was a starter for virtually all of his time at Florida International. Depending on how the Mets view him and what kind of role they want to use him in, he may be able to be pushed quick. Regardless, he will likely begin the 2020 season with the Columbia Fireflies. The Golden Panthers are members of Conference USA, generally considered one of the better conferences in NCAA baseball, and pitching in Brooklyn in 2020 would likely not be enough of a developmental challenge for him.

The List

11: Josh Hejka