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: Bryce Hutchinson
Team: Columbia Fireflies
Born: 10/21/98 (20)
Weight: 245 lbs.
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 12th Round
2019 Season: 31 G (7 GS), 91.2 IP, 91 H, 51 R, 38 ER (3.73 ERA), 29 BB, 71 K, 5 HBP, 3 BLK, 4 WP, .312 BABIP (Low-A)
As a young boy, Bryce Hutchinson had to bribed to play baseball. A former outfielder at Marshall University in West Virginia, Roger Hutchinson saw the game as a good way to keep his sons Bryce and Gage in shape, and a great way to bond with them. He maintained a baseball field near their home in Ashland, Kentucky and paid Bryce $5 a day in order to pry him away from his video game consoles and get on the field with his brother. The family moved to Florida in 2006, and the Hutchinson boys got more involved in baseball. Bryce played on travel teams, and on the Spruce Creek High School baseball team, but he generally saw it as a hobby, a fun thing to do. He and one of his best friends, Joe Skinner, would banter back and forth about how realistic becoming a professional baseball player was. Hutchinson was of the opinion that going pro was a long shot, and that the life of a professional baseball player might not be worth it. That is not to say that Hutchinson wasn’t a good player- he was, excelling as a hitter and having an excellent base to work with on the mound- but he didn’t see professional baseball as doable. Skinner, on the other hand, dreamed of nothing more. His dream was unfortunately cut short when he fell ill out of the blue and was diagnosed with hypodiploid acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A few months later, he passed away at the tender age of 17. Hutchinson, who had transferred from Spruce Creek High School to DeLand High School, where his father was hired as baseball coach, was already having a tremendous year, but he dedicated the rest of his season to his fallen friend. “Whenever you stop playing for yourself, and you start playing for someone else like I play for Joe, it changes you,” he said. Recovered from a broken hamate bone in his left hand and damaged radial nerve on his right wrist that had limited him the year before, the right-hander helped lead the Bulldogs to the District 2-9A Championship, going 8-1 with a 1.08 ERA and 81 strikeouts.
Drafted by the Mets in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Hutchinson waited until late June to decide whether or not he was going to sign with the Mets or attend Mississippi State University, a college he felt a connection to due to the presence of the newly-hired coach Gary Henderson. He decided to forego college, signing with the Mets for a $360,000 bonus, making his professional debut in mid-August and throwing limited innings for the 2017 season due to his high school workload and a handful of injuries and set-backs that took their toll on his mind and body. The 2018 season was supposed to be his real foray the professional baseball world but the right-hander underwent arm surgery over the off-season. He was not expected to pitch at all, but Hutchinson worked and rehabbed his way back and was able to salvage the season, making his season debut in July and pitching 20.0 innings with the GCL Mets. After impressing in spring training, the Mets challenged Hutchinson by assigning him to the Columbia Fireflies for the 2019 season. He spent most of the season pitching out of the bullpen or piggybacking fellow young gun Simeon Woods Richardson, but was transitioned into a purely starting position near the end of the year. As a whole, he posted a 3.73 ERA in 91.2 innings, allowing 91 hits, walking 29, and striking out 71.
Standing an imposing 6’6” and weighing 245 lbs., Hutchinson has a solid pitching frame, though it may become high maintenance years from now in the future. Throwing from a high-three-quarters arm slot, he has a fluid arm action and generates velocity from his above average arm speed. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with slight arm-side run. While he has been known to ramp it up to as high as 95 MPH in short bursts in the past, the pitch has also backed up into the high-80s without life over the course of the 2019 season. He complements his fastball with a low-to-mid-80s slider, a high-70s-to-low-80s curveball, and a low-80s changeup, of which the slider is his best offering.
Looking to 2020
Hutchinson was not expected to spend much, if any time with the Columbia Fireflies, but when they rostered him, he ran with the opportunity. He performed much better as a reliever than a starter over the course of the year, but these numbers are a bit skewed as he made numerous multi-inning relief outings piggybacking Simeon Woods Richardson that could be qualified as starts of their own. While he was not necessarily dominant at any one point, the right-hander checked every box that you would have wanted to see from him, and should be promoted to the St. Lucie Mets for the 2020, where he should be starting.
9: Tylor Megill
10: Nick MacDonald
11: Josh Hejka