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Prospect Retrospective: Brad Holt

What ever happened to Brad Holt?

Brad Holt
Paul Hadsall

Despite ending the 2007 season with an 88-74 record, the Mets had multiple draft selections in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft. With the 18th overall pick, received from the Atlanta Braves as compensation for the Mets losing free agent pitcher Tom Glavine, the Mets selected first baseman Ike Davis out of Arizona State. With the 22nd overall pick, they selected shortstop Reese Havens out of the University of South Carolina. With the 33rd overall pick, the compensation pick for losing Glavine, they selected right-handed pitcher Bradley Holt out of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. With his selection, Holt became the fourth UNC Wilmington player to be selected by the Mets at the time, joining David Miller in 1964, Joey Pyrtle in 1995, and Jason Roach in 1997.

A graduate of Albemarle High School in his hometown of Albemarle, North Carolina, Holt had a strong collegiate career. As a freshman, he posted a 3.48 ERA in 54.1 innings as a starter and reliever, allowing 54 hits, walking 28, and striking out 42. As a sophomore, he regressed, posting a 5.90 ERA in 76.1 innings as a starter, allowing 83 hits, walking 32, and striking out 53. Everything came together for the right-hander in his junior season, and Holt posted a 3.18 ERA in 93.1 innings, allowing 78 hits, walking 36, and striking out 95. He led the UNCW pitching staff in ERA, wins, strikeouts, opponent batting average, and threw the programs first one-hitter since 1992. The two sides agreed to a $1,040,000 signing bonus, and Holt became a Mets player.

Assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones, Holt made his professional debut on June 21, 2008. While his first game was nothing to write home about, allowing two runs in two-plus innings of work, he would eventually go on a record-setting run in Coney Island. When the season ended, Holt compiled a 5-3 record with a 1.87 ERA in 72.1 innings pitched, allowing 43 hits, walking 33, and striking out 96. His ERA ranked fourth in Cyclones history, behind Ross Peeples (1.34), Dylan Owen (1.49), and Bobby Parnell (1.73), while his strikeout total set a new franchise record, edging out Kevin Deaton’s 93.

On the heels of his dominant performance in the New York-Penn League that summer, Holt rocketed up the Mets top prospect lists for most leading industry sources. He was assigned to the St. Lucie Mets when the 2009 season began, skipping Low-A completely, and was greeted by a rude awakening, allowing nine earned runs in his very first start of the season. He eventually settled down and earned a promotion to the Binghamton Mets in June, posting a cumulative 3.12 ERA in 43.1 innings with the St. Lucie Mets, allowing 34 hits, walking 13, and striking out 54. Performance wise, Holt pitched well in his first start in Double-A but hurt his ankle and missed most of the rest of June because of it. When he returned to the mound at the end of the month, he was not nearly as effective as he had been in his first start, and the doldrums lasted for the rest of the year. When the book closed on the season, Holt put up a 6.21 ERA in 58.0 innings with Binghamton, allowing 58 hits, walking 23, and striking out 45.

Holt was assigned to begin the 2010 season with Binghamton, but an injury in spring training to his right wrist delayed his start to the season. When he finally was healthy enough to return to the mound at the end of April, but his struggles continued. Over his first ten games of the season, he posted a 10.20 ERA in 30.0 innings, allowing 43 hits, walking 23, and striking out 25, leading to a demotion back to St. Lucie to work on his mechanics. He fared just as poorly there, posting a 7.48 ERA in 65.0 innings, allowing 68 hits, walking 56, and striking out 62. While it was a forgettable season for sure, a silver lining of sorts came in the form of his Arizona Fall League performance, where he posted a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings, allowing 10 hits, walking 9, and striking out 13. Based on the flashes his fastball continued to periodically show and the relative weak farm system the Mets had at the time, Amazin’ Avenue ranked Holt the Mets’ 19th top prospect for the 2011 season.

Holt was promoted back to Binghamton to start the year, and while he did not perform as terribly as he had a year before, he was still not very effective, leading the Mets to transition him into the bullpen midyear. All in all, he posted a 4.71 ERA in 93.2 innings, allowing 75 hits, walking 57, and striking out 74, and was marginally better as a reliever than a starter. Based on the glimmer of life he showed, Amazin’ Avenue ranked Holt the Mets’ 52nd top prospect for the 2012 season. He remained in the bullpen once again that year, spending most of his time with Binghamton but pitching a handful of innings for the Buffalo Bisons as well, and put up a second-consecutive unremarkable season. At Double-A and Triple-A combined, Holt posted a 4.08 ERA in 53.0 innings, allowing 54 hits, walking 32, and striking out 45. That April, just prior to the start of the 2013 season, the Mets officially released the 26-year-old. He attempted a comeback with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League in 2014, but pitched only 3.2 innings with them and has not pitched professionally since.

Holt bulldogged his way through Colonial Conference on the power of a fastball that simply overpowered hitters, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s and reportedly reaching as high as 98, but the rest of his pitching arsenal was incredibly raw and undeveloped for a collegiate pitcher. His mid-to-high-70s curveball occasionally flashed average-to-above-average but was regularly a below-average-to-fringe pitch. His high-70s changeup was even worse. Compounding matters, his command with all of his pitches was spotty at best, often negating his best thrown pitches by throwing them out of the strike zone. After losing a few MPH on his fastball because of injuries and mechanical changes, more pressure was put on his secondaries to compensate. While the did refine the pitches a bit, the progress he made on developing them did not offset the loss of his pure stuff elsewhere.

Mechanically, Holt often got out of whack, opening his front side early and overthrowing his pitches. His inability to maintain a regular release point contributed to his lack of success, as he wasted far too many good pitches and put far too many runners on base. In addition, while initially praised as having a tough mentality coming out of the draft, many scouts and evaluators contributed Holt’s lack of success to an inability to concentrate and a lack of focus.