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Marcel Renteria and his slider could be another dark horse bullpen candidate

While the surface numbers have never been that impressive, Marcel Renteria has great stuff when healthy.

Gutcheck time for St. Lucie
St. Lucie
Bryan Green

Baseball runs in Marcel Renteria’s blood. Though he is not part of a storied baseball family, he is related to not one, but two former players: Dave Oropeza, who played in the Montreal Expos system but never made it past Low-A ball, and Gil Heredia, who had a ten-year career between 1991 and 2001 with the San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers, and Oakland Athletics.

Drafted in the 6th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of New Mexico State, the right-hander pitched compromised for much of his professional career. Issues related to injuries had an impact on his time with the Aggies and early in his professional career, as he posted a 9.53 ERA in limited innings with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2017 and a 4.23 ERA in 76.2 innings with the Columbia Fireflies in 2018. Pitching exclusively as a reliever out of the St. Lucie bullpen in 2019, Renteria started the season off poorly, posting an 8.49 ERA in 14 games over the first two months of the season. He righted the ship and had a strong summer, posting a 0.63 ERA in 28.2 innings in 15 games in June and July, before tailing off in August with a 6.75 ERA in 10.2 innings over 8 games.

With COVID-19 having cancelled the 2020 minor league season, Renteria took the opportunity to work with X2 Athletic Performance at the Push Performance Strength & Conditioning facility in Tempe, Arizona to refine his mechanics and repertoire, where he has improved to the point that the Mets nearly added him to their 40-man roster.

Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, Renteria has a live arm that he uses to whip the ball at batters. The effort on his arm may be a contributor to the injuries that have historically plagued him and is definitely a reason why his command generally has been a weak point of his game. When he is healthy, his fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, topping out at 96 MPH as a professional and even higher when he was at New Mexico State. While the pitch has plenty of velocity, it lacks movement, an issue that Renteria has worked with professional and private coaches to address and improve. Complementing his fastball is a slider, changeup and curve. The slider is an above-average pitch that sits in the mid-to-high-80s and features 2500 and 3000 RPMs of spin, making it one of the best not only in the Mets system but in all of baseball. Neither the curveball nor changeup are particularly highly graded pitches, but his analytical work during 2020 may have improved- in particularly his changeup, which already was a high spin pitch.

Standing only 5’10”, the move to the St. Lucie bullpen was probably in Renteria’s best interest, as his health and durability has always been and issue. The move also has the additional benefit of accelerating his quest to make the majors, as bullpen pitchers are generally more fungible assets than starting pitchers, and as such, more opportunities exist. Having only pitched a single inning in Double-A, the right-hander likely will need some more time under his belt before garnering major league bullpen consideration, but a strong spring and quick start to the 2021 season could expedite the process.