Name: Mike Vasil
Weight: 225 lbs.
Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft, 8th Round (University of Virginia)
2022 Stats: 18 G (17 GS), 71.1 IP, 51 H, 33 R, 28 ER (3.53 ERA), 26 BB, 85 K, .270 BABIP (Low-A/High-A)
Born in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, Mike Vasil attended Boston College High School, an all-male, Jesuit prep school. Over the course of his career there, the right-hander was named to various honorary teams, and received various accolades from local media, posting a cumulative 1.06 ERA in 191 innings pitched with 217 strikeouts. He was considered a prep player of interest by reputable national scouting and evaluation organizations coming into the 2018 MLB Draft, but an arm issue that arose early in his senior season prompted Vasil to announce that he was going to follow through on his commitment to the University of Virginia and would not sign with a professional team if drafted.
His tenure at the University of Virginia was not disastrous by any means, but he certainly did not live up to expectations. In his freshman year in 2019, he posted a 5.93 ERA in 57.2 innings for the Cavaliers, allowing 68 hits, walking 22, and striking out 40. Prior to the NCAA cancelling the 2020 season, he posted a 2.45 ERA in 22.0 innings over four starts, allowing 21 hits, walking 10, and striking out 23. Serving as Virginia’s Saturday starter in 2021, his junior year, he posted a 4.52 ERA in 81.2 innings over 16 starts and a relief appearance, allowing 101 hits, walking 18, and striking out 75. All in all, he posted a cumulative 4.74 ERA in 161.1 innings, allowing 190 hits, walking 50, and striking out 136.
After the completion of the season, he was drafted by the Mets in the 8th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the 232nd player selected. He signed for $181,200, exactly the MLB-recommended slot value, and was assigned to the FCL Mets for the remainder of the season. Appearing in three games and pitching 7.0 innings, he allowed one run on three hits while walking none and striking out ten. He was promoted to St. Lucie in 2022 and got off to an excellent start, posting a 1.81 ERA in 35.0 innings over 8 games with 23 hits allowed, 11 walks, and 37 strikeouts. He was promoted to Brooklyn at the end of May and his performance took a 180, posting a 5.40 ERA in 28.1 innings over 6 games with 23 hits, 12 walks, and 39 strikeouts due to irritated bone spurs in his elbow. He returned to the mound after nearly two months and made a handful of appearances at the end of the season, posting a cumulative 3.53 ERA in 71.1 innings, allowing 51 hits, 26 walks, and striking out 85. After the season ended, the Mets sent him to the Arizona Fall League to log a few more innings, and he was excellent in 6 games, posting a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings with 10 hits allowed, 9 walks, and 18 strikeouts.
The 6’5”, 225-pound right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple, clean delivery using a short arm action through the back. He uses his lower half well and is able to maintain his release point, as his mechanics feature very little unnecessary movement. As such, his control is impeccable, though he is not always able to command his pitches. In college, Vasil sometimes nibbles too much, trying to avoid the strike zone and batters making contact rather than going after them, but has been a bit more aggressive since turning pro, as Mets coaches have given him more confidence in trusting his stuff. After being drafted, the Mets made some major alterations to his pitch selection and in-game sequencing; the coaching staff at the University of Virginia had him mainly throw a two-seam fastball, but the Mets have had him focus on throwing his four-seam fastball instead.
Vasil’s four-seam fastball sits 93-96 MPH, averaging 94 MPH. The pitch has averaged roughly 2400 RPM in 2022, above-average for a four-seam fastball, giving it rising life when thrown up in the strike zone. The two-seam fastball that the Mets have weaned the right-hander off of has not been completely removed from his arsenal, but its usage has been severely curtailed. The pitch sits 90 MPH to 94 MPH, generally sitting at the higher end of that velocity band. The pitch features between 12-15 inches of horizontal movement and has also been most effective when been up in the zone, like his four-seam fastball.
The right-hander complements his fastball with a slider, curveball, and changeup, all considered average of better. His slider is generally considered his best secondary pitch, is thrown hard, ranging 85-88 MPH, which is up almost 5 MPH from where it sat in college. His curveball has averaged roughly 80 MPH this season, ranging 79 MPH to 85 MPH. It features between 24-55 inches of vertical break and 2-13 inches of horizontal movement and has been primarily thrown down and away in the strike zone or under it. Rounding out his arsenal, his changeup averages roughly 85 MPH, sitting 84 MPH to 88 MPH and features between 21-34 inches of vertical break and 11-19 inches of horizontal movement and generally has been used down in the zone as well.
The surface numbers after Vasil was promoted to Brooklyn were not particularly great, but a cursory look under the hood shows a solid FIP and other positive underlying factors in his performance. Small sample size obviously, but his success in the Arizona Fall League was encouraging and gives me the bullishness to think that the poor surface numbers with the Cyclones was more a blip due to injury more than a ceiling to his talent level.
Vasil is a nice developmental success story for the Mets’ improving organizational pipeline. He’s looked much better than he ever did at Virginia, missing bats with a mid-90s fastball and a vertical-breaking curve. Some scouts have also liked his cutter. On the other hand, his velocity fluctuated and his control was markedly worse after a mid-season promotion to Brooklyn. Nevertheless, he’s one of the more promising and closer-to-ready starters in the system currently- faint praise, but praise nonetheless.
Vasil had the inverse problem that Hamel had in 2022. Starting off strong at Single-A, pitching to a 2.19 ERA in 8 starts, but it ballooned to a 5.13 ERA at High-A. Not what you want. While he was clearly better than the competition at Single-A, he struggled to get batters out once he moved up, and his walk rate increased by 4%. While this isn’t completely kill him as a prospect, it certainly puts him behind Tidwell, Hamel and Ziegler.