Released: November 2
After graduating from Watkins Memorial High School in Etna Township, Ohio. Connor Brandon attended the University of Toledo, following in the footsteps of his father, who attended Toledo and was an outfielder for the Rockets in the late-1980s. Brandon did not pitch much in his freshman season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. His collegiate career began in earnest in 2021, when he threw 42.1 innings over 13 starts and 2 relief appearances. The right-hander posted an unsightly 9.35 ERA, allowing 50 hits, walking 47, striking out 35, hitting 11 batters and uncorking 9 wild pitches. He played for the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League that summer and performed quite a bit better, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. Throwing 15.1 innings in 15 games, Brandon posted a 2.35 ERA, allowing 11 hits, walking 16, striking out 26, hitting 5 batters and uncorking 5 wild pitches.
Returning to Toledo for his junior season, the right-hander earned Second-Team All-MAC honors, posting a 4.76 ERA in 75.2 innings with 73 hits allowed, 42 walks, 88 strikeouts, 17 hit batsmen, and 5 wild pitches. Following the season, he pitched for the State College Spikes of the MLB Draft League and posted an 8.62 ERA in 15.2 innings, allowing 21 hits, walking 15, striking out 15, hitting 6 batters and unloosing 2 wild pitches. The Mets selected the right-hander in the 17th round of the 2022 MLB Draft and went over slot to sign the pitcher, giving him a $200,000 signing bonus, the second-highest dollar amount a 17th rounder received in 2022, behind Carter Young and the $1,325,000 the Baltimore Orioles gave him. The 21-year-old was assigned to the FCL Mets and appeared in a pair of games in one inning relief stints, allowing one hit, walking a batter, and striking out a batter. He began the 2023 season with the FCL Mets and appeared in 3 games, giving up 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings. He did not appear in another game and was later placed on the 60-day injured list.
Connor Brandon had an impressive fastball, clocking in in the mid-to-high-90s and an average-to-above-average slider, and a sidearm arm slot that further gave his pitches run and deception but at the cost of some command and control and perhaps his elbow health as well. Always projected as a reliever, Brandon could still have some kind of baseball future if he remains in organized ball and is able to successfully rehab.
Released: June 28
In a baseball context, Justin Courtney’s greatest contribution to the game might be being somebody else. The right-hander signed with the Mets in September 2021 after being released by the Los Angeles Angels. Courtney had gone undrafted after spending five years attending the University of Maine from 2015-2019 but was signed by Los Angeles in 2021 after spending the pandemic working with independent pitching coach and analysis Dr. Tom House and improving and optimizing his mechanics. Courtney split the 2022 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, posting a combined 4.14 ERA in 54.1 innings over 39 games, allowing 39 hits, walking 26, and striking out 55. He began the 2023 season with the Syracuse Mets, splitting time with them and Binghamton, and posted a combined 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings over 16 games, allowing 19 hits, walking 10 and striking out 23. After being released on June 28th, he signed with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League and pitched with them for the next two months before being released on September 1st. As a Duck, the 26-year-old right-hander posted a 6.19 ERA in 16.0 innings over 7 games with 17 hits allowed, 4 walks, and 18 strikeouts. The 6’5”, 225-pound right-hander had a solid pitching arsenal, working with a low-to-mid-90s fastball that topped out at 95, 96 MPH, a fringe average curveball and changeup, and the occasional slider and cutter, he struggled throwing strikes, allowing batters to wait on pitches to hit.
While his time as a Mets farmhand- and perhaps a professional baseball player- may have been short, Courtney will be forever memorialized because of a quirk of fate. In late 2021, he was hired by director Bradley Jackson and executive producers Reid and Reese Ryan to portray Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in their upcoming documentary, “Facing Ryan”. Because Ryan made his baseball debut just prior to the current era of everything on the field being recorded, taped, and archived, portions of Ryan’s iconic career needed to be recreated for the film, such as his brief minor league career and his major league debut. Justin Courtney does indeed bear a striking resemblance to a young Nolan Ryan, not just in terms of physical stature, but in terms of facial structure as well.
Released: May 27
Drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Kennesaw State University, Tony Dibrell played for the Brooklyn Cyclones that summer, as the New York-Penn League still existed and was a short-season league at the time, but his career began in earnest in 2018. The right-hander was one of the better pitchers in the Mets minor league system that year, and he posted a 3.50 ERA in 131.0 innings, allowing 112 hits, walking 54, and striking out a league-leading 147 batters. He was promoted to St. Lucie in 2019, then the Mets’ High-A affiliate, and was even better, posting a 2.39 ERA in 90.1 innings, allowing 73 hits, walking 36, and striking out 76. He was promoted to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies that July and finished the season with the team, but Dibrell struggled to adjust to Double-A batters. In the 38.2 innings he pitched with Binghamton, he posted an unsightly 9.31 ERA, allowing 51 hits, walking 21, and striking out 37.
The right-hander would never pitch much after 2019. In 2020, the minor league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, he only made a handful of starts early in the season because he eventually injured his UCL and needed Tommy John surgery. In 2022, he only made a handful of starts late in the season, having recovered and rehabbed from the Tommy John surgery. He began the 2023 season with the Syracuse Mets but struggled mightily, allowing at least one earned run in eight of his nine appearances, before finally being released at the end of May. On July 1st, the 27-year-old signed with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. He made 13 starts for them, posting a 5.99 ERA in 79.2 innings, allowing 69 hits, walking 48, and striking out 84.
Earlier in his career, Dibrell had success, but like many players, he stalled out in Double-A, struggling even before his Tommy John surgery. Drafted and playing point in time when professional and amateur scouting and evaluation was fundamentally changing due to the availability of statcast data in college and minor league games, it may simply be that Dibrell was never as good as many thought he could be. Armed with a solid fastball and a handful of secondary offerings that flashed average or better, the spin data of Dibrell’s pitches ranged from below-average to poor. While that may be reflective of pitching so few innings in 2020, 2021, and 2022 and being a diminished pitcher as a result of Tommy John surgery, it may simply be that the right-hander always had poor pitch characteristics despite the mostly neutral-to-positive scouting jargon and was seemingly always destined to not be able to get over the Double-A hump.
Released: October 29
Ryley Gilliam lettered four times while playing baseball at Kennesaw Mountain High School, but went undrafted, partially due to his under-six-feet pitching frame and partially because of his commitment to Clemson University. He attended Clemson and made their baseball team, pitching as a starter and reliever as a freshman. In his first year there, he was fairly unimpressive, posting a 6.10 ERA in 31.0 innings, allowing 26 hits, walking 18, and striking out 16. He pitched completely out of the bullpen as a sophomore and his numbers got dramatically better. In 35.0 innings, Gilliam posted a 2.57 ERA, allowing 29 hits, walking 14, and striking out 50, notching 4 saves in the process. By his junior year, the right-hander had a firm grasp of the Tigers’ closer position. In 2018, he proved to be one of the best closers in all of college baseball. Through 36.0 innings, he posted a 1.41 ERA, allowing 22 hits, walking 22, and striking out 54, notching 11 saves in the process. He was selected by the Mets in the 5th round in the 2018 MLB Draft and the two sides agreed to a $550,000 signing bonus, roughly $120,000 over the MLB-assigned slot value of $379,400.
He was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones for the remainder of the 2018 season and posted a 2.08 ERA in 17.0 innings there, allowing 11 hits, walking 13, and striking out 31. Gilliam began the 2019 season with the St. Lucie Mets, but by the time the season ended, was pitching with the Syracuse Mets. He was effective in High-A, was less effective in Double-A, and was shelled in limited innings in Triple-A. All in all, he posted a 6.05 ERA in 38.2 innings at all three levels, allowing 42 hits, walking 18, and striking out 56. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season ended and was effective for the Scottsdale Scorpions, posting a 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings, allowing 8 hits, walking 2, and striking out 11.
The right-hander was unable to ride that wave of positive momentum, as the 2020 season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. He returned to the mound in 2021, a member of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies bullpen, but struggled. He pitched a total of 27.1 innings from the start of the season until the end of July, posting a 9.88 ERA with 31 hits allowed, 13 walks, and 25 strikeouts. After being put on the injured list, Gilliam underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2022 season as a result. He was due to return sometime in 2023, but setbacks and a slower-than-expected recovery caused the 27-year-old right-hander to miss all of 2023 as well.
Far from a polarizing player, there were two ways to look at Gilliam’s selection. From one point of view, his selection was endemic of a time when Mets amateur draft strategy was generally considered poor, and the right-hander was seemingly drafted because of ERA and saves, ignoring underlying pitch metric data. From another point of view, the Mets were not utilizing any particular strategies in the 2018 draft, simply selecting the players they identified as “best available”, and solid college reliever from a competitive baseball program was a reasonable selection for where Gilliam was selected, the 140th player selected overall. Having seen Gilliam a few times in Brooklyn and Binghamton in 2018 and 2019, I slot in somewhere in between. I had no problem with his selection or the fact that the Mets gave him overslot money. After having seen him pitch, however, I wondered what it exactly it was that they saw, because while his curveball was in fact an above-average pitch, his fastball was extremely straight and lacked what we would soon understand as induced vertical break, his windup was pretty violent, and his command, control was well-below-average, and while I am far from biased in terms of player height being a 5’6” man myself, it definitely seemed clear that durability on a per appearance and seasonal basis would be an issue. Ultimately, Tommy John surgery and his long recovery from it would be the nail in his coffin, negating future debates on these issues.
Released: November 3
After graduating from Steinbrenner High School in Tampa, Florida, Cole Gordon enrolled at Mississippi State University, redshirting in his freshman year. He finally got back on the field in 2016 and was used primarily as a pinch hitting, batting .333/.429/.611 in 18 at-bats in 21 games. In 2017, he appeared in 25 games, starting seven at first base and five as the Bulldogs’ DH. While he hit only .158/.258/.316, he still made a major impact on the team that year. Injuries decimated the Mississippi State bullpen, and despite never having pitched in high school or college, Gordon was called on to pitch out of the bullpen. He ended up pitching 55.0 innings, posting a 5.69 ERA, allowing 47 hits, walking 30, and striking out 59. Cole’s transition would be permanent, and he remained in the bullpen for the remainder of his time at Mississippi State. In 2018, he posted a 4.26 ERA in 61.0 innings, allowing 51 hits, walking 32, striking out 68, and notching 4 saves. In 2019, through the NCAA Super Regionals, he posted a 5.16 ERA in 29.2 innings, allowing 26 hits, walking 17, striking out 45, and notching 9 saves.
Gordon was selected by the Mets in the 32 round of the 2019 MLB Draft and he signed with the team for just a $1,000 signing bonus. He spent the majority of the 2019 season with the Columbia Fireflies, posting a 2.76 ERA in 29.1 innings out of the bullpen with 9 hits allowed, 15 walks, and 36 strikeouts. After missing the 2020 season due to the cancellation of the minor league season, the 25-year-old was rostered on the Binghamton Rumble Ponies for the 2021 season. Appearing in 20 games and starting 13, Gordon posted a 3.69 ERA in 83.0 innings, allowing 49 hits, walking 35, and striking out 85. He began the 2022 season with the Syracuse Mets but made just one start before hurting his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss the rest of the season. The right-hander did not pitch at all in 2023, missing the entire season.
As Mets prospects fans are well aware of, while Tommy John surgery is fairly routine nowadays, it is far from a sure thing. Many players have come back from the procedure drastically diminished, and many have simply never returned from it at all.
Released: October 30
An All-American who lettered in all four years he spent at Mountain View High School in his native Stafford, Dylan Hall was not a high priority follow by scouts and evaluators and ended up going undrafted in the 2016 MLB Draft. He honored his commitment to Virginia Tech, and spent two years with the Hokies to mixed results, splitting his time in their bullpen and in their rotation, posting a cumulative 6.91 ERA in 69.0 innings, allowing 89 hits, walking 23, and striking out 57. In 2019, he transferred from Virginia Tech to the University of Central Oklahoma after his coaches informed him that they no longer had room for him on their roster. Hall found NCAA Div II hitters much easier to deal with and the right-hander posted a 3.22 ERA in 106.1 innings over 16 starts, allowing 84 hits, walking 26, and striking out a school-record 123. Despite the success, he went undrafted in the 2019 MLB Draft and returned to Central Oklahoma for his senior year. In 5 starts prior to the NCAA cancelling all athletic activities, the right-hander posted a 3.00 ERA in 30.0 innings, allowing 25 hits, walking 8, and striking out 45. He was heavily scouted by the Mets, but they did not formally draft him in the pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB Draft, instead signing him as an undrafted free agent after the fact, signing him for $20,000 and money to pay for his bachelor’s degree and pursue a master’s.
Hall’s first year as a professional was far from exceptional. The 23-year-old was limited to just 21.1 innings due to injury and ineffectiveness. Pitching for the FCL Mets, St. Lucie Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the right-hander posted a 5.91 ERA, allowing 25 hits, walking 13, and striking out 25. He was much more effective in 2022, pitching for the St. Lucie Mets from April until late June, and then with the Brooklyn Cyclones from late June until the end of the season. In St. Lucie, he posted a 1.52 ERA in 23.2 innings with 21 hits allowed, 10 walks, and 21 strikeouts, and in Brooklyn he posted a 4.84 ERA in 22.1 innings with 20 hits allowed, 8 walks, and 28 strikeouts, good for a cumulative 3.13 ERA in 46.0 innings over 34 games with 41 hits allowed, 18 walks, and 49 strikeouts. He had similar success in 2023, pitching with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and Brooklyn Cyclones, with a pair of appearances with the Syracuse Mets. All in all, Hall posted a combined 3.10 ERA in 52.1 innings over 36 games, with 45 hits allowed, 26 walks, and 58 strikeouts.
Hall was a pitched whose sum was greater than his individual parts. His fastball was average at best, possessing below-average velocity but an above-average spin rate. His curveball and changeup were also average at best. While he was far from bad, and didn’t particularly struggle in 2023, his low upside made him a low-hanging fruit the Mets could pick when making organizational roster space.
Released: October 30
Ramon Henriquez was signed on January 15, 2023, the first day of international free agent signing period, out of La Victoria, a small city on the Dominican Republic’s southern coast. He was initially assigned to the Dominican Summer League, but due to his advanced age- he was born on 6/29/1999 and would be making his professional debut in his age 24 season- he was instead reassigned to the Florida Complex League. The right-hander appeared in 7 games for the FCL Mets and posted a 5.23 ERA in 10.1 innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 4, and striking out 13. He was promoted to the St. Lucie Mets in mid-July and remained with them until the conclusion of the season, appearing in 11 games and posting a 2.96 ERA in 27.1 innings, allowing 23 hits, walking 28, and striking out 25.
Released: October 30
On June 2, 2021, the Mets signed Howick native Elliot Johnson to a minor league contract, making him the third New Zealander in professional baseball at the time, and interestingly the third in the NL East, along with Philadelphia Phillies farmhand Kyle Glogoski and Braves farmhand Ben Thompson. The 19-year-old Johnston made his professional debut during the 2018-2019 Australian Baseball League season pitching for the Auckland Tuatara in their inaugural season, appearing in 7 games, starting 4 of them, and posting a 14.06 ERA in 16.0 innings, allowing 28 hits, walking 17, and striking out 8. He returned the following season a much improved pitcher, posting a 1.09 ERA in 24.2 innings out of the bullpen, winning the ABL Rookie of the Year Award.
Johnson was supposed to pitch for the Adelaide Giants in the 2020-2021 ABL season, but arm problems combined with the COVID-19 pandemic kept him off the mound, both in New Zealand and with the Mets. He finally was able to pitch again in the 2022-2023 ABL season, once again suiting up for the Tuatara. Appearing in 10 games, he posted a 4.61 ERA in 13.2 innings, allowing 11 hits, walking 10, and striking out 13. Following the conclusion of the season, he finally made his Mets debut, appearing in 27 games for the St. Lucie Mets. The 24-year-old right-hander posted a 6.32 ERA in 47.0 innings, allowing 48 hits, walking 26, and striking out 52.
The right-hander had some deception thanks to a nearly side-arm arm slot, but his fastball was pedestrian in both velocity and spin rates and his slider and changeup were average pitches at best. His arm issues that he experienced prior to making his Mets debut combined with his advanced age and performance made him an easy cut for the team looking to make organizational roster space, the novelty of his place of birth notwithstanding.
Released: July 3
After graduating from Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, Michael Krauza attended Xavier University, and then transferred to St. Bonaventure University, and then finally to Mercyhurst University, to begin Master’s work. All in all, he posted a cumulative 3.80 ERA in 71.0 innings, majority as a reliever, allowing 58 hits, walking 30, and striking out 85. In 2021, he began playing independent baseball, playing for the Houston Apollos and the Cleburn Railroaders of the American Association. He began the 2022 season with Cleburn, and his performance got him noticed by the Mets, who signed him to a contract at the end of June.
Krauza pitched for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and Syracuse Mets for the remainder of 2022 and posted a cumulative 4.76 ERA in 17.0 innings, allowing 18 hits, walking 9, and striking out 21. He began the 2023 season with the Cyclones but missed the first few months of the season due to an injury. He returned to the mound at the end of May following a rehab assignment and appeared in six more games for Brooklyn before being released at the beginning of July. All in all, he posted an 8.53 ERA in 6.1 innings with the Cyclones, giving up 8 hits, walking 6 and striking out 6. After his release, he re-signed with the Cleburn Railroaders and posted a 4.50 ERA in 18.0 innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 9, and striking out 24.
Released: October 30
A native of Bryan, Texas, Kolby Kubichek made the varsity team and lettered in all four years of his time at Bryan High School. In addition to pitching, he played shortstop and right field, impressing as a position player but really standing out as a pitcher. He earned a scholarship to the University of Texas and joined the Longhorns in 2019 after graduating from high school.
In his freshman year, the right-hander appeared in 14 games, starting two, and posted a 6.50 ERA in 18.0 innings, allowing 21 hits, walking 12, and striking out 15. That summer, he played for the Chatham Anglers in the Cape Cod League and was an All-Star, posting a 0.90 ERA in 30.0 innings, allowing 16 hits, walking 9, and striking out 34. He returned to Texas for his sophomore year and performed well in the limited innings that he was able to throw before the NCAA ended the baseball season prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Appearing in 4 games and making 2 starts, he posted a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 innings, allowing 8 hits, walking 5, and striking out 8. He returned to the Longhorns in 2021 and was part of a stacked pitching rotation that included ace Ty Madden, high upside lefty Pete Hansen and Tristan Stevens. Kubichek posted a 3.86 ERA in 51.1 innings, allowing 50 hits, walking 27, and striking out 41, and did his part to help the Longhorns dominate the Big 12 Conference with a 50-17 record.
After Texas lost to eventual winners Mississippi State University in the first round of the 2021 College World Series, Kubichek returned to Chatham and pitched a game before being selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the 532nd player selected overall. He signed for $125,000 and made his professional debut in mid-August with the FCL Mets. He made just one appearance there before being promoted to the St. Lucie Mets, where he posted an 8.15 ERA in 17.2 innings over 6 games with 22 hits allowed, 11 walks, and 10 strikeouts. The Mets had him return to the Florida Complex League in 2022 and pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, the right-hander posted a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings over 9 games with 12 hits allowed, 6 walks, and 17 strikeouts. He was promoted to St. Lucie for a second time in mid-August and posted a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings over 6 games with 12 hits allowed, 8 walks, and 17 strikeouts. All in all, the 22-year-old had a solid season as a reliever, posting a 2.03 ERA in 31.0 innings with 24 hits allowed, 14 walks, and 34 strikeouts.
Kubichek’s 2023 season was hectic. In addition to a stint on the injured list in at the end of June to the beginning of July, he was promoted and/or demoted eight different times, starting the season with the Brooklyn Cyclones but getting sent to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies multiple times and the Syracuse Mets once. He appeared in 20 games for the Cyclones, pitching 26.2 innings, 7 games for the Rumble Ponies, pitching 11.1 innings, and one game for the Syracuse Mets, pitching exactly 1.0 inning. All in all, he had a 6.41 ERA with Brooklyn, 3.97 ERA with Binghamton, and did not allow an earned run in Syracuse, with a combined 38 hits allowed in 39 total innings, 29 walks, and 30 strikeouts.
From the time he was drafted until the day he was released, the right-hander had control and command problems. While he was able to get away with that, generally speaking, in college and in lower levels of the minor league ladder, he wasn’t able to get away with it this past season. Couple his sub-par, 90 MPH fastball and a slider that still flashed between below-average and above-average due to the right-hander’s inability to keep its shape, and Kubichek likely would have struggled with more exposure at the upper levels of the minor leagues.
Released: November 2
A low-level international rookie free agent from San Pedro De Macoris in the Dominican Republic, Yeudi Lora was signed on June 7, 2021, months into the 2021 international signing period. The 17-year-old pitcher was assigned to the Dominican Summer League and appeared in 15 game split between both Mets DSL squads, posting an 8.35 ERA in 18.1 innings, allowing 21 hits, walking 17, and striking out 17. After missing the entire 2022 season due to injury, he returned to the mound in 2023 and split his season with the DSL Mets Blue and the DSL Mets Orange. He posted an 8.10 ERA in 13.1 innings over 8 games with 16 hits allowed, 14 walks, and 19 strikeouts.
Far from a marquee name, Lora seemingly did not have a tools to excel as a professional baseball player. We can only hope that the signing bonus he did receive was able to provide for him and his family some degree of additional comfort in their lives, however long.
Released: October 30
Free agent Pedro Mercedes was signed by the Mets on August 24, 2022, out of La Romana, a resort town on the Dominican Republic’s southern Caribbean coast. He was initially assigned to the Dominican Summer League, but due to his advanced age- he was born on 10/23/2001 and would be making his professional debut in his age 21 season- he was instead reassigned to the Florida Complex League. The big 6’6, 230-pound right-hander appeared in 8 games out of the FCL Mets bullpen and posted a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings, allowing 7 hits, walking 10, and striking out 8.
Released: October 30
The Mets signed Luis Montas to a minor league contract on July 2, 2019, the first day of the international free agent signing period pre-COVID-19. The right-hander did not play that season, nor did he in 2020, finally making his professional debut in 2021. Montas appeared in 19 games for the St. Lucie Mets, starting 10 of them, and posted a sterling 1.90 ERA in 30.0 innings, allowing 24 hits, walking 7, and striking out 29. He was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones in September and appeared in 5 games with them, all out of the bullpen, and gave up 9 earned runs in 7.0 innings, good for a 11.57 ERA with 11 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. All in all, despite the hiccup in Brooklyn, his professional debut was an overwhelming success, posting a combined 2.92 ERA in 37.0 innings, allowing 35 hits, walking 9, and striking out 36.
The right-hander missed all of 2022 due to an injury, finally returning to the mound in June 2023. After appearing in a pair of rehab games with the FCL Mets, the 22-year-old returned to the St. Lucie Mets and looked solid out of their bullpen, not allowing an earned run in 6.2 innings, scattering 4 hits, walking 1, and striking out two. In mid-July, he was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones and once again struggled. In 9 relief appearances, Montas posted a 5.68 ERA in 12.2 innings, allowing 16 hits, walking 3, and striking out 11. He was placed on the injured list at the end of August, effectively ending his season and his Mets tenure.
Released: November 2
Ellian Nuñez was signed by the Mets on January 15, 2021, the first day of the 2021 international signing period, and received a $400,000 signing bonus. The 17-year-old right-hander from Nagua was assigned to the Dominican Summer League and did not pitch much, appearing in two games and throwing a total of 2.2 innings before having his season end due to injury. He missed the entire 2022 season as well, recovering from surgery. The 19-year-old returned to the mound at the beginning of the Dominican Summer League season and appeared in 9 games for them, three of them being starts, his last appearance being on July 17. In 18.2 innings, the right-hander posted a 6.27 ERA, allowing 17 hits, walking 16, and striking out 22.
Prior to the surgery, Nunez had a prototypical power pitcher’s arsenal, with a fastball that sat comfortably in the low-90s and touched a bit higher, and a power curveball. As Mets prospects fans are well aware of, Tommy John surgery is fairly routine nowadays, but it is far from a sure thing. Many players have come back from the procedure drastically diminished, and we can seemingly add Nuñez to that list.
Released: October 30
Jonaiker Palacios was signed by the Mets on July 2, 2019, the first day of the international free agent signing period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Venezuelan right-hander did not pitch that season, and missed all of 2020 as well. Finally, in 2021, he was assigned to the Dominican Summer League and suited up professionally. The 18-year-old appeared in 22 games for both Mets DSL teams and posted a 5.01 ERA in 32.1 innings, allowing 35 hits, walking 16, and striking out 38. He remained in the DSL in 2022 and was dominant, allowing just one earned run in 11.1 innings over 6 appearances. He was sent stateside in mid-July and finished the remainder of the season with the FCL Mets. While he took some steps back, he still had a successful season with them, posting a 3.77 ERA in 14.1 innings over 9 appearances with 15 hits allowed, 5 walks, and 16 strikeouts. He remained with the FCL Mets in 2023 but was unable to continue the success, appearing in 13 games and posting a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 innings, allowing 13 hits, walking 6, and striking out 14.
Released: October 30
Dominican right-hander Herlyn Pena was signed on June 14, 2021, a low-level international free agent signing. He was assigned to the Dominican Summer League and appeared in 19 games, starting 4. The17-year-old posted a 4.86 ERA in 37.0 innings, allowing 36 hits, walking 11, and striking out 39. He missed the entire 2022 season due to an injury, finally returning to the mound at the beginning of the 2023 DSL season. He appeared in 12 games and posted a 6.57 ERA in 12.1 innings out of the bullpen, allowing 16 hits, walking 7, and striking out 9. Unfortunately for him, the right-hander was placed back on the injured list in mid-August and did not return to the mound in 2023.
Released: July 30
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 8th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Haverford College, Stephen Ridings began slowly working his way up the Chicago minor league ladder but was traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for outfielder Donnie Dewees in March 2019. The 23-year-old only spent a single season with the Royals, pitching for the Rookie-ball Idaho Falls Chukars. On the older side and not having shown much as a professional, Ridings was released on November 2020, a casualty of the cancelation of the 2020 MiLB season and the reorganization of the minors that followed.
He signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in January 2021 after showing a massive uptick in fastball velocity and breaking ball effectiveness after working with strength and performance coach Eric Cressey. Now throwing a fastball that sat in the upper-90s and regularly touched triple-digits and a big slider than featured a ton of movement, the right-hander dominated Double-A and Triple-A, posting a combined 1.24 ERA in 29.0 innings with the Somerset Patriots and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and earning a major league cup of coffee.
The performance was enough for the Yankees to add him to their 40-man roster to protect him from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. A shoulder injury in April 2020 put him on the 60-man Injured List in April, and Ridings only appeared in two games in September. He was removed from the Yankees’ 40-man roster in November 2022, and the Mets claimed him off of waivers. During spring training 2023, he injured his right lat muscle and was placed on the 60-Day Injured List to start the season. In mid-June, he was activated and optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. He appeared in 11 games for Syracuse and posted a 4.91 ERA in 11.0 innings, allowing 6 hits, walking 8, and striking out 11.
Ridings was a solid gamble by the Mets, who were looking to completely rebuild the bullpen over the winter. The Yankees have a solid track record of developing minor league pitchers and the right-hander was a casualty of a roster squeeze, with the Yankees leaving him off of their 40-man roster in order to protect other players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft due to the uncertainty of his future following his shoulder injury. It didn’t work out, but it was the type of proactive move good teams make.
Joe Joe Rodriguez
Released: October 30
South Jersey native Joe Joe Rodriguez was a four-year letterwinner at Vineland High School, playing third base and shortstop. After graduating, he attended Rowan College of South Jersey-Cumberland, where he posted a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings of work as a freshman and a 2.98 ERA in 54.1 innings as a sophomore. In his sophomore year, he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, the 594 player selected overall. He declined to sign with Cincinnati, instead transferring to St. John’s University for the 2020 season. The 20-year-old was used primarily as a starter in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season and his final 2022 season and was used exclusively out of the bullpen in 2021. All in all, Rodriguez posted a cumulative 5.90 ERA in 103.2 innings with the Red Storm, allowing 101 hits, walking 80, and striking out 89. After the 2022 collegiate season, Rodriguez played for the Trenton Thunder in the MLB Draft League and posted a 2.17 ERA in 37.1 innings, most as a starting pitcher. His performance there led the Mets to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
The right-hander did not pitch much for the remainder of the 2022 season, as he pitched for the Red Storm and the Thunder in the weeks and months prior. He appeared in 4 games total, pitching 6.1 innings for the FCL Mets and 1.1 innings with the St. Lucie Mets and posted a cumulative 2.35 ERA, allowing 6 hits, walking 5, and striking out 6. The 23-year-old spent the majority of the 2023 season with St. Lucie, eventually getting promoted to Brooklyn and making a handful of appearances with them in late August and September. In 33.2 innings with St. Lucie, the right-hander posted an 8.55 ERA with 44 hits allowed, 27 walks, and 42 strikeouts, and in 9.2 innings with Brooklyn, he posted a 2.79 ERA with 9 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts.
Rodriguez had a full pitcher’s repertoire, with a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, and the sum of his parts flashed potential. His fastball generated an above-average amount of ground balls and both his slider and changeup generally got a large amount of whiffs. The right-hander unfortunately gave up a lot of contact and issued too many unintentional walks. At 23-years-old, he isn’t too late for a future in professional baseball, if a team was willing to take the time to optimize his pitches, but the Mets clearly are not that team.
Luis A. Rodriguez
Released: October 30
Luis Alberto Rodriguez- as opposed to left-handed pitcher and occasional teammate Luis Raul Rodriguez- was signed by the Mets on March 24, 2021 out of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The 18-year-old spent the entire season in the Dominican Summer League, playing for both DSL Mets teams. He appeared in a cumulative 16 games and posted a 2.49 ERA in 25.1 innings, allowing 15 hits, walking 13, and striking out 34. He came stateside in 2022, getting promoted to the FCL Mets and spending the entire season there. The right-hander posted a 1.41 ERA in 32.0 innings over 16 games, allowing 20 hits, walking 14, and striking out 37. The 20-year-old missed the start of the 2023 season due to an injury, eventually getting back on the field in June. After pitching a few innings with the FCL Mets and the St. Lucie Mets earlier in the month, he was assigned to St. Lucie on a more permanent basis at the end of the month. Rodriguez seemingly hit his ceiling as a result of the competition level and his recovery, posting a 4.37 ERA in 22.2 innings, allowing 17 hits, walking 10, and striking out 18. He was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones at the end of August, but after a pair of appearances did not pitch again. All in all, with all three teams, Rodriguez posted a combined 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings, allowing 20 hits, walking 14, and striking out 30.
Released: August 7
Born in Brooklyn, Manny Rodriguez attended high school at Calvert Hall, a private boys Catholic school in Baltimore, Maryland and then went on to attend the University of Cincinnati. His time there was generally uneventful and lackluster due to poor performance and injuries, but in 2019, his senior season, he retooled his swing to increase his launch angle and the move paid dividends. After posting OPS’ of .560, .588, and .628 in his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons, he hit .292/.374/.589, launching 12 home runs and shattering all of his previous offensive career highs. Incredibly, he reached base in all 50 games he played, logging a hit, drawing a walk, or getting hit by a pitch. The Mets drafted Rodriguez in the 10th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, signing him for $10,000.
The offensive gains that Rodriguez made in his senior year at Cincinnati turned out to be unsustainable as a professional. Between 2018 and 2022, the infielder hit a combined .221/.283/.325 with multiple Mets affiliates, from the Rookie-level FCL Mets all the way up to the Triple-A Syracuse Mets. After dabbling with pitching in 2022, Rodriguez was converted to relief full time. The 26-year-old appeared in 22 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones and posted a 5.06 ERA in 32.0 innings, allowing 22 hits, walking 25, and striking out 26 before being released.
To the best of my knowledge, the last position player the Mets attempted to turn into a pitcher besides for teammate Quinn Brodey was Pedro Perez, the corner-infielder-turned-relief-pitcher who appeared in 12 games for the 2017 Kingsport Mets and posted a 13.50 ERA in 16.0 innings over 12 games. While his transition was not successful, Ismael Tijerina, another infielder-turned-reliever, actually had some solid success as a pitcher, appearing in 17 games for the 2014 Kingsport Mets and posting a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 innings.
Released: November 2
The Mets signed Frelianderson Seijas to a minor league contract on January 15, 2022, the first day of the international free agent signing period. The Venezuelan right-hander received a $10,000 signing bonus and was assigned to the Dominican Summer League when the season began in June. He appeared in games for the DSL Mets 1 and DSL Mets 2 and posted a combined 6.11 ERA in 17.2 innings over 15 relief appearances with 19 hits allowed, 8 walks, and 22 strikeouts. He remained in the Dominican Summer League for the 2023 season and once again split the season on both of the Mets’ squads, the DSL Mets Blue and the DSL Mets Orange. The 18-year-old right-hander posted a 7.48 ERA in 21.2 innings over 16 relief appearances, allowing 28 hits, walking 17, and striking out 21.
Released: October 30
Originally signed by the Yankees in January 2018, right-handed pitcher Sammy Tavarez spent two years in the organization but never actually appeared in a professional game for them. After having his contract voided, the Dominican pitcher eventually signed with the Mets on July 2, 2020, what should have been the beginning of the 2020-2021 international signing period had it not been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He made his professional debut in 2021, appearing in 24 games for the St. Lucie Mets. The 22-year-old posted a 5.81 ERA in 31.0 innings, allowing 22 hits, walking 34, and striking out 52. He was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2022 and took some important steps forward in some regards, but some steps back in others. Appearing in 32 games for Brooklyn as an important member of their bullpen, the right-hander posted a 2.88 ERA in 40.2 innings, allowing 19 hits, walking 33, and striking out 56. He was promoted to Binghamton for the start of the 2023 season and while he walked an extremely razor thin rope because of the amount of free passes he was issuing, he was getting results, posting a 3.00 ERA in 18.0 innings over 13 appearances through the first half of the year, allowing 12 hits, walking 24, and striking out 25. Taveras was sent to the developmental list to work on his command and when back down to Brooklyn for the second half of the season when activated, and the wheels fell apart. The big right-hander appeared in 9 games and posted a 17.28 ERA in 8.1 innings, allowing 11 hits, walking 15, and striking out 9.
When he was initially signed, Tavarez was an interesting gamble. An older player, he threw a fastball that flirted with triple-digits and basically manhandled his opponents, overpowering them with velocity. He, unfortunately, never developed a particularly reliable secondary pitch, nor any command. He was able to work around those weaknesses in 2022, having a genuinely solid season, but his success was built on smoke and mirrors, and eventually the house of cards was due to collapse.
Released: October 30
Christopher Vasquez was signed by the Mets on February 3, 2020 out of San José de Los Llanos, a municipality in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Already on the older side and having missed the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and the beginning of the 2021 season, the organization assigned the right-hander to the FCL Mets right off the bat, forgoing the Dominican Summer League completely as is generally customary for international rookie signings. The 20-year-old appeared in 16 games for the FCL Mets and posted a 7.15 ERA in 22.2 innings, allowing 28 hits, walking 16, and striking out 25. The Mets kept him in the Florida Complex League for the 2022 season, and it was like night and day. Vasquez appeared in 13 games and posted a 1.42 ERA in 19.0 innings, allowing 12 hits, walking 6, and striking out 21. The Mets promoted the right-hander to the St. Lucie Mets for the 2023 season and Vasquez reverted to him 2021 form, his 2022 success seemingly because of his advanced age and experience as compared to the competition. Appearing in 25 games, he posted a 6.39 ERA in 56.1 innings with St. Lucie, allowing 56 hits, walking 44, and striking out 48.
Primarily a sinker/slider pitcher, his pitch combination stopped missing bats in Low-A. In terms of both velocity and spin rate, neither pitch stood out in any meaningful way. Combined with batters’ tendency to wait on pitches they could drive along with a higher home run rate, Vasquez seemingly was maxed out at the Low-A level.
Released: November 2
Montreal native Mathieu Voros was signed by the Mets on August 4, 2022, a free agent who did not get selected in the 2022 MLB Draft. The right-hander attended Edouard Montpetit High School in Longeuil, Quebec, a commuter suburb of Montreal just directly across the Saint Lawrence River, and then transferred to the TNXL Academy in Ocoee, Florida, following the same route as fellow Canadian Calvin Ziegler. The right-hander gained attention from scouts and evaluators due to his solid 6’5”, 225-pound pitching frame and the promise of his 90 MPH fastball and curveball/changeup combination developing into usable professional pitches. Voros was assigned to the FSL Mets after signing but did not pitch for them. In 2023, he was assigned to the St. Lucie Mets, but once again, the big right-hander did not suit up professionally.
Released: June 19
Intrigued by a fastball that hit the mid-90s and a nasty curve for a high schooler, the Twins attempted to draft Kyle Wilson in the 19 round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but the two sides were unable to come to an agreement. Wilson attended Crowder College, a junior college in southwestern Missouri and pitched a few innings for them but ended up redshirted his first year, a somewhat uncommon arrangement in the NJCAA but still within the framework of their rules and bylaws. He received more playing time in his redshirt freshman season in 2017 and the results were much better, as he posted a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings for the Roughriders with 33 hits allowed, 23 walks, and 58 strikeouts.
Eligible to be drafted in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Wilson with their 35th round pick, the 1057th player selected overall. With only a handful of overslot signings during day one and day two and no chance to sign other high profile prep players that had been drafted that year- C.J. Van Eyk and Jake Eder- the Mets had some additional slot funds to extend to players and signed Wilson for $270,000, roughly $150,000 over the MLB-assigned slot value of $125,000. He was assigned to the GCL Mets to make his professional debut and pitched well that summer, posting a 1.50 ERA in 18.0 innings, allowing 13 hits, 7 walks, and 19 strikeouts. He was promoted to Brooklyn in 2018 and posted a 3.86 ERA in 53.2 innings there, allowing 49 hits, walking 14, and striking out 59. The right-hander began the 2019 season with the St. Lucie Mets and was having a solid season, posting a 3.43 ERA in 76.0 innings with 88 hits allowed, 32 walks, and 48 strikeouts, but he injured himself on July 4th and was limited to just six more appearances on the year, posting just 17.0 more innings. All in all, the right-hander would post a 3.80 ERA in 90.0 innings, allowing 106 hits, walking 41, and striking out 54.
After missing the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic cancelling the season, Wilson missed a second consecutive season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2021. After two-plus years off the field, Kyle Wilson finally returned to the mound on July 28, 2022, pitching a rehab inning for the FCL Mets. He pitched two more for the St. Lucie Mets, and was activated from his rehab assignment and sent to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. During his very first start with them, he twisted his left ankle awkwardly making a routine play at first and was removed from the game after just 2.1 innings. The right-hander left on his own power, limping slightly, and was placed on the injured list, ending his 2022 season. The right-hander began the 2023 season on the injured list but rehabbed with St. Lucie and was back with Binghamton by the beginning of May. Pitching mainly in middle relief, Wilson posted a 9.22 ERA in 13.2 innings over 7 games, allowing 19 hits, walking 7, and striking out 6 before finally being released in mid-June.
By the end of his professional career, statcast data showed his fastball had lost quite a few miles per hour and had sub-par spin data, his curveball had sub-par spin data, and his slider had sub-par spin data. The injuries and time off the field certainly took their toll, but as in the case with Tony Dibrell mentioned above, Wilson was drafted at a time when there was more of an emphasis on scouting with the eye, radar gun, and hunches, and perhaps the right-hander was never as good as once thought.