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Top 25 Mets Prospects for 2024: Layonel Ovalles (24)

Next on our list is a right-handed pitcher.

Amazin Avenue Prospect List

Name: Layonel Ovalles
Position: RHP
Born: 9/16/2003
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: IFA, November 20, 2019 (Moca, Dominican Republic)

2023 Stats: 22 G (18 GS), 83.2 IP, 68 H, 46 R, 44 ER (4.73 ERA), 36 BB, 84 K, .269 BABIP (Single-A)/2 G (2 GS), 10.2 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 4 ER (3.38 ERA), 5 BB, 9 K, .412 BABIP (High-A)

Layonel Ovalles was born in Moca, the Dominican Republic’s tenth largest city, and signed with the Mets in November 2019. His professional debut should have come in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic prompted the season to be cancelled. One year later, Ovalles finally made his professional debut, assigned to the Dominican Summer League. Playing for both Mets DSL squads, the 18-year-old right-hander posted a 2.83 ERA in 35.0 innings, allowing 16 hits, walking 8, and striking out 34. He was sent stateside in 2022, playing for the FCL Mets from the beginning of June until the beginning of August and then was promoted to the St. Lucie Mets for the last month of the season. In the Florida Complex League, the right-hander posted a 2.76 ERA in 29.1 innings, allowing 26 hits, walking 5, and striking out 44. In the Florida State League, he posted a 6.23 ERA in 17.1 innings, allowing 15 hits, walking 12, and striking out 22. All in all, Ovalles posted a 4.05 ERA in 46.2 innings, allowing 41 hits, walking 17, and striking out 66.

The right-hander was named the Mets 18th top prospect that winter. He began the year with St. Lucie and spent the majority of the season there. Appearing in 22 games and starting 18, Ovalles posted a 4.73 ERA in 83.2 innings, allowing 68 hits, walking 36, and striking out 84. In September, he was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones and started a pair of games for them. The right-hander allowed 4 earned runs in 10.2 innings, good for a 3.38 ERA, allowing 14 hits, walking 5, and striking out 9.

Ovalles is a well-built and well-proportioned, standing 6’3” and weighing 215-pounds. He seems unlikely to put on much more weight, but even without additional muscle mass, he has shown the ability to throw multiple innings while maintaining his velocity and effectiveness. The right-hander throws from a high-three-quarter arm slot with a short arm action through the back, an adjustment the organization recommended as compared to his amateur days when he utilized a long arm circle.

His fastball averaged 92 MPH in 2023 and topped out at 94 MPH, down a bit from the 2022 season but still within the same upper-80s-to-low-90s velocity band. Despite the slightly below-average velocity for a right-handed pitcher, Ovalles gets plenty of swings and misses with the pitch. It averaged 2585 RPM last season, well-above-average for a fastball, giving it 14-18 inches of induced vertical break, resulting in almost elite perceived vertical movement. The right-hander added a more traditional cutter to his repertoire this past season, a high-80s offering with razor slice thanks to its higher than average spin rate.

In addition to his fastballs, the right-hander has a deep arsenal of other secondary pitches he utilizes. His go-to breaking pitch is his slider, and he also effectively mixes in a curveball and changeup as well. He used his curve and changeup more in 2022 but has pocketed them a bit since the introduction of his cutter in 2023. He is able to throw all three for strikes and while his control is not pinpoint, he is able to hit all four quadrants of the zone intentionally.

His slider sits in the low-to-mid-80s, averaging 83 MPH. Averaging 2650 RPM and topping out as high as 3000 RPM, the pitch sweeps across the zone with exceptional depth. It is mainly thrown down and away, getting right-handers to chase away and backfooting left-handed hitters. His changeup sits in the low-to-mid-80s, averaging 84 MPH. The pitch consistently gets swings-and-misses and, when batters do make contact, runs a high ground ball rate. He mainly uses it against left-handed batters but can crossover and use it against right-handed batters too. His curveball sits in the mid-70s-to-low-80s, averaging 79 MPH. Featuring between 2430 to 2620 RPM of spin, generally sitting on the higher end of that spectrum, the pitch features big 11-5 movement.