Mets Minor League Mailbag: Could Mike Vasil crack New York's 2024 Opening Day rotation?

Oct 7, 2022; Peoria, Arizona, USA; New York Mets pitcher Mike Vasil plays for the Peoria Javelinas during an Arizona Fall League baseball game at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2022; Peoria, Arizona, USA; New York Mets pitcher Mike Vasil plays for the Peoria Javelinas during an Arizona Fall League baseball game at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SNY contributor Joe DeMayo answers fan questions in this edition of the Mets Minor League Mailbag...

From @JacobPiccini: Is it a possibility that Mike Vasil starts next season on the Opening Day rotation? Would it make even more sense if the Mets go strong for and acquire Yoshinobu Yamamoto who would need the same schedule that Senga followed to begin his MLB career?

Vasil had a tough transition to Triple-A, as is sometimes seen from pitchers moving up from Double-A. However, since Aug. 8 when he took a no hitter into the ninth inning vs Scranton, he has pitched 25.2 innings, allowing only five earned runs with 19 strikeouts.

His strikeout rate his dipped a little at the Triple-A level and sometimes you do see the velocity dip later into starts. His 22 starts this season are the most starts he has made in a season in either college or professional baseball before this year.

The Mets do not have to add Vasil, my No. 11 prospect in the system, to the 40-man-roster yet for Rule 5 draft purposes and I think the value of a 40-man roster spot is underrated, especially with a prospect. There is no turning back when you add them, and you want to be sure to not have too many prospects on the 40-man who aren’t on the big-league team. You need roster flexibility to get through a full 162-game season.

We will get to starting pitching additions in the offseason, but Yamamoto should, in my opinion, be one of the Mets top targets for the rotation. It is a rotation that needs to add multiple veteran arms, and as we have seen year-in-year-out, you will need to be 10 deep for starting pitching. Fortunately, this year’s free agent market is flush with interesting starting pitching options at all levels, whether it’s long-term, big-money options, mid-level options, or reclamation projects.

I think I would prefer for the 2024 team to have Vasil start in Triple-A as depth that surely will get called upon at some point rather than penciling him into a rotation spot, possibly in scenarios where you may need to give extra rest to certain pitchers.

From @eg42618: Will Jett Williams make it to the big leagues at any point in 2024? Feels like he’s bound to make a major impact sooner than later?

I would advise against betting against Jett Williams. In my latest top 20 prospect list for SNY, I had slotted Jett in at No. 2 on the list but with a big league ETA of 2026. I still feel comfortable with the ranking, but I may have been off on the timeline.

At the time of that writing he was about to play his second game with High-A Brooklyn at 19-years-old. I figured it was a look at High-A for August and to probably start 2024 at the same level. However, he has taken to Brooklyn in a big way. In 24 games he is hitting .326/.468/.593 (1.061 OPS) with eight doubles, five home runs and nine stolen bases. He also continues to show his elite plate discipline with more walks (22) than strikeouts (21). I do believe there is a chance he opens 2024 with Double-A Binghamton.

Once you get to the upper minors, which is Double-A or Triple-A, anything can happen. There are countless examples of prospects who get called up to the majors from Double-A or go from Double-A to Triple-A to the majors within the same season. With that said, the Mets have historically shown a more passive approach when it comes to promoting young players. They set specific player development benchmarks they want to see players hit and they have proven they are firm on those while not reacting to the emotions of excitement surrounding calling up a young player. The hope is being a little more passive will lead to not having to send prospects back down too often.

Whether it is 2024 or 2025, Williams has had a tremendous first pro season and has likely accelerated his timeline to the big leagues beyond the expectations of even the most optimistic on him. He is a unanimous Top 100 prospect in the sport and was even ranked as high as top 50 by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

Jett Williams
Jett Williams / Matthew Kipp/Brooklyn Cyclones

From @JZJonez2000: Who do you expect to be in the 2024 Opening Day Syracuse starting rotation?

I am glad this question was asked. There is a lot of talk about the pitching prospects in the system, and while the Mets may lack many pitching prospects who project as upper-rotation options, they are decently stocked with mid-back-end rotation options, most of which are in the upper levels.

You imagine there will be some veteran depth in Triple-A, but there are plenty of pitchers that will be pushing for a spot in the Triple-A rotation. Blade Tidwell, Vasil, Dom Hamel, Christian Scott (currently on the IL), Justin Jarvis and Tyler Stuart are all ranked inside my Top 20 prospects that are either already at the Triple-A level (Vasil and Jarvis) or at Double-A knocking on the Triple-A door. You also have this year’s second-round pick Brandon Sproat, who has a chance as a college senior to be pushed along on a quick development track.

I know a lot of people roll their eyes when I and others talk about back-end starters, but back-end starters nowadays are being paid between $14-$18M per year. That is how valuable pitching is and why it is so hard to trade for pitching prospects. The Mets are getting closer and closer to their pitching depth coming from internal options instead of the quad-A type of arms that have been trotted out. They believe this is a sign of growth in their first year of the new pitching development system under Eric Jagers. They certainly need more from their pitching pipeline, and the belief is the pitching lab will play a role in that. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and like I said earlier, they may need to invest in some veteran pitching for 2024 as this continues to grow.