Today we start a 30 part series looking into the top 30 prospects in the Mets according to Baseball America before the start of the 2018 season.
Coming in at #30 with a BA Grade of 50 / Risk: Extreme is Right Handed Pitcher Christian James. The Mets drafted James in 2016 out of high school (Florida) and he played the 2016 season with the Gulf Coast Mets posting a 0.52 ERA over 14 games and 17.0 innings. In 2017 he pitched 52.0 innings with Kingsport posting a 4.18 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.
In their write up on Christian James, they compared him to John Gant / Rob Whalen and ended with, “James mixes pitches well and exudes mound presence… He could develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter”.
While Baseball America expected him with Columbia in 2018, he ended up playing almost the entire season with Brooklyn posting a 2.01 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP in 71.2 innings. He also got a start at St. Lucie allowing 1 run and 1 hit over 5.0 innings and a start in Binghamton allowing 1 run from 3 hits over 4.0 innings. (Important to note: he made these starts before going to Brooklyn)
James is still young, he’ll be 21 next season and the Mets are pretty thin right now with starting pitching prospects. My gut tells me right now he starts the season in St. Lucie depending on how many starting pitchers the Mets organization signs next year.
Behind the numbers, Amazin’ Avenue posted some information about his pitch speed (dropped between ’17 and ’18) and control (below-average). I don’t want to quote their work since they did all the research, so please go over there to read it. Their write up leaves me overall concerned about James but James was never a big ticket prospect. The hope with James out of high school was his velocity would come as he grew into his body. There is still a chance this happens.
If you take the view point of James being the 30th best player in the Mets system, then I would say his stock had to rise after this season. I don’t know if he breaks the top 20 until he shows he can consistently put up the same numbers in double A which he may get the chance to do in the second half of next year.