Non-Roster Invites to camp break down to three groups: 1) Veterans trying to find their way back in, 2) Minor League Journey Men, 3) Prospects. Steve Villines, who will be 23 this season and was drafted in 2017 falls into the last group.
He was drafted by the Mets in the 10th round of the 2017 player draft and has already played across 5 levels of Mets baseball in 2 seasons. If you only get your prospect news here, 1) thanks, 2) that’s a really bad idea, you probably haven’t heard much about him because we’ve been focusing on Baseball America’s top Mets prospects from 2018 and he didn’t make that list (and I’m assuming he’ll be on the 2019 list)
Before we break down his stats, head over to Amazin Avenue to read more about Villines path to become a college pitcher (because it almost didn’t happen) and then a break down of his mechanics. He’s a low/slot almost submarine pitcher.
He had a strong, albeit short, campaign in 2017 after he was drafted where he pitched in 19 games between Kingsport and Brooklyn posting a 1.65 ERA over 27.1 innings with a 0.878 WHIP. Only 8 of those games were in Kingsport where he was pretty quickly moved up to Brooklyn.
He started last year in Columbia where he was a tick (0.1) older than the average player and it was also his worst stretch of the year. He posted a 4.86 ERA, 1.140 WHIP over 33.1 innings with a 4.86 ERA. He then got moved up to St Lucie and dominated, and this is where he started to get noticed. In 16 games and 22.0 innings he allowed 1 run. He also only allowed 7 hits. This led to an ERA of 0.41 with a 0.591 WHIP. That’s astounding and earned him a call up to Binghamton where he dropped to 2.4 years younger than the average player. He was still effective over 11.1 innings and 7 games with a 3.18 ERA and a 0.706 WHIP (which is the real part to concentrate for him).
I would assume the “armchair analysis” for some of his success right now may be because of how unusual his pitching style is, especially in the lower minors where most people are throwing the same way, power pitchers haven’t lost their “umph” yet but still haven’t found their location yet, etc. Villines control sets him apart and this is what I’m hoping to see in Spring. Does his pitching style still lead to weak ground balls against major leaguers? If so, then he should find his way to Queens in 2019 or 2020.