For many seasons now, we preview one non-roster invitee to Mets spring training per day, leading up to the regular season. NRI’s generally fall into one of two buckets. Players are either prospects on the verge of breaking the 40-man roster and the time in major league camp is crucial for their development. This is also the best time for the major league coaches to get their first good look of the players of tomorrow. In the second bucket veteran players trying to break camp with a new team. The Mets invited about 20 players to spring training last year outside of their 40-man roster. 2023 was a chaotic, volatile year for the Mets and a good chunk of the players the Mets invited to camp eventually saw time at the major league level. Of the ten pitchers the Mets brought to camp last spring, seven of them saw at least three games with the Mets at some point during the season. Let’s see where the 2023 class is now!
Connor Gray: Gray was with the Diamondback organization before the pandemic and then ended up bouncing around between different independent league and minor league systems. He tore his UCL at Mets camp last year and tommy john. Tapinto Greater Olean has been following his story through his recovery process.
Grant Hartwig: MLB Pipeline in 2022 predicted that Hartwig would make his major league debut in 2023, and they were correct! Hartwig was undrafted in 2021 and signed with the Mets. Last season he pitched in 28 games in Queens tossing 35 1/3 innings with a 4.84 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.387 WHIP. He’s still on the 40-man roster. He will be fighting for a bullpen spot again this spring, but with the advantage of already being on the roster.
Tommy Hunter: One of my favorite players to put on a Mets uniform. Hunter’s return to the Mets wasn’t great as he posted a 6.85 ERA, 5.75 FIP, 1.394 WHIP over 14 games and 23 2/3 innings last season. The Mets released him last June and he retired last month.
TJ McFarland: The Mets brought on the 10-year veteran last year as bullpen depth, but barely used him in the majors as he pitched in three games totaling 1 2/3 innings allowing two runs, one earned from four hits. Between the Mets system and later the Orioles system, he had a 2.30 ERA over 44 games (62 2/3 innings). The Dodgers have signed him on a minor league deal for the 2024 season.
Zach Muckenhirn: Muckenhirn is currently a free agent. He made his major league debut with the Mets and pitched six innings over three games allowing four earned runs. He was traded to the Mariners for Flexen and Gott, neither of whom are with the Mets currently. Muckenhirn had a lot of success in the Mets farm system posting a 0.88 ERA last season but with the Mariners he struggled, posting a 6.11 ERA before being released.
Eric Orze: In 2021 Orze posted a 3.08 ERA in the Mets system over 34 games throughout three different levels. He then struggled in 2022, posting a 6.08 ERA over 32 games. Last year wasn’t that much better as he posted a 5.67 ERA, 1.525 WHIP over 39 games and 61 innings. The Mets have invited him back to spring training as an NRI again in 2024.
Denyi Reyes: Reyes made his major league debut with the Orioles in 2022 and when he signed with the Mets he seemed like an interesting depth signing. The Mets rotation health thrusted Reyes into Mets major league roster and he made three starts, nine games total, with a 7.78 ERA, 4.88 FIP, 1.678 WHIP over 19 2/3 innings. Last month he signed a contract with the Samsun Lions in the KBO.
Josh Walker: Another pitcher who is still on the Mets 40-man after being an NRI last spring. Walker was drafted by the Mets in 2017 and last season tossed 10 innings over 14 games allowing 11 runs, nine earned (5.26 FIP, 1.800 WHIP). He’ll be competing for a bullpen spot again this spring.
William Woods: Woods struggled in the Mets organization last year with a 6.84 ERA over 38 games (52 2/3 innings) between Syracuse and Binghamton. Woods is still on the Syracuse roster, but was not offered an NRI for the 2024 season (as of 2/3/24).
Jimmy Yacabonis: Jimmy saw seven games and 13 2/3 innings with the Mets last season posting a 6.59 ERA, 5.08 FIP and a 1.463 WHIP. Back in August he elected free agency.
The Mets really needed to dive deep last season, pulling tons of players out of the minors to fill in injury and trade gaps. This season the organization has brought in (at least) 16 pitchers on a combination of major league and minor league deals. We are only a few weeks away from seeing the 2024 class compares to 2023!