Mets rookie reliever Gerson Bautista has an electric fastball and a wicked glare in his eye that is impossible to miss, so much so that even Mets manager Mickey Callaway commented on both late in Spring Training.
Bautista was promoted Tuesday from Double-A to the Mets as Hansel Robles was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He will wear No. 46 and is available for Tuesday night's game against the Nationals at Citi Field.
Bautista, 22, will consistently hit 100 mph with his fastball, which he can spot on command. In St. Lucie, an MLB scout told me that -- if Bautista can tighten up and increase the velocity on his slider -- he has the ability to be an elite relief pitcher.
"He's raw," the scout added. "He already has a nice splitter and decent curve, maybe a change up. If they can calm down his delivery and get him to command his slider, he will do some damage in any spot they put him in."
Acquired from the Red Sox last summer in the deal that sent Addison Reed to the Red Sox, Bautista had a 4.22 ERA in 37 minor-league appearances last season. However, he struck out 73 batters in 59 innings.
In just three appearances this spring for Binghamton, he allowed no runs in five innings, while striking out 11 batters and walking no one.
Interestingly, the Sox first used had him as a starting pitcher. However, it wasn't until they moved him to short-stint work in the bullpen that he consistently hit triple digits with his four-seam fastball.
"He's a young arm, who is very raw, but if he trends the way we think he's going to, then he's got a chance to be a really good major pitcher," Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland told the Daily News in March.
Bautista spent a lot of time in Spring Training tagging along with Jeurys Familia, which I'm sure was not an accident. Bautista is a future, big-league, high-leverage reliever, there's no question about it. So, it was wise for the Mets to peg him to Familia, who has been doing that very job for the last few years. This should help him when he strides in to the Citi Field clubhouse.
Prior to this season, Bautista was ranked the organization's No. 29 prospect, according to MLB.com. However, his low number likely had more to do with his lack of experience and being traded late last season. In either case, Sandy Alderson valued him enough to put Bautista on the 40-man roster last November and protect him from being stolen during December's Rule 5 Draft.
"He has the potential, the ceiling to be the best pitcher acquired during Sandy's sell-off in 2017," a former Red Sox executive told me. "He's close. For him, it really comes down to that slider and his command."
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!