Mets' Vasil refining repertoire in AFL

October 18th, 2022

While the Arizona Fall League offers a plethora of opportunities to the talent on hand, what the premier fall circuit allows many of the game’s top prospects to do more than anything is compete. That fact isn’t lost on No. 11 Mets prospect Mike Vasil, who is embracing almost every conceivable aspect of what his six-week tenure with the Peoria Javelinas will offer.

“When I’m down here, what I’m really trying to do is compete and also show my stuff, my ability,” Vasil said. “More compete against myself to know that I can compete against better hitters and show what I’m really capable of, and that’s what I’m really excited for.”

The level of competition that Vasil will face is a step up from what he saw across 18 appearances (17 starts) this year between the Florida Complex League, Single-A St. Lucie and High-A Brooklyn. In total, the 6-foot-5 right-hander compiled a 3.53 ERA and whiffed 85 batters in 71 1/3 innings on the back of a mid-90s heater that has shown room for upward mobility on the radar gun with tweaks made by the organization’s coaching staff.

“They’ve been a super helpful resource in getting me to throw harder, learn my body, learn my mechanics over again and really become a better pitcher,” Vasil said.

After a precautionary shutdown during the summer due to forearm tightness, Vasil worked just eight innings over the final three months of the regular season. Despite the time off, he insists that his stuff – which has been heavily revamped – is now even more effective than ever.

“I really like how [my repertoire] is coming along,” Vasil said. “I think the Mets have done a really great job with my slider, becoming almost like a bullet slider that’s more vertical.”

The righty went on to discuss how his high-angle release has aided him in crafting a splitter/changeup hybrid pitch that he keeps in his back pocket. Along with a developing curveball, Vasil has the makings of a four-pitch mix on the horizon which could profile him as a rotation member on a big league roster.

The Mets boast a half-dozen right-handed arms currently at the lower levels that are in the mix to be ranked as the club’s top pitching prospect come 2023, Vasil among them. With 161 1/3 collegiate innings under his belt during his time with the University of Virginia -- including an NCAA Tournament appearance in ‘21 -- Vasil has the prior benefit of high-level action to rely on.

“You kind of lock into a next level,” Vasil said of upping his game to the competition. “Coming out here against better hitters -- whether they’re Double-A, Triple-A or whatnot -- overall I think [will] just make me a better pitcher. Learning, experience, [getting] the opportunity to face the best of the best.”

Mets hitters in the Fall League

Stanley Consuegra, OF (No. 23): Spending his first full season stateside, the Dominican native impressed Mets evaluators with his toolsy all-around game. Having produced eye-popping exit velocities with his bat and drawn praise for his throwing arm across all three outfield spots, Consuegra aims to find consistency at the dish during his Fall League tenure.

Kevin Kendall, SS: A wrist injury near the end of Spring Training torpedoed Kendall’s 2022 season, limiting him to just six games in September with the Florida State League champion St. Lucie Mets. A hit-first left-handed bat, Kendall slashed .356/.413/.498 in his junior year at UCLA, leading to New York snagging him in the seventh round of the 2021 Draft. 

Luke Ritter, INF: The 25-year-old delivered solid production for Double-A Binghamton through the first two months, collecting a .791 OPS in 41 games; from there, he ran into an offensive malaise amidst a promotion to Syracuse. A four-year starter at Wichita State, Ritter’s hit tool that allowed him to rack up a .337 average over his final two college years has yet to appear in the pros. 

Brandon McIlwain, OF: A two-sport athlete at both South Carolina and Cal, playing quarterback and outfield, McIlwain joined the Mets’ organization as an undrafted free agent in June 2020. At 24 years old, he earned a callup to Binghamton this season after posting an .861 OPS in 48 games for Brooklyn.

Mets pitchers in the Fall League

Grant Hartwig, RHP (No. 22): A shift to the bullpen did Hartwig and his mid-90s sinking fastball a world of good in 2022. His ascension to the Fall League has been meteoric, having begun the season at St. Lucie, climbing the organizational ladder all the way to Syracuse for two appearances at the end of the year. Across four levels, the undrafted 24-year-old whiffed 83 batters in 56 2/3 frames and yielded just one home run.

Christian Scott, RHP (No. 28): Utilized in a multi-inning role for St. Lucie and Brooklyn in 2022, Scott struck out 77 in 58 2/3 innings primarily on the back of his fastball/slider combo. A fifth-round selection by the Mets in the 2021 Draft out of the University of Florida, Scott ramps up his heater into the mid-90s.

Franklin Sanchez, RHP: The 6-foot-6 righty got his first extended taste of full-season ball during his age-21 year this past season and displayed a mid-90s fastball. While he was utilized in a multifaceted role with St. Lucie and Brooklyn, he thrived in stints of two innings or fewer – he allowed an earned run in just two of 10 such outings. Having only thrown 35 2/3 frames, Sanchez will look to build up his innings during his time with Peoria.

Josh Walker, LHP: The fourth-oldest player named to a Fall League Opening Day roster, the 27-year-old is looking to finally break through with the Mets after they selected him in the 37th round of the 2017 Draft. With a heater that routinely sits at 94-96 mph and a breaking pitch that sits in the mid-80s, the 6-foot-6 Walker profiles as a strike-throwing southpaw. After making 20 starts in ‘21, he was utilized entirely out of relief this past season with Triple-A Syracuse.