GLENDALE, Ariz. -- By all accounts, Mets right-hander Jordan Geber shouldn’t be here, pitching in pro ball, let alone the Arizona Fall League.
The 24-year old spent four seasons, including the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, at Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland. With an extra year of eligibility, he landed at Virginia Tech, but didn’t get consistent mound time after coming back from a serious car accident that left him with a bad concussion.
Undrafted, but undeterred, Geber headed to participate in Major League Baseball’s Draft League in 2022, the first year the league used an amateur/professional hybrid format. Out of eligibility, Geber was signed to a professional contract for the second half of the league. He showed enough to become one of the first two players to have his contract purchased by a team. He and Joe Joe Rodriguez both were signed by the Mets.
“Me and him laughed about it in the fall, talked about how it was important for us two to do that,” Geber said. “We signed on the same night. We were playing against each other. We got down to Florida and we were roommates. It was really fun.
“I was hoping it would be a launching point for my career because I knew in the Draft League all the data goes straight to the teams, you’re coached by ex-big leaguers and the guys that you’re playing with are really competitive. It was a fun environment and it was fun to pitch in.”
The fun was just beginning, though Geber wasn’t done with facing adversity. He began the year with High-A Brooklyn but missed two months with a torn oblique. He worked his way back and up to Double-A, where he somewhat improbably tossed 18 consecutive shutout innings coming out of the Binghamton bullpen to close out the regular season.
“The jumps I made working out and with the pitching coaches down in Florida for rehab, was a confidence booster,” Geber said. “Coming back, pounding the zone with my best stuff and knowing that if I do that over and over again and I execute my pitches, that not many people are going to hit it.”
Geber went from that outstanding performance to competing in the AFL. His first few outings for the Glendale Desert Dogs were less than exemplary, but some mechanical adjustments led to much better results on Friday night. Using a livelier 91-93 mph fastball, a low-80s slider with more run and late life in the zone and an 86-88 cutter that was sharper and tighter, he gave up just one run on five hits over four innings, giving up just one walk while striking out six.
“I’ve been working on some changes with [David Anderson], the pitching coach here, focused on staying back, finishing pitches out in front, getting that extension,” Geber said. “The fastball was working today, the cutter, everything’s been upgraded a little bit. My carry was back on the fastball, the cutter is sharper, the slider is sharper, just tried to pound the zone with my best stuff and let it work out.
“I was just focusing on getting out over the front foot with the hand and finishing through my catcher instead of pulling off or staying back. That’s really helped me.”
Geber has been starting here in the Fall League and has done more of that than relieving, his stellar stretch in the Binghamton bullpen aside. That’s how he’d prefer it, but if the Mets called and told him they had a relief spot that needed to be filled, it’s not like he’d turn it down.
“Give me the ball, put it in my hand,” Geber said. “I just want to be out there and help the team win.
“I like starting. I want to go out there and pitch as much as I can. I just want to pitch. I want to win and I think being a starter is the best way to do that. I do love being a closer, though. That’s pretty fun.”
Regardless of what future role he might have, the fact that he’s already beaten many odds just by making it to the AFL isn’t lost on him and it seems pretty clear that being able to model being an underdog who beats the odds will continue to fuel him.
“It’s such a long road,” Geber said. “The way I’ve been looking at it since I got picked up was just trying to show everybody that no matter what, you can get here, you can do it, too. You just have to put in the hard work and put your head down and grind it out.”