Some players are able to make an impact in the minor leagues immediately after being drafted. Guys like James Kaprielian, Jacob Lindgren, or even Mark Montgomery have done this. Others take longer to develop, and it’s a couple of years before they start to come into their own. Jose Mesa Jr. falls into the second category.
When the Yankees drafted Mesa in 2012, they got an 18 year old kid with size, some developing stuff, and MLB bloodlines. At that time he was throwing 89-92 mph with weak secondary offerings. As the Yankees have learned many times before, having MLB bloodlines doesn’t get you anything except attention. Jose Mesa Jr. is now starting to show that he is ready to breakout. The ball of clay that he once was is starting to be molded into a legitimate prospect.
After missing his first season due to injury, Mesa made his debut in 2014 and pitched reasonably well in limited action. He threw 9.2 innings, had six strikeouts and three walks and a 2.79 ERA.
After the 2014 season, Mesa finally began to come into his own. He experienced a major uptick in stuff and his performance skyrocketed. In 2015 he struck out 60 batters in 40.1 IP with a .163 average against. He did walk 20 batters which will need to improve going forward. Mesa, however, proved that he is ready to make a move.
Position: Right-handed pitcher
Age: 22 (born August 13, 1993 in Miramar, FL)
Draft: 24th round in the 2012 draft
Best Pitch: Fastball
Mesa improved the velocity on his fastball from 89-92 mph to 93-95 mph in three years’ time. In addition to increasing his velocity, he also developed above average secondary offerings. He now has three above average secondary offerings, including a fastball, curve, and slider.
As you might have surmised, the above arsenal is a starter’s repertoire. He is definitely in competition for a starting role in Charleston this year. If he can keep that stuff going late into ballgames, he’s going to be one heck of a starter. Even if he cannot secure one of those starting spots in Charleston, he still appears poised for a huge season. If the Yankees do keep him in a relief role, he may move more quickly and could rise as high as Double-A.
As mentioned before, Jose Mesa Jr. now has a starter’s arsenal. If the Yankees choose to give him an opportunity to start, he has the stuff to be a number two starter if he hits every single milestone that’s placed in front of him. That would require a major improvement in control, and a minor improvement in stuff. His likely projection as a starter would be a fourth or fifth starter at this point. As a reliever, he has the ceiling of a late inning reliever. Given his age, he is going to have to move quickly. If he does not, he could find himself on the garbage heap and in flop country.
Jose Mesa Jr. has a vast ceiling. It’s easy to dream on a kid his size, with his bloodlines, and most importantly with his stuff. This year he has the opportunity to break out and become a household name. Hopefully he continues to improve and make strides. If so, we could be witnessing a young man blossoming into a stud.