Holt and Harvey Remind Mets Fans To Be Patient

Brad Holt was known as a flamethrower out of UNC-Wilmington. When the Mets drafted him in 2008, all the scouting reports said: fastball 93-96, secondary pitches coming, back-end starter. But as ESPN’s Keith Law put it in a 2008 scouting report, Holt is nothing more than a “setup man”.

Holt teased Mets fans immediately after he was drafted. After overpowering the New York Penn League, Holt started 2009 in St. Lucie, showing promise, but a mid-season promotion ultimately derailed Holt from stardom. Since being promoted to Double-A Binghamton, Holt’s combined earned run average has been 7.19.

His blazing fastball is still there, but without control. Dubbed a strikeout machine out of college, Holt has a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season in Binghamton — nothing to write home about. Fans can say, “but opponents are hitting .219 off of him!” Of course they are, but walks don’t account for opponents’ averages.

As of June 16, following two starts in which Holt surrendered more than 5 earned runs in 3 innings, he was moved to the bullpen. There, he has seen limited action, and has walked more than 2 batters on three occasions.

Were the Mets too aggressive?

Now the Mets have another issue. 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey is struggling after a mid-season promotion to AA Binghamton. Granted, he’s only made three starts, but it suggests that the Mets were wise for being conservative with their prized arm. What if Harvey had been called up in May after dominating the first month of pro ball? Would he turn out to be the next Brad Holt? Or maybe the next Mike Pelfrey — whose inconsistency has been blamed by many for being rushed as well?

Harvey’s next scheduled start is going to be more important than the stat line; it will be a mental test. For those planning to attend or listen, Harvey needs to locate his pitches better. After a promising second start (5 IP, 5 H, 5 K, 2 R), his most recent start was awful: 3 IP, 7 ER, 6 H, 2 HR, 1 BB, 5 K His next start will show whether he can bounce back and make the adjustments necessary to compete at the AA level. Part of that is physical, but part of it is also mental.

And that’s what separates the men from the boys: baseball is a mental game. Two months ago, I met the former Chicago Cubs scout who signed Kerry Wood. While we were browsing through the Barnes and Noble baseball section, what he told me that day was nothing new: Mike Pelfrey is a head case and should be traded immediately.

The scout also told me that if Pelfrey were in any city other than New York, he’d be dominating. The scout made perfect sense. Pelfrey hits the mid-90s occasionally during his starts, but why not consistently? A top selection in a draft should not be losing velocity like Pelfrey has.

Mets fans saw the period of the mouthpiece Pelfrey used to sport, to help control his nerves. We also saw the time when Pelfrey looked like a lost puppy on the mound. What happened to Pelfrey’s power arm?  It was there in his major league debut — I remember when I was watching in a third-base luxury box!

With interesting arms in Harvey, Darin Gorski, Jeurys Familia, and recently signed compensation pick Michael Fulmer, the Mets should remain slow with their pitching crop. It’s the first time in a long time that the Mets have rebuilt their farm system, slowly but surely gaining the respect of the prospect gurus.

Since the Mets drafted pitcher-heavy this year, Brad Holt serves as a reminder that anything can happen. One week you may appear on the Baseball America Hot Sheet, the next week, you’re a reliever with nothing but the 7th inning to look forward to.

Kyle Schnitzer's biggest memory as a Mets fan is when Carlos Beltran went down on strike 3 against Adam Wainwright in game 7 of the NLCS. Since then, he hasn't expected much from the Mets. The new regime gives him hope. When he's not writing here, he's writing somewhere else, bussing tables, tweeting, or riding his bike. Follow him on Twitter: @dakyleschnitzer
  1. Mike July 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    Good commentary. Holt struggles with command. The reports kept blaming his mental makeup being the problem. He kept saying it was mental. Perhaps he just is not that good?

    We all know about Pelfrey’s head problems and his rush to the big leagues, but the suggestion that he would be dominating somewhere else is speculation. Does he pitch significanly better on the road than at Citi? No the answer is he is significantly better at home. He also oddly has only 7 starts vs 11 starts at home this year. So it stands to reason that as he gets more home starts with Paulino as his catcher he will put up better numbers in the second half. In fact I’d bet on it.

    As for Harvey, talent-wise he might be above Pelfrey and Holt when they were in the same position. Harvey under Minaya would have been in AA already for months, and probably would be given a shot at the bigs bullpen at the end of the year or at least competed for the 5th starter spot next ST I bet Harvey doesn’t even sniff the big league camp next year. They want him to focus on his current job, and improve. I guarantee it.

  2. izzy July 10, 2011 at 7:48 am
    How patient? 25 years is nothing compared to the poor Cubbie fans. Do we get to wait 20 years before a winning record like the Pirates fans? The O’s are right behind the Buccos. do we wait 13 years or so? Why is it impossible for the Wilpons to find a GM who can build a team for today and tomorrow? They want us to pay top dollar but give us a Yugo for a product 9 times out of 10. Patience. Give us an owner with a brain and a plan and then we will show some patience.
  3. CatchDog July 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm
    BA just released their mid season Top 50 Prospect List. Matt Harvey landed at # 30. If Familia & Gorski continue to perform, they’ve got a good chance to make the list at season’s end.

    That would be SWEET !

    • Kyle Schnitzer July 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm
      I wouldn’t get too excited. BA’s Top 100 is the best players in the minor leagues. Familia has an outside chance. But if Gorski makes it, I’ll stop blogging. Gorski has a chance to make the Mets top 10 prospects, not top 100 in baseball.
  4. Walnutz15 July 11, 2011 at 11:30 am
    RE: Harvey

    The hype on him to start his career has been way overdone, IMHO.

    Granted, he does have nice secondary stuff, in terms of actually possessing the pitches on a “breaking-into the pro’s as a collegiate pitcher” level.

    I’m just curious to see where this leads, especially with more exposure to better hitters + having a lot of innings on his arm – coming out of UNC.

    I’m beyond confident, though – that Alderson and Co. will continue to take a much better stance on limiting his innings than say, a Bernazard/Minaya regime did….in rushing so many of their prospects along.

    I just hope that he develops.

    1st time around, I’m not taking a lot from….just putting it out there, though – that I never saw him as the type of pitcher that Met fans have already been salivating over since he was selected.

    The “rotation mid-year 2012” talk isn’t coming out of my corner…..and I think that we’ve seen more talented 1st Rounders in the past.

    He may gut it out, per his “bulldog”-label…but the question for me will be, “how long will he get by on that”….and more importantly “how much will his stuff come along” in the process?

    Hoping to be surprised by Harvey’s development, as opposed to the former “instant gratifiation” promotion process. GOOD LUCK!!