It was September 2, 2003, and the 60-76 Mets were just 25 games away from another failed season. But as the loyal Met fans that we are, my father and I decided to go to the game. So what was so special about this seemingly irrelevant game? Well, Danny Garcia was making his Major League debut. Even some of the diehard Met fans reading this might now be asking, "Who the hell is Danny Garcia?" Well believe it or not, Garcia was supposed to be one of the Mets top prospects in 2003, as he had shown much promise in the minors. In Garcia's first at bat, he slapped the ball between first and second base to record his first major league hit. My dad then turned to me and said, "Remember this moment, because you will never see or hear from Danny Garcia again after this season." He wasn't completely right, as Garcia ended up returning to the Mets for parts of the 2004 season as well.
But the point he was making was a much larger one other than not believing Garcia would live up to the hype surrounding him. Too often, we fans will get excited about too many prospects, comparing them to the best baseball players in the game. But we forget that there can only be two or three best hitters in baseball, only two or three best pitchers in the game, and that 99% of players will not live up to their expectations, a defense for why you will very rarely see me get excited about prospects until they have truly established themselves.
But today, I'm going to make an exception. I am going to come out and say I believe I know the next unbelievable pitcher in Major League Baseball: Jenrry Mejia. Anyone who followed the Mets this past Spring heard about my new favorite pitcher on the Mets, next to Johan Santana. Born in the Dominican Republic, Mejia never even picked up a baseball before the age of fourteen. Six years later, at age twenty, Mejia is ready to establish himself as one of the premier pitchers in the league.
I can't remember the last time I got so excited about a pitcher on the mound as I did about Jenrry Mejia the first time I saw him. Mejia has an array of pitchers ranging from his 97 MPH cut fastball to a perfect 12-to-6 curveball to a nasty changeup. With a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings pitched this Spring, Mejia beat all the odds against him, including the general manager, to make the 25-man roster. He has the energy of a pitcher similar to Joba, but yet has composure similar to Johan. And at the same time, he is able to have some fun on the mound like Pedro Martinez. He doesn't get rattled, and when he gets into trouble, he is usually able to find his way out of it. He has a strong mentality, and he doesn't give up. And most importantly, he has confidence in his pitches, which is not something I can always say for guys like John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, or Oliver Perez.
Now, how good will Mejia be? Of course I don't really know. The only way we will be able to find out is just to wait and see. Thus far this season, he has shown the ability to pitch under pressure, most recently in the 20-inning marathon with the Cardinals over the weekend. Then again, he also gave up a walk-off home run against the Colorado Rockies last week. Personally, I envision him as a closer, maybe similar to Mariano Rivera. No, I am not comparing to Jenrry Mejia to the greatest closer of all time. What I am saying though is that from what I have seen thus far, I do believe Mejia has the potential to be a very powerful and effective closer, something I think everyone would agree Mariano has proved to be over his career. But only time will tell. On behalf of all Met fans, good luck Jenrry, we're all rooting for you.