As of Tuesday morning, 153 pitchers had thrown enough innings to qualify for the minor league ERA title.
Mets prospect Tyler Stuart? He is leading the whole pack.
Stuart, the team’s sixth-round pick in last year’s Draft, lowered his ERA to 1.54 after turning in six solid innings Saturday night at Double-A Binghamton, his first outing since a midseason promotion. Not yet ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Mets Prospects Rankingthe 23-year-old right-hander has climbed up other lists and figures to become a staple of theirs moving forward.
Stuart has been that good for the Mets, producing a 1.55 ERA in 14 starts at Single-A St. Lucie before earning the call-up to Binghamton. Among pitchers qualified at one of Minor League Baseball’s four full-season affiliate levels, he is one of only three with an ERA below 2. He has struck out 89 batters in 81 2/3 innings.
“Obviously the job is not done,” Stuart said in a phone interview. “We still have two months left in the season, so I’m going to keep it up, keep pushing and keep my foot on the ground. But overall, it’s a good feeling.”
Far from a premium prospect when the Mets drafted him after his sophomore season at the University of Southern Mississippi, Stuart had undergone Tommy John surgery in 2021 and spent most of his college career in relief. He made three signing appearances last summer, but had never had an extended opportunity to showcase himself as a starting pitcher.
When that opportunity came this April, Stuart jumped at it. He has allowed two runs or less in every game he’s pitched thus far.
“Deep down, I always wanted to start,” said Stuart, who pitches a five-pitch combination led by a fastball-slider combination. “That suited me better. I feel like I get better as the game goes on. I can get to that fourth, fifth, sixth inning, just seeing the third time in the order, I feel like I lock myself in more.”
It helps that Stuart is 6-foot-9, a high school basketball player, and a football wide receiver who chose baseball as his most viable long-term path. Stuart’s height gives him the benefit of extra extension, allowing his mid-’90s sinker and fastball to jump over hitters. One scout compared him favorably to Tylor Megill, another burly presence on the mound who shed his “potential reliever” tag as he moved closer to the big leagues.
Within a Mets system still lacking impact-pitching prospects at the upper levels, Stuart stands out in more ways than one. Like Mike Vasil, another mid-round draft pick who appears to be the next Mets pitching prospect to make his major league debut, Stuart has positioned himself to join New York as soon as next season. For a pitcher just a year out of college, that’s no small feat.
“You try not to [think about it]said Stuart. “Even going into pro ball, it’s like, ‘Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s just a baseball game. You keep doing the same. …I don’t really think about what level I’m at, stuff like that. I just try to live in the moment.”