Despite having his 2013 campaign shortened due to a severe elbow injury, Venezuelan born hurler Yoel Mecias made a name for himself as a notable prospect in the Phillies system last year. The lefty, who turned 20 years old this off-season, underwent Tommy John surgery in June after an impressive stint with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.
Signed as an amateur free agent in December 2010, Mecias made his pro debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, tallying a 0-2 record with two saves and a 2.16 ERA in 14 games (four starts). In his 10 relief outings, Mecias sported a 1.90 ERA. Overall, he struck out 34 batters and walked 11 in 41 2/3 innings that year after some time in extended spring training.
Mecias also made an appearance for Aragua of the Venezuelan Winter League in 2012 as well.
In 13 games (11 starts) with Lakewood last season, Mecias posted a 4-3 record and a 3.79 ERA along with an 11.05 K/9 mark. His efforts were enough to gain him recognition as a South Atlantic League All-Star. He was also honored as the Phillies’ minor league pitcher of the month in May when he posted a 3-1 record and a 1.50 ERA over six starts.
With an eye on his pitch count, Mecias was permitted to pitch longer than five innings just twice last year. The cautious approach didn’t have great results, of course, as the youngster experienced trouble with his elbow and required reconstructive surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament.
Equipped with a fastball that ranges in the high 80’s to low 90’s and an already Major League ready change up, Mecias will look to upgrade his breaking pitch, a slider, that will need some improvement as he climbs the developmental ladder.
At six-foot-two and 160 pounds, Mecias possesses a small frame. He projects to fill out a bit and add muscle, which would increase is stamina along with his velocity.
It’s possible Mecias ends up as a reliever in the long run, but organizational coaches view him as a big league starter in the future. His progress will certainly determine what his role will be.
Mecias is going to spend much of this coming season rehabbing his throwing elbow but could possibly be on the mound by mid-summer. Former Phillies prospect Carlos Carrasco underwent Tommy John surgery and returned to game action in under a year when he appeared in rehab games with Double-A Akron in the Eastern League playoffs in September 2012.
When Mecias is ready to appear in official games it’ll likely be for the GCL team, so he can pitch under the watchful eyes of Phils trainers in Clearwater, but a return to Lakewood could be on tap for this year as well, once he’s 100 percent, if his recovery goes well.
Click here to view the running list of this year’s prospect countdown.