After missing about a full year of action, pitcher Yoel Mecias returned to the mound by mid-season last year and proved why he’s been a highly regarded hurler in the Phillies system.
After he was recognized as a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2013 with the Class A BlueClaws, it was determined that the left-hander would require reconstructive surgery to repair the damaged UCL in his throwing arm. That season in 13 games (11 starts), Mecias tallied a 4-3 record with a 3.79 ERA, a .244 batting average against and an 11.05 K/9 mark.
That campaign followed his 2012 season in which he made his professional debut with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, tallying a 0-2 record with two saves and a 2.16 ERA in 14 games (four starts).
Following the Tommy John surgery, Mecias returned to game action last June, when he posted a 0-1 record with a 4.76 ERA while striking out 10 and walking eight in 17 innings.
A promotion back to Lakewood was in order when a spot in their rotation opened up in July and Mecias looked durable, going 3-3 with a 3.21 ERA in seven starts. He struck out 23 and walked nine in 33 2/3 innings.
The Phillies were pleased with the manner in which Mecias returned from the critical injury, according to Phils director of player development Joe Jordan. The Venezuela native needed reps and was able to throw strikes and got most of his velocity back quickly.
Mecias told me during the season that he thinks the downtime he spent dealing with the injury will help him in the long run, as he was able to study the game more and develop the mental toughness he’ll need to be a commanding force on the mound.
The 21-year-old is equipped with a fastball that peaks in the low 90’s, a change up described as “Major League ready” as well as a slider that coaches say needs improvement. Control is also a major plus for Mecias, who has a career walk rate of 8.5% and doesn’t have difficulty locating his pitches. The way he attacks hitters and gets himself ahead in counts also stands out.
At six-foot-two and 160 pounds, Mecias possesses a thin frame. He projects to fill out somewhat and add muscle, which could increase his stamina along with his velocity.
It is possible Mecias could become a reliever in the long run, but the organization views him as a big league starter in the future. His progress will certainly determine what his role will be.
Look for Mecias to be part of the starting rotation for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers when the 2015 season gets rolling.
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