By Rich Coutinho
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In spring training, Dillon Gee was told he would be given a shot to compete for the coveted 5th spot in the Mets’ rotation. But since he had options and others did not, Gee was sent to Triple-A Buffalo to fine-tune his skills. We all knew he would be called up sometime during the season — but none of us knew it would happen in mid-April.
Gee does not have the stuff that blows you away. He does not light up the radar gun. The thing you notice about him right away is that he’s a pitcher and not a thrower. The baseball gods bless some pitchers with a thunderbolt in their shoulder. Gee is not one of those guys, but what he does possess is a high baseball IQ, coupled with the ability to throw an assortment of pitches for strikes.
For those of you who remember the ’86 Mets, he is very much a right-handed Bobby Ojeda. Smart, durable and a winner.
In a strange sort of way, Gee fits in nicely with R.A. Dickey and Chris Young, pitchers who think through games as much as they pitch in games. The question remains: What will the Mets do with Gee?
They obviously plan on using him, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent D.J. Carrasco to Triple-A. But to leave Gee in the bullpen? That might not be a great fit for him and would compromise his development as a starting pitcher.
I say leave him in the rotation and put Chris Capuano in the ‘pen. That helps the Mets in a number of ways. It will leave Gee in the rotation, where he is best suited, and will give the Mets another lefty in the bullpen. Capuano would also serve as a long man — which the team will need now with Carrasco jettisoned to Buffalo. The Mets might have something special in Gee, and I would love to see him get an extended opportunity to start.
It’s funny with pitching prospects, but sometimes the ones who fly under the radar — like Gee — make it while other, more highly touted prospects don’t make the grade. Years ago, one of the Braves’ top pitching prospects was a guy named Derek Lilliquist. Who? Exactly. It turned out that a little-known prospect named Tom Glavine flew under the radar, paid his dues, and basically fooled National League hitters over the next two decades with 2 pitches — a well-controlled fastball and a killer changeup.
In that same era, the Yankees had a number of prospects, including Brien Taylor, but a lesser known prospect named Andy Pettitte was the guy that made it out of that class. I call it an “it factor” in pitching — and Gee has some of that.
I could be overreacting to an impressive September and two good starts in 2011, but this is worth the gamble. The Mets may have found a real diamond in the rough with a kid named Gee.
What should the Mets do with Gee? Let Coutinho know in the comments below…