Scouting Mets' Prospect #30: Kole Strayhorn
Strayhorn Is Still Only 22 Years Old
Strayhorn Is Still Only 22 Years Old

Posted Dec 6, 2004


The New York Mets acquired Kole Strayhorn, along with Victor Diaz with Joselo Diaz, from the Dodgers in 2003 as part of the Jeromy Burnitz trade. Strayhorn ranks #30 among the Top 50 Mets' prospects. (Free Preview of Premium Content)

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kole Strayhorn
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: October 1, 1982
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Strayhorn was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 2001 draft out of Shawnee High School in Oklahoma and signed with Los Angeles for $230,000 back on June 9, 2001, despite committing to pitch for the University of Texas. In high school, Strayhorn went a combined 15-4 in his junior and senior years, including a fantastic 7-2 mark with a 0.74 ERA his junior year, starting for Shawnee High School. He was ranked by Baseball America as the fourth best prospect coming out of the state of Oklahoma prior to the 2001 draft.

After signing with the Dodgers, Los Angeles sent Strayhorn to Great Falls of the Pioneer League but quickly sent him down to the Gulf Coast League due to a numbers crunch on the Great Falls pitching staff. Strayhorn immediately turned heads in the Gulf Coast League, earning All-Star honors after posting a 5-3 record with a 2.21 ERA in 12 appearances. The Dodgers promoted Strayhorn to South Georgia of the South Atlantic League to begin the 2002 season. After having periods of "dead arm", Strayhorn was converted from a starter to a reliever in 2002. "Getting moved to the bullpen helped my career more than anything. I love it. Being a closer really fits my demeanor and my personality. I like being out there under pressure with the game on the line," Strayhorn said. "Plus, it gives me the chance to play every day. You come to the park knowing you¹ll get to play. Maybe not every night, but at least every other night", Strayhorn told the News-Star.

After finishing the 2002 campaign as the South Georgia closer, Strayhorn was moved up to the Florida State League to begin the 2003 season as the closer for Vero Beach. He was packaged with Victor and Joselo Diaz in a trade to the Mets for Jeromy Burnitz in July of 2003 and was sent to St. Lucie where he picked up his first save in a Mets' uniform against Vero Beach. "You need a lot of luck to get to the big leagues," Strayhorn said. "When you get on a team that's rebuilding, like the Mets are right now, your future is in your hands a little more. Your chances highly increase. The Mets have a lot of young players", Strayhorn told the News-Star back in February prior to the start of Spring Training.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2004

Binghamton

5-4

8

50.0

49

27

43

5.22

2003

St. Lucie

1-1

10

15.1

7

9

16

1.17

2003

Vero Beach

5-2

7

46.0

42

13

44

2.93

2002

South Georgia

1-7

4

93.1

99

38

50

4.24

2001

Great Falls

0-0

0

2.0

4

1

1

18.00

2001

Gulf Coast

5-3

0

53.0

41

17

47

2.21


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Splitter, Curveball.

Fastball. Strayhorn's fastball, which he consistently throws in the 92-94 MPH range, is the pitch most scouts notice right away. He can get his fastball as high as 98 MPH on the gun at times when he lets loose. It has a heavy sinking action that allows him to keep the ball in the ballpark and helps him get more groundball outs. His fastball also tails in on righties and away on lefties. Only Matt Lindstrom throws harder in the Mets' system.

Other Pitches. Strayhorn has an extensive repertoire for a relief pitcher but it is not surprising considering he came up through the Dodgers' farm system as a starting pitcher. He has an overpowering slider which serves as hit out pitch at times. He also throws a good changeup and has been working on developing a splitter. His curveball and splitter are average at this point.

Pitching. He sets up his fastball very well with a good slider and changeup. After seeing his breaking stuff, hitters have a hard time fighting off his dominating fastball. Strayhorn has a "maximum" effort delivery which gives big concern for reoccurring arm injuries. He possesses an excellent combination of stuff and command. Also aiding his cause, he's very athletic and a good fielding pitcher after spending his high school days as a part-time infielder.

Projection. Strayhorn projects to be a possible closer down the road or a very good setup man at minimum. The key to his success is to remain healthy as he's had a few injuries in his short minor league career thus far. If he can improve his command on his splitter and changeup, he has the chance to be a very good closer for the Mets down the road.

ETA. 2007. Strayhorn has spent his minor league career playing against much older competition. He just turned 22 years old in October and already has a full year of AA competition under his belt. If he's not selected by another team in the Rule V Draft this winter, you can expect to see Strayhorn back at Binghamton in 2005 as the closer for the B-Mets. With two more years of minor league seasoning, Strayhorn would most likely be ready to help the big league club by 2007 when he'll still only be 24 years old.

Relief Pitchers

2004 Team

Heath Bell

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Royce Ring

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Kole Strayhorn AA - Binghamton Mets
Jeremy Hill AA - Binghamton Mets
Shane Hawk A - St. Lucie Mets
Matthew Lindstrom A - St. Lucie Mets
Carlos Muniz A - Capital City Bombers
Greg Ramirez A - Capital City Bombers
Celso Rondon A - Brooklyn Cyclones


Comments

The Mets are not abound with a ton of closer-type prospects in their farm system. The closer prospects with the highest ceilings appear to be Kole Strayhorn and Celso Rondon, that is if the Mets' don't convert a starting pitcher like Matt Lindstrom or Greg Ramirez into closers. They do have quite a few possible setup men and we'll go over some of the Mets' options below.

1) Heath Bell - Bell is mainly a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a plus fastball and plus slider with good command. After making some noise with the Mets in '04, Bell could find his way back to Shea in 2005.

2) Royce Ring - Ring has a solid Major League fastball that sits in the 91-93 MPH range and can bring it as fast as 95 MPH at times. He mixes in a good circle changeup and solid curveball.

3) Kole Strayhorn - Has one of the more expanded repertoires for a relief pitcher, due in large part to his days as a starting pitcher. Like Ring, Strayhorn has a dominating fastball. He needs to improve his splitter and curveball to give him more options. Staying healthy has been an issue.

4) Jeremy Hill - Hill picked up the slack in the Binghamton bullpen, picking up ten saves and holding runs at bay with a 2.23 ERA for the B-Mets. Depending on what happens over the winter, Hill could find himself in a similar role with the Tides in '04.

5) Matthew Lindstrom - Nobody throws as hard as Lindstrom does in the Mets' organization...nobody! Lindstrom is a fascinating talent that is getting a chance to showcase his stuff in the Arizona Fall League this year. With a fastball that regularly sits in the 94-96 MPH range, he can top it off at 100 MPH at times. Used primarily as a starter up to this point, his future seems to be in the bullpen...possibly as a closer.

6) Shane Hawk - Hawk is a devastating reliever, especially to left-handed batters. A tall, lanky guy, Hawk was used as a closer in St. Lucie (somewhat) and Capital City. He projects to be a top-notch left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.

7) Carlos Muniz - The former Long Beach State star has progressed somewhat slowly as a closing prospect in the Mets' farm system. After saving 13 games for the Cyclones in 2003, Muniz combined to notch 10 saves between Brooklyn and Capital City in '04. At 23 years old (he turns 24 in March) he needs to be challenged.

8) Greg Ramirez - Ramirez has enjoyed success as both a starter and a reliever since being drafted out of Pepperdine in 2003. He led the Bombers with 10 saves in 2004 but also excelled when called to the rotation. Chances are his future is in the bullpen, possibly as an excellent setup man.

9) Celso Rondon - Rondon is an intriguing closer prospect. He has an MLB fastball and curveball. He picked up 12 saves for Brooklyn this past season and appears to be the front-runner for the closing duties in Hagerstown next season, if he's not selected in the Rule V Draft.

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