Scouting Mets Prospect #34: Ryan Coultas

Coultas is no longer just a project

The Mets did not know what they would get when they was decided to move Ryan Coultas to the mound, but in less than two seasons, the right-hander has pitched his way into a valuable position. However, a shoulder injury cut short his 2009 season and now Coultas must work his way back and reclaim the momentum he had early in the season.

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Vital Statistics
Name: Ryan Coultas
DOB: April 24, 1982
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 180
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Status: 6th Round (2004) – UC-Davis

The second season of the "Ryan Coultas Project", the move to turn the once upon a time utility infielder into a pitcher, was on track to be even stronger than the first. After a productive season in the St. Lucie bullpen in 2008 aimed at building shoulder strength, Coultas shifted into the Binghamton starting rotation in 2009.

"I took it as a huge compliment to move to the rotation," said Coultas at the start of the season. "I think it's been big for my development because I learn a lot more pitching in five or six innings than I do throwing one inning."

Coultas got rolling right from the start. He was generally a five or six-inning pitcher—though he did go deeper in a few starts before he was shut down—but faced little adversity as he settled into his new role and the new league with very few bumps. He was quick to direct the credit for his speedy adjustment to the Eastern League.

"I think having [B-Mets pitching coach] Hector Berrios as a pitching coach this year, before and after the injury, was one of the biggest assets I could have had," Coultas offered. "He really got me locked in with just focus level and a lot of the mental side of pitching like competing and trying to get outs instead of just throwing."

"Hector got me to get beyond the little things I was doing last year on the mound out of sheer inexperience. I really felt like this year, with the help of other coaches and players, I turned more into a pitcher than just an ‘experiment'," he continued.

The successes were evident in his production as he followed a 1-1 record and 3.05 ERA in four April starts, with a 3-1 mark, 2.23 ERA and .202 opponent's batting average in May. He went on to allow five earned runs over 11 2/3 innings in two June starts, but that's when a labrum injury struck and immediately ended Coultas' season.

"I noticed I wasn't recovering the same between starts," said Coultas. "I would be able to get through my starts without any problems because of the energy I had on the mound, but then when I would get work in a day or two in bullpens, the shoulder was killing me."

Fortunately for Coultas, he received positive news when he went in for his evaluation. Unlike injuries which have resulted in reconstructive surgeries for numerous Mets farmhands in recent years, Coultas underwent a comparatively minor procedure that should minimize his down time.

"I just went and saw the Mets doctor and he gave me the rehab option, the surgery option, the do-nothing option and after talking to a lot of people they told me that surgery was the way to go," Coultas explained.

"But it was surgery where they didn't fix anything but just cleaned it out, it's pretty much the same time frame as doing nothing. So it made a lot of sense to take that route."

So, after a brief season in which he went 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 11 starts, Coultas spent the rest of summer rehabbing and participating in non-throwing drills in preparation of returning to the mound this winter.

"Right now, I'm as optimistic coming out of a season as I've ever been with the organization. I hope to be in better shape as I've ever been seeing as I've had the head start of being in Florida the last couple months," Coultas closed.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2009

Binghamton

4-3

0

64.2

60

19

33

2.78

2008

St. Lucie

1-5

4

69.0

63

28

61

4.17



Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball: A 92-93 MPH fastball, with very consistent velocity, is the backbone of Coultas' game. He touches 94 MPH at times, but his command of the fastball is what made for a smooth move into Double-A. He attacks hitters without fear and can locate his fastball on both corners and down in the zone. His velocity would typically lead to higher strikeout numbers, but Coultas is aggressive with the pitch and uses it to entice early swings. The most important element of Coultas' fastball is the slight running action he picked up with greater pitching experience, after his heater was invariably straight in 2008.

Other Pitches: Repetition and better feel have vaulted Coultas' changeup into his top secondary pitch. He worked diligently on his changeup after the 2008 season and the results were immediate. He throws his changeup with excellent arm pace and velocity in the mid-70s. It took some tinkering with grips, but he showed good fade and drop on the changeup even in spring training. He does not hesitate to throw the changeup in any count and became primarily a fastball/changeup pitcher during stretches in 2009. He finishes things off with a high-70s curveball, but inconsistent velocity forced him to shy away from the pitch at times this year, especially in later innings.

Pitching: Coultas pitches with a lot of confidence which was born out of seeing his work turn into positive results on the mound. His game plan is simple. He attacks with the fastball early in the count before going after hitters with the changeup and mixing in the curveball. He is willing to expand the strike zone with the fastball, but will turn to his curveball as a get-ahead pitch and his changeup as an out-pitch. He works at a brisk pace and trusts his catcher's signals, rarely shaking off signs in an effort to work quickly.

Projection: Obviously how he returns from injury will play a large role in his ultimate use, but the pitchability he shows with three pitches should leave him in the rotation while in the system. However, sticking to his fastball/changeup combination will make him a serviceable reliever at the higher level, with enough velocity to be trusted in late innings. Seeing as he will be 28 years old early into the 2010 season, Coultas does not fit the mold of a typical prospect, but there is still value to be had from his arm. Value that could be seized quickly if he returns at a full strength without any setbacks.

ETA: 2011. Coultas eventual use is up in the air but again, barring injury, he figures to get a look in New York if he can remain effective upon his return. His comeback will likely prevent an appearance this upcoming season, but if he remains healthy and in form, the Mets will likely find a use for him early in 2011.

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