Righthander Colin Holderman developed a fastball to match his 6-foot-7 frame and got to show off that weapon to the Mets in spring training.
A non-roster invitee, the 26-year-old Holderman impressed team officials with his 99 mph heat. It took until his sixth Grapefruit League appearance for him to surrender his first run.
“He’s got my attention,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Verifying what people have told me about his potential. He’s been good.”
Holderman, a 2016 ninth-rounder from Heartland (Ill.) JC, was throwing his fastball in the 93-94 mph range as recently as two summers ago.
Then he got healthy and changed his mechanics.
The injuries included a torn labrum and ulnar collateral ligament in 2017 and 2018. After returning from Tommy John surgery, he received advice from then-minor league pitching coordinator Ricky Meinhold to change his approach.
At times when he wasn’t fully healthy, Holderman says he struggled to hit 90 mph.
“I wasn’t using my legs at all and I was throwing kind of like an idiot,” Holderman said. “That’s why I was hurt a lot . . . and Meinhold told me to ride that back leg and that’s when I made the big jump. I was 93-94 (mph) and then the next day I was up to 98.”
Holderman appeared in 15 games last season between Low-A and Double-A and pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings. He made 11 appearances in the Arizona Fall League.
The Mets did not add him to the 40-man roster, making him a candidate to be selected in the Rule 5 draft before that was canceled.
“Maybe someone would have taken me and I would have had a full year possibly on the roster,” Holderman said of possible Rule 5 selection, “but I’m happy where I’m at. This team is unbelievable. Seeing what they do every day . . . this team has a chance to make a real run, and that’s where I want to be”