Jacob Rhame Rediscovers Changeup As He Eyes Bullpen Role
Of the seven righthanded minor league relievers acquired by the Mets for veteran players last summer, Jacob Rhame is probably the closest to major league ready.
The 25-year-old arrived as the player to be named in the deal that sent Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers last August. Rhame struggled in nine appearances for the Mets as a September callup, posting a 9.00 ERA, but his 95 mph fastball and changeup give him a chance to augment a bullpen that could carry eight relievers for much of 2018.
The 6-foot-1 Rhame's changeup is the most intriguing pitch to club officials.
"Everybody throws hard nowadays, so if you can subtract without giving it away (by) slowing your arm down and changing your delivery, you have got a chance," Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "We are still working on tightening his breaking ball up a little bit. He's got the equipment to pitch in this league for a long time."
Rhame, a 2013 sixth-round pick by the Dodgers, attended Oklahoma, but was cut from the baseball team after struggling through a freshman season in which he gained 60 pounds. He transferred to Grayson County (Texas) JC and pitched in the Alaskan Summer League, losing the weight he had gained.
Along the way, he reestablished a fastball that had lost zip. His changeup improvement didn't come until last season.
"I have always relied on my changeup a lot," Rhame said. "My changeup has been good for me this spring, and really all I am focused on is showing them I can pound the zone and not giving up walks. Nobody wants to see walks, especially in spring training."
Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek, Drew Smith, Ryder Ryan and Eric Hanhold were the other relievers acquired by general manager Sandy Alderson last summer in trades that also involved Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker.
Rhame and Callahan were the only two who pitched above Double-A last season.
"There are some spots open in that bullpen and (Rhame) is right in the thick of the mix," Eiland said. "His stuff plays when it crosses the plate."
Minor League Transactions
A summary of minor league maneuvering for all 30 teams for the period March 3-8.
NEW YORK MINUTES
• The Mets signed righthander A.J. Griffin to a minor league contract to build organizational pitching depth. The 29-year-old posted a 5.94 ERA in 18 appearances for the Rangers in 2017.
• Righthander Corey Oswalt, last season's Eastern League pitcher of the year at Double-A Binghamton, was among the impressive performers for the Mets in the first half of spring training. He recorded a 2.84 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in his first four Grapefruit League appearances.