PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Listening to Mets manager Mickey Callaway talk up Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy, you’d have no idea that he’s a 26-year-old who has had minimal success in the upper minors.
Dowdy has a “special curveball,” “great slider” and “solid changeup,” plus a fastball that got up to 96-97 mph last year, Callaway said. And fans will see a lot of him once Grapefruit League games start Saturday.
“He’s got a really nice four-pitch mix, and we want to see all of those,” Callaway said. “We want to let him shine. You’re going to see him out there as much as possible, and we’re excited that he’s in our organization for now.
“This kid is the first one to the ballpark every morning. When I come in from lifting, I’m walking back through and he’s the first one in there. And he’s the last one to usually leave. So he’s on a mission.”
The righthander has a shot at winning one of the two or three bullpen spots up for grabs. As a Rule 5 player, he needs to stay on the Mets’ active roster (or injured list), or the team will need to offer him back to his previous club, the Indians.
Traditionally a starter, Dowdy said the Mets have been straightforward with him about the lack of available rotation spots, though Callaway said he might get an exhibition start.
Whatever Dowdy’s role, the Mets have reason to believe he can stick. As detailed by Callaway, that optimism comes from a couple of changes he made last year, first with the Tigers and then the Indians.
“He came out last season and was throwing about 91, 92,” Callaway said. “And he worked on some arm-action stuff that shortened up and quickened his arm in the back, very similar to what [Zack] Wheeler worked on and what [Jacob] deGrom did really good last year. And all of a sudden it’s coming out a little bit better, then he gets traded over to Cleveland and they work on some mechanical things to get his hips moving a little bit more toward home plate and quicker, and all of a sudden he’s throwing 96, 97.”
The Mets have a team meeting at 9 a.m. Monday in advance of their first full-squad workout, a standard move that usually includes speeches from team decision-makers. “Brodie [Van Wagenen] is going to have a lot of energy,” Callaway said, “and we’re definitely going to talk about winning.”
As the rest of the Mets ate lunch and left the facility, Peter Alonso — in full uniform — took ground balls with infield coach Gary DiSarcina and minor-league infield coordinator Tim Teufel, who has worked extensively with Alonso in recent years . . . The Mets hosted a clinic at First Data Field for 80 Special Olympics athletes and their families.