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Mejia strikes out four, wows pitching coach Warthen

JENRRY MEJIA Team: Mets | Position: Pitcher |


Team: Mets | Position: Pitcher | Age: 20

There has been plenty of hype around Jenrry Mejia for the Mets this spring. It's still unknown if Mejia will follow the Mets up north, and if so, will he be in the rotation or bullpen? He's been solid in the minors, pitching to the tune of a 2.91 ERA in three seasons. With the Mets' situation, there's a good chance he could not only make the team, but become an important factor immediately. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Just last week, Jerry Manuel compared the movement on Jenrry Mejia's fastball to Mariano Rivera's Hall of Fame cut fastball.

On Friday, when asked if Mejia, 20, is too young to be promoted to the majors, pitching coach Dan Warthen brought up the name of Dwight Gooden, a prodigy who made that promotion work.

Lofty praise, but when it comes to Mejia, the Mets aren't sparing any superlatives. In fact, they seem to be penciling him in for the Opening Day roster.

Mejia struck out four and didn't allow a hit in 2 1/3 innings Friday in the Mets' 4-3 loss to the Marlins at Tradition Field. "You see today, he's a major-league pitcher," Warthen said. "We have to see what happens over the next month."

Not only does Mejia's velocity stay consistently at 95 mph, but his fastball has a natural late cut that is murder on hitters.

Manuel has been excited about Mejia ever since his first bullpen session here. The manager said he wouldn't subject him to the pressures of the eighth-inning role, despite the team's need, but eventually could groom him for the job.

"Wooooo, man, oh, man," Manuel said. "The eighth inning would look pretty good for Mejia, wouldn't it? I like him a lot. For me, when you are that dominant, then you hope as you progress that you continue to see that consistency. What he has to do is prove that he can throw consistent strikes. If he can do that, he's got somebody fighting for him."

Mejia is not lacking in confidence, either. When asked if he can make the major-league team, he replied: "I think so. That is a dream come true."


Extra bases

Jon Niese continued to build his case as the fifth starter, striking out five in 2 2/3 innings . . . In Jupiter, Nelson Figueroa allowed one hit in four scoreless innings in the Mets' 7-3 win over the Cardinals.


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