Mets’ fans wait with bated breath for young studs Mike Pelfrey and Phillip Humber to arrive on the scene, there’s another youthful gun who has a lot more to do with the Mets immediate future than the two aformentioned fireballers. He is the offspring of former Major League Baseball pitcher (the #1 overall pick of the 1976 draft) Floyd Bannister. Should anything bad happen to any members of the Mets’ aged and fragile quintet this spring, then 25-year old Brian Bannister would find himself on center stage at Shea. Bannister is the Mets’ next best option. He’s their Bobby Jones (famous 76ers’ bench player in the 1970’s), their Ramiro Mendoza, their ‘sixth man’.
Brian was taken in the 7th round of the 2003 draft after a successful career as a USC Trojan. He has steadily improved each year and was the Mets’ most successful starter in the minors last season- posting an impressive 13-5 record with a 2.74 ERA while splitting time between AA (Binghamton) and AAA (Norfolk). Bannister’s repertoire will not kindle any memories of Dwight Gooden or Ron Darling or Jason Isringhausen. No, this Mets’ prospect is not a flamethrower. When talking about him, scouts are more likely to evoke names like Paul Byrd, Jon Lieber and even Greg Maddux. Bannister is all about command and control. He features four pitches, none topping out at more than 90 mph. Pitching coach Rick Peterson’s face was aglow early this spring when talking about Bannister, "He has four pitches that he can locate to both sides of the plate, and that’s exciting." His best pitch is his cut-fastball which breaks
late like a slider and hits between 84-86 on the gun. He uses a four-seam fastball (between 88-90 mph) with precision to get ahead of hitters. His curve breaks 12 to 6, but has a tendency to hang.
Peterson believes the key to his great success this spring has been the development of a changeup that barely breaks 80 mph. "I think he understands that young pitchers who settle into the big
leagues quickly settle in not because they’re fastball-curveball
[pitchers], but because they’re fastball-changeup." Though Bannister will almost definitely begin the year at AAA, the Mets are very confident in their sixth man’s ability to step into the spotlight should he be needed.