When right-hander Tyler Bashlor made his season debut with the Columbia Fireflies by throwing two scoreless relief innings on April 8, to say it was a long time coming would be an understatement. Bashlor had not appeared in an official minor league game in 31 months, since pitching for Kingsport in 2013, after being selected in the 11th round of the draft that summer.
Bashlor underwent Tommy John surgery on May 13, 2014.
Eleven months after the elbow procedure, Bashlor started seeing action in extended spring training, but discomfort resurfaced after a few innings. He would throw a little. Then rest. Throw a little. Then be forced to rest some more.
“It was just like a broken record,” said Bashlor, who faulted scar tissue.
Now, the 23-year-old Bashlor is back. And he’s having success.
Before allowing three runs in two innings on Tuesday, he had a 1.09 ERA and two saves in 15 appearances for the Fireflies, striking out 28 in 24⅔ innings. He did have 13 walks, hit a batter and had seven wild pitches, surrendering 15 hits during that stretch.
Bashlor’s fastball now sits at 94-95 mph and touches 98 mph. He also throws a curveball and changeup.
“I waited a long time for this,” Bashlor said. “It’s awesome to be back with the fellas. It’s a nice feeling to be able to throw in games again and not be stuck down there in Port St. Lucie.”
Bashlor was a third baseman and catcher in high school. When he arrived at South Georgia College, the staff moved him to right field for his freshman year. His pitching career was launched the following summer, when an out-of-the-blue call landed him in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League in Connecticut.
“I wasn’t going to play ball,” Bashlor said about his summer plans. “My buddy called me one day, like in the middle of the summer, and said, ‘Hey, you want to go play up in Connecticut in a futures league? Our closer just got hit with a line drive and broke his jaw.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, shoot, I’ll come up there and pitch.’
“I pitched a little bit in high school, but nothing to talk about. I went up there and started, and my fastball was lighting the gun up. I started to get some attention. And then I came back my sophomore year and told my coach, ‘Hey, I want to pitch.’ He didn’t expect what I was doing, how hard I was throwing. I just played right field and pitched my sophomore year.”
The Mets clearly were impressed. They drafted him in the 11th round the following June and paid him an over-slot $550,000 to keep him away from continuing his college career at a four-year institution. Bashlor, a Savannah native, had committed to Georgia College and State University.
Had Bashlor not been sidetracked for a couple of seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, he likely would have had the chance to play in his native Savannah in the South Atlantic League. This year, that club relocated to Columbia, South Carolina. Still, Bashlor is just happy to be in games again.
Average: T.J. Rivera, Vegas, .359; Wuilmer Becerra, St. Lucie, .338; Gavin Cecchini, Vegas, .326; Brandon Nimmo, Vegas, .317; Roger Bernadina, Vegas, .305; Kevin Taylor, St. Lucie, .305; Amed Rosario, St. Lucie, .303; Tomas Nido, St. Lucie, .295; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, .294; Matt Oberste, Binghamton, .294.
Homers: Marc Krauss, Vegas, 11; Dilson Herrera, Vegas, 9; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 8; Johnny Monell, Vegas, 6; T.J. Rivera, Vegas, 6.
RBIs: T.J. Rivera, Vegas, 48; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 46; David Thompson, Columbia, 42; Dominic Smith, Binghamton, 36.
Steals: Champ Stuart, St. Lucie, 16; Amed Rosario, St. Lucie, 12; Roger Bernadina, Vegas, 10; Patrick Biondi, St. Lucie, 8; J.C. Rodriguez, Columbia, 7.
ERA: P.J. Conlon, Columbia, 1.21; Ricky Knapp, St. Lucie, 2.17; Robert Gsellman, Binghamton, 2.71; Gabriel Ynoa, Vegas, 2.82; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 2.83; Chris Flexen, St. Lucie, 3.50; Casey Delgado, Binghamton, 3.56; Joe Shaw, Columbia, 3.76; Tyler Badamo, Columbia, 3.84; Duane Below, Vegas, 3.86.
Wins: Casey Delgado, Binghamton, 8; P.J. Conlon, Columbia, 7; Gabriel Ynoa, Vegas, 7; Ricky Knapp, St. Lucie, 5; Sean Gilmartin, Vegas, 5.
Saves: Alex Palsha, Columbia 8; Paul Sewald, Vegas, 7; Akeel Morris, Binghamton, 6; Corey Taylor, St. Lucie, 6; Chasen Bradford, Vegas, 4.
Strikeouts: Tyler Pill, Binghamton, 55; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 52; P.J. Conlon, Columbia, 52; Corey Oswalt, St. Lucie, 52; Joe Shaw, Columbia, 52.
T.J. Rivera earned the Pacific Coast League Player of the Month award. Rivera hit .373 with five homers and 31 RBIs in 126 at-bats for Las Vegas in May.
The Mets have started to expose 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo to both corner outfield spots to improve his versatility. Nimmo nearly exclusively had been a center fielder. Nimmo is 8-for-16 in his past four games and has lifted his season average in the Pacific Coast League to .317.
St. Lucie has placed shortstop Amed Rosario, right fielder Wuilmer Becerra, catcher Tomas Nido and left-hander Alberto Baldonado in the Florida State League All-Star Game, which will be held June 18 at Fort Myers. Baldonado already has been promoted to Binghamton and will not participate. St. Lucie has a worthy replacement. Right-hander Kevin McGowan, a 13th-round pick in 2013 out of Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and two saves in 15 appearances (two starts). He has struck out 33 and walked four in 33 innings. Opponents are hitting .175 against him.
Columbia will have three representatives on the Southern Division team for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 21 in Lexington, Kentucky: left-hander P.J. Conlon and infielders Vinny Siena and David Thompson. Conlon took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning Saturday against Hagerstown. He ultimately completed 10 innings, requiring only 97 pitches to do so. That effort also earned Conlon the league’s Pitcher of the Week honor. He leads the league with seven wins and a 1.21 ERA.
Jeff Walters cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Las Vegas. Walters lost his 40-man roster spot when the Mets added James Loney. Walters set a Binghamton franchise record with 38 saves in 2013. He underwent Tommy John surgery the following year. Walters has a 9.99 ERA in 24 relief appearances this season with the 51s.
Assistant general manager John Ricco said team doctors found no issue with Josh Edgin, who requested an exam because he is dealing with lower-than-normal velocity with Las Vegas. Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2015. Edgin has not appeared in a game since May 29.
The draft begins Thursday. The Mets have the 19th, 31st and 64th overall picks. The middle of those picks came as compensation for losing Daniel Murphy to the Nationals.
Outfielder Roger Bernadina reportedly has a June 15 out in his contract. Mets officials have not portrayed it as likely that Bernadina is under consideration for a promotion to the majors. Bernadina is hitting .305 with two homers and 18 RBIs in 141 at-bats with Las Vegas.
Binghamton infielder Derrik Gibson recorded back-to-back four-hit games during an eight-game hitting streak. He batted .459 (17-for-37) during that stretch.
Jayce Boyd has served as Binghamton’s regular left fielder since joining the Eastern League club on May 31. Boyd, who hit a walk-off double to clinch the B-Mets’ 2014 championship, has been slowed by shoulder difficulties throughout his professional career.
Robert Gsellman logged eight innings on Sunday against Altoona, marking his longest Double-A outing. Gsellman induced a season-high-matching 13 groundouts.
In his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, right-hander Chris Flexen might be displaying the best arsenal on St. Lucie’s staff. In his last two starts, he has limited opponents to two hits -- both singles -- as well as two walks and a hit batter in 13⅓ innings. With the Mets having traded eight young arms last summer, Flexen could step in to fill the void.
Left-handed reliever Paul Paez, who had been relegated to mop-up duty early, produced a four-inning save on Sunday and has not allowed an earned run in 14⅓ innings this season with St. Lucie. Paez’s fastball tops out at 86 mph. He keeps hitters off-balance with a slider in the 68-73 mph range.
“Farm Report” appears on Wednesdays during the regular season.