The pitching prospect didn’t exactly impress in his MLB debut in 2020 but his potential remains high.
Having hit .280/.343/.455 over the life of his two-year contract with the Mets, it was a no-brainer decision for the team to exercise the third year team option on Asdrubal Cabrera’s contract. When the infielder found himself hitting .277/.329/.488 approaching the trade deadline, it was a no-brainer decision for the team to find a suitor to trade him to. In the end, the Mets dealt Cabrera to division rival Philadelphia in exchange for Franklyn Kilomé, a right-handed pitcher who was considered one of their top arms.
Kilomé was signed by the Phillies as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in January 2013, and his career as a professional baseball player began one year later. Skipping the Dominican Summer League, he made his professional debut for the GCL Phillies and had a solid showing for himself. Over the next few years, he worked his way up the Philadelphia minor league system, pitching for the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Clearwater Threshers, and Reading Fightin Phils. The surface numbers, on the whole, were good save poor control, and the stuff generally matched the numbers.
After coming to the Mets in late 2018, he was assigned to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and he went on to make seven starts with them, posting a 4.03 ERA in 38.0 innings, allowing 31 hits, walking 10, and striking out 42. After the season ended, the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in late October, costing him the entire 2019 season. He returned to the field in 2020, and because of the lack of a minor league season, ended up making his Major League debut. Appearing in four games out of the bullpen, Kilomé posted a 11.12 ERA in 11.1 innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 9, and striking out 13.
Utilizing a low-effort delivery, Kilomé has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s. Pre-Tommy John, it could top out at 97 MPH, and in his limited major league innings this past season, it topped out at 95 MPH. In addition to velocity, the pitch has glove-side movement and a bit of sink. He complements his fastball with a low-80s curveball that flashes plus, possessing sharp 12-6 break. As is often the case with pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery, the pitch did not fully return to form in 2020. Rounding out his arsenal is a low-to-mid-80s changeup that shows some promise but is still generally a fringe-average firm pitch.
Command issues are a problem that Kilomé has faced throughout his professional career. From being unable to keep his upper and lower halves in sync, to failing to repeat his release point, to not being able to control the movement on his fastball and curveball, pounding the zone has long been the right-hander’s Achilles heel and is the biggest hurdle between him developing into the pitcher he has the potential to become.
With a deep rotation thanks to the many trades and free agent signings that took place this winter, the Mets can afford to give Kilomé the time he needs to continue recovering from Tommy John surgery and developing as a pitcher. A starter for his entire minor league career, the right-hander will likely begin the year in the Syracuse Mets rotation. He does have the electric stuff necessary to be an effective reliever, and he could be called up at any time during the 2021 season in such a role, as well.