The Mets promoted a top pitching prospect, Robert Gsellman, to Triple-A on Wednesday.
Manager Wally Backman expects Gsellman, the organization’s No. 12 prospect per MLB.com, to make his 51s debut on Saturday on the road against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Gsellman will start in place of Seth Lugo, who will be moving to the bullpen. In 11 starts at Double-A Binghamton this season, Gsellman was 3-4 with a 2.71 ERA.
Backman said he saw him pitch in spring training a few times and that he liked what he saw.
“He’s a sinker-slider type of guy with a changeup, but he’s got a hard sink. His velocity’s pretty good,” Backman said. “He’s a real competitor, fields his position well, holds runners well, does all the things outside of pitching.”
Gsellman’s last three outings have all been quality starts, and he hasn’t given up more than three runs in a game this season.
After starting 16 games at Double-A Binghamton last year, Backman said there was a small chance Gsellman would break camp with the 51s, but the Mets wanted him to make a few more starts there before a promotion.
Las Vegas ace Gabriel Ynoa started 35 games with Binghamton and Backman said the Mets wanted Gsellman’s path to be similar to that.
“(They) wanted to get Gsellman to the same point before they promoted him barring no injury and with him having success, of course,” Backman said. “He’s gotten to the point where it’s time for him to move.”
The move leaves Lugo as the odd man out of the rotation. To make room for Gsellman on the roster and Lugo in the bullpen, reliever Stolmy Pimentel was released.
Pimentel was 0-4 with a 10.45 ERA in 14 games and five starts with the 51s this season.
Pimentel was occasionally called upon to make spot starts, a role Lugo could inherit if needed.
Lugo is 3-3 with a 7.28 ERA in 11 starts this season. He has the ability to hit mid-90s on the radar gun and Backman said the move to the bullpen would give him an opportunity to show his arm strength.
“It’s a good move for him, I think, and he thinks it’s a good move for him, as well, from what he said to me,” Backman said.
Backman said there was talk Lugo might break camp out of the bullpen, though he had primarily been a starter during his minor league career.
“I think with the promotion of Gsellmen, to put Lugo in the bullpen, it makes us a better team, and I think it gives Lugo a better opportunity to show what he’s capable of doing out of the bullpen,” Backman said.
Other roster moves notes
Infielder Eric Campbell will rejoin the 51s after being added to the Mets’ roster for the second game of their Tuesday doubleheader.
The Mets traded for Kelly Johnson on Wednesday. Johnson is expected to join the team on Friday, at which point the team will need to make a roster move. Both Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly are potential options to return to Triple-A.
Betsy Helfand can be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BetsyHelfand