The fans have spoken and by a large margin. Right-handed pitcher Jose Mesa Jr. has been named the Pinstriped Prospects Comeback Player of the Year for 2017.
Mesa, 24, won with 81% of the vote. He led second place vote getter Billy McKinney by 401 votes.
Initially selected by the Yankees in the 24th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Mesa missed his first two professional seasons due to Tommy John surgery. He came back in 2013 where he went 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 9 2/3 innings in the Gulf Coast League. In 2015 he bounced around the Rookie leagues and Class-A but had his best performance with the Staten Island Yankees where in 10 games he struck out 35 batters in 21 2/3 innings and allowed just 1 earned run.
In 2016, Mesa started the season with one game in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees. He pitched one shutout inning. After that one game, he went down to the South Atlantic League where he went 1-3 with a 2.97 ERA in 14 games, striking out 48 batters in 30 1/3 innings pitched.
He went back to Tampa on July 17, 2016, and appeared in another six games for the Tampa Yankees. But his success did not follow as he allowed 15 runs in 11 2/3 innings for an 11.57 ERA in the Florida State League before being placed on the disabled list on August 15, where he would stay until the offseason.
This past season, Mesa started the year back in Tampa where he appeared in 21 games and started three of them. In 49 2/3 innings, he struck out 62 batters and opposing hitters only hit .188 against him. On July 31, 2017, he earned a promotion to Double-A where he continued to pitch well, going 4-0 with a 0.79 ERA in 8 games, five starts, striking out 39 batters in 34 1/3 innings.
In the Eastern League Playoffs Mesa continued, striking out 7 in 7 innings out of the bullpen in two games.
“I think it helps to be able to show the team that I can pitch in any situation,” Mesa said to our own Matt Kardos back in September.
“It has all been thanks to God; he has been my main support and every situation that has been given to me this year, I have been able to handle it well, and I feel that I can pitch in any situation.”
Time will tell if he remains a starter as he continues to climb the ladder but one this for sure. He has the ability and the mentality to pitch in the big leagues.