Joining the Blue Jays' organization midway through the 2019 season in the Marcus Stroman trade, Kay benefited from the change of scenery and an impressive seven starts at Triple-A Buffalo, where he posted a 2.50 ERA over 36 innings with 39 strikeouts, which earned him a September callup, making his debut with three appearances in the Majors. A first-round pick of the Mets in 2016, he pitched his way to the top of the Draft board as a University of Connecticut junior but signed a below-pick-value deal when an elbow injury was discovered, requiring Tommy John surgery. Making his long-awaited pro debut in ’18, Kay looked like a typical quick-to-the-big leagues college lefty, showing an improved three-pitch mix before continuing to climb the ladder last season and representing the Mets at the Futures Game in July.
In his pro career, Kay has sat 92-94 mph, occasionally reaching the mid-90s with his high-spin-rate fastball. His changeup was his best secondary option at UConn but has taken a backseat in pro ball to a curveball in the low 80s that also has a high spin rate and hard, downer action. His changeup can still be an above-average pitch when he commands it, and it plays nicely off his fastball with late sinking action. He has feel for his craft, with solid control and command that should improve with experience.
After building up to almost 150 innings in 2019, he’s in a good position to continue adding to his workload in ’20. If he improves command and consistently keeps the ball down in the zone, Kay has the potential and the stuff to eventually settle in as a mid-rotation-type starter.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Kay pitched his way into the first-round conversation as a University of Connecticut junior in 2016. The Mets took him at the end of that round, then signed him to a below-pick-value deal when an elbow injury was discovered which required Tommy John surgery. Making his long-awaited pro debut in 2018, Kay looked like a typical quick-to-the-big-leagues college lefty, showing an improved three-pitch mix while splitting the season between Class A Columbia and Class A Advanced St. Lucie. He continued to climb the ladder in 2019, turning in a strong performance at Double-A Binghamton before advancing to Triple-A Syracuse in mid-June, after he represented the Mets at the Futures Game in July. The Mets dealt sent him and Simeon Woods-Richardson to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman trade.
In his return to the mound, Kay sat at 92-94 mph and occasionally reached the mid-90s with his high-spin-rate fastball. His changeup was his best secondary option at UConn but has taken a backseat in pro ball to a plus curveball in the low 80s that also has an elite spin rate and hard, downer action. His changeup is still an above-average pitch, one that plays nicely off his fastball with its late sinking action. He has feel for his craft, with solid control and command that should continue improve as he gains experience.
The hope for Kay in 2018 was to get through his first pro season healthy and amass about 100 innings. He checked those boxes and more, logging 122 2/3 frames and finishing on the cusp of Double-A. It's put him in good position to build upon that workload in 2019 and eventually settle in as a mid-rotation-type starter.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Kay led the University of Connecticut's rotation as a junior in 2016, pitching his way onto the first-round landscape. The Mets took him at the end of that round and then signed him to a below-pick value deal when an elbow injury was discovered which required Tommy John surgery. That meant his first competitive professional pitches came in 2018, but he picked up where he left off at UConn by earning a promotion in his first full season.
Now healthy, Kay once again looks like the typical quick-to-the-big-leagues college lefty, one with decent stuff and a good feel for pitching, during his final season at UConn. He'll sit in the low 90s, but he can reach back for the mid-90s on occasion. His changeup gives him a second at least above-average pitch, an offspeed offering that misses bats because it has good action to it. He can spin a breaking ball, and though it was fringy in college, his pitchability should allow it to be an average pitch eventually.
The hope for Kay in 2018 was to get through his first pro season healthy and amass 100 or so innings. He's checked off that box and more, putting him in good shape to to start moving a bit more quickly in 2019 and eventually settle in as a mid-rotation type starter.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
A strong junior season at the University of Connecticut moved Kay into first-round conversations last summer. The Mets took the southpaw at the end of the round then signed him for below pick value due to an elbow injury discovered at his physical that required Tommy John surgery.
Kay will miss the 2017 season as he rehabs from his elbow surgery, but he was displaying his plus work ethic during that process. When healthy, he fits the mold of the prototypical college lefty with an advanced feel for pitching. He did have an uptick in his fastball during his junior season, touching 94-95 mph at times, though he usually sat in the 91-mph range. He has an above-average changeup that can miss bats because of its action, but he'll have to learn to not lower his arm slot when he throws it. He has a feel for spinning a breaking ball, and while it's a fringy pitch currently, it could develop into an average offering in time.
Time is what the Mets will have to give Kay as he works his way back to the mound. If he bounces back, he has the chance to be a quality mid-rotation starter in the future.
The University of Connecticut has become a bit of a baseball factory in the Northeast, headlined by George Springer, Nick Ahmed and Matt Barnes. Anthony Kay can now join that list as the second of the Mets' first-round picks in the 2016 Draft, though the left-hander signed for a below-pick value bonus of $1.1 million when his physical raised concerns about his elbow. Those concerns eventually led to Kay undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.
Kay is the prototypical pitchability lefty, one with a track record of success at UConn as well as in the Cape Cod League in 2014 and with Team USA in 2015. He's a strike-thrower who keeps hitters guessing, though he does so without a true out pitch. He can touch 94-95 mph with his fastball, sitting effectively at around 91 mph. His changeup is his best secondary offering, but he'll have to work to stop lowering his arm slot when he throws it. His breaking ball is fringy.
Evaluators see Kay as a poor man's Mark Buehrle, one who would do well to add a cutter to his repertoire. He could be the kind of college lefty, once he returns to health, who ascends to the big leagues quickly as a mid-to-back end starter.