Good Luck Jeremy Hefner
There are all sorts of pitching prospects. There are pitchers who were uber prospects like Matt Harvey. The question with these prospects is where they’ll slot in the rotation. Then there are prospects like Jeremy Hefner.
The prospects like Hefner aren’t no doubters. You’re not a no doubter when you’re a 5th round draft pick who was twice placed on waivers before pitching one big league inning. Hefner referred to himself as “an average prospect.” Average prospects need to make the best of not only their stuff, but also their chances. Somehow, it’s more satisfying when these guys make it. You want the Hefners of the world to succeed because you want to believe in a player that really is doing everything he can do. It’s what you tell yourself you would do if you had enough talent to get that chance.
Well, Hefner made the most of his chances. He showed the Mets enough in 2012 for him to be in the 2013 rotation (even though he might’ve been a placeholder for Zack Wheeler). As the calendar turned to June, he seemed to figure something out. He went on a stretch of eight straight starts allowing two earned or less. Now what happened next is up for debate. Initially, it was thought he regressed to the mean. The truth may just be he was injured. In August 2013, Hefner had Tommy John surgery.
It’s a crushing blow to a player who just arrived on the scene. It was also crushing to him, but also to the Mets. They lost not only Hefner, but also Harvey to a torn UCL. The two rehabbed together. Seeing Hefner’s promise, the Mets kept him around rather than release him. Then something horrible happened. Hefner was not progressing in his rehab. He needed a second surgery. It definitively ended his Mets career. It put his baseball career into question.
Anytime a player like Hefner suffers a setback like this it’s deflating. Part of what makes sports fun is the out of nowhere stories. Everyone knows Tom Brady’s and Mike Piazza‘s stories. They’re reminders that what you need to succeed in sports, and in life, is hard work and determination. Hefner had those qualities. His mind was willing, but his flesh seemed weak.
Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Hefner again worked his tail off. We shouldn’t expect anything else. He started pitching in the Winter Leagues. He pitched well enough to sign a minor league deal with the Cardinals. Normally, I hate the Cardinals and their players. However, I’m making an exception here. The world is a lot better when the Hefners of the world are given a chance to succeed. It’s even better when they do.
I thought the Mets should’ve brought him back. I thought he could’ve filled a need as a spot starter or a bullpen arm. Instead, Hefner is a Cardinal, and I couldn’t be happier for him. I’ll be rooting for him.
Good luck next year Jeremy Hefner.