Gee, Mejia look to rack up strikeouts in 2011

Dillon Gee returns after record year & Jenrry Mejia is the Mets top prospect.

The International League is prepping to receive a one-two punch from Buffalo with pitching prospects Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia inline to lead a solidified rotation.

Last season Dillon Gee obliterated the Bisons single season strikeout record that stood for two decades as the Texan fanned 165 hitters during his first full campaign at Triple-A. After being sidelined with a shoulder injury in May of 2009, Gee did not pick up a baseball until just before the 2010 calendar year. Behind Gee, the Bisons were 19-9 in games he toed the slab, while the righty led the Bisons with 13 victories, 28 starts, 161.1 innings pitched and tied for top-slot with 14 quality starts. His bounce back season earned him the Bisons Comeback Player of the Year and the Mets Sterling Award, honoring the organization’s top Triple-A player, and a September promotion to the Mets.

Mejia’s albeit brief stint in Buffalo was brilliant. Following two months in Double-A, on the heels of leaving camp in the New York bullpen, he made only one trip to the hill. Leading the Bisons on August 29, over eight innings of work he punched out nine, surrendered five hits and one earned run. The performance was just hours before his recall where he would finish the year in the Majors.

Strictly limiting focus on the Herd’s top of the rotation will sell short what is lining up to be one of the league’s strongest go around.

Southpaw Pat Misch finished only second to Gee in wins (11) prior to his August 14 promotion to the Mets, where he would finish the season. Dubbed Buffalo’s Warren Spahn Winner for Most Valuable Pitcher, he led the team in a 3.23 ERA, numbers that finished third lowest in the league. His efforts also led League lefties in wins while finishing second on the team in innings (150.2), 23 starts, and 99 strikeouts.

Boof Bonser hopes he can take the Comeback Player of the Year award to the mound in consecutive seasons. The first official Mets signing of the offseason, Bonser continues to build arm strength after recovering from surgery to repair his right rotator cuff and labrum. While not starting in the big leagues since 2008, he returned to the majors last year totaling 30 appearances out of the bullpen with Toronto, Boston and Oakland.

Even though minor league rosters are not finalized, leading candidates to fill out the rotation include Josh Stinson, Casey Fossum and Dylan Owen. A late season promotion from Binghamton, Stinson went 2-2 in his four starts that included a complete game victory in Rochester to finish the season. Fossum returns to the Bisons after just making two starts in 2009, then receiving summons to the Mets. Fossum, spent last season in Japan and the portsider has returned stateside for a second run with the Herd. Like Stinson, Owen made his Triple-A debut last year while and served the pitching staff as a starter and reliever with the first seven appearances were starts prior to moving to the pen for his final three outings.

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