In the middle of a loud Mets trade deadline, in which both Addison Reed and Lucas Duda were shipped out of town, was an unassuming 22-year-old, suddenly cast in a strange bit of a spotlight.
Jamie Callahan, the top reliever the Mets extracted from Boston in exchange for Reed, was a rising arm from Dillon, S.C., who was living in Pawtucket, R.I. and now is calling Las Vegas home and lighting up Google searches as Mets fans learn who he is.
Im just a low-key guy, like to go out and perform and have fun, Callahan said over the phone this week. Im just a quiet guy. Just a normal guy from a small town, I like the peace and quiet.
The peace and quiet will be harder to come by in Triple-A Las Vegas for Callahan, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound pitcher who possesses a mid-90s fastball, a high-80s slider and a developing split-finger.
Callahan was a 2012 second-round pick after being named the top high-school prospect in South Carolina as a starting pitcher. But the transition to professional hitters was difficult, and his stuff was not translating; he pitched to a 7.87 ERA in the Single-A rotation in 2014. Boston moved him to the bullpen the following season, and Callahan has seen his velocity rise and his results take off, improving as a reliever each season since.
He got on the Mets radar by climbing through the Red Soxs system this year, making just 10 Double-A appearances before being summoned up to Triple-A Pawtucket in May.
In 42 combined innings this year before the trade, Callahan struck out 56, walked 13 and pitched to a 3.21 ERA. In three appearances entering Saturday since joining an organization with a floundering bullpen, Callahan had allowed one run in four innings, striking out four.
Super aggressive, in your face, Callahan, now the Mets 29th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, said about what kind of pitcher he is. Ill go after you. Im just a competitor.
In dealing Reed, Duda and Jay Bruce, the Mets restocked their relief corps, totaling five new right-handed bullpen options they are, for now, letting marinate in the minors. Callahan, the furthest along, is joined by Drew Smith (from Tampa Bay), whos in Double-A Binghamton; Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek (from Boston) with High-A St. Lucie; and Ryder Ryan (from Cleveland) in Single-A Columbia.
A Mets team that entered Saturday with a 4.67 bullpen ERA, 28th best in baseball, sought relief and found a lot of it. The first new face who figures to get a shot in September has been waiting five years for that big-league chance.
I was excited [when I heard about the trade], Callahan said. Its a new step, some new beginnings.
The move was both surprising and not to Callahan, who knew about Bostons trade rumors, if not necessarily his own name.
Around the trade deadline, you never know, Callahan said. It can be anyone.
It was Callahan, though, and now he waits to see if New York will follow South Carolina, Rhode Island and Nevada as places hes called home.