Villines’ numbers at the amateur level were always excellent, but his performance outweighed the tools in college at the University of Kansas. He played four years in the Big 12 and is the program’s all-time saves leader, pitching well in the Cape for two summers before being selected by the Mets in the 10th round in 2017. His pro career has been similar—cruising through the low levels of the minors and already in Triple-A just shy of two years after being drafted—but he’s now performing at a level close enough to the big leagues that his success is getting hard to second guess.
Villines throws from an extra-deceptive low-sidearm slot that’s close to submarine. His fastball rarely cracks 90 mph but has well above-average movement that hitters can’t square up. His frisbee slider has historically been the go-to off-speed, and while it’s still a part of his mix, he’s made strides with a changeup to work against lefties. It’s tough to miss tons of bats with this type of stuff, but Villines has put up strikeout numbers like a power arm even against advanced competition in the upper-minors. He’s pitched his way into prospect status, and while it’s easiest to project Villines as a potential middle innings piece at best, there might be so much deception he winds up as more. He’s an overachiever that keeps exceeding expectations, a potential ‘pen option for the Mets by late 2019 or at some point in 2020.