Anthony Kay

Mets Blogger Round Table: Our Favorite Hometown Mets

With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, the organization has yet again went out and brought home a local boy to play for the hometown team.  It is something we have seen from the organization throughout their history starting with Ed Kranepool, and it is a new focus we have seen with this organization with them drafting Long Islanders Steven Matz, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Kay.

With the Mets illustrious, and in the case of Bobby Bonilla, infamous hometown players coming home to play for the Mets, in a new feature on Mets Daddy, Mets bloggers have come together to answer the question about who is their favorite hometown Mets players:

Michael Baron (MLB.com)

I’ve actually come to really admire T.J. Rivera. He’s a guy who has had to work very hard every minute of every day to be relevant, and his journey to-date has really been inspiring. He has a positive, workman-like attitude from which a lot of people can learn from in any realm of business and society. He is fearless and likable; that combined with his New York roots make him easy to root for.

There is a village in Michigan named Brooklyn. I know this because the Michigan International Speedway is there, even though the 2010 census claimed the population of Brooklyn, Mich. was 1,206. I’m from the Brooklyn in New York though. It feels like 25 percent of all professional athletes are from Brooklyn (the one in New York), yet I had to make a brief stop at Google (Mountain View, Calif.) to remember Johnny Franco. Of course. I met him at Gil Hodges Lanes once when I was a youth. There is a picture of us that I am pretty sure I lost over the years because I am an awful person. I did bring it once with me to show some friends in high school. One person thought Franco was my father. I thought it was weird she would think I would just walk into school, as a teenager, to show people a picture of me and my father, and she thought it was weird I would bring in an old picture of me with some baseball player, and we were both right to think these things. (But I was more right.)

Past: Tim Teufel

Present T.J. Rivera

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Lee Mazzilli hands down. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Maz made his debut in 1976. I was 8 years old. My last name might be Irish, but my mom’s Italian, and so were many of my cousins, so it was pretty cool to have a guy who looked like me (well, sorta) wearing a Mets uniform. I copied his batting stance, wore my sweatbands on my forearms and basically fought every kid who wanted to be Lee Mazzilli when we played wiffle ball.

When he was traded, I was devastated, but when he came back and became a key player for the 1986 Mets, it was a dream come true.

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

Being from Maine, my favorite hometown Met would be Mike Bordick. He played his High School ball and College baseball in Maine before signing with the Oakland A’s in 1986. Few players with Maine ties end up in the big leagues so at the time I was excited that the Mets traded for him in 2000. My dad, brother and I drove down to New York for his first game with the Mets. We got to see him hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Met. Unfortunately, Bordick struggled offensively for the Mets including a bat postseason in the Mets run to the World Series loss to the Yankees. Just a few years after that I met Mike’s dad who was a local umpire and got to know him as player and coach.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Ed Glynn, because he sold hot dogs at Shea Stadium as a kid.

Based on localness, I’d have to go with Brooklyn’s own Lee Mazzilli, who I don’t think would have thrived anywhere else.  Connecticut HS star Rico Brogna and Al Leiter from NJ round out the tri-state circle for me.

Shoutout to Frank Viola of nearby East Meadow for bringing the LI accent.

And tip of the cap to Ed Kranepool, who showed us the Bronx long before Bobby Bo.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

It’s an interesting question, because we’ve got lots of players right now who could qualify as favorites, who have deeply ingrained ties to the Mets besides where they were born. We’ve got lots of players who are not hometown but are home-grown — deGrom, Conforto, Familia, Flores, Reyes (kind of). Travis d’Arnaud has been with a million different teams and was born in California, but he did idolize Mike Piazza growing up. And of course, David Wright grew up a Mets fan because his hometown team was the Norfolk Tides. But much as we all love those guys, they’re not hometown players. There are four hometown guys on our 40-man roster: Matz, Harvey, Frazier, and T.J. Rivera. Frazier hasn’t played a game as a Met yet, and T.J. Rivera, while he’s had his great moments, isn’t a favorite yet. So, it comes down to Matz and Harvey. Matz gets bonus points right away for being from Long Island. If you come from the spiritual home of Mets fandom, and pitch into the eighth inning in your debut while going 3/3 with four RBIs, it’s hard not to become a fan favorite. But nevertheless, I’m going with Matt Harvey. It’s no secret that the Dark Knight hasn’t been a star lately. But his first three seasons in the bigs are enough to make him my clear choice. When Harvey debuted in the summer of 2012, I was away at camp; we were seniors, so we had a TV in our cabin, but we weren’t watching the game. I followed the ESPN Bottom Line that entire night and shouted results to the one other Mets fan in the group each time they came up: “seven strikeouts in three innings…eight through four…ten through five!” I saw those results come in, and literally right in that moment, I felt myself fill with hope, for the first time in a long time, that one day we would be good again. Then, of course, there was 2013 Harvey, who is still the best pitcher I’ve ever seen. I wore my Harvey shirt every day he took the mound that year, and every game, I was convinced, until proven otherwise, that he would throw a perfect game. He got out hopes up a few times, too, even though he could never quite finish it. I was at the game, the night after we’d all learned that Harvey would need Tommy John surgery. “Why does this always happen to us?” the ticket taker asked me. He was genuinely distressed, even angry. “I just don’t get it.” I didn’t have an answer, and I didn’t know then that Harvey would never again pitch as well as we all hoped to see every time out, so I just said “I don’t know,” then I went to my seat and watched us lose 2-1 to the Phillies, which somehow seemed fitting.

Mets Daddy

Ultimately, the answer for me comes down to Harvey or Leiter as I will remember both of them for their respective Game 5 performances which ultimately fell short.  In the end, you knew each was a competitor ready, willing, and able to give whatever they had when they stepped on the mound.

While I believe Leiter should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, and I will always appreciate his 1999 play-in game complete game two hit shut-out, my favorite local Met is Harvey.  When he stepped on the mound in 2013, he not only gave the Mets a bona fide ace, he gave us Mets fans hope.  He then delivered on that hope by helping pitch that 2015 Mets team to a pennant.  If not for Terry Collins, that would have been a World Series title.

Before signing off, I do want to mention Brogna (first autograph) and Bud Anderson (Little League) even if Anderson doesn’t quite count as he was a minor leaguer for the Mets.

Overall, I want to thank the various writers for coming onto the site to participate in what I hope will become a weekly round table.  Please return the favor by visiting their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

Omar Minaya Returning Is Great News

In what was a surprising and completely unexpected move, the New York Mets announced that Omar Minaya is returning as a Special Assistant to Sandy Alderson.  In Omar’s new role, he will have a varying role including but not limited to scouting and player development.  While this offseason has been a complete disappointment thus far, this decision is a great move for the Mets:

1.  Omar Left The Mets In Better Shape Than Advertised

One of the issues for Omar when he departed for the Mets was the purported poor state of the Mets minor league system.  There were many reasons for the caricature as he didn’t have many first round picks as the General Manager, and when he did have one, he struck by drafting players like Eddie Kunz.

However, that does not mean the talent wasn’t there.  As we well know, Omar built the core that helped win the 2015 pennant.  It was Omar’s regime that brought in Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Daniel Murphy.

Omar also had originally brought R.A. Dickey to the Mets on a minor league deal.  That led to Dickey winning a Cy Young Award, and Sandy Alderson flipping him in a deal that netted the Mets Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.  If Sandy and Omar can work in harmony, the Mets may very well turn things around sooner than we believed.

2.  Omar Has Been Able To Get The Wilpons To Spend

When Omar first took the reigns as the Mets General Manager, he went out, and he spent.  He immediately brought in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.  He had to wait a year, but he was eventually able to get Carlos Delgado.  He was also shrewd by getting Jose Reyes and David Wright to sign extensions that proved to be team friendly deals.

Yes, this is true this was all prior to the Madoff Scandal.  However, consider that a month after Madoff was arrested and the Mets standing a real chance of facing financial ruin, Omar was somehow able to get the Mets to agree to sign Jason Bay to a four year $66 million deal.  It’s true that this ultimately proved to be a bad deal, but the overriding point was Omar got the Mets to spend like none other.  If you are able to combine Omar’s influence with Sandy’s prudence, you again get a terrific combination.

3.  Mets Need A Fresh Look At Their Minor League System

The drafted and minor league free agent talent acquired by the Mets since Sandy Alderson became the General Manager has been largely disappointing.  So far, their efforts on the International front has really only produced Amed Rosario.  Rosario is a great prospect, but he’s it.

Also, while the Mets have drafted All Stars in Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, they have also do not view high draft picks like Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as starters at the Major League level.  Moreoever, the team has been harsh in their criticism of Dominic Smith.  It also doesn’t help the team drafted Anthony Kay in the first round, and he has yet to throw a professional pitch due to injury.

In reality, the talent level isn’t where the Mets want it, and it is a large reason why the Mets farm system is largely maligned.  When the farm system is where it is right now, it is time to bring in someone to give a fresh look and help build the system back up.  There are few better at it than Omar Minaya.

Overall, the Mets brought in a well respected voice in baseball and a voice well respected by the Wilpons.  He is being brought in to do what he does best – evaluate and scout talent.  Previously, Alderson was able to take the talent Omar acquired, and the Mets won a pennant.  With Omar and Sandy working together, the sky is the limit right now.

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

Mets Souring On Dominic Smith Begs For A Review of Sandy Alderson’s First Round DraftPicks

One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets General Manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system.  Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.

That went double when you consider he used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley HoltEven if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.

With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent Minaya acquired including Jacob deGrom, Lucas DudaJeurys FamiliaWilmer Flores, Matt HarveyJuan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.

Alderson deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders, and now the organization is at the point where it needs Alderson’s farm system to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team.  Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review Alderson’s first round draft history with the Mets:

2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder.  There was a p0int where this was expected to happen.  However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.

Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity.  However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.

2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)

2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher.  With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  Unfortunately, the Mets are not reaping the benefits of his ascension because he was moved to the Tigers as the centerpiece of the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS

Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season.  Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.

2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB

In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career.  After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively.  Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster.  Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.

2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI

After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A.  However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.

Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal.  If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.

2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)

2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB

After Terry Collins made him a strict platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be.  He made his first All Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster.  Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.

2015 – No Pick

It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer.  This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason.  In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391.  Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.

2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9

When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation.  Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher.  In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.

Ultimately, the talent is there.  The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.

2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)

The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals.  After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed an underslot deal.  He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.

2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)

2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20.  Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon.  Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down.  Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.

Synposis

Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.

If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors.  Of those six players, two are All Stars.  Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players he drafted.

On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential.  For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination.  However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility.  In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.

Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.

Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted.  For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki.  If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.

Eleven Mets Minor Leaugers To Protect In An Expansion Draft

In the NHL draft tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights will be drafting players from each of the other 30 NHL rosters.  There is a provision that players who have less than two years of service time are automatically protected thereby not making a team choose between a significant player and a huge prospect.  It does beg the question about what would happen if that provision were removed.

Better yet, what would happen if teams were forced to protect just 10 of their best prospects in an effort to permit the new team to stock their minor league system.  If the Mets were put in the position to select eleven players with under two years service time, who should they select?

1.   SS Amed Rosario

By any account, Rosario is among the top prospects in all of baseball if not the top prospect.  He has more than justified that billing this year.  Through 69 games, Rosario is hitting .325/.368/.479 with 15 doubles, four triples, seven homers, 48 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.  He’s great, and there is no circumstance in which the Mets should even think about losing him to another team.

2.   1B Dominic Smith

The Mets have been aggressive promoting their 2013 first round pick through the minor leagues.  Last year, he was the youngest player in the Eastern League.  This year, he has been among the youngest in the Pacific Coast League.  Through it all, he has held his own, played a terrific defensive first base, and is developing power at every stop.  He is the first baseman of the future for a team who will likely lose their current first baseman at the trade deadline or free agency.

3.   RHP Justin Dunn

Last year’s first round pick has terrific stuff, and he showed it off last year.  While he struggled this year, he has been better off for those struggles.  Since being demoted to the bullpen to help him find himself, Dunn has gone 3-1 with a 0.86 ERA and an 8.1 K/9.  When you have a player that struggles and improves this much, this is a player you make sure to keep.

4.  RHP Robert Gsellman

Gsellman started last year pitching in Double-A, and he finished it helping pitch the Mets into the postseason.  He’s had an up and down 2017 season, but he has shown flashes of his tremendous talent.  He is just 23 years old, and he still has the stuff he did last year when he posted a 2.42 ERA in eight games.  With a better infield behind him, which we should see with a Rosario promotion, we will likely see a return of the stats we saw last year.

5.   SS Andres Gimenez

The 18 year old dominated the Gulf Coast League last year showing off his skill set that had him one of the highest regarded international free agent signings in 2015.  He has skipped short season ball and held his own during his 37 games for the Columbia Fireflies.  He has a good bat regardless of position.

6.   LHP Thomas Szapucki

Szapucki is potentially a top of the rotation starter with a mid to high 90s fastball and a very good curve ball.  He used that to be completely dominant in rookie ball.  After an injury to start the year, he has just returned from the disabled list, and he is rounding into form.

7.   CF Desmond Lindsay

The man dubbed as the “Offensive Machine” when he was drafted has certainly taken off lately.  While he struggled to start the year, he has adjusted to the Sally League, and he has begun dominating.  Since June began, he has been hitting .333/.400/.694 while playing a good center field.  It seems he may have put his leg issues behind him, and he is taking the next step.

8.   C Tomas Nido

After years of struggling at the plate, Nido broke out last year winning the Florida State League batting title.  After a slow start to the season in Double-A, he is once again showing he is as complete a catcher as they come hitting .300/.353/.483 with 10 doubles, four homers, and 22 RBI in his last 32 games.  He is proving last year was no fluke, and he is the Mets catcher of the future.

9.   RHP Marcos Molina

Despite missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets believed enough in Molina to add him to the 40 man roster.  They were right to do so.  In five starts for St. Lucie, he was 2-3 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.767 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9.  That has earned him a promotion to Double-A and a clear path towards the major leagues.

10.  RHP Seth Lugo

With spin rates, we know Lugo’s curve ball is the best in the majors.  He has used that to help propel him not just to the majors, but also to have success in the majors.  In addition to that, he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s when he needs a big out.  He used this repertoire to help pitch the Mets into the postseason last year.  He has used it again this year to be effective in the rotation upon his return to the rotation from his elbow injury.

11.  LHP Anthony Kay

The Mets have long wanted him.  After failing to sign him out of high school in 2013, they made him their second first round draft pick last year.  That is because he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s with a promising curve ball and change.  Like many college pitchers, his arm was abused by his coach, and he has suffered an injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  He should be able to bounce back and be the pitcher the Mets have long thought he could be.

In the above list, the Mets have lots of pitching talent, but that would also leave a lot of pitching talent exposed.  If the Mets went this route, they could lose a Harol Gonzalez or Jordan Humphreys, both of whom are having terrific years.  There is also the potential position player cost.  Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini are both former first round picks who are close to being regulars at the major league level.

Even if you were to make some amendments to the above list, you are still going to leave a very talented player exposed.  This speaks to the depth of the Mets farm system that the Mets continue to improve with each draft and each international signing period.

One Year Later: The 2016 Mets Draft Class

With the 2017 MLB Draft having begun and the Mets selecting David Peterson and Mark Vientos in the first two rounds, now is a good time to review the selections the Mets made last year and check-in to see how these players are progressing. The one thing that really stands out with all of these players is the inordinate amount of injury issues the Mets have had with these players over the past two seasons. Still, despite this, there are a number of players who have shown real talent and provide hope for the future for the Mets organization.

BIG STEPS FORWARD

2B Michael Paez, 4th round (130th overall)

MMN Rank 50

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 46 G, 201 PA, 179 AB, 18 R, 34 H, 11 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 8 SB, 6 CS, .190/.270/.285

2017 Stats (Columbia) 58 G, 236 PA, 199 AB, 30 R, 58 H, 20 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 7 SB, 4 CS, .291/.386/.503

Paez has shown the type of power that led the Mets to draft him. So far this season, he leads the Sally League in doubles, and he is top five in total bases. So far this year, he is easily having the best season out of all the 2016 draft picks.

RHP Austin McGeorge, 7th Round (220th overall)

MMN RANK 59

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 0-1, 2.84 ERA, 16 G, SV, 19.0 IP, 1.474 WHIP, 8.5 K/9

2017 Stats (Columbia & St. Lucie) 0-1, 1.84 ERA, 16 G, SV, 29.1 IP, 1.023 WHIP, 11.66 K/9

A hot start for McGeorge this year led to a quick promotion to St. Lucie where he has continued his dominance out of the bullpen. Whereas last year, left-handed batters hit well against him, he has become a platoon neutral pitcher. More than that, McGeorge is learning how to put batters away with a huge increase in his strikeout rate.

RHP Max Kuhns, 21st Round (640th overall) –

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 0-0, 6.28 ERA, 13 G, SV, 14.1 IP, 1.395 WHIP, 9.4 K/9

2017 Stats (Columbia) 1-0, 2.10 ERA, 17 G, 5 SV, 25.2 IP, 0.896 WHIP, 13.0 K/9

There is perhaps no Mets prospect that has shown more improvement than what Kuhns has shown this year. He has learned how to control his pitches, and more importantly, he has learned how to attack hitters. He has started to become the team’s primary option at closer, and he has been named a Sally League All Star.

INJURY ISSUES

LHP Anthony Kay, 1st Round (31st overall)

After he was drafted last year, it was discovered he needed Tommy John surgery. It is not likely we will see him pitching in the minor leagues until next season.

1B Peter Alonso, 2nd Round (64th overall)

MMN RANK 12

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 30 G, 123 PA, 109 AB, 20 R, 35 H, 12 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, CS, .321/.382/.587

2017 Stats (St. Lucie) 18 G, 71 PA, 68 AB, 3 R, 10 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, CS, .147/.183/.265

Similar to Dunn, the Mets rewarded Alonso for an outstanding season in Brooklyn by having him skip Colombia and having him start the year with St. Lucie. Also like Dunn, Alonso has struggled this year. We have not seen the same power from him that we saw last year. It should be cautioned that may be the result of his having suffered a broken hand earlier in the season.

3B Blake Tiberi, 3rd Round (100th overall)

MMN RANK 47

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 56 G, 225 PA, 196 AB, 21 R, 46 H, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 2 SB, 6 CS, .235/.316/.316

2017 Stats (Columbia) 5 G, 22 PA, 18 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 2B, 2 RBI, SB, .167/.318/.222

It is hard to glean anything from Tiberi as he had suffered a torn UCL requiring him to have season ending Tommy John surgery this May.

SS Colby Woodmansee, 5th Round (160th overall)

MMN RANK 40

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 64 G, 276 PA, 249 AB, 30 R, 64 H, 11 2B, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS, .257/.305/.325

2017 Stats (St. Lucie) 2 G, 8 PA, 7 AB, .000/.125/.000

Woodmansee was the standout shortstop in the New York Penn League last year. Although he cooled off after a hot start, he still showed enough to skip Columbia and begin the year in St. Lucie. Unfortunately, after his first two games, Woodmansee needed surgery to repair a core muscle tear, and he has been reassigned to Brooklyn.

RHP Colin Holderman, 9th Round (280th overall)

MMN RANK 68

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 13 G, 3 SV, 18.2 IP, 1.500 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

2017 Stats (Columbia) 1-2, 4.60 ERA, 4 G, 4 GS, 15.2 IP, 0.830 WHIP, 9.8 K/9

After a promising start to begin the season, Holderman struggled, and eventually found himself on the seven day disabled list. The undisclosed injury has kept Holderman out since April 29th, and it is still unknown when he can return.

OF Jacob Zanon, 15th Round (460th overall)

MMN RANK 93

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 44 G, 184 PA, 157 AB, 19 R, 31 H, 6 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 20 SB, 2 CS, .197/.284/.287

2017 Stats (Columbia) 4 G, 13 PA, 8 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 3B, RBI, 4 SB .500/.692/.750

Zanon got off to a hot start showing the ability to not only get on base, but to utilize his terrific speed. Unfortunately, for the second straight season, he has not played a game since leaving an April 10th game after being hit in the helmet. While it is not known if it was related to the beaning or last year’s torn labrum, Zanon is on the seven day disabled list, and it is unknown when he can return this season.

UNEVEN PROGRESSION

RHP Justin Dunn, 1st Round (19th overall)

MMN RANK 6

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 1-1, 1.50 ERA, 11 G, 8 GS, 30.0 IP, 1.167 WHIP, 10.5 K/9

2017 Stats (St. Lucie) 4-3, 4.81 ERA, 11 G, 8 GS, 48.2 IP, 1.521 WHIP, 6.5 K/9

After a promising half season with Brooklyn, Dunn skipped Colombia and started the season with St. Lucie. Dunn struggled, and he was temporarily moved to the bullpen to help him figure things out. In his first start back in the rotation, he pitched five scoreless innings with no walks and seven strikeouts, which seems to indicate he’s back on track.

OF Gene Cone, 10th Round (310th overall)

MMN RANK 90

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 60 G, 261 PA, 229 AB, 35 R, 52 H, 6 2B, 3B, HR, 17 RBI, 9 SB, 4 CS, .227/.312/.275

2017 Stats (Columbia) 57 G, 249 PA, 209 AB, 32 R, 52 H, 8 2B, 2 3B, 22 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS, .249/.361/.306

Cone has a refined approach at the plate, and he has the ability to get on base. However, at this point in his career, he is not hitting for much power. In order to progress further, he is going to have to start driving the ball more.

C Dan Rizzie, 13th Round (400th overall)

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 33 G, 126 PA, 105 AB, 10 R, 17 H, 3 2B, 3B, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS, .162/.286/.210

2017 Stats (St. Lucie) 19 G, 67 PA, 56 AB, 2 R, 9 H, 2B, RBI, .161/.284/.179

Rizzie has certainly lived up to his billing as a defensive minded catcher who struggles offensively. While he is sound behind the plate, his 28% caught stealing percent this year is disappointing for someone who’s calling card is defense.

LF Jay Jabs, 17th Round (520th overall) –

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 52 G, 200 PA, 175 AB, 13 R, 31 H, 6 2B, 3B, 12 RBI, 2 SB, 3 CS, .177/.275/.223

2017 Stats (Columbia) 30 G, 108 PA, 94 AB, 11 R, 18 H, 7 2B, HR, 14 RBI, .191/.296/.298

After struggling in the infield last year, he was transitioned to the outfield. It’s been difficult to find him playing time with a lot of players in Columbia who command playing time, Tim Tebow included, and the fact that he has not maximized his limited opportunities.

RHP Adam Atkins, 18th Round (550th overall) –

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 0-2, 3.71 ERA, 19 G, 17.0 IP, .471 WHIP, 11.6 K/9

2017 Stats (Columbia & St. Lucie) 1-0, 5.54 ERA, 10 G, 13.0 IP, 2.000 WHIP, 9.7 K/9

After struggling with St. Lucie to start the year, he was demoted to Columbia where he has pitched much better. While it was surprising Atkins had reverse splits last year with his 3/4 delivery, that has normalized this year with left-handed batters teeing off on him this year. Still, there is promise for him with him holding right-handed batters to a .188 batting average against in Columbia.

RHP Gary Cornish, 19th Round (580th overall)

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 0-0, 2.16 ERA, 14 G, 3 SV, 25.0 IP, 1.080 WHIP, 15.8 K/9

2017 Stats (Columbia) 1-1, 2.19 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12.1 IP, 0.982 WHIP, 7.3 K/9

After an outstanding season for Brooklyn last year, the Mets decided Cornish should be transitioned to the rotation. His start to the season was delayed as Cornish was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for amphetamine use. His is off to a strong start to the 2017.

2B Nick Sergakis, 23rd Round (700th overall)

2016 Stats (Brooklyn) 38 G, 167 PA, 143 AB, 21 R, 36 H, 10 2B, 2 Hr, 15 RBI, 11 SB, .252/.353/.364

2017 Stats (St. Lucie) 29 G, 107 PA, 90 AB, 15 R, 21 H, 8 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 4 SB, .233/.330/.456

Sergakis got off to a hot start to his professional career, but he soon fell off, and he became a part-time player. While he has made the most of his opportunities this year, he has not yet done enough to crack the starting lineup on a consistent basis.

YET TO PLAY THIS YEAR

RHP Chris Viall, 6th Round (190th overall)

MMN RANK 81

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 0-2, 6.75 ERA, 9 G, 6 GS, 20.0 IP, 1.750 WHIP, 12.2 K/9

The one thing that really stands out for Viall is his ability to strike out batters. A large part of that is his ability to get his fastball up to 101 MPH. In college, he split time between the rotation and the bullpen. For now, the Mets are keeping Viall in the rotation.  My interview with him can be found here.

LHP Placido Torres, 8th Round (250th overall)

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 2-2, 3.38 ERA, 13 G, 18.2 IP, 1.500 WHIP, 12.5 K/9

After a partial season pitching out of the bullpen, Torres will be used as a starting pitcher this year.

RHP Cameron Planck, 11th Round (340th overall)

MMN RANK 34

The Mets were prudent with this high school arm that they were surprisingly able to sign last year. He will likely being the season with one of the partial season affiliates come the end of the month.

RHP Matt Cleveland, 12th Round (370th overall)

MMN RANK 51

2016 Stats (Gulf Coast) 0-1, 12.27 ERA, 7 G, 7.1 IP, 2.455 WHIP, 2.5 K/9

The only thing we have learned about Cleveland is the pre-draft reports of him struggling with consistency and control proved to be true in his seven innings for Gulf Coast.

RHP Christian James, 14th Round (430th overall)

MMN RANK 86

2016 Stats (Gulf Coast) 0-1, 0.52 ERA, 14 G, 3 SV, 17.1 IP, 0.923 WHIP, 7.8 K/9

Labelled as a power pitcher, James certainly lived up to the billing with a dominant year with the Gulf Coast Mets.

RHP Trent Johnson, 16th Round (490th overall)

MMN RANK 98

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 0-3, 6.61 ERA, 14 G, 16.1 IP, 1.531 WHIP, 7.7 K/9

While Johnson’s stats looked ugly, it should be noted it was mostly the result of a terrible July. Those six appearances aside, he had a 2.70 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Essentially, he had a strong start and a strong finish which give you reason to believe the developing pitcher could still put it all together.

CF Ian Strom, 22nd Round (670th overall) –

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 37 G, 166 PA, 145 AB, 19 R, 33 H, 9 2B, 2 3B, 10 RBI, 9 SB, 4 CS, .228/.319/.317

Strom’s game is speed, and he best utilized it last year in the outfield where he was named Kingsport’s Gold Glover.

RHP Dariel Rivera, 24th Round (730th overall) –

2016 Stats (Gulf Coast) 0-0, 2.79 ERA, 8 G, SV, 9.2 IP, 1.241 WHIP, 2.8 K/9

The 18 year old out of Puerto Rico is a project in terms of developing more consistency in every aspect of his game. Once he develops more consistency, we may be better able to gauge exactly what he could be for the Mets.

RHP Eric Villanueva, 30th Round (910th overall) –

2016 Stats (Gulf Coast) 0-1, 6.97 ERA, 10 G, 10.1 IP, 2.323 WHIP, 4.4 K/9

Like Rivera, he is a project that needs to develop physically. The hope is that once he does begin to mature, his fastball velocity will increase from the low 80s towards the upper 80s or somewhere in the 90s.

LF Jeremy Wolf, 31st Round (940th overall)

MMN RANK 70

2016 Stats (Kingsport) 50 G, 206 PA, 183 AB, 31 R, 53 H, 12 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, CS, .290/.359/.448

Despite coming out of a Division III school, Wolf was seen as a polished hitter. He certainly proved that last year for Kingsport. Somewhat surprisingly, Wolf was not assigned to a full season affiliate. This may have been a result of him being blocked by Alonso and the Mets wanting to get another look at Dash Winningham at Columbia.

RHP Garrison Bryant, 36th Round (1,090 overall) –

2016 Stats (Gulf Coast) 0-0, 9.72 ERA, 7 G, 8.1 IP, 2.040 WHIP, 5.4 K/9

Bryant is a raw pitcher with some talent who for the first time this year will be solely focusing upon baseball. There is a possibility he could both harness and refine his pitches leading to him taking a big step forward this season.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on Mets Minors

 

The Mets Coaching Staff Believed in Daniel Murphy

Despite slugging .533 over the last two months of the season, and homering in seven consecutive postseason games, including home runs off Clayton KershawZack GreinkeJon LesterJake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks, the Mets only made the perfunctory qualifying offer to NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy.  At the time, the qualifying offer was made no player had ever accepted the qualifying offer. 

The Mets thought process was grounded in several factors. First, they believed they could get Ben Zobrist, who they viewed as a superior player. Second, the Mets could recoup the first round draft pick they lost by signing Michael Cuddyer in the previous offseason. Third, and most importantly, the Mets didn’t foresee Murphy carrying that level of production for a full season in 2016 and beyond. 

That last point became all the more apparent when, after the Mets lost out in Zobrist, they traded Jon Niese (who was later re-acquired in exchange for Antonio Bastardo) for Neil Walker.  The Mets made this move despite never inquiring what it would take to re-sign Murphy. 

The logic of the Walker trade was the Mets were getting an All Star second baseman in his walk year. Should he perform, the Mets could either re-sign him, or they could make the qualifying offer and recoup another draft pick. Should he falter or leave in free agency, the Mets could turn the position over to second baseman of the future Dilson Herrera

Walker would have a career year for the Mets both at the plate and in the field. Overall, he would hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 homers and 55 RBI. Those numbers are even better when you consider that the switch hitting Walker was no longer a liability from the right side of the plate. Rather, he was a dominant force. 

Unfortunately, Walker would go through part of the summer unable to feel his feet due to a herniated disc. Despite his being in the best stretch of the season and the Mets fighting for the Wild Card, he would have to undergo season ending lumbar microdiscetomy surgery. 

While the Mets remain hopeful Walker will recover fully, and that the two sides can agree to a deal, nothing is guaranteed.  The Mets need Walker to recover with no issues because Herrera was moved in the trade to acquire Jay Bruce

Now, many will say this has all been a debacle as Murphy had an MVP caliber season for the rival Washington Nationals. This year, Murphy hit .347/.390/.595 with 47 doubles, five triples, 25 homers, and 104 RBI. He led the league in doubles, slugging, and OPS. Worse yet, he killed the Mets getting a hit in all 19 games against them while hitting .413/.444/.773 with six doubles, seven homers, and 25 RBI. 

In response to that, many will say judging the Mets decision on Murphy is unfair as: (1) no one saw this coming; and (2) you are using hindsight to criticize the Mets. 

That argument is unfounded. First and foremost, the General Manager is supposed to have foresight. He is paid to make sure what happened with Murphy never happens. Second, and most importantly, the argument is patently false. 

As Mets hitting coach Kevin Long told MLB Network Radio, “Daniel Murphy became a monster overnight, once he got it, you knew he wasn’t going to lose it.”  

Murphy certainly hasn’t lost it. In fact, he was even better leading the Nationals to an NL East title over the Mets. Tonight, he looks to recreate his incredible Game Five performance against the Dodgers so he can once again torture the Cubs in the NLCS. 

Meanwhile, the Mets are looking at their second base options, which assuredly are no better than Murphy, in what is an extremely weak free agent class, after being shutout in the Wild Card Game. It didn’t have to be this way as the Mets coaching staff saw Murphy putting together a season like this.

By the way, Anthony Kay, the pick the Mets received for Murphy becoming a National, had to have Tommy John surgery before he ever threw a pitch as a professional. 

Long Island Mets

In 1989, we were on a family vacation to Philadelphia at the same time the Mets were playing at the Vet.  When my Dad picked up the free hotel newspaper, he noticed that Frank Viola was the Mets scheduled starter.  It doesn’t take much for my Dad to want to take us to a Mets game.  That night, my Dad wanted to take us to the game because we had an opportunity to see a former World Series MVP and Long Island native take the mound.

There haven’t been many players from Long Island who have played in the big leagues.  The best player that comes to mind is Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.  There are even fewer that play for the Mets.  There was the aforementioned Viola.  There has also been John Valenin and John Lannan, both of whom had less than stellar Mets careers.  However, last year, Steven Matz burst onto the scene.

Like my Dad, I took my son to see Matz’s first game at Citi Field.  It was an event with him pitching 7.2 innings allowing five hits, two earned, and two walks while striking out six.  He was also 3-3 at the plate with a double and four RBI.  It was a glimpse into what a special player he was going to become.  So far in his young career, Matz is 11-2 with a 2.36 ERA.  There are many reasons why Matz is so good.  There have been many that have helped him along the way including his AAA pitching coach Frank Viola.

After the first day of the MLB draft tonight, it appears that Viola is going to get a couple more Long Island players to help out.

With the 19th selection, the Mets selected Freeport native Justin Dunn.  Like most, I really don’t know that much about Dunn other than the published scouting reports.  Here is all I’ve seen of him pitch so far:

On a special note, he is slated to pitch tonight for Boston College in the NCAA Baseball Super Regionals against Miami at 5 P.M.  That game will be televised on ESPNU.

The other pitcher the Mets drafted was Anthony Kay who went to high school at Ward Melville.  This is the same high school that Matz attended.  They were not classmates as Kay was in 8th grade when Matz was a senior.  It seems like the Mets have liked Kay for a long time:

Again, like Dunn, I don’t know much about Kay other than the scouting reports.  Unlike Dunn, we’re not going to be able to see him pitch as UConn has already been eliminated.  In the interim, if you are interested in seeing him pitch, here is a clip:

Sooner or later, we will get to see both Dunn and Kay pitch so long as they are able to agree to terms with the Mets.  If so, it is likely they will be placed on the Brooklyn Cyclones roster where they can pitch close to home (closer for Dunn).  Whether or not the fact that these players grew up as Yankee fans is irrelevant.  What matters is that these local players are with the Mets now, and they are going to help the Mets in the future.

With the way things are going, they may eventually be joined by a couple of other Long Islanders since it is suddenly becoming a breeding ground for Mets pitching.