Anthony Kay

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.