For those that don’t follow the Mets minor league system closely, Thursday was about as bad a day as one organization could possibly have.
The day began with the Mets announcing Cameron Planck, last year’s 11th round draft pick, is going to undergo season ending shoulder surgery. Planck is undergoing shoulder surgery before ever throwing a pitch as a professional.
Ironically, the Mets didn’t pitch him last year to protect his arm. The Mets invested heavily in the high school arm paying him $1,000,001 to keep him from going to the University of Louisville.
Before the surgery, Planck had a mid-90s fastball, a terrific change, and a developing knuckle curve. Hopefully, he can not only be this pitcher once again, but also fulfill the destiny he had as a potential front line starter.
Another potential front line starter in the Mets organization is Thomas Szapucki.
Last year, Szapucki was 4-3 with a 1.38 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, and a 14.9 WHIP in nine starts between Kingsport and Brooklyn. The 21 year old lefty has a mid to high 90s fastball and a curveball that baffled both right-handed and left-handed batters alike.
Things have not gone as well for him this year. His 2017 season was delayed due to a shoulder impingement in his pitching arm. After five good starts, Szapucki left Thursday’s game.
Initially, it was believed he left the game in relation to his getting hit with a line drive. No such luck. As it turns out, Szapucki left the game with left forearm discomfort. Many times a pitcher’s complaints of forearm discomfort is a precursor to Tommy John surgery.
If that’s the case, on one day, the Mets may have lost two pitchers who were on the path to one day being top of the rotation starters for the major league club.
While we rightly focus on the issues the major league rotation has had staying healthy, there needs to be focus on the Mets inability to keep their minor league pitchers healthy. If the past few seasons is any example, the Mets NEED a strong group of minor league starters when the major leaguers get hurt.
Szapucki and Planck should be front and center among internal candidates. Hopefully, Thursday will not stand in the way of that happening.
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.
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.
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