During his time in the minors, Jeff McNeil wore a couple of different numbers. Last year, he wore 12 with Las Vegas, and he wore 1 with Binghamton. Overall, he’d wear a variety of numbers including 3, 5, and 10. Naturally, when the Mets called him up to the majors, McNeil was assigned the number 68.
The significance of 68? Well, it was just next in line.
It was something the Mets seemed to start in 2016. That year, the Mets gave T.J. Rivera the number 54, and Ty Kelly was given 55. When Kelly Johnson returned, Kelly was given 56. Over the ensuing years, we’d see the number gradually climb up and up to the point Kelly would wear 66 last year, and eventually McNeil wearing 68.
Now, this is not a practice reserved for all prospects, and it has not been a practice always in place. For example, when Jose Reyes and David Wright were called up, they were given their now iconic 7 and 5 numbers. For that matter, when Eric Campbell was called up to the majors in 2014, he went from 24, a number somewhat unofficially retired by the Mets, to 29.
Now, McNeil is going to wear the number 6, a number which was available all of last season. For that matter, Rivera is going to wear 19, which was a number that Jay Bruce had before he was called up to the majors. It should also be noted the 3 he wore with Las Vegas was worn by Curtis Granderson.
Now, there are some restrictions with uniform numbers. For example, recent uniform history suggests Gary Carter‘s 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s 17 are unofficially retired. They may also want to try to preserve numbers for their top prospects like how Peter Alonso was assigned 20 this Spring Training.
Still, there is a wide chasm between not allowing a player to have a certain number and giving them a number in the 50s or 60s. These players have achieved something by making it all the way to the majors. They should be treated as such by giving them a real uniform number, especially as we saw in the case with Dilson Herrera and Juan Uribe, you are going to make the young player switch when a more established player wants the number.
As a side note, it’s more fan friendly as well because if you are someone immediately attached to a player like McNeil, when you go out and get the jersey, or even shirsey, you have the right number and aren’t out money when the player is finally deemed good enough to pick their own real baseball number.
As we head into the 2018 season, we have seen some of these Mets prospects for a few years now, and we have made some assumptions about these players. Some of those assumptions are right on the money, and some of them, not so much. There may be some facts when brought to life which may surprise many of us. With that in mind, here are some facts about the Mets minor leagues which are sure to surprise you.
No. 1 Sandy’s First Draft Produced 11 Major Leaguers
When Sandy Alderson was entasked with rebuilding the Mets farm system, he and his staff went right to work with the 2011 draft. That draft was quite effective with the Mets producing 11 Major Leaguers from that draft.
1st Round: Brandon Nimmo & Michael Fulmer
2nd Round: Cory Mazzoni
3rd Round: Logan Verrett
4th Round: Jack Leathersich
8th Round: Daniel Muno
13th Round: Robert Gsellman
15th Round: Phillip Evans
21st Round: John Gant
34th Round: Seth Lugo
35th Round: Chasen Bradford
Almost as incredible, between trades and play on the field, nine of those players either played for a Mets team that made the postseason or were traded for a player who contributed to a Mets team that made the postseason.
No. 2 Vientos Same Age As Kranepool Was When Kranepool Debuted in the Majors
Last year, Mets second round pick Mark Vientos was the youngest player drafted at 17 years old. Amazingly, this is the same age Mets Hall of Famer Ed Kranepool was when he made his MLB debut. As a matter of fact, Kranepool was just a little more than four months older in his MLB debut than Vientos was when he made his debut in professional baseball playing in the Gulf Coast League.
No. 3 Alonso Only Player to Homer off Smith Prior to the Trade Deadline
When the New York Mets traded Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-handed relief prospect Drew Smith, the one stat which immediately jumped off his Baseball Reference page was the fact he had allowed just one home run all season. The person who hit that home run was his future teammate Peter Alonso. On the home run, Smith would tell MMN’s Mathew Brownstein, Alonso “brings it up probably once a week (laughs). But that’s just part of it.”
No. 4 Nimmo Drew More Walks Than Rosario in Triple-A
Last year with all of the injuries, it seemed as if Nimmo spent most if not all of his 2017 season in the majors. To a certain extent that is true with him playing just 42 games in Triple-A. That was actually 52 fewer games than Amed Rosario had in Triple-A last year. Overall, Rosario would have 227 more plate appearances for the 51s than Nimmo would have. And yet, despite all of that, Nimmo would draw 10 more walks than Rosario did in Triple-A.
No. 5 DeFrancesco’s First MLB Win Came Against the Mets
In the offseason, the Mets hired the Houston Astros Triple-A Manager Tony DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco had been a manager in the Astros organization since 2011, and during that time, he did get a 41 game opportunity to manage the Major League club after the team fired Brad Mills. After beginning his managerial career losing five straight, his Astros came to New York to face the Mets. With the Suffern, New York native’s family in the stands, his Astros team won the game 3-1.