It is quite fitting that today is unseasonably warm because we have the first sign of Spring with the Mets pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Spring Training. No matter what your opinion on the Mets offseason, this time of year always brings a bit of hope for the fanbase because seeing the Mets players in uniform, you can begin to dream the players can put it all together and win the World Series.
For the Mets, like it has since 2015, the entire hope surrounds the starting pitching.
Now, there are people who are claiming there isn’t enough. They still want the Mets to go out and sign Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, or any number of a group of free agent starters who didn’t compile 200 innings, were coming off injuries themselves, or really just couldn’t even sniff this Mets rotation when healthy. In fact, you could argue with their recent injury histories and peripherals, Lynn and Cobb are just more of the same. Actually, what the Mets have is just better.
That’s part of the reason why the narrative the Mets did nothing to address their franchise worst pitching needs to end right now.
The first move the Mets had made this offseason to address the pitching was to go out and hire Mickey Callaway. If you are going to be a pitching staff built on pitching, Callaway was the inspired choice. Joining him on his pitching staff is Dave Eiland, who is renown for his ability to work with pitchers. One of his keys to success is how he helps pitchers with their mechanics, which in turn, helps reduce injury.
Speaking of injuries, gone is favorite punching bag Ray Ramirez. In his place is Jim Cavallini, who will oversee everything related to player care and conditioning. This includes nutrition, sleep science, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. Apparently, after all these years of injuries, the Mets are finally interested in getting players to eat better, sleep better, and take better care of themselves.
And yes, we know even with that Zack Wheeler needed osteoarthritis injections this offseason. Matt Harvey has not been able to stay healthy since that magical 2013 season. Steven Matz has continued to suffer one injury after another. Technically speaking, Seth Lugo is pitching with a torn UCL much like the Yankees have seen with Masahiro Tanaka.
Yes, these injuries and injury histories exist, but as noted, the Mets finally have the people in place to not only help prevent those injuries from happening again, but also to get Harvey, Wheeler, and Matz back to form. If they are, watch out because this is a pitching staff that can once again lead the Mets to the World Series.
If not? Well, there’s real pitching depth in the Mets organization. As noted above, there’s Lugo. The team also have Robert Gsellman and Chris Flexen. Yes, they both struggled last season, but they have an opportunity to learn from those struggles. They also have the support system with Eiland, Callaway, and Mickey Abbott in Las Vegas.
Behind them are some intriguing prospects in Triple-A. Corey Oswalt was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. P.J. Conlon continues to defy the odds with his under 90 MPH stuff to pitch to a minor league career 2.35 ERA. Marcos Molina is healthy after Tommy John, and he looks to build off a strong season. Mickey Jannis is a late blooming knucke ball pitcher much in the same vein as R.A. Dickey. And if you want to get deeper, Ricky Knapp rejuvenated himself after struggling in Vegas by pitching completely lights out as he helped pitch the Rumble Ponies to the Eastern League playoffs.
And if you are masochistic, this could finally be the year for Rafael Montero.
Point is, unlike last year, the Mets have actual starting pitching depth to start the season. If one goes down, there’s two or three behind them to pick up the slack. The team has a manager and pitching coach better suited to getting these pitchers to reaching their full potential.
Sure, it would be nice to see the Mets add a pitcher or two on a minor league deal to serve as a swing man, but even if the Mets don’t make that move, they have the depth they need in the organization. Today is the day that group gets in peak physical shape and realizes their full potential.
And if you have a hard time believing me, sit down, take a deep breath, and remember the first two games of the season will have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard starting for the Mets. If you can’t get excited about that, nothing will.
Rafael Montero pitched much better than the score indicated with him getting dinked and dunked for the three runs he did allow. Yoenis Cespedes is hitting for power once again with him hitting a double and a homer in the game. Amed Rosario completed a nifty unassisted double play on a liner up the middle. Kevin Plawecki threw out a base stealer. Gavin Cecchini reached twice and scored a run. In the end none of this happens because this happened to Michael Conforto:
The worst four seconds of my life pic.twitter.com/ihqVrPqkem
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 24, 2017
Early returns are Conforto suffered a dislocated shoulder on the play leading Ron Darling to talk about his own history with shoulder dislocations letting us all know they tend to be chronic. It’s a good thing too because watching it happen certainly wasn’t depressing enough.
Just to let you know how bizarre a season it has been for Mets fans, Mets fans were actually relieved this was just a dislocation. They were understandably anticipating an amputation. You could just envision the scene in the clubhouse with the Mets covering Conforto with leeches and getting him drunk on whiskey before giving him a bit to chomp on before Ray Ramirez came over with the saw.
Likely, this was Conforto’s last game of the season meaning he’s not getting to 30 homers this season. We also don’t get to see him finish off what was a brilliant season for him. We can only hope the Mets don’t mess this one up like they have with Matt Harvey time and again.
Overall, the Mets lost this game 3-2, but who cares? The real loss here was Conforto.
Game Notes: With a doubleheader on Sunday, the Mets are hoping Seth Lugo can start in the second game. If his bullpen does not go well tomorrow, the Mets will call Marcos Molina up from Double-A. If he does get called-up, he will join Chris Flexen in getting called straight up from Binghamton to start a game for the Mets.
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.
With the full season minor leagues having their Opening Day on Thursday, the Mets have announced the rosters for each of their minor league affiliates. Each team includes an interesting group of prospects. Each team also features a particular strength of each aspect of the Mets farm system. Keeping in mind each particular group is viewed not just in terms of how good the players are now, but also how they project going forward, here are the best of the best:
Best Starting Pitching – St. Lucie Mets
The St. Lucie rotation features a number of pitchers who may very well make their way to a major league mound. The former second round draft pick Church fixed both his hip and his mechanics, and he had a breakout season last year. Dunn is already a top 10 Mets prospect a year after he was drafted. Molina is back from Tommy John surgery, and he has looked good in both the Arizona Fall Leauge and Spring Training. Crismatt more than held his own against the vaunted Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. This is as exciting a rotation as there is in the minor leauges, and possibly, you will see some version of this rotation with the Mets one day.
Honorable Mention: Columbia Fireflies. A rotation with Jordan Humphreys, Merandy Gonzalez, and Harol Gonzalez is a very interesting minor league rotation. It would have been more interesting with Thomas Szapucki, but he is slated to miss time due to a shoulder impingement.
Best Bullpen – Las Vegas 51s
The 51s bullpen features Sewald and Roseboom who were both extremely effective closers last season. Certainly, both impressed the Mets enough to get long looks during Spring Training. Prior to having bone spurs removed, Goeddle was an effective major league reliever. Rowen gives you a different look with his sidewinding action on the mound. Arguably, this could be a major league bullpen that could hold its own.
Honorable Mention: Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The Rumble Ponies bullpen has Corey Taylor, who has been favorable compared to Jeurys Familia, as its closer. There are some other interesting names like Ben Griset, who is a very promising LOOGY, and Luis Mateo, who was once a very well thought out prospect before he faced some injury issues.
Best Catching Tandem – Las Vegas 51s
If nothing else, Plawecki has established he can handle a major league starting staff. More to the point, Plawecki has shown himself to be a very good pitch framer. While his bat has lagged in the majors, at 26, he still has time to improve. Behind him is Carrillo, who is a good defensive catcher that won the Gold Glove in the Mexican Winter Leagues this past offseason.
Honorable Mention: Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Tomas Nido seemingly put it all together in St. Lucie last year, and he appears poised to take the mantle as the Mets catcher of the future. Binghamton very easily could have been named the top catching tandem off that, but some deference was paid to Plawecki showing he can handle the position defensively at the major league level.
Best Infield – Las Vegas 51s
When the weak point of your infield is a player who is coming off a season where he won the Eastern League batting title, you know you have something special. Rosario and Smith are considered two of the best prospects not only at their positions, but in the entire game. Cecchini played well enough last year to be put on the 40 man roster a year ahead of schedule and earn a September call-up where he hit two doubles in six major league at-bats.
Honorable Mention: St. Lucie Mets. The team features a pair of 2016 draft picks in 1B Peter Alonso and SS Colby Woodmansee who showed real ability during their time in Brooklyn. Due to that success, they both skipped Columbia and joined an interesting second base prospect in Vinny Siena and a promising hitter at third base in Jhoan Urena.
Best Outfield – Columbia Fireflies
No, this isn’t because of Tebow. This is mostly about Lindsay, who has been labeled as an “offensive machine” by the Mets organization. He is a five tool prospect that with a little health will arrive at Citi Field sooner rather than later. Another interesting five tool prospect is former Division II player Zanon. He certainly has all the tools to succeed. It is a question whether those tools can translate against better competition. Cone is a player who has a good baseball IQ, but he still needs to translate that and his talent to on the field success
Honorable Mention: Las Vegas 51s. The outfield got demonstratively better with the recent signing of Desmond Jennings. It will get better with either Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto playing for them again. That depends on Nimmo’s health as well as the health of the major league outfield. It will also be interesting to see how Matt Reynolds handles taking on what was Ty Kelly‘s role last year in being a utility player that mostly plays left field.
Overall, the Mets have a number of good to very good prospects who are either close or project to be major leaguers. Some of those players like Rosario will be stars. Others should have long major league careers. While we are getting excited for another year of Mets baseball, we also have a lot to be excited about for years to come with these prospects.
After protecting Amed Rosario, Tomas Nido, Chris Flexen, Marcos Molina, and Wuilmer Becerra from the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets 40 man roster now stands at precisely 40 players. This means that now when the Mets look to add a player in free agency, they will have to cut one of the players off of their 40 man roster. And yes, the Mets will have to remove some players off of the 40 man roster.
From all indications, even if the Mets do no re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, they are pursuing other outfielders to replace him. With the possible suspension of Jeurys Familia looming, it is likely, the Mets will have to add one, if not two, late inning relievers. The team may be interested in bringing back Jerry Blevins or finding another LOOGY. In addition to those moves, there are some other moves or upgrades the Mets may make this offseason. With that in mind, here are some players whose spot on the 40 man roster is tenuous:
Heading into the 2015 season, Edgin was supposed to be the Mets LOOGY for years to come. Those plans changed when he needed Tommy John surgery causing him to miss the entire 2015 season.
He returned in 2016, and he was not the same pitcher having lost velocity off of all of his pitches. He went from having a mid-90s fastball to having a low 90s fastball. As a result, Edgin got hit around. In AAA, he had a 3.51 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP. In his limited stints in the majors, he had a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP. Another complication for Edgin is he is arbitration eligible meaning the Mets are presumably going to have to pay him a lot more to keep him on the roster.
On a positive note, Edgin still did get left-handed batters out at the major league level. In a very small sample size (20 plate appearances), lefties only hit .235 off of him with no extra base hits. It is a big reason why he was on the Wild Card Game roster when the Mets faced a San Francisco Giants team stacked with lefties. Between his ability to get lefties out, the hope his arm could improve a second year removed from surgery, and his still having options available, there is still some hope for Edgin.
Gilmartin has gone from an important bullpen arm the Mets acquired in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft to a player who is seemingly lost his ability to get batters out.
Despite Gilmartin being a valuable long man in the pen, the Mets had him start the year in AAA to become starting pitching depth. In 18 starts and one relief appearance, he was 9-7 with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP. On a couple of occasions, he was recalled, and he pitched exclusively in relief for the Mets. Things did not go well for him in those 14 relief appearances as Gilmartin had a 7.13 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP. Between his performance and his having to go on the minor league disabled list with shoulder soreness, it was a lost year for Gilmartin.
Some of the struggles of Gilmartin were the result of his uneven usage between AAA and the majors. The other issue was his shoulder soreness, which for now, appears to no longer be an issue. Another strong factor in his favor is the fact that he is not yet arbitration eligible meaning the Mets do not have to pay him much to see if he returns to form. His having options available is also a positive. The Mets could still keep him on the roster with the idea of returning him to the role he was most successful.
There is perhaps no Mets pitcher that evokes such split opinions than Goeddel. For years, there were people who saw a pitcher that was able to go out there and get outs. There were others who saw a guy who had fringy stuff that was more the beneficiary of good luck than good pitching. After the 2016 season, most people agree that Goeddel was a liability for the Mets.
In 36 appearances for the Mets, Goeddel had a 4.54 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. It should be noted this was a big departure from how he had previously pitched with the Mets. In 2014 and 2015, Goeddel had a combined 2.48 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. His prior success, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, gives him a chance to remain on the 40 man roster.
How he is still on the 40 man roster is anyone’s guess. Entering the 2016 season, the Mets had it with him, and they sent him a message by making him one of the first people sent down to minor league Spring Training. Montero responded by pitching so poorly in Las Vegas that he was demoted to Binghamton. It was only due a rash of pitching injuries that he got a shot at pitching in the majors again, and like his other opportunities, he squandered that. Still, despite all that, the Mets cut Eric Campbell and Jim Henderson, AND exposed Paul Sewald to the Rule 5 Draft all for the sake of holding onto Montero that much longer. Eventually, you have to assume Montero is going to get cut from the roster. It is only a matter of when.
Strangely enough, the Mets had to make a decision on whether to expose Verrett to the Rule 5 Draft or to remove a player from the 40 man roster to protect him. The Mets chose the former, and lost him for a period of time. After Verrett struggled with the Rangers, the Mets took him back where Verrett pitched well out of the bullpen and the rotation for the Mets.
The Mets envisioned Verrett succeeding in that role in 2016, but it wasn’t to be. He wasn’t as effective replacing Matt Harvey in the rotation as he was in 2015. He went from a 3.63 ERA as a starter to a 6.45 ERA. He performed so poorly out of the rotation that the Mets gave Montero a chance to start over him down the stretch of the season.
Still, there was a silver lining to Verrett’s 2016 season. In his 23 relief appearances, he had a 2.84 ERA. When you consider his reliever ERA, how well he performed in 2015, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, there is still a chance for Verrett to remain on the 40 man roster.
Thinking of Plawecki being on the bubble is a bit odd especially when he is only 25 years old, has shown himself to be a terrific pitch framer, and he has only had 409 plate appearances at the major league level.
The problem there is Plawecki hasn’t hit at all in those 409 plate appearances. In his brief major league career, Plawecki is a .211/.287/.285 hitter. That’s worse than what Rene Rivera could give you, and Rivera has firmly established himself as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher. Worse yet, Plawecki is not the defensive catcher Rivera is.
When you also consider Tomas Nido‘s breakout season in St. Lucie possibly forcing the Mets to protect him a year earlier than anticipated, the Mets are going to be faced with the dilemma of carrying four catchers on their 40 man roster. With Nido perhaps passing him as the catcher of the future, and Travis d’Arnaud having shown he has more offensive ability than Plawecki, it is quite possible, Plawecki could find himself having run out of chances with the Mets organization.
With all that said, it is hard to believe the Mets moving on from Plawecki this soon is his career.
This is an interesting situation for Kelly to be in considering he was signed to be minor league depth last season. With a rash of injuries and some hot hitting in AAA, Kelly finally reached the majors after his long seven year odyssey in the minor leagues.
After some time, the Mets actually discovered who Kelly was. Despite his switch hitting skills, he really could only hit from the right-hand side against major league pitching. He was versatile, but his best position was left field. Overall, his main asset down the stretch in September was as a pinch runner. He was mostly used as a pinch runner because of the dearth of team speed on the Mets roster. With all the said, he did make the Wild Card Game roster, and he got a pinch hit single off Madison Bumgarner.
Basically, all the reasons you can make for him being kept on the roster or being cut from the roster are the same exact things you could have said about Campbell, and he just signed a deal to play in Japan.
Overall, it is hard to guesstimate how many of these players are going to remain on the roster because we are not sure how many moves the Mets are going to make this offseason. Normally, you would say Montero was sure to be cut, but he is more and more looking like the pitching version of Campbell . . . there is just no getting rid of the guy. Still, as we learned from Campbell, there is going to become a breaking point, and that point may well be when the Mets sign enough players this offseason to take them from the Wild Card back to being World Series contenders.
Editor’s Note: a version of this story was originally run on Mets Merized Online
With the Mets adding Gavin Cecchini to the 40 man roster to sit on the bench as the Mets are chasing down a Wild Card spot, the team had one less decision to make on who should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Even if the Mets didn’t add Cecchini now, he was going to be added in the offseason. Cecchini is too valuable a prospect, and he would be snatched up immediately in the Rule 5 Draft.
Cecchini was not the only player the Mets were going to have to make a decision on this offseason. In fact, the Mets have to make a decision on 66 different prospects about whether or not they should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Here is a review of some of the more notable Mets prospects that need to be added to the 40 man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft:
SS Amed Rosario (Advanced A & AA) .324/.374/.459, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB
Yes, if it hasn’t been apparent this entire year, Rosario is in a class all by himself. If he’s not added to the 40 man roster someone is getting fired.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
1B/3B Matt Oberste (AA) .283/340/.409, 21 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 1 SB
One issue that has plagued Oberste his entire minor league career is he has to fight for at bats as he is usually behind a bigger Mets prospect. That has been literally and figuratively Dominic Smith (who is not yet Rule 5 eligible). Oberste was an Eastern League All Star; however, the issue that is always going to hold him back is the fact that he is a corner infielder that does not hit for much power. Most likely, Oberste will not be added to the 40 man roster.
CF Champ Stuart (Advanced A & AA) .240/.314/.349, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 40 SB
Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 bases this season. The issue with Stuart is he is a maddening offensive player. He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton. While he certainly has the tools to possibly be a big leauger one day, he’s too far away at this point. Also, with teams putting more of a premium on offense than defense, it’s likely he will not be protected, and he will go undrafted.
C Tomas Nido ( Advanced A) .320/.357/.459, 23 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB
This year was a breakout season defensively and offensively for the Florida State League batting champion. Normally, with Nido never having played a game in AA, the Mets would be able to leave him unprotected and be assured he wouldn’t be drafted. However, with catcher being such a difficult position to fill, it’s possible a bad team like the Braves takes a flyer on him and keeps him as the second or third stringer catcher all year. It’s exactly how the Mets lost Jesus Flores to the Nationals many years ago.
SP Marcos Molina 2015 Stats (Rookie & Advanced A) 9 G, 8 GS, 1-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
Molina did not pitch for the Mets organization for the entire 2016 season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Arizona Fall League will be his first time facing batters in a game since his eight starts for St. Lucie in 2015. It’s likely he will go unprotected and undrafted.
ARMS THAT COULD HELP IN 2017
RHP Paul Sewald (AAA) 56 G, 5-3, 19 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.0 K/o
In many ways, it is surprising that a Mets bullpen that was looking for an extra arm never turned to Sewald. While he struggled to start the season like most pitchers transitioning to the Pacific Coast League do, Sewald figured it out and had a terrific second half with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP. Sewald should be protected. In the event he isn’t, he should be as good as gone.
RHP Beck Wheeler (AA & AAA) 47 G, 0-3, 6 saves, 5.98 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 12.1 K/9
Wheeler went unprotected and undrafted last year, and based upon the numbers he put up in his time split between Binghamton and Las Vegas, it appears the same thing will happen this year. The one reservation is like with the Braves interest in Akeel Morris, teams will always take fliers on guys with mid 90s fastballs who can generate a lot of strikeouts. It just takes one team to think they can help him reduce his walk rate for him to go in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Chasen Bradford (5 saves, 4.80 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) – Bradford regressed statistically from last year in large part because he is a sinker/slider pitcher that pitches to contact. On the bright side, he walks very few batters meaning if you have good infield defense, he will be a successful pitcher for your team. His numbers should scare off a number of teams in the Rule 5 draft just like it did last year.
RHP Ricky Knapp (Advanced A & AA) 25 G, 24 GS, 13-6, 2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.3 K/9
Knapp started the year in St. Lucie, and he finished it with a spot start in Las Vegas. Knapp doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he gets the most out of all of his pitches because he is excellent at hitting his spots. He is a very polished product that is best suited to being a starting pitcher. Since he doesn’t strike out many batters, teams will most likely pass on him in the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Luis Mateo (AA & AAA) 51 G, 4-4, 1 save, 2.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 K/9
He’s a fastball/slider pitcher with a low 90s fastball that generates a fair share of groundball outs while keeping the ball in the ballpark. While his ERA should entice teams, his WHIP and strikeout rate may keep them away just like it did last year when the Mets left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft. He will most likely begin next year in AAA.
2B/3B/SS Phillip Evans (Advanced A & AA) .321/.366/.460, 30 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB
The Eastern League Batting Champion certainly raised his profile with a much improved offensive season. He’s starting to become more selective at the plate and learn how to be less of a pull hitter. The main issue for Evans is he may not have a position. While he can make all the plays at the infield positions, he lacks range to be a solid middle infielder. He also lacks the arm strength and power numbers you would want at third base.
RHP Chris Flexen (Advanced A, AA, AAA) 25 GS, 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.4 K/9
Flexen appears to be in the mold of a typical Mets pitching prospect in that he has a high 90’s fastball and a good slider. Despite the repertoire, he is not generating a lot of strikeouts right now. On the bright side, he does generate a number of ground balls while limiting home runs. He was rumored to be part of the initial Jay Bruce trade that fell apart due to an unnamed prospect’s physical (does not appear to be him). A second division club like the Reds could take a flyer on him and put him in the bullpen for a year to gain control over him despite him never having pitched at a level higher than Advanced A St. Lucie.
RHP Tyler Bashlor (Full Season & Advanced A) 54 G, 4-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11.8 K/9
While the 5’11” Bashlor is short on stature, he has a big arm throwing a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider which he used to dominate in the Sally League. Bashlor used these pitches to strike out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Like Flexen, there is danger exposing a big arm like this even if the highest level of experience he has is four games for Advanced A St. Lucie.
RHP Kevin McGowan (Advanced A & AA) 42 G, 4 GS, 2 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
McGowan is a fastball/changeup pitcher that still needs to develop a breaking pitch. While that fastball/changeup combination has been good enough to get batters out at the lower levels of the minor leagues, he is going to need another pitch if he is going to progress as a pitcher.
RF Wuilmer Becerra (Advanced A) .312/.341/.393, 17 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB
Around the time of the Rule 5 Draft last year, the debate was whether a bad team like the Braves would take a flyer on Becerra just to get the promising young outfielder into their organization. Unfortunately, Becerra would have a shoulder injury that would rob him of his budding power. More importantly, that shoulder injury would require surgery ending his season after just 65 games.
1B/3B Jhoan Urena (Advanced A) .225/.301/.350, 17 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB
With the emergence of David Thompson, Urena was pushed from third to first. However, that isn’t what was most troubling about his season. In fact, many questioned whether he could stay at third given his frame. The issue was the switch hitting Urena stopped hitting for power this season. With his not hitting for power, Rosario’s best friend in the minors should go undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft.
LHP Paul Paez (Advanced A & AA) 34 G, 4-1, 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
This year Paez failed to distinguish himself by not pitching particularly well for St. Lucie and then struggling in Binghamton. He only has a high 80’s fastball and lacks a true swing and miss breaking pitch. While lefties hitting .308 off of him this year, he may not even have a future as a LOOGY in a major league bullpen.
NEEDS TIME TO DEVELOP
OF Patrick Biondi (Advanced A) .271/.352/.332, 17 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 34 RBI, 26 SB
While Biondi’s stats look good on the surface, it should be noted at 25 years old, he is old for the level. On the bright side, Biondi has speed and is a good defender in CF. However, until he starts getting on base more frequently, he will not be considered for the 40 man roster.
RHP Nabil Crismatt (Short & Full Season A) 13 G, 7 GS, 1-4, 1 Save, 2.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
Crismatt is only 21, but he is mature in terms of his ability to control his changeup and curveball and throw them at any point in the count. Couple that with a low 90s fastball that could gain velocity as he ages, and you have someone who has the repertoire to be a major leaguer. However, considering he hasn’t faced stiff competition yet in his career, he is nowhere ready for the majors, at least not yet.
2B/3B/SS Jeff McNeil 2015 Season (Advanced A & AA) .308/.369/.377, 18 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 16 SB
Coming into the season, McNeil appeared to be more mature physically and at the plate. He seemed ready to begin hitting for more power while still being able to handle 2B defensively. Unfortunately, he would only play in three games this season for Binghamton before going on the disabled list needing season ending sports hernia surgery.
RHP Tim Peterson (Advanced A & AA) 48 G, 4-1, 2 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12.3 K/9
At each and every level Peterson has pitched, he has shown the ability to strike people out with a fastball that touches on the mid 90s and a plus curveball. The only issue for him in his career so far was his PED suspension in 2014.
OF Travis Taijeron (AAA) .275/.372/.512, 42 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB
Taijeron continued to do what he does best, which is get on base and hit for power. Despite a strong Spring Training and another solid offensive season, the Mets really showed no interest in calling him up to the majors. He will most likely go unprotected, but maybe this year a team out there desperate for some power in the outfield or on the bench will give him a shot.
2B L.J. Mazzilli (AA & AAA) .239/.320/.348, 18 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB
Lee Mazzilli‘s son is a grinder out there who plays a decent second base. Unfortunately, it appears his bat will prevent him from ever getting a real shot to ever play in the big league.
Likely: Flexen, Nido
Bubble: Bashlor, Knapp, McGowan, Sewald, Wheeler
As for the remaining players, the Mets may very well gamble exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft and potentially lose them to another team. It is also possible the Mets unexpectedly protect a player like Knapp. In any event, the Mets have a number of important decisions to make that can have far reaching implications.
The Arizona Fall League is a showcase league where Major League teams have the opportunity to not only allow some of their prospects to refine their skills, but also to play in front of other team’s front office personnel. There are six teams total and teams play a 30 game schedule. Here is an in-depth look at who the Mets have assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions:
Goodwin has been the Mets first base coach since the 2012 season. Goodwin is also responsible for the Mets outfielders and base running instruction.
Goodwin was named as the Scottsdale Scorpions manager leading a team comprised of Mets, Angels, Giants, Phillies, and Yankees minor leaguers.
The 22-year old Cecchini was the Mets 2012 First Round draft pick and is Mets Minors sixth ranked Mets prospect.
Cecchini was recently added to the Mets 40 man roster, and he was a September call-up.
With the emergence of Amed Rosario, Asdrubal Cabrera having another year on his contract, and Cecchini having defensive issues at shortstop, Cecchini started the transition to second base late in the AAA season. Presumably, Cecchini should see the bulk of his playing time at second base at the Arizona Fall League.
At the plate, Cecchini is a gap-to-gap line drive hitter who has steadily improved and hit for more power at each stop of his minor league career. Last season, his first season in AAA, Cecchini hit .325/.390/.448 with 27 doubles, two triples, eight homers, and 55 RBI.
In his brief playing time with the Mets, we saw a player who was ready to hit major league pitching with the ability to drive the ball into the gap. As he ages and continues to fill-out some of his doubles may eventually turn into home runs.
The 21-year old Molina was signed by the Mets in 2011 as a 17 year old international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Molina will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
When Molina takes the mound for the Scorpions, he will be throwing his first pitch in the 2016 season. After a rough start to the 2015 season, which was in part due to a torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Molina initially tried rest to deal with the injury. However, after three ill-fated and ill-advised outings in August, he would be shut down for the season, and he would undergo Tommy John surgery on October 31st.
Like with any pitcher returning from Tommy John, it is difficult to ascertain what he will be when he finally takes the mound. Prior to his injury, Molina was a pitcher with poor mechanics, which may or may not have attributed to his injury.
When healthy, he had a mid 90’s fastball with an advanced changeup and slider for his age. As noted, his mechanics are still raw, and a result, he has a tendency to change his arm angles on each pitch, which would obviously telegraph the pitch to more experienced hitters.
In his last healthy, season, he dominated in the New York Penn League making 12 starts going 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9. For a comparison, he had the type of year Harol Gonzalez had this year with similar stuff at a similar age. However, Gonzalez doesn’t have the mechanical issues Molina did.
The 25 year old Oberste was the Mets 2013 seventh round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Oberste will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Oberste is coming off a mediocre season for AA Binghamton. While he had appeared to make strides offensively and defensively last year in St. Lucie, he seemed to regress this season in both aspects. In the field, he does not have the range or the arm for third base. With that in mind, he is best suited for first base, where he has shown himself to be an adequate defender. The main issue there is Oberste does not have the bat to play first base.
In his four year professional career, Oberste has not hit for power as evidenced by his career .399 slugging percentage. While he has averaged 22 doubles over the past three years, he has yet to hit double digit homers. Oberste’s bat could justifiably play in the majors at second or a utility position. However, Oberste hasn’t shown the range to prove he could effectively handle either role.
On the bright side, Oberste did have a strong finish to his 2016 campaign. Over July and August, Oberste hit .305/.376/.455 with six doubles, two triples, five homers, and 28 RBI. Overall, Oberste hit .283/.340/.409 with 21 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 54 RBI for the 2016 season. Obviously, he did most of his damage in July and August. He needs to carry forward what he did those two months into the Arizona Fall League and beyond.
Unlike the other Mets prospect, Nido is a taxi squad player meaning he is only available to play on Wednesday and Saturday. The 22-year old Nido was the Mets 2012 eighth round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Nido will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
No one made a bigger leap in the Mets organization this season than Nido. When drafted, Nido was seen as a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. While he was seen as a player with some offensive promise with some power, that did not prove to be true in his first four major league seasons.
This year Nido put the full package together winning the Florida State League batting title. In 90 games, Nido hit .320/.357/.459 with 23 doubles, two triples, seven homers, and 46 RBI. Behind the plate, he continued to be a good receiver who threw out 42% of base stealers. Nido has a bright future ahead of him, and he appears to be the catcher of the future.
The 23-year old Oswalt was the Mets 2012 7th round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Oswalt will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Oswalt is a right-handed pitcher that once projected to be back-end rotation starter. However, Oswalt is being hampered by his mechanics and his inability to repeat his delivery. He was also hampered by his needing knee surgery back in 2013 which has slowed the former high school pitcher’s development. Another issue is Oswalt still has not developed his slider of changeup to the point where they can be an effective pitch for him.
Mostly, Oswalt relies upon a low 90s four-seam fastball and a high 80s two-seam fastball. With him mostly relying on those pitches, he made 13 starts and one relief appearance for St. Lucie going 4-2 with a 4.12 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. If Oswalt is unable to develop his other pitches, he may be best suited to moving to the bullpen to see how well he could pitch putting maximum effort on his fastballs for an inning or two.
The 24-year old Roseboom was the Mets 2014 17th round draft pick. He was named Mets Minors Reliever of the Year.
The collegiate starter was immediately made a bullpen arm by the Mets organization despite his low 90s fastball. However, Roseboom was able to make a name for himself this season by not only combining that fastball with an effective slider and changeup, but also trust his stuff and pounding the strike zone.
Given his success, trades, and promotions, Roseboom found himself as the Binghamton Mets closer. As the B-Mets closer, Roseboom made 26 appearances converting 14 out of 15 saves. In that stretch, Roseboom had a 0.92 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. Batters were only hitting .110 off of him. All season long, he showed the ability to get both righties and lefties out with righties hitting .189 off of him and lefties hitting .141 off of him. Ultimately, he is a platoon neutral left-hander who has the ability to pitch in high pressure and high leverage situations.
The 23-year old Stuart was the Mets 2013 sixth round draft pick. Another player that has to be added to the 40 this offseason to protect from the Rule 5 draft.
Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 this season. The issue with Stuart is that he is a maddening offensive player. He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton.
While Stuart has tremendous speed, he has not been able to use that speed to get extra base hits. This was the first season he has ever had double digit doubles, and he only had 12. While he has speed, he is still unable to take full advantage of it as he doesn’t hit the ball hard enough to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Ultimately, while the Mets should be fully willing to see how far Stuart’s speed and glove will carry him, if he does not start hitting, he may never make it to the major leagues.
Taylor was the Mets 2015 17th round draft pick.
Taylor was a dominant collegiate reliever, and he has proven to be a dominant reliever in the low levels of the minor leagues. Taylor does it with a low 90s fastball and a still developing slider. Basically, he is your prototype of what you think is a Mets pitcher. While he has been working to develop a changeup, it is not yet at the point where it is a reliable pitch for him in games.
Taylor is successful because he uses his fastball to generate an almost inordinate amount of groundballs. In his minor league career, he has a 1.92 ground ball out to fly ball out ratio. Taylor used this pitch to help him have a successful season as the St. Lucie Mets closer. In 45 games, Taylor converted 20 out of 23 save opportunities. Overall, Taylor was 4-5 with a 1.87 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.
As many people know, Tebow was signed by the Mets after he put on a showcase for major league teams. At the showcase, the one skill Tebow showed more than anything else was he had natural power. Everyone saw that power in effect when he hit a home run in his first ever professional at-bat in the Instructional Leagues.
Both Tebow’s proponents and detractors will say he is in the Arizona Fall League to boost attendance and revenues for the Arizona Fall League. As we have seen in Tebow’s NFL and very short baseball career, he attracts a crowd, and assuredly, much like Michael Jordan did back in 1994, he will bring record numbers to the ballpark.
If you are a proponent, you point out how this is a good thing because more revenue and attention is always good for baseball. Furthermore, it is a good thing because it will bring more attention to the players who are playing in the games.
If you are a detractor, you believe this is a bad thing because it is merely a distraction which creates a circus like atmosphere that is not conducive to the true intentions of the Arizona Fall League which is prospect development.
One way Tebow fuels his detractors is that he will get playing time that should have gone to another prospect. However, those 30 games isn’t going to change a team’s opinion on a player. Whether or not Tebow deserves to be on the roster, he is there.
In his short duration in the Instructional Leagues, he did show some ability to play baseball. Given his profile and, yes his marketability, the Mets have every interest in seeing how far he could go as a professional baseball player. The Arizona Fall League will help them in that assessment.
Tebow and the other Mets get their chance starting today as the Scottsdale Scorpions visit the Glendale Desert Dogs at 2:35 PM. Tebow will indeed be in the lineup today to make his AFL debut.
As of right now, there is no published TV schedule for any of the Arizona Fall League games.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors
It’s hard to think of a time when there was so much riding on one game not just for a team, but also for the team’s starting pitcher.
For the Mets, the largeness of the situation is obvious. The Mets are entering a four game set against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. The Mets are currently one game behind the Marlins in the race for the second Wild Card, and they are 2.5 games back (three in the loss column) of the St. Louis Cardinals. By winning three out of four, the Mets will go from one game back of the Marlins to going two games ahead of them in the Wild Card race. The hope is also that the Mets make up some ground against the Cardinals and Pirates as well.
For Rafael Montero, there is so much more at stake. For Montero, his future with the entire Mets organization could very well be coming to an end. The Mets have notable prospects like Amed Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, and Marcos Molina who will need to be added to the 40 man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. Given Montero’s failures at the major league level, and the fact that the team has been frustrated with him for well over a season now, Montero’s future with the Mets looks bleak.
It never looked bleaker than when he was demoted to AA earlier this season. However, something strange happened there. For the first time in his career, Montero responded to adversity. In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. It is clearly the best Montero has ever pitched in his entire career. Part of the reason why is because Montero’s command is much better in AA, and his changeup has been better. Given his repetoire, both were always a necessity for him in order to succeed. Another possibility for Montero’s success was his facing presumably weaker batters in AA. This has all lead to him having more confidence on the mound, and him returning to the type of pitcher that once was regarded as a better prospect than Jacob deGrom.
The Mets need that Montero tonight against a Marlins team that has a habit of breaking the Mets’ hearts. It’s a Marlins team that is sending their ace, Jose Fernandez, to the mound tonight. Not only is Fernandez an ace, but he has dominated the Mets in his young career. In seven starts against the Mets, he is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA, 0.951 WHIP, and an 11.9 K/9. He has limited the Mets’ batters to a .181/.247/.236 batting line. The Mets are going to need Montero to be lights out in order to keep them in the game.
If he is, Montero will not only help the Mets postseason chances, he will also help himself. He can change what the Mets perception of him will be. He can once again find himself a part of the Mets future instead of being a guy who may very well be on his way out the door.
In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming. Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:
- Amed Rosario
- Wuilmer Becerra
- Gavin Cecchini
- Marcos Molina
- Paul Sewald
- Travis Taijeron
- Paul Paez
- Phillip Evans
- Champ Stuart
- Chase Bradford
There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players. With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions. With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster. With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?
At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen. Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.
The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted. The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t. It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August. Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot. Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.
Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen. Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused. Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust. In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA. Montero would be demoted. It wouldn’t be his last demotion.
After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived. In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career. Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher. Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.
When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett. When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot. The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese. When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation. Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation. With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot. Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.
The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation. They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen. The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever. It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then. It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.
Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot. A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for nothing. A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team. Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors