Who to Watch in the Minors? Part One

With the current MLB Lockout still in play, the odds are that the minor league season will start before the MLB season does. So which prospects should fans keep an eye on? Unfortunately the Mets 40 man roster Players aren’t allowed to play in the minors during the season.

The Obvious

The obvious prospects to keep an eye on are the top prospects in the Mets system. The Mets have a total of 4 prospects who have been mentioned in a several of the industry’s Top 100 MLB Prospect lists. Prospects such as Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos. These 4 guys are all coming off of solid years in 2021 and look to continue to develop.

Metsmerized.com

Francisco Alvarez

Alvarez is the main attraction on this loaded list of talent. He belted 24 homeruns with a OPS of .941 between St. Lucie and Brooklyn. The young backstop most likely starts the year in Binghamton, potentially eyeing an MLB debut this year. Alvarez just turned 20 and has some time to develop, however, a lot of fans can’t wait to see more of the young catcher.

Also Read: #MetsCrushMonday: Francisco Alvarez

Brett Baty

Baty is also coming off a strong year as he reached AA in his second professional season. Between Brooklyn and Binghamton, Baty combined to hit .292/.382/.473 with 12 homeruns and a .855 OPS. The young corner infielder is seen more as a doubles hitter that can drive the ball to all fields. After his previous minor league season, Baty went to the Arizona Fall League hitting at a .292/.373/.405. slash line.

I would like to see some more consistent power for Baty to make him a good enough hitter to play third base. He owns solid on base and bat to ball skills, so power should be his main focus with his defense.

Ronny Mauricio

Ronny Mauricio had the worst season of the four, but did show a lot more power. He gained muscle and belted 20 homeruns in 108 games played. Overall, his ability to get on base hurt him the most, collecting just a .296 on base percentage. However, Mauricio has shown more plate power alongside a solid glove at short to make him a valuable asset. He will most likely start the season with Double-A Binghamton, were he ended with his last 8 games in 2021.

Also Read: #MetsCrushMonday: Ronny Mauricio

Mark Vientos

Mark Vientos is a hitter that should be ready to be in a big league lineup. Vientos raked between AA and AAA thriving in hard hit rates and power. In just 83 games, Vientos belted 25 homeruns. His overall slash line was tremendous as he hit .281/.352/.581!! Look at that slugging percentage (wow).

Main issue with Vientos is defense. Vientos had a .898 fielding percentage in 400.1 innings at third. Now I don’t like to judge a player on fielding percentage, but that number is shockingly low.

If the Mets needed a DH, he probably is the main candidate. But right now the Mets have a lot in-house options (JD, Cano, Smith) to make Vientos the Mets DH. He likely needs to learn to play the field to make it to the majors or be a pinch hitter/DH. Look for Vientos to try and work hard on his defense, definitely something as fans who should keep an eye on.

That will conclude part one of our minor league preview. Next up will be our preview with prospects close to the minors that could help the big league squad in 2022.

Photo credit: MLB Pipeline

J.T. Ginn gets Promotion

Last year’s second round pick, pitcher J.T. Ginn has been promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones from the St. Lucie Mets.

This jump is a natural one in progress as the right-hander is going from “Low-A” to “High-A” after pitching to a 2.56 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP while striking out 35 batters in 38.2 innings pitched in the Florida State League.

Source: Tim Healey

Mets Farm News: Pete Crow-Armstrong to Undergo Shoulder Surgery

Mets top OF prospect, and 2020 first round pick, Pete Crow-Armstrong will undergo shoulder surgery on his right shoulder for a GLAD (glenoid labral articular distruption) lesion.

19 year old PCA made an impressive professional debut in A league for St. Lucie, going .417/.563/.500 with 4 RBI 7 BB and 6 K and 6R in 24 AB. It is unclear as to how long he will be out and if he will miss the entire season, but I appears to be at least a couple months before he will see some baseball action again.

Photo by: MLB Pipeline Twitter

2021 MLB Draft: Where Should the Mets Focus?

The MLB draft in 2021 is right around the corner, beginning on July 11. The Mets farm system is definitely not at the place it once was. Sandy Alderson and his regime are going to try to bring it back up to snuff. Alderson always stressed that the Mets have a great farm system, and has now inherited a team with a weak one. The Mets will have a great chance at this, as they have the #10 pick in the draft, allowing them better access to future stars.

That being said, what positions should the Mets focus on when drafting players this year?

Here are the rankings from 8-1 on the positions the Mets should focus on.

8 Relief Pitching

I know, I know. The Mets have an awful relief system. That being said, drafting a reliever in the draft is never a priority. It is important to draft relievers, but they are so difficult to project how they will turn out. Because of that, relief pitching will almost always be last in terms of priority.

7 Shorstop

The Mets are really set at shortstop. Not only is Francisco Lindor locked up for 11 years, but the number two prospect in the Mets system is Ronny Mauricio, a shortstop. The Mets also have Shervyen Newton at shortstop in the farm system, meaning they have two great shorstops in the minors.

6 Third Base

The other position that is really unnecessary to look at is third base. At least in 2021 that is. Three of the Mets top 30 prospects are third baseman, and at the top of that list is Brett Baty. It is unclear how Baty will perform at the Major League level, but they still have two more backups in Mark Vientos and Jaylen Palmer.

5 Outfield

We are getting into the positions that I feel are important to upgrade, but at the bottom of that list is the outfield. The Mets have a solid outfield right now, but the outfield may be completely different in three years. It is unclear whether Conforto will be staying long-term. Dom Smith will probably be playing first base from next year on, hinging on the DH. Brandon Nimmo may not get a long-term extension after next season. The Mets have the prospects in the minors to upgrade. However, will they all live up to the hype? At the top of the list of Mets outfield prospects is Pete Crow-Armstrong. Many feel he will turn into quite the player, so he isn’t in much of debate. Khalil Lee and Alexander Ramirez are the other top prospects in the outfield for the Mets that could potentially be starting in a few years. Under them, there are solid names, but still a need to upgrade.

4 Catcher

Francisco Alvarez is the number one prospect in the Mets organization. His rough Spring Training performance led to many questions from fans. However, he is still likely to be the Mets starting catcher in a few years once James McCann’s contract expires. Many expect Alvarez to be a star in the majors, but what if he doesn’t pan out that way? The Mets don’t have any catching prospects behind Alvarez in the top 30, meaning that they are hinging a lot on his success. I feel it is important to have at least some backup behind him.

3 Second Base

The Mets are really thin at second base. When I say really thin, it means that there is only one player in the top 30 who is listed as second base: Carlos Cortes. Cortes is the #19 prospect in the Mets system. In a farm system that is not full of prospects, being the 19th prospect isn’t a great rating. There is a clear need for a higher-level prospect in the farm system at this position, but is it worth going out and using your #10 pick for?

2 First Base

We all would like to think that Pete Alonso will be in a Mets uniform mashing baseballs for a very long time. Pete’s early career seems to foreshadow a long career in New York. However, you must always have a backup plan of some sort. The Mets do not have one. Alonso was the only top 30 prospect at first base before he got called up, and that has remained. The Mets still do not have a top 30 prospect at that position, leaving a clear hole. If something were to happen to Alonso, an injury or a trade, the Mets have no backup plan at first in the minors. I would not be surprised if the Mets draft a first baseman in the second of third round.

1 Starting Pitcher

You can never have too many starting pitchers. Most of the Mets top 30 prospects consists of pitchers, some starters. Matthew Allen is the Mets top starting pitching prospect, but behind him there isn’t much that stands out. JT Ginn was the Mets second-round pick in 2020, and is also poised to come up in 2023 alongside Allen. However, behind those two, it is hard to pick out anybody that is pegged to be a top 3 starter. Mostly every start in the Mets top 30 is likely to be a four or five starter, meaning that it is important for the Mets to bolster it even more. I personally think the Mets should opt to draft a starting pitcher in their #10 spot.

What do you think? What positions do you think the Mets should focus on?

Photo Credit MetsInsider

Player Profile: The Invited PT I

I don’t think that there’s any doubts at this point with who the Mets plan on going with at third-base, J.D. Davis. However, Davis may only have a temporary clutch on the position, especially with the prospects behind him in the pipeline.

One of those prospects is Mark Vientos, a player going into his fourth professional season and has an invite to this upcoming Spring Training.

Vientos went into the year 2019 cracking into Keith Law’s “Top 100 Prospects” by ranking in at number 60, the third baseman surprised a lot of fans as not many people had him on their radar. Vientos was drafted in the 2017 June Amateur Draft in the second round as a shortstop and third baseman out of American Heritage high school in Plantation, Florida.

In 2017, Vientos spent his age 17 season playing for both the Gulfport Mets as well as the Kingsport Mets. Vientos accumulated 211 at bats in 51 games, batting .262/ .318/ .398/ .715 while hitting 4 home runs and driving 26 in.

Vientos had a better season in 2018 as he hit 11 home runs, driving in 52 runners in 60 games toting 223 at bats. He also had an impressive slash line, batting .268/ .389/ .489/ .878 during his second stint in Kingsport.

His last season in 2019 , Vientos played in 111 games while slashing at .255/.300/.411/.711 with 27 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs, and 62 RBI’s. The third baseman did have a high strikeout total with 110 in 454 plate appearances while playing for the Colombia Fireflies, the Mets Single-A affiliate.

The Pembroke Pines, Florida native is currently ranked eighth on MLB.com’s Top 30 Prospects list within the Mets organization. Vientos produces a tremendously high exit velocity and is even compared to Pete Alonso’s as being amongst best in the organization, now that’s impressive.

I’d personally like to see Vientos start 2021 with Binghamton, however I’d imagine that the third baseman will end up in the Florida State League, the Mets highest Single-A affiliate. Scouts eventually see Vientos as a middle of the order bat that will be good enough to man down the hot corner at third base.

He should move up the ladder quickly, especially with a lost 2020 season and someone by the name of Brett Baty climbing up the steps right behind him. While me probably won’t see him this campaign, MLB.com believes he’ll see some Major League service time in 2022.

Photo from MLB.com

How The Mets Landed Khalil Lee

TC Zencka from MLBtraderumors.com wrote an article describing how the three team trade developed last week that sent Benitendi to the Royals, Cordero to Red Sox, and the Mets newly aquired prospect Khalil Lee.

Apparently the Royals had no idea of the Mets involvement until 90 minutes before the trade was executed. They knew there was another team involved but it was actually the Red Sox (Zack Scott’s former organization) who did all the foot work to send Lee over to the Mets. Scott has been with the Red Sox for over 16 years so they knew just how high Scott was on Lee and so they reached out to him to have the Mets involved.

“We didn’t have direct conversations with Kansas City on that,” he said. “With my connections to Boston, quite frankly, they know that I liked Khalil Lee. They reached out and asked if there would be interest here. We were excited. Our pro scouts here really liked the player. A lot of tools and athleticism. We liked a lot of things about his performance as well.” -Zack Scott (NYPost.com Mets GM Zack Scott says team ‘not done’ with offseason moves)

I thought it was interesting to see how the Mets were involved on landing their now number 7 top prospect. Also this deal reminds me of why it’s important to not burn your bridges, I suspect that despite leaving the Red Sox organization that Scott still maintains a friendly relationship with his former organization. Do we see more Mets-Redsox trades in the future? I think so.

Photo by Milb.com

Carlos Cortes Wins Batting Title in Australia

Mets prospect Carlos Cortes has won the batting title in the Australian Baseball League. The 23 year old Switch Thrower raked over 14 games with the Sydney Blue Sox (.392/.429/.706).

Drafted by the Mets in the third round of 2018, Cortes has played for the Cyclones and St. Lucie Mets in the Mets organization. With Covid, the minor league season was washed and good to see him getting some playing time in Australia. Over his minor league career, Cortes has hit .258/.337/.393 with 15 homeruns and 92 RBI’s over 174 games.

Photo by: Sydney Blue Sox Twitter

Meet the Mets Prospect: OF Khalil Lee

The Tools (20-80 grading scale)

MLB.com: 45 Hit, 50 Power, 55 Run, 60 Arm, 55 Field
Baseball America: 40 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Run, 70 Arm, 55 Field

The Mets surprised everyone last night (February 10, 2020) when they were able to acquire OF Khalil Lee from the Royals organization in a three way traded that also involved the Red Sox. More so, the surprise came with how they acquired him. Khalil Lee slipped into the Mets farm system at # 7. In case you have been living under a rock I will describe the trade that sent Lee over to the Mets.

The Trade

  • Mets receive:
    OF Khalil Lee from the Royals (ranked 8 on Royals farm system).
  • Royals receive:
    OF Andrew Benintendi and cash from the Red Sox.
  • Boston receive:
    OF Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals.

    RHP Josh Winchowski (ranked 26 in Mets farm) and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Who is Khalil Lee?

Lee is listed at 5’10 and 192 lbs. on Baseball America. He was drafted by the Royals in the 3rd round with the 103 overall pick in the 2016 draft as an OF. The two-way player finished his senior year at Flint Hill School Virginia and earned Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year award as a senior after hitting .471 with 6 home runs and pitching 7-0 with a 0.33 ERA. Despite making great strides as a LHP where he is able to touch 94 mph on his fastball with good feel to add some spin, the Royals decided to pick him up because of his bat and how his athleticism and arm would play out in the OF.

In 2016, Lee put up exceptional numbers in the Rookie league. He slashed a .269/.396/.484 in 182 AB where he hit 6 home runs and stole 8 bases. He also generated 33 walks (14.9 BB%) while striking out 57 times (25.7 K%). Most impressive was his .214 ISO for someone who was a two-way player in High School.

In 2017, while playing in A league, Lee took a drop in batting average, but was able to provide power and speed. He also took a major step back as his K% jumped up to a 32.1% (171 K) but was able to maintain a BB% at 12.2% (65 BB). Scouts did not have concerns about the high K rate because they believed he has an advanced knowledge of the zone. His overall slash line was .237/.344/.430 in 532 PA while hitting 17 HR and swiping 20 bags.

In 2018, Lee started the season in A+ league where in 244 AB, he slashed .270/.402/.406. Although he was not providing power as seen before, he was able to decrease that K% down to 24.9%. The Royals promoted him to AA that same year where he slashed .245/.330/.353 in 102 AB. He finish the year hitting only 6 HR and 16 SB.

2019 was the season that Khalil Lee hit the ground running. I mean that literally as he swiped a whopping 53 bags in 546 PA at AA. He finished the year with a .264/.363/.372 with 8 HR.

The Future

There are rumors fluttering around that the Mets picked up Lee to trade him over to the Cubs in a Bryant package. I do not believe that is true, but I do think that the Mets may be up to something that might involve JD Davis being traded to free up LF for Nimmo. The reality is that before adding Lee, the Mets only had 3 OF prospects on their top 30 list and they are all a few years out. Also, I think that the Mets are intrigued by Lee’s power/speed/OBP upside to trade him.

I think that Lee will eventually end up at RF due to his amazing arm. To me it seems like the Mets wanted to create a safely net just in case they are not able to extended Conforto, who is a free agent after the 2021 season. I view Lee as another depth piece move by the Mets with a high upside and depending on who the PTBNL is, it is a total steal! I am very excited to see what Lee can do. I believe that if Sandy and Scott wanted to find a way into this deal to grab Lee, it is because they see the potential. Besides, if Lee does not work out, I do not think the Mets gave up anything to worry about.

Lee has also has the ability to use all the field as evident in his statcast spray chart below.

Baseballsavant.com

Look for Lee to start the season in AA baseball for a few games and move over to AAA at some point to finish the season. I do not anticipate him making an MLB debut next season with the Mets. While he can play all three positions, I think they will focus on him mostly playing CF and some RF. I’ve heard people say that he is projects only to be a future 4th outfielder, but to me his OBP/SB skill set is such a rate combo and he does have the ability to provide some power. Looking at his stats and upside, I am giving him a young Detroit Tigers Curtis Granderson comparison. I think Lee will have the tools to potentially join Granderson in the 20-20-20-20 club (HR-SB-2B-3B).

If your still not sold on Lee, here’s a clip of him going oppo boppo.

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Khalil Lee joins the Organization with a Bang

After the completion of the three-way trade between the Royals, Red Sox, and of course the Mets. Khalil Lee is now the seventh best prospect in the New York Mets Organization.

He’s ranked right behind Pete Crow-Armstrong and J.T. Ginn, and ahead of prospects like Mark Vientos and Thomas Szapucki.

Lee is ranked as the Royals eighth best prospect and has a ton of speed to go along with some pop. The outfielder was actually also scouted as a pitcher, as well. So his outfield arm should be on point. This is a great acquisition, considering all the details haven’t been revealed yet.

Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports