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

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

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

#MetsCrushMonday: Sam McWilliams

The first thing that jumps out at you when you look at Sam McWilliams is that the right-hander is a big guy, standing tall at 6’7”. The Orlando, Florida native would make his way up to Nashville, Tennessee to play high-school baseball before being drafted by the Phillies in the 8th round of the 2014 draft.

While he’s already played for three organizations during his MiLB career, the Mets signed McWilliams to a Major League deal. This may have come as a surprise to some fans, however when you hear that the right-hander had offers from half of the league, not so much of a surprise.

The first thing that jumps out at you after you have a conversation with Sam McWilliams is “Damn, this dude is smart AF!” In a small interview I had with McWilliams on The Mets Junkies Podcast, he gets into how he improved with the Rays organization due to information and analytics.

McWilliams has started in 94 games throughout his MiLB career and in 2019 in 19 starts, the tall righty pitched to a 4.46 ERA as he owned a 2.83 ERA as a reliever that same campaign. Him being able to start games comes of great value to him and the Mets but I think his bread and butter might end up being him working from the bullpen.

He’ll likely start off in Syracuse as he has three of his options remaining, but I’d imagine that we’ll be seeing a lot of McWilliams in the Majors. He very well could be one of the unsung heroes of 2021, if all work outs accordingly.

Sean Connor Flannery:

In 2019, I had the great pleasure of working with the Montgomery Biscuits the AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays in a data collection role. During that season McWilliams was named to the Southern League All Star game.

McWilliams is nothing flashy but anytime you can poach an arm from the TBR system and player development is usually a good thing. He doesn’t have an “electric” fastball but uses his 6’7/6’8 height to get pretty good extension and it allows the FB to play up. The slider is his best pitch and he’s got a passable change and fringey curve.

I see him being like the 8th SP on the 40 behind guys like Szapucki/Oswalt/Kilome. While he doesn’t have the upside of the first and last guy on that list he’s got the command and full repertoire like Oswalt. He should be solid depth in Syracuse in ‘21.

Photo from ESPN.com

#MetsCrushMonday: J.T. Ginn

This right-hander is only 21 years old and is already ranked as the Mets 6th best prospect, the second best pitching prospect behind Matthew Allan. Ginn was drafted by the Mets in the second round of the MLB June Amateur Draft in 2020.

He was drafted by the Dodgers just two years prior, however the Dodgers refused to meet his asking price and now he’s in the Mets organization.

He was projected to be a first rounder of the 2020 draft, but after an elbow injury that required TJS, he was pushed back to the second round. Ginn could’ve chosen to re-enter the drafter however the Mets offered the righty a $2.9M signing bonus to seal the deal.

Ginn has a fastball that tops out at 97 MPH but will probably sit regularly at somewhere between 93 MPH and 95 MPH. His fastball will definitely be his go-to pitch to start out at-bats, but his nasty slider will be the go-to pitch towards the end of at-bats.

His third pitch is a change-up that has a decent drop to it. While all of his pitches have movement to them, he still manages to find the strike zone. In his final year in college, he walked 21 in 89.1 innings, while only giving up one home run.

He has an ETA of 2023 and that seems right if all goes accordingly. While he could easily be used as a trade chip, it would be wise to hold on to this young arm. Especially considering that he’s slated to make his Major League debut at 23 years old.

Photo from HailState.com