The full-season leagues have reached the halfway point in their seasons, the typical point at which clubs deliver a mid-year promotion. The Mets bumped up at least 13 players, which seems like a high number but that’s nothing more than a guess. It could easily be that they promoted 20 guys this time last year.
Regardless, of the 13, seven were hitters and six were pitchers. Let’s focus on the hitters and take a look at their OPS at the time of their advancement:
It’s hard to argue with the promotion of Nimmo, who was leading the Florida State League in OBP and was fifth in AVG. Similarly, Reynolds led the Eastern League in AVG and was third in OBP. And while Herrera’s OPS might not look great, he was 10th in the FSL in AVG and second in Total Bases. By month, Herrera went from a .719 OPS in April to a .790 mark in May to an .810 OPS in June at the time of his move to Binghamton.
Rivera and Mazzilli were prospects who were old for their level, so a promotion certainly makes sense for those two, as it can be justified as an attempt to get them to a more-appropriate league.
Which brings us to McNeil and Cecchini.
McNeil had the second-best OPS of the group, so you can make a case for his promotion based on production alone. Then throw in that he was a 2013 collegiate draft pick and you can justify it on getting to an age-appropriate level, even though he’s a year younger than Mazzilli.
First off, anyone who was not happy with his production at Savannah probably can’t be pleased. Yet, there’s a gulf between being happy and deserving a promotion. Cecchini had a very nice hot streak, where in 12 games starting in late April, he put up a .413/.451/.674 line in 51 PA. But since that point, he recorded a .230/.313/.370 line over his final 116 PA leading up to his promotion.
So, his overall numbers were the worst of the group and he was not hitting particularly well for the last 30+ days. What about this screams for a promotion? Could it be nothing more than an attempt to get positive PR for a draft pick who has not received tons of accolades since being overdrafted back in 2012?
In three games at St. Lucie, Cecchini is 2-for-10 and has a higher AVG than OBP (.182).
It should be pointed out that St. Lucie did lose the two guys who spent the most time at short, with Phillip Evans landing on the DL with a right knee strain and Herrera, who saw 19 games at short, getting the call to Double-A.
If the move is simply a temporary one to fill in for Evans, that’s one thing. But do you really expect Cecchini to go back to the SALLY once Evans gets back from the DL?
The Omar Minaya-era Mets received tons of criticism for being overly aggressive with their minor league assignments. Under VP for Player Development Tony Bernazard, the philosophy was to promote players to the point of failure. The club did a 180 degree turn under Sandy Alderson, being almost too passive with their league assignments.
We saw a change at the beginning of the year, with 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith being (properly) assigned to a full-season league, rather than spending a second year in short-season ball like previous Alderson first-round picks Nimmo and Cecchini. Now we’re seeing numerous mid-season promotions that seemingly need to be explained, rather than being universally accepted by a glimpse at the stat sheet.
Assignments and promotions are at least as much art as science. Perhaps Cecchini is the one most ready for advancement and Nimmo is least ready. You wouldn’t want to wager on that but it would be foolish not to acknowledge the possibility. Still, if the Cecchini promotion is based mostly on merit, it would be nice for the powers that be to elaborate on what they see.
Because if Evans comes back and Cecchini is still flirting with the Mendoza Line, he needs to be sent back down. Just like you can earn a promotion, you can earn a demotion, too. If indeed things play out that way, and the Mets send Cecchini back to the SALLY, they’ll earn something too – credibility. Because right now this promotion fails the smell test.
If the player in question was 20th-round pick Joe Shlabotnik, my opinion is that Shlabotnik would still be in Savannah and St. Lucie would look to mix and match options to cover short while Evans was out. But since it was a first-round pick, he gets a promotion where others wouldn’t. In a way, this is the star system for the minor leagues, except the only way to be a star is to be a top draft pick.
Of course, Cecchini could render this moot by performing well in Hi-A. That’s the ideal outcome.