Could Matt Reynolds play his way onto the Mets?

Binghampton Mets Erie Seawolves BaseballMost of the focal point of the Mets offseason was the pressing need to upgrade the shortstop position, with Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada appearing to be the only two viable options.

Through the first five games of the spring training schedule, it seems there might be a third player in the mix for the Opening Day shortstop spot – Matt Reynolds.

Reynolds was the Mets’ second-round pick in the 2012 Amateur Draft out of the University of Arkansas, selected with the pick acquired from the then-Florida Marlins when they signed Type-A free agent Jose Reyes.  Many considered Reynolds at 72nd overall a slight reach, and he signed for nearly $200,000 below slot value.

In their post-draft scouting report of Reynolds, Amazin’ Avenue had this to say: “Reynolds is another pick with more limited upside but also a high probability of reaching the majors as a utility man, if nothing else.”

He played third base mostly for the Razorbacks, but there was talk even when he was originally selected that the long-term plan for him was to move him up the middle.  He had the glove to make the change, and was originally a shortstop his freshman year with Arkansas.

After a 42-game stint with the Savannah Sand Gnats after being drafted in 2012 in which he hit .259/.333/.367, Reynolds had his first full professional season with the St. Lucie Mets in 2013.  He had a disappointing year with the bat managing just a .226/.302/.337 line as a 22 year old.

Promoted to Double-A Binghamton for the 2014 season, Reynolds broke out with the bat in a huge way.  In 58 games with the B-Mets, Reynolds tore up the Eastern League to the tune of a .355/.430/.422 line.  That performance earned him a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas where in 68 games Reynolds continued his great season, batting .333/.385/.479.

Prospect watchers took note of Reynolds’ performance, but it was not without some trepidation.  Likely this had to do with the underwhelming overall performance and the BABIP of over .400 in 2014.

Some of it has to do with questions of whether he can stick at shortstop.  The glove and arm are, by all accounts, good enough for him to stick at the position, but his lack of speed and therefore range inhibit his impact.

Considering that neither Flores nor Tejada are all that impressive with their defensive skills, Reynolds has the edge with the glove, and it’s not particularly close.

The bat, is where things get a little more muddy.  Take a look at the ZiPS projections for the three, offensively.

Matt Reynolds .232 .286 .320 .272
Ruben Tejada .249 .317 .320 .286
Wilmer Flores .266 .300 .428 .317

They’re all relatively close, but the edge goes to Flores.  That being said, Reynolds is the one that is the hardest to project with his lack of any kind of MLB experience.  His glove is good enough to completely cover the gap between himself and Flores.

Through four spring training games this year, Reynolds is hitting .444/.500/.778, including a walk-off home run and some nifty defensive work.  Because of his stellar (albeit in a small sample size) performance, Reynolds has inserted himself in the early conversation for snagging a roster spot out of spring.

If he continues to hit well, he may very well be the change at shortstop the team has been looking for.

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs of the Coastal Plain League.

16 comments for “Could Matt Reynolds play his way onto the Mets?

  1. Eraff
    March 9, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Not in Spring Training…. but he can show and provide notice and put the guys ahead on a short leash.

    A continued sustained performance at a a a will cement his prospects forward

  2. March 9, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Barring injury, I think it’s unlikely Reynolds could play himself onto the Opening Day roster. I’d go so far as to say that I think the entire OD roster is pretty close to a finished product at this point (as it was heading into Spring Training). The last spot on the bench and the last spot in the pen are probably not 100% settled, though I see Campbell and Gilmartin as clear frontrunners at this point. Anyway, I do think we’ll see Reynolds up at some point this year. Worth noting, when the time does come to call him up, Reynolds will first need to be added to the 40-man roster (whether that’s in September or sooner).

  3. Peter Hyatt
    March 9, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I wonder if Matt Reynolds is providing inspiration to Wilmer Flores? Flores was noticed in the NY papers today, even as Reynolds was recently noted.
    It is yet another good problem to have.

    My concern remains with our GM’s position on the outfield and the money owed to Granderson, should he fail to produce while a strong bat is on the bench. At least with Flores-Reynolds, there is not financial commitment one to the other and the winner will be chosen by play.

  4. TexasGusCC
    March 9, 2015 at 9:48 am

    If Reynolds will be a backup, let him stay in Vegas and play everyday. Give him an opportunity to develop a bit more while having Tejada serve as the backup, for now. Once Reynolds has topped out at AAA, then it can be re-evaluated.

    Off the topic, but Tejada seems to have acquired a reputation as a good OBP player. If this guy was able to do a bit better than low .200s he may actually be a decent backup, and no more than a backup because I fail to see the glove everyone talks about.

    • March 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      My impression was that Tejada took a step forward defensively last year.

      Statistically, he had a +3 DRS, compared to a (-6) mark in 2013 in half the innings. UZR has similar numbers.

  5. Eraff
    March 9, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Gus…Tejada is a “capable” middle infielder”— not a sizzling gloveman, but a professional fielder

  6. Cheese Sandwich
    March 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    No way Reynolds makes the team out of ST. He’s had success in a very small sample size and he’s not on the 40-man roster. I will start the year in Las Vegas and that’s the right spot for him. I get the frustration with Tejada, but he is a very capable fielder. No power, no speed, and no flashy glove work means limited upside, but no reason to discard a perfectly decent backup middle infielder to rush the development of a guy who has a bit more pop but otherwise similar skills.

    • Joe Vasile
      March 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      It’s highly unlikely, but given the lack a significantly better option, if he flourishes and the other two falter, the 40-man decision is probably not going to be that big of a factor.

  7. Chris F
    March 9, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I keep wondering if Zack Wheeler can play his way off the team. Should have traded him while his reputation far exceeded his skills. And Edgin bombed too.

    • Joe Vasile
      March 9, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Zack Wheeler? The not-yet-25-year-old righty flamethrower with 285 innings in the MLB under his belt who keeps getting better? If he gets traded it’s not going to be for any reason of him being a bust. It’s going to be in a deal that lands the Mets Troy Tulowitzki or a like-player.

      • Chris F
        March 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm

        Sorry Joe, his a mid to back end of rotation guy, that will have endless control problems. If we could get Tulo for him it would be a miracle. Like I said, while his rep far exceeds the ability….47 pitches…5 outs…

        ok its the first day. But thats horrific and an all to familiar refrain. At least he only hit 2 people!

        • TexasGusCC
          March 9, 2015 at 6:17 pm

          Spring training is for working on things; don’t take it the wrong way. I remember every spring Randy Johnson was washed up, then came April…

          I hope they do not get Tulo, and I like Tulo. I have said this before: I see Tulo as a current version of Nomar Garciaparra and so I feel that now as he gets older, his injuries will be more often and his production will continuously decrease until he is forced to retire at 36.

  8. James Newman
    March 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I’m liking what I see from Reynolds so far. He says and does the right thing, but I think it would be more beneficial for the Mets to declare Wilmer Flores as their shortstop. Some competition leads to good results, but if it’s too much, it’s just destructive.

    I think Reynolds will start the year in AAA, and if Flores really struggles, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Tejada starting at short with Reynolds backing him up. His short swing and .330+ average last year would make me believe he would have better projections, but I guess the generators disagree.

    • Cheese Sandwich
      March 9, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      Hi James, It’s just about impossible to make a projection based on the small sample size of a .330 BA in LV with an absolutely unsustainable BABIP near .400. We all hope his big year was more than a desert mirage, but right now it’s just wishful thinking. Gosh, by the way, I wish the Mets would get the heck out of Vegas.

  9. Metsense
    March 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Matt Reynolds is having a good spring training and I hope he sustains the production and glove in Las Vegas. Right now he is third on the depth chart. It is too early to scrap the Flores experiment and Tejada is signed for back up. Terry Collins said Saturday, after Flores made two nice plays in the field, “We’ve got to find out if he can play shortstop.” (Cerrone,Metsblog). It doesn’t sound like TC is enamored with Flores. It is not that Flores shouldn’t get a chance, it is that a “supposed” playoff roster should not make this gamble. Reynolds will get a chance this summer if Flores or Tejada are injured.

  10. March 10, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    If Reynolds cracks the majors as a utility infielder, I’ll be ecstatic. Sure he may have the glove and arm, but poor range is awful for a player that’s expected to be the best athlete in the infield. And if he doesn’t have terrific defense as a shortstop, he sure as hell better have a great offensive game (here’s a hint – he doesn’t). Everyone seems to forget his terrific Triple-A numbers are happening in Las Vegas, where even Mario Mendoza could be an offensive juggernaut.

    I see his ceiling as a backup 2B, SS, 3B with 250 PA .250/.295/.350 and a dozen steals.

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