Mets Minors: Phillip Evans finishes the year strong

In the last season before the current MLB Draft rules were in place, the Mets spent $650,000 on 15th-round pick Phillip Evans. At the time, Baseball America reported it to be the largest amount given by the Mets to a player picked after the first two rounds. The Mets had been criticized for not spending money in the draft, so this was big news at the time.

However, Evans did little to distinguish himself his first five years in the organization. He didn’t play much in his draft season but in the next four years, he saw consistent playing time and never topped a .665 OPS. Then in 2016 he put up a .335/.374/.485 line in Double-A Binghamton to jump-start his career. He saw time in major league camp this past Spring Training and showed a solid glove while hitting a respectable .262 in 42 PA.

Sent to Las Vegas, Evans was unable to build on his momentum. In his first 74 games, Evans managed just a .623 OPS despite the favorable hitting conditions. But then he kicked things into high gear. In his last 217 PA, Evans posted a .338/.396/.540 line, the type of hitting you want to see in the PCL from your top prospects.

Evans is not on the 40-man roster and the Mets have a very similar player in Matt Reynolds already in place. Like Evans, Reynolds also had a breakout in Double-A before struggling to repeat in Triple-A. Reynolds has ridden the shuttle between the majors and minors the past two years, not really doing anything to make someone go, wow. It may end up a battle between these two guys for a spot on the 40-man prior to the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. Evans’ strong finish gives him a puncher’s chance.

Triple-A Las Vegas

The Mets of recent years always seem to have a bunch of middle infielders who are old for their level but hit enough to keep them on everyone’s radar. Jeff McNeil was one of those guys but his stock took a tumble after he missed most of 2016 with a hernia. Most of this year has been forgettable but in his last 13 games, he’s batting .320 so perhaps he’s still got an outside chance… Much was made of all of the relievers the Mets picked up in their trades. But one move that flew under the radar was signing former Major Leaguer Neil Wagner in mid-August after he was released by the Rays. Wagner has a mid-90s fastball and he has not allowed a run in 10.1 IP with the 51’s. He’s also struck out 11 batters in this time frame.

Double-A Binghamton

Corey Oswalt was selected as the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. He finished the year 12-5 with a 2.28 ERA… Marcos Molina finished the year strong, with six Quality Starts in his final seven games. He had a 2.80 ERA with a 3.6 K/BB ratio in this span… Peter Alonso has played 10 games since his promotion and has hit right away at the higher level, as seven of his 14 hits went for extra-bases, helping him to a .991 OPS… David Thompson is riding a 7-game hitting streak and in his last 35 games he has a .942 OPS. His overall numbers don’t jump out but he’s been hitting well for most of the year after getting off to a terrible start.

Hi-A St. Lucie

While many of his teammates have gotten a promotion, Wuilmer Becerra is still plugging away in the Florida State League. But he’s not letting it get him down, as he’s batting .342 in his last 20 games. He’s still not showing the power we’d like to see, though. And since Alonso was promoted, he’s seen a lot of time at 1B in addition to his normal RF spot… Andrew Church won his final four starts of the season. In that 28-IP span, he had a 2.25 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP. It wasn’t a great season for Church, but he finishes on an up note.

Lo-A Columbia

Andres Gimenez collided with a teammate and was removed from the game on August 29. While he walked off under his own power, he has not been back in the lineup since… Matt Blackham earned the SAL-BC Relief Pitcher of the Month Honor for August. He did not allow a run in 10.2 innings and notched six saves. Blackham also won the award in July, and he didn’t allow an earned run then, either. In his last 26.2 innings, he has 4 BB and 39 Ks to go along with his 0.00 ERA. It’s been a tremendous bounceback season for Blackham, who missed all of 2016 with a fracture of the olecranon in his right elbow. He’s old for the level at age 24 but had the exact season he needed to remain in the organizations’ plan.

Short-Season Leagues

Second-round pick Mark Vientos got a promotion from the GCL to the APPY and hit .294 in his cup of coffee at the higher level. In his last 27 games, Vientos had a .305/.339/.467 line in 115 PA. Primarily a shortstop, he also saw time at third base as the Mets are emphasizing versatility in their young middle infielders… Walter Rasquin and Wagner Lagrange, everyone’s favorite cabinet members from the Kennedy Administration, finished the year on a strong note. Rasquin had an .898 OPS over his final 15 games and finished the year hitting exactly .300 while Lagrange had a .357/.429/.500 line in his final 63 PA. Rasquin’s a 2B while Lagrange is a corner outfielder.

*****

Austin McGeorge belongs in the cabinet, too, and he might be the best of the bunch. The 22-year-old McGeorge, a year older than Rasquin and Lagrange, amassed 66 Ks in 50.2 IP while splitting time between Columbia and St. Lucie. He had a 1.89 ERA and a 0.974 WHIP with 50 Ks in 38.2 IP at Hi-A.

16 comments for “Mets Minors: Phillip Evans finishes the year strong

  1. Chris F
    September 4, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Im glad to see Evans perform and get some love. I think it is worth noting Evans is a genuine third baseman with a cannon for an arm. While he might add up to a spare part, what makes him shine is the genuine capacity to play a position that has been a 3 year black hole. This is especially more true in my opinion for 2 reasons: 1. Wright is getting rotator cuff surgery tomorrow, and in all likelihood is done for 2018, and probably just done. I take no pleasure in saying that. In a moment of great serendipity and genuine excitement as a fan, I happened to be outside the press conference where he announced his contract extension (Winter Meetings in Nashville) with Sandy and he graciously chatted with me for a second and autographed a ball for me. 2. We have a preposterous glut of replacement level middle infielders, which cannot be sustained. It would be nice to see Evans be one of those faces on the bench with options.

  2. Jimmy P
    September 4, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Off-Topic: Here’s the article I’d like to see Brian Joura write: “Is a Walk as Good as a Hit?”

    I think Brandon Nimmo might go down as the ultimate test case for that question.

    Last week, according to a trusted source, Nimmo had a .444 OBP but only a 100 wRC because he hit .214 with no EXH.

    Amazing!

    Also amazing: TC bats him 6th today.

    Also amazing: The Matt Harvey news. But when Matt asks for the ball, TC always says yes. And it always works out! Right?

    • September 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      2015 Linear Weights (Relative To Outs)
      Event Run Value
      BB 0.55
      HBP 0.57
      1B 0.70
      2B 1.00
      3B 1.27
      HR 1.65

      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/linear-weights/

      • Jimmy P
        September 4, 2017 at 9:30 pm

        Thanks.

        Nimmo will be an interesting player to watch. I guess if he can manage a plus-plus OBP then he’ll have real value.

        If he follows the current profile, clearly needs to bat at the top of the order.

  3. DED
    September 4, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I am somewhat surprised at the lack of love shown to one Jhoan Urena. The fellow has had a good, fairly consistent season. True, he was repeating Hi-A ball this year, but then his last season was his return season from serious injury, which leads me to discount that detail.

    So he isn’t the most athletic looking figure on the field, though he did somehow steal 17 bases in 20 tries this year. And, he’s not the greatest of fielders apparently.

    The thing I find interesting about him is that he is a switch hitter, and his batting lines against left and right handed pitchers are almost identical. He certainly sounds like a guy without a glaring weakness to overcome, which at least suggests that he could deliver some additional growth.

    No doubt he will get some attention in the next prospect rankings. But so far, not so much noise about him.

    • September 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      I’m not excited about him because it’s his third year in St. Lucie.

      He had a nice season – especially that 11.5 BB% – but he seems too much of a tweener to me. Doesn’t hit for enough average and doesn’t hit for enough power. He had a .351 BABIP, so it’s not like you can say that it’s just that the hits weren’t falling in. And the .155 ISO paled compared to the .231 mark that Alonso put up in the same league.

      Maybe he’ll get the Binghamton bump next year.

  4. Eraff
    September 4, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Urena is a Favorite of Mine…based only on video of him. He has a great swing from both sides. He stalled at a point where Major Talent/Major Intention Guys Surge—- that makes you question his intentions—work habits, etc. The skills don’t lie—the delayed development also doesn’t lie.

    Off Topic to Jimmie and Brian—doesn’t the measure of hit versus walk depend on the situation?

    • Jimmy P
      September 4, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      Well, obviously. But the numbers — if we get a large enough sample — will tell us how he responds in those situations.

      In other words, a .400 OBP sounds fantastic. But if it goes with a .325 SLG for a corner OF, is it good enough?

      I guess it depends on the other pieces in the lineup.

      • September 4, 2017 at 9:50 pm

        I would gladly take those numbers.

        But I don’t believe those numbers are possible, for the reasons you’ve expressed elsewhere. Since 2010, there’s only been 51 times that a qualified player has amassed a .400 OBP. The lowest SLG mark in those 51 seasons is the .446 mark that Joe Mauer registered in 2012.

        The highest OBP for a guy with a SLG mark under .400 is the .375 mark of Dexter Fowler in 2014 when he had a .399 SLG.

        The highest OBP for a guy with a SLG mark under .350 is the .359 mark of Jamey Carroll in 2011 when he had a .347 SLG.

        • Jimmy P
          September 5, 2017 at 8:37 am

          He’s going to have to hit some, which seems within his capability.

          Such an interesting player.

          I would not say that I’m hopeful.

          He must hit at the top of the order. That TC gives preference to Reyes and Aoki once again shows his cluelessness, unless there’s some internal design that wants to push Nimmo into swinging more? That seems unlikely. I guess it’s just misguided, sigh, again.

          • Metsense
            September 5, 2017 at 8:58 am

            Right now an average National League center fielder or right fielder has an OPS around 784. Nimmo is at 755, around 30 points below average, even with an elite 407 OBP. He has to hit to to get his slugging percentage up to become a viable starter. Of course during September he should be leading off.

        • DED
          September 5, 2017 at 12:52 pm

          Jason Tyner would have filled that bill. If he had been any good, that is.

          When the Mets signed him, or soon thereafter, I found myself looking up the records of Roy Thomas, Phillie centerfielder during the Deadball Era. I just looked him up again: a lifetime OBP of .413; lifetime slugging, .333. That I was able to remain a Mets fan despite the Tyner signing is a reason for optimism everywhere; literally anything can happen.

          Disagree with you about Urena, obviously. Counting a year at St Luce when he broke hamate bones in both wrists….strikes me as a bit dogmatic. In fact I don’t count his following season, except as a recovery year. And, based on this season I do believe he will have enough power to warrant a place in someone’s lineup, which would have to be 20+ home runs these days.

          • September 5, 2017 at 1:22 pm

            FWIW – Tyner’s lifetime SLG (.323) was higher than his lifetime OBP (.314)

  5. NormE
    September 4, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I haven’t seen him play, but another reason to take note of Vientos is that he will not turn 18 until December.

    • Jimmy P
      September 5, 2017 at 8:37 am

      He does seem like a player to watch.

  6. TexasGusCC
    September 5, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Besides messing up evaluations of pitchers, Las Vegas also tapers our excitement in our hitters. Evans and McNeil are examples of two players that show nice numbers in this offensive league. My skepticism of Evans derives from a totally terrible first half this year, after being such a breakout last year, albeit with an unsustainably high BABIP. How in the world can you suck for an entire half then rebound to awesome?

    Also a third baseman, McNeil has hit his entire life but seems to have taken a while to get back into the groove after missing much time after a major surgery. Not sure which one of these guys I prefer, but Chris is right in that we have many of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: