Mickey Jannis hopes strong AFL leads to a 40-man roster spot

The Mets cleared spots on their 40-man roster earlier this offseason by outrighting five players. Four of those became free agents and one, Wuilmer Becerra, remains in the organization but eligible to be picked in the Rule 5 Draft. Of the four who became free agents, one – Phillip Evans – has already re-joined the system.

Chris Walendin, at his invaluable tpgMets site, has the list of all of the team’s minor league guys who need to be added to the 40-man in order to be protected from the aforementioned draft. To my thinking, there are two guys who need to be added or they would be lost and those are infielder Luis Guillorme and starter Corey Oswalt.

Guillorme is the defensive whiz who turned heads this past Spring Training by catching a flying bat with his bare hands without batting an eye. He also put up a .376 OBP as a 22 year old for Double-A Binghamton last season. Oswalt was selected as the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after going 12-5 with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP last season.

Others who deserve consideration for a roster spot include lefty reliever David Roseboom, righty reliever Tyler Bashlor and knuckleballer Mickey Jannis.

That leaves the Mets with three open slots on the 40-man, which could be used to sign a free agent, make an unbalanced trade or make a selection themselves in the Rule 5 proceedings. Of course, the 40-man is a fluid thing. The Mets could fill up their roster and still sign a free agent. They would just need to remove someone from the roster to allow the move. Jamie Callahan, Kevin McGowan, Jacob Rhame and Josh Smoker are among the guys currently on the 40-man who don’t seem to have much chance to wind up in Cooperstown one day without a ticket.

Guys selected in Rule 5 need to stay on the major league roster all year or risk being lost to another organization. That’s why promising guys in the lower levels of the minors, like Matt Blackham and Hansel Moreno, don’t figure to be selected. While teams are not opposed to “stashing” a guy in the majors all season, they at least want the ability to use a guy without being embarrassed. And they want a guy who will contribute in the majors sooner rather than later. There’s too much risk with a lost year of development while not playing in the majors and then having to wait two or three more years after that to finish minor league seasoning.

It’s also why pitchers are more likely to be selected. Managers can typically find low leverage spots to use a Rule 5 reliever and have him contribute to the major league team. Bashlor and Roseboom may not seem obvious choices for the 40-man but Roseboom being a lefty with Triple-A experience and Bashlor having major league velocity may make them worthy of a flier.

Still it’s probably Jannis who is most likely to find his way onto the 40-man with his strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Jannis has allowed just 1 ER in 17 IP and only four walks playing against the top prospects in the minors. This follows up his closing kick in Binghamton, where in his final 29 IP, he allowed just 4 ER (1.24 ERA) and had a 6.0 K/BB rate.

You never know when – or if – things will click for a knuckleball pitcher. R.A. Dickey didn’t pitch a full season in the majors until 2011 at age 36. Some may be turned off by Jannis’ advanced age, as he’ll turn 30 in December. But of all of the organizations in MLB, perhaps none should be as open to the possibility of Jannis flourishing than the Mets, who received a Cy Young Award season from Dickey.

Some feel it’s too convenient to make the Dickey-Jannis comparison and they’re not necessarily wrong. But guys at the end of the 40-man are essentially lottery tickets. If everything breaks right for Rhame, he’s a late-inning reliever. If everything breaks right for Jannis, he’s a starter who can give you 175 innings. Rhame might have a touch more of a shot to reach his ceiling but that doesn’t make up for the fact that Jannis’ ceiling is much, much higher.

Assuming he stays with the Mets, the most likely destination for Jannis at the start of the 2018 season would be Triple-A Las Vegas, where he would be in the rotation with Chris Flexen, Marcos Molina and Oswalt. This past season the Mets ran into trouble because there were few starting pitching options available in the high minors in May when the wheels fell off with all of the injuries. It should be a lot different this time around, especially if Jannis isn’t lost in Rule 5.

28 comments for “Mickey Jannis hopes strong AFL leads to a 40-man roster spot

  1. Studes
    November 5, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Not sure why you’d protect Bashlor but not Uceta or Bautista. Uceta, in particular, seems a likely pick.

    • TexasGusCC
      November 5, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Guillorme is a risky draft pick. Hard to say he’s MLB ready with the short benches teams carry.

  2. Metsense
    November 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

    There are three interesting Met prospects in the AFL. Luis Guillorme, who already had a major league glove when I saw him in Savannah in 2015, has honed his on base skills so that he can become a viable major league back up. Mickey Jannis with his continued command and success with the knuckball and his catcher Thomas Nido who is a strong defensive catcher that shows “just enough” offensive skills. Guillorme and Nido could see some big league time if a starter were to be injured in 2018. Jannis, if he fairs well in AAA, may even get a spot start during the year. All three have a shot at the show in 2018.

  3. John Fox
    November 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I don’t think the Mets are ready to give up on Rhame with his high velocity fastball and the fact they traded Curtis Granderson for him.

    • November 6, 2017 at 7:57 am

      No, the Mets won’t give up on him for the reasons that you stated. And in case it wasn’t clear, I’m not advocating for them to give up on him, either. I’d certainly cut ties with Josh Smoker first.

      The reason I used Rhame in the article was that he’s a guy that everyone – from the Mets down to the fans – would see as a type of “no-brainer” for the 40-man. In making a case for a guy to be included, it seems more influential to compare him to a guy that everyone believes in rather than a guy that few to none believe in.

      • TexasGusCC
        November 6, 2017 at 9:52 am

        I know that I usually stand in the vast minority in my support for some players, but Smoker had a 2.63 ERA in 27 innings with 27 hits and only 3 homeruns after coming back up from AAA on July 22nd. He struck out 32 but still walked 15. He had a couple of rough ones in early August, but after that in 19 innings, 14 hits, 9 walks and 25 strikeouts, and just one homerun to go with a 0.96 ERA. He’s a strong armed lefty that may be coming around. Why just let him loose?

        • November 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

          The time period you cite is significantly better than what Smoker’s done previously in the majors.

          He also had a .780 OPS allowed, a 1.54 WHIP and a 4.26 xFIP. When a player’s best stretch hovers around league average (or worse) – my reaction isn’t to do cartwheels.

          And then we have to consider that he was mostly working in low leverage situations.

          • TexasGusCC
            November 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm

            Think about it:
            You’re cutting a MLB average pitcher, who’s a power lefty, for a fringe prospect on the 27th ranked minor league system.

            It is hoped that all this is mooted by Alderson cleaning up the roster of the team, but…

            • November 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm

              No, no and furthermore no. There is no way you can extrapolate what Smoker did at the end of last year into an MLB average pitcher. You just can’t.

              • TJ
                November 7, 2017 at 9:47 pm

                I agree that projections can’t be done on taking a real short sample of recent success. However, in Smoker’s case, I’d like to keep him if there is room. As a fan, it is maddening to see a lefty throwing 97/98 that can;t find success, but it just goes to show how tough it is to stick in the bigs. Anyhow, my understanding is that he was starting to use a splitter with some regularity and success. A guy with his arm that can develop a reliable 2nd pitch so he can show the fastball just to keep hitters honest can very quickly become tough to hit. Low cost and with options, squeezing him onto the 40 would be me preference barring significant imports that leave no room.

                • November 8, 2017 at 8:14 am

                  Brooks Baseball shows him using his splitter fewer times as the season progressed.

                  It may be maddening to see the tools without success. It’s more maddening to see the team repeat the mistake they made with Robert Carson – continue to give the ball to a guy just because he’s a lefty who throws hard.

        • Name
          November 7, 2017 at 1:29 am

          Oh dear god Gus i hope you’re just trying to play devil’s advocate. Anyone not enraged about Smoker being on the roster hasn’t watched the games or is just plain ignorant.

          In September, his specialty was coming in with men on base, clearing them, but doing enough to strand his own mess and thus producing the illusion of a pristine ERA. He inherited 18 runners and 8 of them came around to score.

          He sucks, even more than Scott Rice. Send him back to the independent leagues.

          • TexasGusCC
            November 7, 2017 at 8:43 am

            Name, I hadn’t looked into him that much, just his mainstream numbers and wanted to give it a little more rope since there were plenty of average arms like Bradford and McGowen available to outright, plus Super Matt, but ok, I agree.

  4. TJ
    November 5, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    I am on board for one knuckle-baller lottery ticket. Especially with a rotation of hard throwers. Jannis’s strong recent numbers are a very small sample, bur why not be patient?

    • Jimmy P
      November 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Yes to this. I see him as AAA depth for this season, possibly getting a start at some point in 2018.

      It’s not like there’s a lot of competition in the system.

      Maybe we get lucky.

  5. David Groveman
    November 6, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I get protecting Guillorme but the Mets have other guys who can do the same thing and I don’t know that they need to.

    • November 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Carpio may never hit enough to get past Double-A and Gimenez may end up at 3B. Not sure who else I would project as a plus middle infield defender who could post a solid OBP.

  6. Jimmy P
    November 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I see a lot of hair-pulling over the 40-man roster. A lot of it is unnecessary is stems from misunderstanding.

    Phillip Evans is a good case in point. The Mets “failed” to protect him — and removed him from their 40-man — but it’s very likely he’ll work out a deal and remain with the club. Given the Mets infield situation, he has a shot at getting another opportunity. Moreover, he’s not the kind of talent that someone is going to grab via Rule 5, making a commitment to keeping him on the 25-man roster all season long.

    I think Smoker could get picked up by somebody. As a hard-throwing lefty with a durable arm in a very weak system, I’d hold on to him. But honestly, the Mets simply don’t have a problem with their 40-man roster. There’s plenty of room for even moderately sub-boderline guys like Smoker.

    I’d keep Guillorme on 40 man, too. If we believe that upgrading infield defense is important, this guy is ready to do that right this minute. One of the few gloves in our system. And the bat seems to be hanging in there (by a thread). I don’t believe that another organization would take him. But, again, it’s not like the Mets have a crowded situation with talented, young prospects.

    I’ll never understand Matt Reynolds. There’s got to be 2-3 guys like him in every system.

    • TexasGusCC
      November 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Jimmy, there are. But, the Mets only have one, so they can’t let him go. LOL!

  7. Eraff
    November 6, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Reynolds can play around the Infield at all positions…allows you to leave a Prospect in development (Rosario in 2017 for instance).

    I believe the Shift, K’s, Walks, HR’s have diminished the importance of Great defensive skill; however, it’s very hard to Hide Butchers Like Wilmer. If Guillorme is Omar Vizquel, I can live with 600 weak ab’s…otherwise, a Bench Guy needs to be a Bat—especially in the day of the 37 man bullpen and the short bench.

    • TexasGusCC
      November 6, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Eraff, good point except that it wasn’t Reynolds they used. He had only 130 plate appear new. Too, while they “wanted to get a long look at Reynolds” this September, he got 45 plate appearances. In fact he had 67 plate appearances in August and September – when Rosario was already promoted.

      • Jimmy P
        November 7, 2017 at 9:32 am

        Reynolds has never, ever played well.

        The idea that a guy needs a long look in the majors is crazy. He’s been in the system for years and years. They ought to know who they’ve got.

        Which is: a good guy, glad to play a role, relatively competent whenever he gets out there, a placeholder. Can’t really field or hit.

        • November 7, 2017 at 1:01 pm

          My thought was that there was no reason to keep both Evans and Reynolds on the 40-man and the Mets didn’t – they outrighted Evans. I’m okay with Reynolds being on the 40-man and even the 25-man as the last guy. He’s no threat to win a Gold Glove but I think Reynolds is an okay-to-good defensive player at 2B/3B and can fill in at a pinch at either SS or an OF corner.

          • Jimmy P
            November 7, 2017 at 7:09 pm

            Fair enough.

      • Chris F
        November 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm

        Reynolds is done. trade or let go. Eraff, did you see the defense in the WS? Id say it was absolutely crucial. Shifts are fine, but you still need to catch and throw. Butchers like Flores cant be hid as you mention.

        I keep reading what a difficult position the Mets are in with the 40 man. Good grief. This team stunk. I would never bring in Reyes, I would never brought back Cabrera. Neither are regular players at any position, and with them getting a lot of ABs we were terrible. Time to shed the crap and get people who can play this game in. Shuffling the low talent people we have will never translate to being serious in post season.

        1B: Smith, really, he’s our guy?
        2B: not a single every day MLB player in the system (solution: Sogard)
        SS: growing pains at short, but Rosario needs 600 ABs
        3B: the black hole (solution: Nunez? Frazier?)
        C: Two replacement level catchers dont make 1 every day guy.
        CF: round and round we go…not a single every day CF on the team
        SP: the idea Jake and NS are enough to win in Oct is silly.

        The ship is leaking and there is very little in house talent to help.

        On MLB Radio “Front Office” show, the word was clear from inside sources, the Mets payroll is definitely heading south. No reason to expect Cain, Hosmer, Moustakas, Bruce, Arrieta, etc…

  8. Eraff
    November 7, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    This roster isn’t being radically changed…a Starter with some innings…some bullpen pieces…maybe a 3rd or 2nd baseman. Pray for Pitcher Health til July, and maybe they’ll add pieces if they’re in it.

    Otherwise…sell deGrom….etc..etc…… Thor, Conforto, Rosario are untouchable…and re-stock.

    • Jimmy P
      November 8, 2017 at 8:51 am

      If true, if accurate, then Sandy’s tenure goes from being a dream of “sustained success” — that’s what he’s been selling — to a “lost decade.”

      The farm in a shambles when, over 7-plus years, he’s really only traded away one high-quality prospect and kept all his picks except for the Cuddyer move.

      Granted: Ownership is a significant handicap.

  9. Eraff
    November 8, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Given resources, a rebuild doesn’t need to be so full of despair—- look at what the Yanks did.

    Trading High Value parts for near Major League “upsiders” can be a quick turnaround…. they then would have a young and cheap core of ED Players with some emerging guys….and the few untouchables that they’d retain–Conforto, Rosario, Thor.

    Otherwise, they can only pray for the assumption that Thor and DG are coming back strong, and that 2 0f Harvey-Wheeler-Matz-Lugo-Montero-Gazelle will emerge as 3/4/5 cogs….along with an addition of another SP Piece (1 year of CC?????).

    If that pitching recovery happens, they’re a “flawed team” with a Strength in Pitching….a continuation of their model.

    Even with That…. the infield is Ifs and Buts/Candies and Nuts…everyday day would be Christmas “foolish Hope”—- so…I’d break it down Now.

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