Every offseason I try to predict where the minor league assignments will shake out for the Mets in their next season. It’s a useful way of predicting paths for these prospects and predicting how long some of these players may have before they reach the majors.
Now, I keep a list from the MLB to the NYP but nobody needs to see my version of the 25 man roster and the Brooklyn Cyclones will be dependent on multiple players who have yet to be drafted. That leaves the Mets AAA, AA, Advanced A and Full Season A squads to analyze and, with some help from Brian Joura, I think I’ve tightened these lists up well.
Dominic Smith must prove himself again – With the Mets acquiring a veteran slugger for first base, it is unlikely that Smith has much of a chance to make the major league squad without injury. It is possible that he forces Mickey Callaway’s hand by being the better player throughout the Spring but it’s unlikely that there is enough time to prove that Smith is 100% ready to beat out Adrian Gonzalez by April. This means that Smith returns to AAA where he had great success in 2017. It’s only a matter of time before he’s back in Queens.
Depth of Starting Pitching is key – Gsellman, Flexen, Conlon, Oswalt, Jannis and even Knapp mean that the Mets final year in Las Vegas will be a pitching anomaly. The PCL, a hitter’s paradise, will have to contend with one of the deepest rotations of minor league talent that we’ve seen the Mets put together. It is possible that one of the names above begins the year in the majors but the amount of depth means that the AAA squad will still be elite.
2017 Trade Acquisitions Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan – With Chasen Bradford and Josh Smoker gone the Mets have no excuse but to showcase some of the relief pitching talent they acquired in their lackluster 2017 sell-off. Rhame, is the best of the lot with a plus fastball that should translate to the majors fairly quickly but it remains to be seen if anyone from that group of relievers will have an impact in Queens.
Peter Alonso a victim of Adrian Gonzalez – While we are complaining about the Mets signing Gonzalez we should note that AGon also pushes back the timetable for Alonso. The shame of this is that we have a player who has already proven to be more than capable of hitting in AA waiting behind a player who has already proven to be capable of hitting in AAA. Would it not have been wiser to have Smith in the majors and evaluate Alonso as a replacement should Smith falter?
Are Marcos Molina, Patrick Mazeika and Jhoan Urena for real? – The three best prospects in AA (who aren’t named Peter Alonso) have something to prove. Patrick Mazeika has always hit but his power seems to come in spurts and his defense remains a weaker point of this game. Jhoan Urena had a resurgent 2017 season but how much of that was the result of a single season of good luck and how much of that is player progression? Marcos Molina is considered one of the Mets highest ceiling pitchers but his 2017 numbers put him a step behind the AAA rotation. When do we see Molina break out?
The Tim Tebow effect – Besides the citizens of Binghamton having a face they recognize on the field, is Tebow more than a sideshow? He’s not a bad player, but his numbers don’t suggest his has a major league future.
Can Justin Dunn and Desmond Lindsay rebound? – People should be more optimistic about Lindsay for obvious reasons but I hope that nobody has given up on Dunn either. With a solid month of baseball from these two, the world will start to change their view on the Met farm system in a hurry. Let us not forget that Dunn’s 2016 in Brooklyn was far more impressive than David Peterson’s 3.2 innings of work.
When will Thomas Szapucki return? – The best pitcher the Mets would have in Advanced A this season is on the shelf recovering from surgery. This means the Mets will need to wait a while to find out if this fifth round pick is as good as he’s seemed to be in his previous time with the Mets. The hope is that he gets enough time in Advanced A in 2018 that he can advance to AA in 2019.
Andres Gimenez the star of St. Lucie – One of the reasons that Justin Dunn and Desmond Lindsay might shine is because the spotlight should not be on them. The best prospect in Port St. Lucie is the Met shortstop who put together very solid offensive numbers in Columbia in 2017. We’ve seen solid offense in the SAL fizzle in the FSL, look at Luis Guillorme, but Gimenez is a different type of player and there is far more reason to hope.
Greatest SAL Lineup Ever! – Brian doesn’t believe the Mets will put all of their hitting talent in one basket but he wants me to be right. Edgardo Fermin, Wagner Lagrange, Rigoberto Terrazas, Jeremy Vasquez, Juan Uriarte, Mark Vientos, Quinn Brodey and Ranfy Adon would be a rare elite lineup in a league known for pitching. If that lineup comes together there could well be a Mets360 field trip to go out and watch them live.
Hansel Moreno left behind? – One player who misses the list is Hansel Moreno who I have slotted to head to Brooklyn. It is possible that Moreno winds up in Columbia as well but there is little place for the shortstop to play with Vientos and Terrazas on the team.
Who is the next SAL “Ace” pitcher? – While the Single A lineup is projected to be elite there aren’t many big names in the rotation to hang one’s hat on. Based upon history, the team will have two or three pitchers put up solid numbers regardless of talent levels but it isn’t clear who those pitchers will be.