Omar Minaya’s failure in international signings hurts club today

We’re all trying to make sense of how the Mets are in the position that they are today. Everyone has their theories and one that refuses to die is that the farm system has been bad in the past, bad in the present and bad in the future. Let’s take a look at the guys on the 25-man roster (and DL) currently, with a focus on guys who played at least one year in the Mets’ farm system before making the majors. Furthermore, let’s limit it to guys under the age of 35 and organize it by the year they “established” themselves in the majors. Established is in quotes because it’s up in the air if some of these guys have actually done that. But let’s think positively.

2013 – Juan Lagares, Zack Wheeler
2014 – Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores
2015 – Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard
2016 – Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo
2017 – Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Amed Rosario
2018 – Luis Guillorme, Tim Peterson, Dominic Smith

That’s 16 players 14 of them active ones with Lagares and Syndergaard currently on the DL. The top five players, and seven of the top eight guys, by bWAR for the Mets this year all came up through their farm system. It seems odd that the farm system takes so much grief. It feels like the guys acquired by trade or through free agency should be taking more of the blame. Especially once you factor in how much of the payroll those guys are taking up.

Regardless, one thing does stand out when looking at that group of players from the farm system. Where are the international guys? Only five of these guys came from outside the U.S. and only one of those five – Familia – has established himself as a big contributor.

Lagares has a Gold Glove to his credit but has been unable to be a useful offensive player and he’s constantly on the DL. Flores was a big signing from the Omar Minaya era but seems to have settled in as a 300-400 AB guy. Rosario was a big signing from Sandy Alderson who doesn’t seem ready for prime time. Guillorme is in 25th man territory and no one will be surprised if he’s sent back to the minors.

We’re just starting to see Alderson’s international guys crack the majors. Ideally we would have seen more by now. But here in 2018, more blame should go to Minaya’s scouting team for the lack of impact international guys than to Alderson’s. By the year 2020, that balance will shift and things don’t look good on the immediate horizon for the current GM. Alderson has a lot of eggs right now in Rosario’s basket as Nabil Crismatt is probably the next closest guy and he’s far from a highly-regarded prospect.

So, if more of Minaya’s guys should be contributing right now, what happened? Jenrry Mejia got in trouble by failing drug tests, Ruben Tejada got taken out by a dirty slide, Fernando Martinez couldn’t live up to the hype and Aderlin Rodriguez was a bust. And there were plenty more in that last category.

How about Alderson’s guys? He was hired late in 2010, so 2011 was his first crack at the big players in the international market. Alderson’s biggest guy in that class was Jose Garcia, a catcher from Venezuela who received the 18th-highest bonus at $800,000. Garcia is still kicking around in the system but shows no sign of ever putting it together. If you look at the high-dollar signings by all MLB teams, you’ll see a lot of busts, so Garcia certainly has company. But if you want to play the “perfect hindsight” game, that’s the year the Yankees signed Miguel Andujar for $750K. Andujar played five games last year in his MLB debut season and has broken out in the majors this year.

In 2012, the Mets got Rosario at $1,750,000 and then a bunch of guys for 1/10 of that amount, or less, including Marcos Molina, Nicolas Debora and Jose Medina. In 2013, they signed three guys for about the same amount of money that they gave to Rosario the year before – Ricardo Cespedes ($725K), Ali Sanchez ($690K) and Yeffry De Aza ($475K). They also signed Luis Carpio and Walter Rasquin. In 2014, they again went for a big money guy, inking Kenny Hernandez to a $1,000,000 deal. They also grabbed Yoel Romero and Edgardo Fermin and for lesser dollar deals picked up Juan Uriarte and Hansel Moreno

Molina seemed to be on the fast track but got injured and has stalled in the upper levels of the system. Debora hasn’t been able to get going and Medina had great success in the DSL but hasn’t done much stateside. Cespedes went in the AJ Ramos deal, Sanchez is in his third season in Lo-A. De Aza is one of the few guys not to hit in Kingsport the past two seasons. Carpio showed great promise early but hasn’t followed up on it. Rasquin had very good numbers for Brooklyn last year but failed a drug test this season. Hernandez hasn’t hit and has moved to first base. Romero hasn’t hit, either. Fermin did fine at Kingsport last year but is struggling in full-season ball this season. Uriarte, a catcher, turned in a great season for Kingsport last year but has barely played this season while Moreno is struggling for Columbia here in 2018.

But maybe things are turning around in this department.

In 2015, the Mets signed Andres Gimenez, who at age 19 has an OPS 124 points higher than the average player for St. Lucie. They also got Shervyen Newton from the Netherlands that same year. Newton is off to a quick start this season at Kingsport. They also signed Gregory Guerrero, considered one of the top 10 players available, although he’s yet to show much in this country so far. Jaison Vilera pitched well in the GULF last year and is off to a strong start – 10 IP, 1 ER, 13 Ks – for Brooklyn this season.

The following year in 2016, the Mets did not shop at the top of the international market but they still signed some guys who could make an impact. 2B Luis Santana put up a .911 OPS in the DSL last year and is 12-25 with four doubles so far this season for Kingsport. Wilfred Astudillo, a C/1B, is hitting well in the Dominican right now. Middle infielder Sebastian Espino was solid in the DSL last year and is 7-17 with three walks in five games in the GULF.

After a one-year break, the Mets were back in the high end of the international market this past year, signing Ronny Mauricio, Adrian Hernandez, Stanley Consuegra and David Marcano. Mauricio was a consensus top five guy and is off to a great start in the GULF as a 17 year old. Hernandez is off to a solid start in the DSL while Consuegra has joined Mauricio in the GULF, although hasn’t gotten off to the same type of start. Marcano has fanned 8 in 6.1 IP so far in the DSL.

Much like with the amateur draft, it’s unrealistic to expect international free agents to contribute multiple impact players year after year. But it would be nice if those two could combine to produce consistent talent on a regular basis. Any independent observer would tell you that the amateur draft is ahead of the international market for the Mets right now.

When Minaya signed Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez, it was supposed to have the ancillary benefit of establishing credibility in the international market that would lead to the Mets landing stars from Latin America. But Minaya ended up having more success with the amateur draft. His lack of a home run acquisition in the international market is one thing that’s hurting the Mets today. If Flores and Martinez had developed into solid starters or stars, the outlook today would be brighter.

Will Alderson fare any better in this regard? The jury is still very much out. But five years from now, if the Mets are going to be in better shape, they’ll have needed to hit on some of these guys. They’ll need starters and stars from the likes of Rosario, Gimenez, Mauricio et al. to establish the Latin pipeline that Minaya failed to do.

And if their big money free agent signings could stay off the DL – that would be nice, too.

25 comments for “Omar Minaya’s failure in international signings hurts club today

  1. David Groveman
    June 26, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Great Article!

    Ali Sanchez may finally have learned how to hit in Columbia this season. I’ll believe it fully when he hits in Port St. Lucie next year but I’m determined to be “Glass Half Full”

    Andres Gimenez leads a very talented second wave of players as you mentioned. I would like to see the Mets allow him to finish the season in AA based on his success in Advanced A. He’s still young and that might be overly aggressive.

    • June 26, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Thanks David – I appreciate that.

      My un-researched opinion is that the Mets have been more aggressive with promotions this year than they have in the past. Maybe the constant juggling of the 25 and 40-man rosters has caused this. In the past, I would have ruled out a promotion for Gimenez. But today I think it’s on the table. And if Kelenic keeps hitting, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him promoted to Brooklyn. How many guys in Alderson’s tenure have been promoted from the GULF to the NYP?

      • David Groveman
        June 26, 2018 at 9:50 am

        Kelenic has been off the charts but that sample size is super small. I am thinking he and Mauricio could both find their way into the Columbia lineup for 2019 which would also be aggressive.

      • JimmyBX
        September 1, 2018 at 2:37 pm

        Editor’s Note – This post deleted for violating our Comment Policy.

  2. Pete In Iowa
    June 26, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Since Rosario has absolutely mastered the art of looking at strikes and swinging at balls, he should be back at Triple A (for as long as it takes) until he figures out this is no way to hit. While he’s there, they ought to look at him at both third and second. He doesn’t have the range to play short.
    He simply doesn’t belong in the major leagues at this point.

    • June 26, 2018 at 10:41 am

      And play who at Shortstop? Jose Reyes’ corpse? Season is over give Rosario a shot and live with his growing pains.

  3. Name
    June 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Montero and Robles are two guys that should be added to this list.

    I remembered doing some research in the offseason about the international signees and equated to no higher than a 3-5th round, which are not good odds of producing a lot of MLB talent to begin with.
    Here it is again: Using Baseball America’s top 30 signing bonuses here are the the major leaguers i could recognize at a quick glance from 2010-2012 with their money rank in ()

    2010:
    Renato Nunez(4), Carlos Martinez(7), Jorge Alfaro(8), Orlando Calixte(12), Jeimer Candelario(16)

    2011:
    Nomar Mazara(1), Ronald Guzman(2), Adalberto Mondesi(5), Yohander Mendez(8) , Roberto Osuna(8), Manuel Margot(18), Miguel Andujar(21), Franmil Reyes(24)

    2012:
    Tzu-Wei Lin(2), Amed Rosario(3), Franklin Barreto(6), Alex Reyes(14), Luiz Gohara (15), Richard Urena (19)

    So it seems around 5-10 players in each class have made it so far, with varying success. As a comparison, the 3rd rounds of the draft during those years who have made it are 13, 11, 12 respectively, the 4th round is 12, 9 10, and 5th round is 10,14,10.

    So it looks like the top 15 intl guys have a success rate of about 33%, which is one par with a 3rd-5th round. The 16-30 guys have half the success rate and probably equate to 6th-10th rounders. The international area is certainly not an area you can ignore, but expectations should be tempered in my opinion, and i’m ok with favoring the regular draft and scouting for trades than putting a lot of stock in the intl arena.

    • June 26, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Thank you for your research here.

      It’s tough enough to draft HS and college players in this country who’ve played in highly organized ball for years. Then you look at the international scene where the structure is less than ideal and then you’re looking at younger guys, too. If it’s tough to project a 21-year-old college kid, imagine how hard it is for a 15-year-old from the DR.

      I recognize that you did your study on the top signing bonuses because that’s the easiest thing to find and theoretically should result in the top guys. But I think a better case is to be made looking at the results of the guys who made it.

      If we look at the FG Leaderboards sorted by fWAR, three of the top 10 came from the international market. Thought it was going to be four but Eddie Rosario was from Puerto Rico and subject to the draft. From 11-20 had five international guys. From 21-30 had three more international guys. From 31-40 had five more. From 41-50 had four more. That’s 40% of the top 50 hitters.

      It’s a different story for pitchers, with way fewer international guys atop the leaderboards, but you still see top guys like Severino, Berrios and Carrasco.

      If 40% of the top hitters are from the international pool and our best international hitter on the current team is Wilmer Flores, I’d say we’ve had a big problem in that area and need to devote more resources there.

      Of course, MLB restricts what you can ultimately spend. The upcoming international budget for the Mets is $4,983,500 – or about what they spent on their first-round pick this year. The Mets have $9,580,900 available for the first 10 picks and up to $120,000 for each guy from 11-40 in the draft. Theoretically, they could spend over $13 million on the draft but in reality it will be much less than that. Still, they’ll probably spend more than twice as much on the draft as on international guys.

      To the best of my knowledge there’s no way to know how much the Mets spend on amateur scouting for the draft versus scouting in the international market.

      Edit – the last graph is how much they spend on the scouts doing the actual scouting.

      • Name
        June 26, 2018 at 12:44 pm

        My count doesn’t add up to yours – i got 28%. Who am i missing?

        1-10
        Jose Ramirez – signed for 50k
        Altuve – signed for 15k
        11-20
        Eugenio Suarez – couldn’t find
        Jean segura- 70k
        21-30
        Eduardo Escobar – couldn’t find
        Ozzie Albies – 350k
        31-40
        Xander boegarts, Didi gregorious, Francisco Cevelli, Shin soo choo
        41-50
        Leonys martin, Jose Iglesias, Jeimer Candelaro, Jesus Aguilar

        of the top 6, only Albies got a decent bonus. Scouting is tough in the international arena and luck plays a major factor.

        • June 26, 2018 at 2:23 pm

          Your numbers are closer to right than what I commented earlier. I was going off names and counted guys like Lindor and Machado who shouldn’t have been counted.

          I think guys you missed included Odubel Herrera, Willson Contreras and Cesar Hernandez

  4. Chris F
    June 26, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Great article Brian. Nice (well, sad) to see the longer term perspective. The Mets regularly get slammed for pipeline talent, which has been a basic failure in the international market as you show, and in the Alderson regime almost entirely otherwise.

    • June 26, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Thanks for the kind words!

      If you think Alderson’s draft record is bad, I’d suggest looking at how other active GMs that have been around as long as he has have done. Look at Dayton Moore in KC, Neal Huntington in PIT and Jon Daniels in Texas since 2011, Alderson’s first draft with the Mets.

      Cashman has been saved by Aaron Judge but overall his draft record is not much, if any, better than Alderson’s. Since 2011, Rizzo hasn’t drafted better, either.

  5. Chris F
    June 26, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I think Pitt and Texas are legit busts. Its not great to be in that group!

    WSH has picked far down the list in those years becuase they were winning the pennant every year but 1. Hard to compare. But Rizzo got 45 bWAR from Rendon and Harper since coming up. Thats pretty good.

    • June 26, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      Well, you can’t have it both ways. Rendon was picked 6th and Harper was picked in 2010 before Alderson came around and top 3 overall.

      • Chris F
        June 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

        but during the Alderson years they won the pennant all but once, and have the most wins in baseball.

        Id take that.

        • June 26, 2018 at 6:20 pm

          Yeah, from having (and hitting) on the early picks that allowed them to get Strasburg, Harper and Rendon.

          From where he’s drafted, Alderson has done a fine job. You can say he should have made the decision to bottom out and get better draft picks, a POV that is buttressed by his ability to draft well. But that decision may have been out of his hands.

  6. Chris F
    June 26, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    along the lines of player development:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/ny-sports-alderson-backman-mets-development-harper-20180625-story.html

    I get its hop on the bust Alderson bandwagon, but Ive been there some time. And surely the second someone sees Backman the sense of retribution will be a theme.

    But all I read is one thing: the Mets have 1 philosophy and players are trained to walk or hit hit HR. There is no real desire to develop complete baseball players. So take Backman out of it, and what do we see? Unathletic lumbering hackers and non stop talk of walking. At the same time, Alderson is disappointed with the product getting to the big leagues not being prepared to be players. Look at Lindor, Correa, Judge, Altuve, and on and on…players the likes we dont have. So the entire system belong to Alderson now. If players arent big league ready, the fault lies in the mirror Sandy. If the team cant score because the only thing every player knows how to do is swing for the fences, look in the mirror Sandy. If this team cant figure out how to steal or take another base, look in the mirror Sandy. This is not anyone’s fault but your own.

    • June 26, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      The Backman love from some in the media is beyond embarrassing.

    • June 26, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      I don’t believe there’s any doubt that players aren’t as prepared to play in the majors for the Mets now compared to when Backman was managing. And Alderson deserves blame for player development – without question.

      But there’s blame to be shared, too. If Backman could have guys work on fundamentals – why couldn’t other managers in the system? And why didn’t the major league managers and coaches work on it in Spring Training?

  7. metvibes
    June 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Another writer on the Alderson payroll.

  8. June 26, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Where have you gone, Cesar Puello…?

  9. Steevy
    June 26, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    And now Sandy taking a leave of absence to address health issues.

  10. June 26, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    “Draft”, International, Trade, Free Agency…… I tend to be forgiving of Young Player acuisition and development. Last Year’s Nimmo is….This year’s Nimmo!!! A Flop at 22 is a great success at 25.

    Most of what I see is that they have had an inconsistent commitment to all four legs of team and organization development—- overall, their talent acquisition has been sputtering.

    I also believe they’ve been well behind the curve in the way they build their roster through their choices of how to play the game, and who they want playing it. For instance, they sport a short bench like most teams—but where’s their solid and talented Jack of All Trades—- Wilmer can’t spell the Infielders because he’s proven that he cannot. Reyes and Guillorme are not MLB players.

    The talent and commitment of their management team is away from baseball, imho.

  11. MattyMets
    June 26, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Great piece, Brian. Watching the Yankees and Braves this year I’m beginning to think that it may not be so much as scouting, but player development that is the problem. When the Yankees or Braves call up a prospect, he hits the ground running (and sometimes plays like an All Star) and sparks the team. Time after time, the Mets call somebody up and they look overmatched and have to be sent down again. I can’t help but wonder what kind of players Conforto, Lagares and others would be blossoming into if they come up through a different organization.

  12. JimmyBX
    September 1, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Sandy was a clown show. Good riddance for his departure, albeit unfortunate due to illness.

    Omar Minaya will be the driving force the organization needs to rebuilding this team.

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