Mets Minors: Levi Michael lives up to first-round pick status

Minor league promotions can be a funny thing. Necessity has made the Mets make many more moves in their system here in 2018 than they have in the past. Even with that, we saw players stay at a level perhaps a little longer than their stats might have indicated. The prime example was Jeff McNeil staying in the minors despite having an outstanding season. And the other was Levi Michael, who rebounded from a slow start to pound the ball for three months.

The Mets added Michael, a former first-round pick of the Twins, right before the start of the season. He was assigned to Binghamton and his ability to play all over the infield meant he was going to get a chance to play. Through 18 games of the season, Michael had played three infield spots but he had just a .206 AVG with a .668 OPS. But the next night he had a two-hit game and he hasn’t stopped hitting since.

In his next 77 games, Michael put up a .330/.420/.495 line over 346 PA. But he was getting squeezed in Double-A. The Mets promoted Andres Gimenez to play SS and newly-acquired Will Toffey, part of the return in the Jeurys Familia deal, took over at 3B. It would have been reasonable to promote Michael to Las Vegas but the Mets gave him an outfielder’s mitt and he saw time at all three positions.

Finally, following the Asdrubal Cabrera deal, the Mets promoted Luis Guillorme to the majors and Michael took Guillorme’s spot in Triple-A. In his first game with the 51s. Michael had a two-hit game. Meanwhile, it’s a bit up in the air what will happen to Michael the rest of the year. Todd Frazier is playing in rehab game and will likely be called up soon. When he does, will the Mets simply reverse the transaction that got him to Las Vegas?

Michael is 27 so he’s not some hot-shot kid. But as a former first-round pick, it’s not like he’s some nobody. He was expected to be a good player. We all prefer the guys who put it together right away. But not everyone develops at that pace. The Twins gave up on him after the 2017 season and he responded with his best year in pro ball with the Mets this season. It will be interesting to see if the Mets want him to be a part of their organization going forward.

High Minors

Peter Alonso and Dominic Smith, two of the club’s top prospects who both play the same position, are both at Las Vegas now. Early in his career, Smith was on a team with Matt Oberste, a guy the club had some hope for who also played first base. With Oberste, Smith played 1B. But here in Triple-A, Alonso gets to play in the infield, while Smith is getting reps in LF. After a slow start in Vegas, Alonso has a .308/.391/.615 line in his last 10 games. Smith has hit safely in six of his seven games since being demoted from the majors, with four of his eight hits going for extra bases.

After a strong campaign in Double-A, where he went 8-5 with a 3.58 ERA, Nabil Crismatt is finding Las Vegas to be much less hospitable. In five games, he has a 9.41 ERA… Gimenez started his Double-A career with an 0-11 but since then he has eight hits in 16 ABs in his last four games… RHP Franklyn Kilome, acquired in the Cabrera deal, made his first start for the Mets and pitched seven strong innings, with 5 Ks and 1 BB.

A-Ball

SLU SS Luis Carpio has been on a little tear. In his last 29 games, covering 114 PA, Carpio has a .324/.377/.543 line. Carpio looked like a breakout star in 2015 but he got hurt early in the 2016 campaign. He was unimpressive last year and this season started the same way. But he’s opening eyes again with his play right now… SLU C Ali Sanchez was a big international signing who was supposed to be strong both offensively and defensively. Early in his career he had good results in the field but not at the plate. This season, his bat is starting to catch up. He got a mid-season promotion to Hi-A and he’s holding his own at the plate. After a .552 OPS in Lo-A last year, Sanchez has a .693 OPS in 68 PA at the higher level here in 2018… Sidearming Steve Villinies is thriving since his promotion to St. Lucie. In 15.2 IP, he has a 0.57 ERA with 16 Ks. He has two wins and two saves in 11 appearances.

In recent years, the Mets have put an emphasis on acquiring young shortstops, especially in their international signings. It’s always interesting to see which ones stay at the position and which ones get moved elsewhere. Hansel Moreno saw a lot of time this year at third base and now he’s logging time in CF. In his last dozen games, he’s played six at SS, three at 3B and three in CF. After getting off to a slow start, he’s hit .302 in his last 12 games… Since giving up 10 runs in his third game of the season, RHP Tony Dibrell has been on fire. In his last 14 games, covering 82.1 IP, he has a 2.51 ERA and has limited opposing batters to a .650 OPS. Dibrell has 90 Ks in that span.

Short-Season

BRK SP Jaison Vilera turned in another great start, as he allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings on Sunday. He’s now 5-1 with a 0.78 ERA and has 56 Ks in 46 IP. He really should get bumped up to a full-season league… The Mets continue to slow play things with Walter Rasquin upon his return from a 50-game suspension. Rasquin started the year with a full-season club but when he came back he started in the GCL and has spent the last 15 games in Brooklyn. After a slow start with the Cyclones, Rasquin went 8-20 in his last six games.

KPT CF Jarred Kelenic has hit a rough patch. After an incredible start to his pro career, the Mets’ 2018 first-round pick has just two hits in his last 29 ABs… SS Luis Santana is continuing his hot hitting. He’s riding a seven-game hitting streak, going 10-23 in that span. Overall, he has a .359/.465/.461 line in 155 PA… After starting the year off 2-12, 3B Mark Vientos has an .841 OPS over his last 123 PA. Friday night he had a 2-HR game with 7 RBIs.

GCL SS Ronny Mauricio has reached base safely in 32 of his 34 games this year, getting a hit in 30 of them. The 17 year old has an .874 OPS in 148 PA… There may not be a more “Mets” name in the organization than that of Wilmer Reyes. He’s another in a long line of middle infielders who’s had to move to a different position. Reyes played all over the infield in his two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and stateside this year he’s seen time at 1B, 2B and LF. Through it all, he has an .844 OPS in 74 PA.

*****

Usually we don’t focus too much on players from the DSL, just because of them being so far away, both literally and figuratively. It’s hard on players from this country to find themselves hundreds of miles away from home with little to no support system. Just imagine how hard it is when you throw in a language barrier on top of that, which happens to these international kids when they make it to this country. It’s good to glance at guys down in the DSL and see who’s doing well. But generally you’re better served waiting until they get to this country before getting your hopes up too much. David writes about these guys but I’m not, except to point out that there are teammates on a DSL Mets team with the first names of “Fidel” and “Nixon.” Do you think they talk to one another?

2 comments for “Mets Minors: Levi Michael lives up to first-round pick status

  1. Name
    July 30, 2018 at 11:29 am

    “Necessity has made the Mets make many more moves in their system here in 2018 than they have in the past”

    One of the ways we often use to judge a GMs draft is to count the number of players who make the major leagues. But a team like the Mets who have been hit with the injury curse has seemingly needed to dip down further into their minor league system more so than another team, which inflates the draft “success” rate in this measure.

    I put together a list of the players that i feel would had no chance at all to be promoted to the major leagues had the Mets had “normal” luck regarding injuries. In parenthesis i included guys who likely would not have been promoted or probably would have been promoted after 2018.

    2011: Tyler Pill, Phillip Evans, Travis Taijeron (Danny Muno, Chasen Bradford)
    2012: Tim Peterson (tomas nido, Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald)
    2013: Kevin McGowan, (Luis Guillorme, Tyler Bashlor)
    2015: Kevin Kaczmarski (PJ Conlon)

    • July 30, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      I think this is a worthwhile exercise, as long as it’s understood that lousy teams are going to make more promotions from the minors than good teams and that all teams give September callups to org soldiers. My guess is that every club has a guy like Travis Taijeron, who spent six seasons in the org before getting promoted for a cup of coffee. Perhaps not every year, but this is a story that’s played out on a regular basis.

      Phillip Evans got called up earlier than he would have but I think he would have earned at the very least a September call either last year or this year.

      Chasen Bradford is having an excellent year with the Mariners here in 2018

      Corey Oswalt was the club’s top pitching prospect and should have been expected to get a call at some point this season.

      Luis Guillorme would have been up in September.

      Relievers are the most likely to get a call up during the heart of the season. I’m not sure Peterson and Sewald belong here.

      But certainly Pill, Muno, Nido, Flexen, McGowan, Bashlor, Kaczmarski and Conlon fit the bill. I like Flexen and Bashlor and I think Nido will make it back up at some point and have some sort of MLB career as a defensive guy. But if I never see the others again, that would be ok.

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