The Mets shocked a number of people in 2018 when they skipped their top international prospect directly to the Gulf Coast League. Now the Mets buck convention farther by starting Ronny Mauricio in Columbia instead of Short Season ball in Brooklyn. For those not familiar with the Mets system the typical progression for players is as follows:
● Dominican Summer League (International Players)
● R1: Gulf Coast League (High School/Prep School Draftees)
● R2: Appalachian League (High School/Prep School/College Draftees)
● A-: New York Penn League (College Draftees)
● A: South Atlantic League
● A+: Florida State League
● AA: Eastern League
● AAA: International League
Obviously, the Mets were also impressed by Mauricio’s performance in 2018 and wanted to give the youngster a full season of exposure instead of the cautious approach. It remains to be seen if this aggressive new methodology will pay dividends and early returns. In point of fact, the Mets aggressively promoted three players I had slated to begin their years with Brooklyn.
Ronny Mauricio, SS: He turned 18 four short days ago and has managed a serviceable .745 OPS to start the year but his 6 strikeouts in 4 games leads me to believe that he might be in over his head.
Mark Vientos, 3B: At 19 years of age I suggested that Vientos might be a good candidate for an aggressive promotion but in his first taste of Columbia it’s been rough going. In the first 4 games he has collected only 2 hits over 13 at bats with 3 walks and 4 strikeouts.
Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP: Also just 18 he had only pitched 17.1 innings in his rookie debut. While these innings were very good I did not think the Mets would expose him directly to Columbia so early. His initial 1.2 innings were decidedly mixed. He struck out four but also gave up 3 hits and 2 earned runs.
Clearly all of these results are too early to put much stock in. Once we have a few more weeks we will better be able to identify if the new aggressive approach at the lower levels of the minors is wise or awful. What is also interesting is the two names we do not see. When will we see Thomas Szapucki and Jordan Humphreys and where will they wind up pitching.
Dilson Herrera off to a good start – Former Met prospect is back with the team and hitting well but here is no room for another second baseman on the big league team.
Corey Oswalt looks good in debut – The 4.76 ERA belies a 0.88 WHIP. He’s still the most likely 6th starter sitting on the sidelines.
Tim Tebow strikes out a bunch and nobody should be surprised – Expect the Ks to be more plentiful than games played all season.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies
Will Toffey striking out to start the season – He’s not known as a high strikeout player but this season has seen him strike out more than games played.
Anthony Kay strong in debut – He only got through 4.2 innings as the Mets stretch their starters out but his 1.07 WHIP is a strong sign.
David Peterson needs control – Thanks to 3 walks in his debut Peterson’s WHIP is an unhealthy 1.80 to start the season.
St. Lucie Mets
Nobody Hitting – Travis d’Arnaud was the top hitter for the Port St. Lucie squad and he was only rehabbing. Now their highest OPS is South of .600 which is pretty awful.
Walter Rasquin is hitting but it’s pretty worthless – At 23 there is nothing for him to really show the Mets at this level.
Hayden Senger making a case – He’s 22 years old but this catcher hit in his rookie debut and continues to do so in his sophomore campaign. More impressively he’s thrown out 2 of 3 runners to start the season.
Chase Chambers where he belongs – No surprise to see Chambers here after a strong 2018. The first baseman has some power and the right mix of patience to be a capable hitter.
Willy Taveras, Jaison Vilera and Darwin Ramos primed for Low-A success – Every year three or so pitchers just seem to succeed at this level. That has a lot to do with the friendly confines of most ballparks at this level. The flip-side of this is that this trio has a higher ceiling than most of the pitchers who we’ve watched roll through the South Atlantic League.