The news is in and it is final, the MLB has canceled the minor league season for 2020. The Mets will need to pause the career progress of a number of their most promising players (Ronny Mauricio, Matthew Allan, Francisco Alvarez etc…) as the world reacts to the Covid-19 situation and we hope they will be able to pick up baseball activities in the fall or winter leagues. In the meantime, the Mets have a player pool of 60 with which to assemble their team for the shortened MLB season.

Should the season go as planned the Mets will not use too many prospects in this shortened season but we might see a little from Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Kevin Smith, Ali Sanchez, Thomas Szapucki, Franklyn Kilome and Jordan Humphreys either way. Today’s article is going to talk about the prospects the Mets are carrying on their 60 man squads and who might make an impact in the shortened season.

Thomas Szapucki, LHP – The pitcher who just turned 24 last month had a fairly decent shot of earning his way onto the major league roster had the 2020 season not gone awry. Having lost almost two entire seasons to injury, the talented lefty had a strong return to action in 2021 though he barely sniffed AA and only threw 36 innings in Advanced A.

The beauty of the Mets putting him on the squad is that he has already lost two developmental seasons thanks to injury and to lose another for Covid-19 would be maddening. After a strong return to baseball in 2019 it’s good to see the Mets throwing the dice with a player who might be asked to step into the rotation in 2021 and beyond.

Because he’s had the injury history the Mets would normally be worried about how many innings Szapucki could manage but with the starting pitcher depth charts having only a handful of players with upside, it’s good to see the Mets making a move to add someone who could become a Top 3 starter on the team.

There is also a chance that the Mets give him some innings in the bullpen since they are carrying fewer left handed options but I don’t see the Mets shifting him. Instead, should injuries take place to the starting rotation Szapucki becomes an option with far greater upside than Walker Lockett or Corey Oswalt.

Franklyn Kilome, RHP – A player coming off injury, Kilome came to the Mets from the Phillies in one of their frequent fire sales. Kilome had a brief, and successful run with the AA squad before that injury and was looking to hit the ground running in 2020 to regain some momentum.

With the minor league season cancelled, Kilome is easily the highest ceiling bullpen prospect the Mets had in their system. While he still has a chance to make a run at starting, his 2020 role will come in relief where his power arm could give the Mets another high caliber option instead of throwing out Tyler Bashlor or Jared Hughes.

Andres Gimenez, SS – The Mets have very few options for starting at shortstop. If Amed Rosario is to get injured in 2020 they can get a few games out of Luis Guillorme or Max Moroff but there is only one player on the roster outside of Rosario ready for the role.

That being said, the Mets are not likely to allow him to play in the majors unless Rosario gets injured or sees his defensive numbers once again tank. If Gimenez is playing games it has more to do with Rosario than with the Mets desire to start their younger prospect.

Ali Sanchez, C – The Mets have a history of having catchers who don’t play great defense. Sanchez doesn’t strike many as a great prospect but his defensive numbers make him a useful cog in the baseball machine. The Mets will hope to keep Wilson Ramos healthy but have Sanchez ready to slot in as a defensive replacement.

The issue with Sanchez is that he is staring up at both Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera. The Mets are actually more likely to call on Patrick Mazeika if Ramos is hurt which isn’t a good sign for anyone you’d want to call a “prospect” in your system.

Jordan Humphreys, RHP – Unlike Szapucki, Humphreys didn’t manage to make much of his 2019 season after recovering from injury. In fact, he only played 2 innings. Humphreys has very little shot of finding himself on the field for games in 2020 but I think the Mets liked the idea of getting this promising prospect back into the swing of games and saw an opportunity to do that.

18 comments on “Mets Minors: Thomas Szapucki and short season squad

  • Eraff

    Are there going to be team run camps for the Minor Leaguers?,,,,or just for the extended big league squad?

    • Brian Joura

      My understanding was just for the extended big league squad. Which was why I wanted to see the top prospects on their 60-man squad – so they’d get this development time.

      They hadn’t opened Brooklyn yet – supposed to be sometime this week. Maybe today, not sure. Hopefully when they do that we’ll see more prospects.

      • Name

        So only guys on the 60 man squad can get traded this year, so you should be happy that the fake GM can’t trade (insert your favorite Mets prospect here) for (insert former washed up client of brodie)

  • Mike W

    So, do you think that if Cohen buys the team, he fires Van Wagenen?

    • David Groveman

      Anytime there is a shift in ownership, management is extremely “at risk”. I think BVW is still going to be judged by the team he has on the field in this shortened season.

      I think he has drafted reasonably well and I think that the starting lineup is solid but should the starters fail and a new owner step in, a new GM will follow

  • TexasGusCC

    Since changes to the 60 man can be made at any time, and the Mets are in go for it mode by having insurance policies named Matt Adams and Melky Cabrera around, top prospects will have to wait to be added. The reason is that if you take a player off your 60 to add another, you cannot add that player back on. So, if they are out of it or fairly healthy, they bring up kids in August for a month of playing. If the roster is continuously going through changes, the kids may stay out all year.

    • Chris F

      year after year the same mistake…

      Whats the story about making the mistake over and over?

      • TexasGusCC

        I was thinking the same thing Chris. But then again, why bring up the kids? I mean, Kelenic hit two homeruns today in his intra squad game… it’s not like Giminez will do that. The Mets think Adams and Cabrera mean that they are “going for it”. Just like Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis were last year. Just like AGone and who remembers was the year before. Just like Loney… Should I keep going?

        • Name

          The failures work both ways. We just tend to forget the youngsters who fail because they come with less fanfare and are less memorable

          Just a few days ago we talked about all the youth we have tried on the pitching side….and those names don’t include the other failures such as Bashlor, Lockett, Gagnon, Sewald, Flexen, Zamora, Oswalt, Robles, Vic Black, Bobby Wahl, Smoker, Goeddel.

          The few positions youngsters we have tried on the hitting side have all sucked too. Cecchini, Matt Reyonolds, Nido, Reinheimer, Taijeron

          I think if we did an actual statistical comparison of veterans vs youngsters, we would find they are probably pretty similar production.

          • Bob P

            The difference between bringing in the older guys and the younger guys is what happens when they play well and it works out. The Mets have had a few older guys that you could call success stories (Marlon Byrd, Colon, and probably a couple of others I’m not thinking of) but think about deGrom and McNeil. These guys were not thought of as top prospects and no one could have predicted the success they’ve had. The point is you have a better chance if hitting big for a longer term with a younger guy than a retread.

            • David Groveman

              As a point of pride and sheer luck, I predicted (and got ridiculed for) big success from deGrom.

              • Bob P

                David you should call it a point of pride and foresight, not sheer luck! 🙂

          • Brian Joura

            The other things we have to look at if we were to do this are opportunity and upside.

            In your third graph, the five youngsters you mentioned never got the chance to play every day for an extended stretch. Taijeron got the most consistent time of the group and he played 26 games and had 59 PA in the final 35 games of 2017. Loney got 366 PA in 100 games and Gonzalez got 187 PA in 54 games. Shoot, even Ankiel got 71 PA in 20 games. Now, I wouldn’t wager that any of the five guys that you listed would do better than Loney/Gonzalez if they had the opportunity. But few would argue that it’s easier to succeed with sporadic playing time. Your five guys weren’t given the same chance to succeed that the vets received.

            And what happens when the vet succeeds? Nori Aoki (116 PA/27 G) came in and put up a .743 OPS (101 OPS+) in 2017 and there was essentially no thought ever given by management to bring him back. If Taijeron got the same opportunity and had the same results as Aoki, he would have been on the roster the next year. The payoff is higher if a young guy produces.

            To be clear, I don’t believe Taijeron deserved the type of opportunity that Aoki got. No different than thinking that neither Gonzalez nor Loney deserved theirs, either.

            Whatever opportunity Jake Marisnick gets this year, he’s getting the shot because the Mets didn’t have anyone capable of filling his role from the minors. I’m on record as being in favor of getting Marisnick. That being said, I don’t believe he can hit and the goal should be for him to have more games played than PA. But backup CF on the 2020 Mets was the perfect time to go looking for a vet to fill the role. My hope is that moving forward, the Mets show discretion as to when’s the best time to seek a veteran compared to when the best time to give a young guy a shot.

            • Name

              Sure the payoff of a young guy is higher than of a vet. But let’s also recognize that payoff percentage is low.

              And maybe we would feel differently if we had some more recent successes. Remember in 2015 when we picked up aging veterans Uribe and Johnson? That worked pretty well for us didn’t it?
              The Nats picked up Hech after we dropped him and he was a monster for them in September. They also got good production out of Cervelli. The Nats were the beneficiary of Howie Kendrick last year who had not put up numbers like that for 4-5 years. Good things can happen to older players.

              Adrian Gonzalez could have worked out. But i also recognize Taijeron could have also beaten his odds (however incredibly low they were) and played well.

              “My hope is that moving forward, the Mets show discretion as to when’s the best time to seek a veteran compared to when the best time to give a young guy a shot.”

              I agree – we need to look at a case-by-case basis rather than just have a blanket mindset of “Preference to veterans” or “Always choose the youngster”

              • Brian Joura

                To me the thing is that when we picked up Uribe and Johnson – they were both producing. We got guys with a 112 and a 125 OPS+. That’s a whole different ballgame than what was going on with Loney (below average in Triple-A, 91 OPS the previous year in the majors), Gonzalez (70 OPS+) or Ankiel (92 OPS+)

                And to take it one step further, Uribe and Johnson were acquired to be platoon bats/top-end bench guys. They both made 29 starts and were on the roster for 65 games. They weren’t gifted starting jobs like Loney, Gonzalez and Ankiel.

                • Name

                  Jose Bautista was struggling when we picked him up and gifted him a starting job and he worked out ok.

                  Also Brad Brach.

                  Even though we tend not to remember good things do occasionally happen to older guys on the Mets.

                  • Brian Joura

                    Bautista came off the bench in 4 of his first 7 games.
                    He came off the bench in 11 of his first 19 games
                    In his first 26 games he started 12 of them.

                    Bautista just wasn’t gifted a starting slot like the others.

                    Loney started his first 42 games
                    Gonzales started 25 of his first 30 games
                    Ankiel started 17 of his 20 games

                    Edit: I don’t want to come across as saying that all veterans are bad. But maybe if a guy hasn’t been good in several years, you don’t immediately make him a full-time starter. Make him earn it, like they did with Bautista, Johnson, Uribe and Marlon Byrd, too.

  • Eraff

    Name—some of your list may still make a contribution…. and attributing failure to “the Few position prospects we have tried…”….?? Alonzo, Conforto, Nimmo, McNeill, Rosario…. Smith…. add Guillorme, and Nido—maybe Davis( not expressly home grown)….. that’s a bunch of truly Home Grown Position Guys over a Handful of recent years.

    This Met’s team is considerably “Home Grown”…. or early 1st chance guys, cutting their teeth and producing with a Big League chance.

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