The Mets have seen the return of Max Scherzer. They will soon enjoy the return of Jacob deGrom. They’ve weathered the weak schedule of the Atlanta Braves and they have reached the cusp of the All Star break with Tomas Nido catching in many too many of their games. That being said, James McCann doesn’t exactly inspire a great amount of confidence on the offensive side of the ball. For future-minded Met fans, the future of the backstop is named Francisco Alvarez and there is a ton to be excited about.
The obvious thing about Alvarez is his bat. He’s a compact guy with a lot of power who clobbers the spit out of the baseball. At the ripe old age of 20 he’s hit his way out of AA and into AAA thanks to 18 home runs and 16 doubles in his first taste of the AA level. That is plenty on its own but the less obvious thing is his plate discipline.
Plate discipline from a guy who struck out over once a game? Take a look at the splits and see that Alvarez dropped his strikeout rate as he got more and more comfortable at his level but look closer at how his walks have been increasing with 7 in April, 11 in May, 15 in June and 3, so far, in July. As the year has gone on his K/BB ratios have been getting better and better as his OBP has crept to be 100 points higher than his batting average.
Defensively you’ll hear the most concern but even then it’s mostly due to his age and lack of experience. He has never caught more than 59 games in a minor league season and in 2022 he’s caught only 47 and DH’d 21 times. He’s officially having his longest minor league season so far and there is reason to wonder and worry what the toll of catching more games too quickly would do.
AAA: Syracuse Mets
J.D. Davis has not had a great season. He seems like the least lucky hitter on the Mets but the hits are just not coming and the power seems to have been forgotten. On the flip side of the bat, the Mets have Domininc Smith, who is having problems of his own. With neither DH succeeding to any degree the Mets have considered the idea of promoting Mark Vientos or Francisco Alvarez for the DH spot. This is an option but one the needs to be thought out.
Vientos is much better against left-handed pitching and should be getting every possible start against lefty pitchers. His SLG is almost twice as high when facing left-handed pitchers and that is a big difference and a big deal. Noting this, the Mets will want to use him accordingly.
If you promote Vientos, you are getting rid of both Smith and Davis, since they will lose almost all of their playing time and value. You have him start all games vs. lefty pitchers, as stated above, and use Guillorme as a starter to give Francisco Lindor, Eduardo Escobar and Jeff McNeil days at DH against righties. (Versatility is increased once Travis Jankowski returns to play for any of the outfielders on a given day. Meanwhile, Vientos is on the bench to face a lefty reliever.
Do not expect fire from Vientos at first blush as he’s shown a need for an adjustment period at multiple levels but if used correctly his impact could be very large.
● Francisco Alvarez, C – #1 Prospect: Promoted to begin July in AAA, he only has 4 hits in his first seven games but there are better things to come.
● Mark Vientos, 3B – #5 Prospect: He finished June with a .515 SLG and is off to a solid start in July. Expect lots of strikeouts with this player.
● Nick Plummer, OF – #8 Prospect: Back in the minors again and he’s looking terrible. The time in the majors seems to have Plummer suffering.
● Khalil Lee, CF – #9 Prospect: When you look at Lee’s 2022 there is more bad than good. He’s hitting for some power but he’s just not hitting very much.
● Thomas Szapucki, LHP – #13 Prospect: Focusing on positives, he’s on pace for a career high in innings. He probably belongs in the bullpen.
● Jake Mangum, CF – #18 Prospect: Injuries are the worst. He last played on June 15th.
AA: Binghamton Rumble Ponies
Where does Brett Baty fit into 2023 plans?
Brett Baty is a very good prospect and he’s having himself a very good season. People would be talking far more about how good this season has been if they weren’t staring at the gaudy numbers Alvarez was putting out. He has been hitting well and hitting for power in AA while playing a competent third base. Back in 2004, a year younger than Baty, the Mets had another prospect clubbing well at AA. David Wright had himself an OPS over 1.000 and 20 stolen bases in AA before the Mets promoted him to AAA. There, Wright continued to hit and after 91 games in the upper minors cemented his job on the Mets as their starting third baseman.
Nobody is screaming for Baty to reach the majors in 2022 but assuming he earns an overdue promotion to AAA this season, what will the Mets do in 2023? The Mets have some versatility with Jeff McNeil being able to shift into the outfield and with Eduardo Escobar being able to shift to second but ultimately the need for Baty evaporates if the Mets bring back Brandon Nimmo and have a full roster of MLB regulars in Baty’s way.
Then again, if Eduardo Escobar continues to struggle in Met uniform, perhaps the Mets will have an easier decision on their hands than expected.
● Brett Baty, 3B – #2 Prospect: So much good to report. He has a .517 SLG in June and so far has a .513 SLG in the month of July.
● Ronny Mauricio, SS – #3 Prospect: Mauricio had a very powerful month of June but seems to be dealing with injury at the moment.
● Jose Butto, RHP – #9 Prospect: Butto is on a hot streak of solid starts with high strikeout numbers and low hits and walks.
● Hayden Senger, C – #14 Prospect: Senger now gets to start but his bat has gone a bit cold. He has a major league future if he can keep his OPS around .600 or better.
● Carlos Cortes, LF – #23 Prospect: Cortes dropped out of the Top 20 after starting the year in the Top 10. He went down to AA, found his swing again and has come back with some gusto. He had a .253/.343/.414 slash in June and has hits in 6 of his 8 starts in July.
A+: Brooklyn Cyclones
Welcome to Brooklyn Alex Ramirez
The Mets have a reputation, earned in the 1990s and 2000s for being aggressive with their prospects. Lately, one could argue the Mets have been far more tame and methodical with their promotions and level assignments. For this reason it should be no surprise that the Mets waited until July to promote their best up-and-coming prospect to Advanced A.
Ramirez has been ready for a promotion for a while but what is interesting to note, is the timing. The Mets promoted Ramirez in the midst of a slump that has seen him slide in prospect evaluations from overtaking Ronny Mauricio to falling behind Mark Vientos.
● Alex Ramirez, CF – #4 Prospect: He already has 3 doubles and a triples in Brooklyn.
● Matt Allan, RHP – #6 Prospect: Still no news.
● Dominic Hamel, RHP – #13 Prospect: Just one outing so far and while it wasn’t perfect there are nice aspects of it to focus on.
● Jose Peroza, 3B – #16 Prospect: Peroza is off to a furious start in the month of July. He’s slashing .368/.455/.684 to start this month off.
● JT Schwartz, 1B – #19 Prospect: In June he hit for average but his numbers in July are better since he is now hitting for power.
● Jaylen Palmer, Util – #20 Prospect: He’s in prospect free-fall.
A: Port St. Lucie Mets
Who is Junior Tilien?
Tilien wasn’t on almost anyone’s radar at the start of the year. He arrived in May and has really had himself a few nice months of baseball since. He’s still a ways away from a relevant prospect ranking but a 19 year old shortstop who can hit is never something to sneeze at. His July hasn’t gotten off to a good start but the hope is that it only represents a small sample size. One aspect of his game that appears a bit disappointing is speed but stealing bases may simply not be a priority of his coaches.
● Calvin Ziegler, RHP – #6 Prospect: Ziegler is probably outside the Top 10 on a better team but that doesn’t make him a bad prospect. Nobody who is almost striking out 2 batters an inning is a bad prospect.
● Keyshawn Askew, LHP – #39 Prospect: The Mets may wish to promote Askew as he’s been the best relief pitcher on the Low A squad.