Binghamton is loaded with players who should don a Mets jersey in the next two-to-three years.  Of course, we all know about the players the Mets got for the old pitchers and there are several other hitting prospects worth mentioning, as well.  And the pitching staff is deep, too.  So, it seemed like a good time to have an email discussion with David Groveman, our man in the minors, about what’s happening with the Mets’ Double-A squad.

Brian: Blade Tidwell ranked second on my midseason top prospect list, so it’s safe to say the bulls are in the building!  He’s been hot and cold since being promoted to Double-A, with four games where he’s given up 2 ER in 23 IP and three games where he’s allowed 14 ER in 11 IP.  Tuesday night he had a good outing, with 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB and 9 Ks.  He might have gone longer but they took him out after a long bottom of the fifth, as the team was up, 7-0, and the playoffs lingering.  My question is: How has Tidwell’s year gone compared to your thoughts on him coming into the season and what would be a good outcome for him in 2024?

David: I would be lying if I said I was “happy” with Tidwell’s season. The reality remains that he needs to cut down on his walks to be a major league pitcher. I can say that he has shown, at times, this season that he could be a front of the rotation starter. This does not equate to an Ace but a ceiling as a #2/3 pitcher is nothing to sneeze at, especially in the pitching starved Mets minor leagues. He gets a B- from me for his year but I want less walks in 2024 before I get too excited. However, I will say the playoff roster for Binghamton should have Met fans pretty excited in general. The Mets have quite a lot of their Top 50 talent distilled into this one spot. On one team you have the top four (you pick the order) Prospects: Drew Gilbert, Kevin Parada, Jett Williams and Luisangel Acuna as well as Tidwell (#6), Jose Peroza (#13), Tyler Stuart (#15, may be injured), Coleman Crow (#16, injured), Dominic Hamel (#21), Daniel Juarez (#27), Matt Rudick (#30), Christian Scott (#31 and rising), JT Schwartz (#35) and Jerimiah Jackson (#37). My question for you is are you ready to get excited about a player like Joander Suarez again after a mostly mediocre season in High A?

Brian: At best, Suarez was an afterthought to me.  But you throw 13 hitless innings in your first two starts in Double-A and it forces people (ok, me) to take notice.  His last start for Brooklyn was noteworthy, too.    At hitter-friendly Asheville, Suarez allowed just one hit in six innings.  Certainly, he deserves some more consideration going forward.  Still, the pitcher who has stood out for me the most here recently is Hamel.  People counted him as one of the club’s top prospects coming into the season but all that resonated with me was that he was old for his level.  And then he was nothing special/borderline bad at the beginning of the year.  But in his last 13 starts, he’s 6-2 with a 2.86 ERA, with 88 Ks in 69.1 IP.  Are we underrating the pitchers in the system?  Binghamton has a pretty formidable rotation top to bottom and it’s not unrealistic to think that there will be at least one SP and one RP to make it to the majors in a legitimate role – not a Tylor Megill yo-yoing up and down.

David: Tell me that the Mets have a pitcher in their system that feels to you like Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler did when they were coming up. Nobody in the system, including Tidwell, ranks to me as an “Ace” level starter. As much as I really like Stuart, Hamel and Scott (and I guess Mike Vasil) I can’t see these pitchers being “Aces”. To be fair, deGrom kinda came out of nowhere to eclipse Rafael Montero once upon a time so it’s possible to come from relative obscurity but it just doesn’t feel likely. Having one SP and one RP out of this group in the majors is more than reasonable to expect but I won’t be satisfied with the state of the system’s pitching until we have legitimate “Ace” potential. I’m still hung up on the Mets decision to promote Jett Williams after only limited (albeit highly impressive) exposure to High A. Is there any hope that this is a sign of a more aggressive development track taking hold?

Brian: Tidwell compares very favorably to Wheeler at a similar point in their pro careers.  This is the first full year after being drafted – which one is which?

Player A – 11-6, 3.42 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 6.6 H/9, 1.1 HR/9. 4.7 BB/9, 11.8 K/9
Player B – 9-7, 3.52 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 4.1 BB/9, 10.1 K/9

Wheeler was a year younger and split his time between Lo-A and Hi-A.  Tidwell is at Hi-A and Double-A, which seems like an even tradeoff.  I wanted to see Tidwell pitch a full season to prove he was healthy and he’s done that.  From where he started, with five terrible outings, Tidwell has done everything we could have hoped.

As for the Mets being more aggressive in their promotions, I’d really like to believe that was happening but I have my doubts.  It seems more likely they bumped Williams up to Double-A because BNG was going to be in the playoffs.  But speaking of promotions, does Acuna and his .259/.338/.326 line in 154 PA with the Mets merit a promotion to start 2024 in Triple-A?

David: I believe that the Mets likely should put both Acuna and Gilbert in AAA next season and probably pair Williams and Parada in Binghamton. I usually fall into the very aggressive assignments category so none of that should be surprising. This has been a season with extremely conservative assignments and one where the front office may deserve blame for delaying prospect progress. I am hoping 2024 sees a change from that. With all this focus on Binghamton and AA, do you see any of these players making a jump in 2024 to help the big league club by the end of next year?

Brian: In the comparison above, A is Tidwell and B is Wheeler.

Does Acuna deserve a promotion?  No, he doesn’t.  But my guess is he will get one, just so they can delay the move off shortstop for either Acuna or Williams.  Ordinarily, you want to keep a player at SS for as long as possible to make him more attractive to other clubs as a trade chit.  But are the Mets going to trade either Acuna or Williams?  Hey, maybe David Stearns can find another team to overvalue Acuna because of his last name and flip him for some starting pitching.

I would be shocked if there wasn’t some player currently at Binghamton who doesn’t play in the majors in 2024.  It’s difficult to pick one player at this point because we don’t know now how the Mets plan to treat next season.  If forced to pick one, my guess is Scott.

We’ve talked a lot about the Binghamton players.  My final question to you: Is there one player we haven’t discussed much who piques your interest?  Jeremiah Jackson is that guy for me.  Acquired from the Angels in the Dominic Leone deal, Jackson is a former second-round pick.  He’s played all over the infield and outfield since joining the Mets and he has 22 HR, including 7 for BNG in 114 ABs.  He could be a potential 3B option should neither of the current Baby Mets work out.  More likely a utility player but that’s a very solid outcome for maybe the 10th-best prospect on the team.

David: A player who we haven’t discussed much in this article who I love is Stuart. He may be on the IL but he’s been amazing all season in so many ways that matter. His big knock is that he doesn’t strike out enough batters for a man towering on the mound at 6’9” but in 2023 he got his K/9 safely above 9.0 and a BB/9 just a hair over 2.5. Batters did better against him after his mid-season promotion but he still turned-out stellar outings even at AA. Stuart will be 24 in 2024 but should be on a short list of actual prospect starters that the Mets could send to Syracuse. I hope he gets back on the mound during the playoffs and I further hope to see big things from him next season. For what it’s worth Jackson is an excellent sleeper prospect that will be on the radar moving forward.

9 comments on “A chat on the loaded Binghamton Rumble Ponies

  • TexasGusCC

    The Mets would prefer their fans keep looking at Binghamton as a means to stay excited about the future, but I’m not buying. Gilbert has been great, but Perada, Acuna and Jackson haven’t been consistent. And while Acuna has the name recognition and I believe he has the game (those homeruns he hit last week in one game weren’t cheapies) he can use some leg work. Jett Williams has huge thighs and that has helped him power up where all we heard was he had little pop in his swing.

    Lastly, the pitching has several good options to be MLB pitchers if not top starters. That’s should allow the Mets to have a consistently strong pitching staff and not need to trade for other teams’ reliever castoffs.

    • Brian Joura

      Alvarez was considered one of the top 5 prospects so I’m not sure how fair it is to Parada to compare them. By all accounts it’s been a fine season for Parada.

  • TexasGusCC

    If we compare Parada to Alvarez at similar levels, we see there is a marked difference. In fact, of the prospects I would trade away if another team gives them top value, Parada would be first.

  • Woodrow1

    And what about JT Schwartz? Lots of fans are talking about him. Has he turned the corner.

    • Brian Joura

      If you like 1B with no power, Schwartz is your guy.

      • Woodrow1

        Like Arraiz?

        • Brian Joura

          If you want to kid yourself – sure!

  • Metsense

    Tidwell needs to conquer his control issues.
    The Mets need to be more aggressive with their promotions. If a prospect earns it then he should be promoted to the next minor league level.
    Acuna should repeat double A because he didn’t earn a promotion.
    I don’t see any player from double A helping the 2024 Mets.
    Jackson is a dark horse. I hope that he surprises the Mets.
    It seems that Stuart is a lot like Butto.
    In 2019 a saw a game in Mirabito Stadium. It is an antique but very charming.
    Next Tuesday begins the playoffs.. Go Rumble Ponies!

  • Dan Capwell

    To me, Gilbert is the first from the Double-A team to make it to Citi. The Mets 2024 outfield right now looks like Nimmo in center field, Marte in right, and some combination of DJ Stewart and a FA pick up like Grichuk in left. This assumes Mauricio at third, McNeil at second, and Baty in AAA (or traded for pitching).

    When/if Stewart comes back to earth, they can move Nimmo to left and bring up Gilbert. The Mets don’t have another player like him on the roster. Having seen him play, he reminds me a bit of a pre-crash and burned Lenny Dykstra.

    I’m in the wait-and-see mode on the pitchers. I go back to the days of ballyhooed prospects like Randy Tate, Scott Holman, and Tim Leary, as well as Generation K and Steven Matz. The best course of action IMO is to go all in on Yamamoto and make a trade for a #2 or #3 starter, the way they did with Chris Bassitt. The #5 slot in the rotation and the middle relief roles are good ways to audition these arms coming up from the farm.

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