I still remember when, during the 2012 All-Star break, SNY broadcasted a start from a top prospect named Matt Harvey. Harvey was taking the imagination of New York Mets fans by storm, and would make his debut for the big league club later that season. It was typically a rare occasion when minor league prospects would get their time in the spotlight outside of the Futures Game. The interest was there for fans to watch prospects, but it was not easy to access. With the introduction of MLB Spring Breakout games, that fortunately has changed, as the MLB is now making a stronger effort to introduce their audience to the future stars of the game. By pitting teams’ top prospects against each other in a seven inning bout, fans were granted access to see the top prospects they should be looking out for in one place. The Mets defeated the Nationals 4-2 in their Spring Breakout debut on Friday, but there was a lot more to learn from the experience than the final score.

General Takeaways

Concept: As a close follower of the Mets, it always amazes me how little you can tell about a prospect until they come up and perform in the major leagues. There is more information out there than ever about launch angles, velocity, and anything else you could ever want to know about a prospect before they make it to the major leagues, but nothing can replace watching them go up against their similarly-talented peers. From this standpoint, the Spring Breakout series is a success, because you typically do not get to see the top talents from two organizations face off against each other at the same time. An added bonus existed for those who got to attend in person. The only thing that could have made it better was if it was a nine inning game. I understand the need for brevity, especially in the spring, but more innings would mean each prospect gets a larger window to showcase their talent.

ABS System: No, not the one in your car that you need to get fixed! For so long, for some reason the big four American leagues have lagged behind other global sports when it comes to instant replay. All it takes is one morning of watching soccer or an afternoon watching a tennis match to become a fan of how fast their instant replay challenges take. It seems, at last, we are progressing towards a faster replay system in the MLB. While I was skeptical at first blush at the prospect of “robo umpires,” I very much enjoyed how the ABS system was deployed in the Spring Breakout. When a player disagreed on a ball or strike call with the umpire, they skipped the head-shaking disapproval in favor of a quick tap on the helmet. This signaled a challenge, which was promptly delivered on the Clover Park jumbotron. This challenge was a computer graphic model of the strike zone that depicted whether or not the pitch was called accurately. The best part of the process? It took less than a minute from start to finish. If this is what the system will be like when deployed in regular season MLB games, then sign me up.

Mets Takeaways

Ryan Clifford: Of course, outside of the newness that was surrounding the Spring Breakout game, there were some awesome Mets prospects hitting the field. Clifford stood out strong on offense. Acquired as part of the Justin Verlander trade, Clifford struggled to adjust to a tough Maimonides Park in Brooklyn, although he still managed to slug 6 home runs and drive in 20 runs in 32 games. In this game, he was able to get one base twice, with the highlight being his opposite field RBI double in the first inning. Mets fans should keep an eye on him this season as he gets a full season in the Mets system.

Brandon Sproat: The guy so nice, the Mets drafted him twice. First in 2022 in the third round, and then again in 2023 in the second round. His brief showing on Friday showed why the Mets wanted the former Florida Gator enough to draft him twice. How brief? Six pitches, six strikes, and two strikeouts. Yes, I know it is important to not get too excited over a brief outing, but his stuff was simply electric. At one point, he touched 99 on the radar gun, giving reason to believe he may not be too far away from the Citi Field mound.

All in all, the Spring Breakout was a great addition to the spring training slate. For the Mets, it was a sign of the great talent that they are starting to build in their pipeline, and should leave their fans feeling excited as well.

2 comments on “My Mets Spring Breakout review

  • Steve_S.

    I, too, loved the ABS challenges. Sign me up, as well!

    I can see an OF of Nimmo, Gilbert and Clifford soon—except if we sign Soto! Or maybe Clifford could be our DH/reserve OFer/1Bman.

  • NYM6986

    The auto calling of balls and strikes makes so much sense despite the overwhelming percentage of correct calls. There really needs to be one strike zone not however the plate umpire decides to call them that day. Given players that range from 5’7” to 6’8”, does someone need to input every player into the software so that the historic knees to letters strike zone can be appropriately applied? The breakout game concept is cool but the rubber still hits the road when a prospect gets to the majors. Our pipeline is much improved due deadline deals and hopefully a smarter drafting and scouting team going forward.

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