David Groveman joins me to discuss various minor league prospects for the Mets.

Brian: Here are two 19-year-old shortstops in Lo-A for your consideration:

Player A: .266/.345/.404, .329 BABIP, 10.4 BB%, 23.3 K%, .348 wOBA, 105 wRC+
Player B: .267/.332/.441, .294 BABIP, 6,7 BB%, 16.1 K%, .365 wOBA, 122 wRC+

They’re fairly similar but my guess is that if you asked 100 people, all 100 would choose Player B. That was a full season for Player A but it’s an in-progress season right now for Player B. Player A is Luisangel Acuna, while Player B is Jesus Baez.

Since then, Acuna has 240 PA in Hi-A and 402 PA in Double-A with a triple-digit wRC+, along with 169 PA in Double-A in 2022, 167 PA in Double-A and 243 PA in Triple-A with a wRC+ of 76 or less.

Acuna got off to a miserable start this year and has picked it up some here recently. In his last 15 games, he has a .794 OPS, easily his best stretch of 10 or more games this season. Syracuse as a team has a .785 OPS this year overall, so at least he’s inched above that marker in his hot streak.

My question to you: Should we consider Acuna a top 10 prospect for the Mets right now?

David: Woof! Not an easy question. This is a player the Mets traded the hollowed-out shell of Max Scherzer and an absurd amount money for. It’s hard to cut bait and bail on a player that came with those kinds of expectations so the answer can’t be a straight yes or no.

Yes, I have Acuna ranked 10th overall in my rankings as of this afternoon in early June. I began the year having him ranked 4th and began dropping him in May. By the end of this month Acuna could absolutely be outside the Top 10 in the organization but if there is a gun to my head and I’m asked about today, he’s still there.

Your comparison player isn’t ranked as low as some people might imagine. Baez began the year ranked 20th overall but has climbed slowly and steadily so that he’s now ranked 16th overall. I think you’re looking at higher odds that Luisangel Acuna falls from the Top 10 by the end of the month than Baez gets there but Baez will absolutely be in contention, especially if he moves to Brooklyn and succeeds.

Speaking of upward and downward trajectories I’d like you to talk to me about Nick Morabito (originally ranked 35th overall and now ranked 9th) and Mike Vasil (originally ranked 10th overall and currently ranked 35th). Do you agree with me in seeing the star potential in Morabito that I was once blind to and can you even remember why people were hyped about Vasil?

Brian: Just to be clear, the rankings that David references are his own.

My opinion is Baez is interesting but not in top 10 territory right now, which is my take on Acuna, too. As for Morabito, he’s an improved version of Rhylan Thomas. But they’re both players where most of their value comes from hitting singles. Yes, Morabito has more steals in his game. But he’s going to need to run an elevated BABIP to be a contributor in the majors. This type of player can succeed in MLB but their margin for error is tiny. Glad to see him doing well in the minors this year but I wouldn’t hesitate to deal him if someone asked.

As for Vasil, he was always a fringe MLB prospect. He went to the pitching lab in the offseason and they suggested some tweaks. Sometimes those things take a bit to show up so I’m not writing him off completely at this point. But he’s dropped in the pecking order. He’s got a bunch of different pitches but nothing that rates as a really plus offering.

One player we were both high on coming into the year was Alex Ramirez. He’s been more or less okay in Binghamton but not really anything about which to be excited. What’s your take on his season so far?

David: I’ve seen Ramirez a lot and when he started the year off hot I got very excited. Physically, he’s got tremendous potential. He has a build where he can hit with some power and run and, unlike Ronny Mauricio, he has a natural position he plays well. So, when he had a strong Spring Training and an OPS of .859 in April, I was gleeful that he was breaking out. He began the year in my rankings ranked 14th overall, shot up to 10th after Spring Training and all the way up to 5th when he had his hot April.

May was nothing but ice water. His batting line in May was a dismal .172/.255/.241 and he began to sag back down my rankings again. The reality here is that Ramirez is a streaky player whose numbers will always rise and fall.

Looking at his splits he has some bizarre outliers. He seems to hate playing in Binghamton where he strikes out more, walks less, hits for less power and gets caught stealing a ton. He’s also having an absolutely terrible year against lefties which seems aberrant compared to his previous minor league seasons. I’m hopeful some of these strange outlier stats even out and he ends the year closer to his April than his May.

I want to talk about Brandon Sproat with you as he’s a player we haven’t really chatted about much. I didn’t love him the first time the Mets drafted him and I still didn’t love him last year but he has been absolutely everything I could want him to be for the Mets in 2024. Four starts into his AA career and already looking like he’s become elite at the level I have him as a near future Top Prospect contender. Where do you see him?

Brian: The one thing I’d add about Ramirez is that part of his struggles here recently has been the collapse of his walk rate. In 2023, he had a 10.7 BB%, a very nice rate for a young player. But in his last 67 PA, Ramirez has just one walk, part of the reason he has a .547 OPS in that span. Someone needs to give him a take sign every now and then.

As for Sproat, there was talk when he was drafted that he was a future reliever. The Mets made some tweaks to both his delivery and his repertoire and the results have been terrific. Most young pitchers are trying to develop a consistent change but Sproat already has a good one to complement his fastball. The Mets made changes to his slider, which now is a more-effective pitch, giving him three weapons.

Walks were a problem at the beginning of the year but he’s improved in that area at the higher level. The one thing to keep in mind is that he’s been extremely fortunate with his strand rate. His 90.6 LOB% at Brooklyn was crazy. And he has a 100% rate at Double-A. It’s why despite great K and BB numbers, Sproat has a FIP nearly two runs higher than his ERA at Binghamton.

4 comments on “A Mets discussion on young shortstops, Alex Ramirez, Brandon Sproat and more

  • ChrisF

    On topic/off topic.

    I think one thing prospect status gets you is a longer rope. Im nowhere near ready to give up on Acuna.

    How often do you update rankings David? Im durous and super interested in your process and data collection.

    Whats your guys take on Nolan McLean – I heard being called Cowboy Ohtani – our very own 2 way player?

    • Brian Joura

      McLean started the year in Brooklyn and didn’t give up a run in his home park there in 16.1 IP. As you know, Brooklyn is a notorious pitcher’s park.

      Everywhere else, both in Hi-A and Double-A, McLean has an ERA over 5.

      He’s been better at the plate than I thought he’d be. Still, I think his upside as a hitter is as a guy to use when you’ve used all of your bench and Nido is up.

  • NYM6986

    I think it shows how hard it is for players to progress from being a prospect to being at the MLB level. Of the many thousands of players at different levels of the minors, less than 800 sit in the big leagues. It would be nice to catch lightning in a bottle with someone progressing quickly and making an impact like a Strawberry, Gooden or Wright but have no data to support if other teams just do it so much better from scouting, to development to coaching except for when we experience a young opposing player making a splash, while the Mets pin their hopes on marginal not ready for prime time players like Baty, Vientos and Mauricio. Remember the collection of no names playing after the last huge sell off? Are any of them still in the organization? You mentioned Mauricio- where does he fit in for 2025? Hoping Acuna turns out to be 75% of his older brother and that he can make a splash next season.
    Thanks for the look into the minors, an area where most of us have no knowledge until the players reach Syracuse and are discussed as possible call ups. Perhaps the splash is finally happening for the collection of young pitchers who are starting to step up to replace the 30 something retreads on our current roster.

    • Brian Joura

      What do you consider the last huge sell off?

      In 2017, the Mets traded Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed and Neil Walker. At least Ryder Ryan, Stephen Nogosek and Drew Smith are still around from the return. As for who the Mets called up and played that year – Chris Flexen, Tomas Nido, Amed Rosario, Paul Sewald and Dom Smith were among those who are still active.

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