Welcome to This Week in (Minor League) Baseball, a weekly look at how Mets prospects and minor leaguers are performing. Think of it as an XL version of the mothership’s daily Minor League Update. Each week we will look at one or two players from each level who have stood out for their performance (good or bad). And remember, the least important information in this piece are the actual numbers, because for all you kids out there, we don’t scout the stat line.
(stats from games played through 4/12/16)
Seth Lugo, RHP (Las Vegas 51s / AAA 4 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
Gabriel Ynoa, RHP (Las Vegas 51s / AAA): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Mets fans gnashed their teeth and rended their garments over the “struggles” of Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard in Las Vegas. Sure, their ERAs weren’t shiny, but both struck out better than a batter an inning, and neither have shown any real ill effects from pitching in that environment. The non-elite pitching prospects, however, don’t always fare as well. All contact in the desert is bad contact, and without bat-missing stuff, you end up in a ditch with Nicky Santoro. Seth Lugo and Gabriel Ynoa may have a tough time of it this year. Lugo has a curve that could rack up the strikeouts, but he has to get ahead with a fringy fastball first. Ynoa has a bit more velocity, but he has never developed even a fringe-average breaker, and he lives in the zone. Ynoa did alright in his first start, Lugo less so, but remember, the house always wins. But hey, Erik Goeddel, Gonzalez Germen, and Matt Bowman all posted 5+ ERAs on the strip, and all have gotten major league per diems.
Jeff McNeil, IF (Binghamton Mets / AA): 3-12, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, K, SB
Shockingly the weather hasn’t been great in the Southern Tier during the second week of April, so the B-Mets have only played half of their scheduled six games so far. McNeil has been the standout in the lineup and has driven in two-thirds of Binghamton’s runs so far. A very good high school golfer, he didn’t commit to baseball until he arrived at Long Beach State and has always been a bit rawer than you would expect from a player coming out of a well-regarded Division I program. He was always a skinny kid when I saw him over the years, albeit one who could run a bit, field a bit, and had a very pretty swing from the left side when it was in time. McNeil reportedly added 35 pounds this past offseason, and while that might be a bit of #BSOHL hyperbole, he does look like an average-sized baseball player nowadays. He hit a home run on opening night, and hit a go-ahead double off a lefty (he has had issues picking up the ball from southpaws in the past), and added a loud right-center warning track fly in my look on Sunday afternoon. He is passable at shortstop once a week and can handle second and third. If the newly added strength continues to translate into more game power, I don’t see much now that separates him as a prospect from say, Matt Reynolds. And McNeil still has squint-and-you-can-see-it second-division starter potential.
Amed Rosario, SS (St. Lucie Mets / A+): 9-29, 3B, HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, 7 K, 3 SB
It was a little bit curious when Rosario was once again assigned to the Florida State League. The Mets made noises about keeping him out of the cold weather (and, sure, I would have preferred to spend last weekend in Florida myself), but the 20-year-old shortstop held his own as the youngest player in the league last year, and the Mets have never been shy about challenging him before. He arrived back on the scene with this:
— Amed Rosario (@Amed_Rosario) April 8, 2016
I remarked about the gains Rosario has made year-over-year in the field in his entry on the Mets Top Ten Prospect list, but he has made strides at the plate as well. He has added some good weight, and now his incredibly quick wrists are attached to a frame you could see generating real game power in the future. The hand path is still quirky, and he can get out of sync with his lower half. There is still a fair bit of swing-and-miss in his offensive profile, and he struggles to identify spin. The real test for his bat will still be the Eastern League, but we may just have to wait until it is cracking 50 degrees for a proctor.
So like late July then.
The Columbia Fireflies Bullpen (Columbia Fireflies / A): 17.2 IP, 8 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 15 BB, 26 K, 2 HR
At this point in my career, I don’t ask much more from A-ball bullpens than to work quickly and throw strikes. Just do what you can to minimize the late-inning mound conferences. The Fireflies pen would have elicited groans from me and the entire scout section during their first week of play. They were on the hook for three walk-off losses in the franchise’s first four games (at least kind enough to finish the job and not send it to extras I suppose), walking almost a batter an inning in the process. I shouldn’t be shocked, it’s many of the same suspects from several bullpen blow-ups that I had to sit through in Kingsport last year. At least when the manager remembered to write their names on the lineup card. There are some bright spots in the pen. Tyler Bashlor is finally back on the bump after missing two full seasons after Tommy John surgery. The Mets gave him over half a million dollars as an 11th round pick that year, and he showed an upper-90s fastball pre-surgery. If the stuff is all the way back he should overpower the South Atlantic League and could move quickly. Johnny Magliozzi is on his second UCL as well. The diminutive righty has only thrown 38 professional innings and will turn 25 in July, but he has shown a four-pitch mix out of the pen, and can ramp the fastball up into the mid-90s. Like Bashlor, he shouldn’t be long for this league, and if all goes well, he will be celebrating the quarter-century mark in St. Lucie.
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports