It’s time again for “Don’t Scout the Statline,” a weekly look at how Mets prospects are performing. Think of it as an XL version of the Minor League Update from the mothership. Each week I—or one of our other BP Mets prospect writers—will take a look at notable performances from each affiliate over the past seven days. And remember, the least important information in this piece is the actual numbers, because—for all you kids out there—we don’t scout the statline.
(weekly statistics from games played from 4/13/17 through 4/19/17, season statistics through 4/19/17)
Las Vegas 51s (AAA)
Dominic Smith, 1B
Last week: 9-27, 2B, HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
Season to date: .364/.407/.545, 2 HR, 9 K / 4 BB
I wrote last week about the major league timetable for Amed Rosario. I figured he had a better chance to see time in Flushing before Dominic Smith. Then Lucas Duda hyperextended his elbow, Wilmer Flores was hospitalized with a joint infection, Jay Bruce looked shaky at first base—”it’s incredibly hard”—and we are 24 hours away from learning Michael Conforto has cholera or something (never ford the river). And hey, since Smith isn’t on the 40-man roster, you’ve already got the extra year of service time banked. I don’t expect the Mets to promote him though. I sorta still suspect that they’d even prefer to go out and get James Loney again, because that is absolutely the kind of thing they do. Smith is doing what you’d expect him to do in Vegas so far, which is good, but not particularly enlightening. I’ve taken my share of slings and arrows for my reports on him over the years, but I’ve always written him as a major league regular, if not an impact one. And the Mets might need one of those “major-league regulars” sooner rather than later.
Binghamton…sigh…Rumble Ponies (AA)
Corey Oswalt, RHP
Last week: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, HBP
Season to date: 10 IP, 6.30 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 27.3 K%, 4.6 BB%, 1.80 HR/9
Oswalt doesn’t get talked about much and there is a reason for that I will get to in a minute. But he got third-round money as a seventh-round prep arm in 2012. He is a big righty with a starter’s frame and plus velocity. So he looks the part. There have been some injury hiccups over the years, but he’s coming off a season where he struck out better than a batter an inning in the Florida State League. Oswalt is 23, which is a little old by “prospect age” for Binghamton, but not excessively so given his background. He’s certainly not a top ten guy, but he wasn’t even really in consideration for our Top 30. Unless you are a prospect obsessive like our staff and maybe five other dudes on #MetsTwitter, you may not have even heard of him. That’s weird isn’t it? Andrew Church has a similarly patchy medical record—and not all that much more stuff—and he made the list. Luis Silva, a teenage with a TJ on his medical record and one start outside of the complex was in consideration. This is weird, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing: It’s a really hittable 95. A guy with that fastball—and the slider isn’t awful either—shouldn’t be giving up the most hits in the South Atlantic League, as Oswalt did in 2015. He shouldn’t even really be spending all of 2015 in the South Atlantic League. Despite his height, Oswalt doesn’t get a ton of plane on his heater, and he has below-average command. The velo and breaker have been sufficient to miss a notable number of bats so far, but the contact in the upper minors might only get louder for him.
St. Lucie Mets (A+)
Jeff Diehl, OF/DH/P?
Last Week: 9-21, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 9 K; 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Season to date: .306/.419/.528, 2 HR, 14 K / 7 BB
I was sitting in the press box in New Hampshire watching the crew blowtorch the dirt around home plate to try and get it dry enough to play. A guy who sure looked a lot like Bingo scheduled starter Tyler Pill came out with some of the coaching staff to observe the process. He had a bat in his hand and when he got bored tossed a ball up in the air and took a hack at it from near home plate. The ball almost went out to right-center. It’s a short porch, but Tyler Pill is a heckuva hitter. He was a two-way player at Cal State-Fullerton and there were some teams interested in him as an outfielder, although his pro career was always likely to be on the mound. He’s still 86-90 with three below-average secondaries. The game ended up getting banged about 90 minutes later, but I saw Pill the next night and he looked like the same passable Double-A starter in a system that has dealt a whole lot of guys the last couple years that would be passable Double-A starters. He’s hit .362/.384/.493 in 115 scattered PA. He probably ends up not quite good enough to hack it as a position player, but what do you have to lose?
Rainy Lara popped up on the Bridgeport Bluefish roster this year after getting no offers as a minor-league free agent. I don’t know if I have seen more Lara or Pill starts at this point in my life. I could look it up. It’s close either way. Lara doesn’t have Pill’s facility with the stick, but he has a pretty good slider, a bad arm action, and never held his fringy velocity past 50 pitches or so. But he was a passable Double-A starter in an org that has gone fishing for indy ball arms to fill that role an awful lot lately. I wonder if the velo and slider might have played up in the pen. Maybe enough to make him a role 3? I don’t know and the Mets don’t know, and he’s probably still good enough to start for the Bluefish.
Jeff Diehl got $135K as a late round prep catcher who was too tall to be a pro catcher. He has plus raw and a heckuva arm. I’ve seen him plenty over the years and stopped taking notes on him in the Penn League. He’s 23-years-old in Advanced-A now. The skillset probably tops out in Double-A as a corner guy—they have tried him in all of them—that strikes out too much . I suppose there’s a decent enough chance he’s Travis Taijeron.
Oh, he’s also 95-97 off the mound, which we found out because St. Lucie has needed to throw a position player out there a couple times already. It makes sense, because you have to have a really good arm to get drafted as a 6’5” high school catcher.
The Mets don’t make these moves. They don’t try Tyler Pill in the outfield. They don’t move Rainy Lara to the bullpen. Now these are trickier than the prospect watcher would like. We want to convert everyone to catcher. We want every no-hit shortstop to try his hand at pitching. There are very few Adam Loewens and Jason Mottes. You need organizational buy-in. You need player buy-in.
But man, how many dudes in that system right now can touch 97? Diehl will be a minor league free agent after this season. If the Mets don’t try him on the mound, someone else will. 95-97 has a way of getting around.
Columbia Fireflies (A)
Luis Carpio, IF
Last Week: 9-25, 2 2B, 4 R, RBI, 3 BB, 8 K
Season to date: .347/.450/.408, 7 SB, 13 K / 9 BB
I am guessing I hit the over on the Vegas line (1.5) for “weeks into this column that Jeffrey writes about Luis Carpio.” My fondness for him is well-known, but I was leery with him coming off labrum surgery. Early returns have been fine, although the live reports don’t quite match the triple slash. Unlike Wuilmer Becerra, who had similar surgery, Carpio is a polished, up-the-middle glove. That puts less pressure on the bat to come all the way back and then develop further. The shoulder surgery may force him to second base full time—he’s already playing mostly at the keystone in Columbia—which isn’t ideal. But the ball jumped off his bat as a 17-year-old in Kingsport. I thought there might eventually be 40 power there. I also thought he might move quickly. We are going to have to be a bit more patient with Carpio now. But hey, I’m in this one for the long haul.
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports