|Jeff McNeil at bat in Port St. Lucie|
|Dominic Smith at bat in Port St. Lucie|
Well anyway, I wanted to go back to my version of 'old faithful' by talking more about the prospects who have been honing their skills at the high A level, and more specifically discuss and debate who should be promoted, and who should not.
First things first, Jeff McNeil belongs in AA baseball right now. He's 23 years old. He also has over 520 official at bats at the high A level at this point. Oh, and he has spent pretty much the entire 2015 season atop the FSL in hitting.
I've seen him play LIVE on two different occasions. Once playing 3B, and the other playing 2B. Regardless of position, its safe to say that McNeil can handle pretty much any position on the infield, and in no way be a detriment to the team, or the pitchers during those given games. He has the range, speed and arm to play anywhere on the infield part of that diamond.
And, speaking of speed, he has plenty of that. After stealing only 17 bases in his first 164 games as a profession, McNeil has come out in 2015 with 13 stolen bases in 79. Now, I'm not trying to compare him to Billy Hamilton or anything, but hear me out. Jeff is the definition of 'scrappy'. I've seen him lead of a game, first pitch, and bunt it perfectly down the 3B line for a single. I've seen him tag from first to second on a ball hit to right field. I've also seen him steal bases, and take the extra base to put himself into scoring position.
With the recent announcements out of AA Binghampton of 3 players being release, two of those happened to have been players manning the infield for the B Mets. And, as I have been saying for a few weeks now, Jeff McNeil coulda shoulda woulda already been manning 3B for Bingo if I was in charge, (certainly no offense to the young man who was playing the position up until his release).
I understanding that L J Mazzilli has been seeing time regularly at 2B, and while not exactly lighting up the scoreboard since his return from suspension, I also understand that the Mets invested a pretty high draft pick on him, and would like to see more of him for the remainder of this year.
Also of note, Jeff does not personify the definition of what it means to be a 'corner infielder' and the usual power numbers that often come with that. Jeff only has 4 career professional homeruns up to this point. But he has already hit double digits in doubles, and has hit triples in his short career up to this point.
Long story short, I feel that Jeff belongs on the Bingo roster. Whether its starting at 3B regularly, or simply being their super utility guy, and resting everyone as needed around the infield. Either way, I want this young California kid to get his chance at the 'show me' level during this season.
The other young man is the one who becomes the most intriguing at this point. 20 year old Dominic Smith. The high schooler with the sweet swing, knack for making contact, and power potential. Well, enter 2015. After starting off terrible, Dom has since continued a torrid pace that has just as quickly put him atop the higher end of the league in batting average, to go along with his league leading doubles total.
What makes things interesting are two things (ok, maybe three). His power numbers, and his age. (I'm trying to leave out the conditioning part).
I will defend this young man and his power to the end. I've seen the ball explode off his bat. I've seen the rocket shot go just left of the foul pole on the fly that will never show up on a stat sheet, and I've seen his ability to hit the ball ANYWHERE on the field, which can also possibly explain the high batting average. The kid is not up there to try to hit homers every at bat. He's up there to put the ball in play, and his balls, hard/soft, on the fly or on the ground, are finding holes. And unlike a certain 1B currently wearing a Mets uniform, I don't any team ever being able to play him in any specific direction on the diamond. This is a good thing.
However, with all that being said, I keep going back to the age thing. (ok maybe conditioning, but please for the love of God don't send him to those fitness/strength camps which apparently or coincidentally are getting lots of guys coming out injured during the season).
Dom will play out the remainder of the season as a 20 year old. Yes, in my humble non expert opinion, there is NOBODY in his way at the AA or AAA level right now. But what would be the goal of pushing him further at this point in his young career?
So, honestly, if it was up to me, I would actually go the conservative route, and perhaps go ahead and promote another guy who's played his share of 1B at times to rest Dom, which is Matt Oberste He appears to have started to slow down a bit after a strong start to the season, posting only a .256 BA with 9 Ks and 0 homers in his last 10 games. However, like Jeff McNeil, Matt is 23 years old and he closing in on 600 career ABs at the A ball level, between Lucie and Savanah from last year.
Again, I'm not basing everything solely on numbers an age. And, to be honest, If neither is truly needed, and since Lucie goes with a DH in the FSL anyway, nothing has to change with either big hulking corner infielder. But, as it stands, I will contend that Dominic Smith spending an entire season in St. Lucie might not hurt his development in any way. Although, before the numerous minor injuries, Brandon Nimmo showed solid power numbers when he made first made the jump to Bingo, and so it might be interesting to see a little sooner what Dom can do at the level, and away from the hot Florida sunshine and humidity.
Those are pretty much the main attractions of the post, but I would to touch on a few other guys if I may.
Starting with Amed Rosario.......Now ending conversation on Rosario :) He's 19. Cechhini is hitting at AA. Reynolds apparently needs to get healthy or just be replaced by somebody else to finish out year there. No thank you. Enjoy the Florida sun. Give me a chance to see you again LIVE again this year to see you dominate on the defensive side of the game.
Regarding pitching, I remain intrigued by two guys I've seen LIVE. Rob Whalen and Miller Diaz. Rob is the younger one, at age 21. He's been with the organization since 2012. He's never pitched more than 80 innings in any season. His career ERA as a professional is an amazin 2.35. Although, that being said, you can also state that he is then technically having his worst season with his current 3.18 ERA so far. His career WHIP is a solid 1.06. As I've stated in earlier assessments after watching him pitch, I love his 75ish mph hook, and ability to throw to both sides of plate. If I had concern (to try and pretend to be a true expert evaluator), it would be all about pitch count with this kid. I definitely love his fire and his mental approach (was still really cool to see a player get thrown out of a game like he did when I saw em). But, I noticed that, for pretty much every hitter, he spent a lot of energy trying to paint the corners (again, might explain the getting tossed part). He was mixing his pitches well, but for all I know that might almost be a negative too, in that each batter seems to get chance to see every pitch he offers right off the bat.
So, based on age, performance, and strength within the entire farm system at this point, I'm ok with Rob spending the entire season right where he is.
Miller, on the hand, may go a different route in my opinion. Like Whalen, Miller does not possess any kind of power on the mound, by maintain a FB in the low 90s. But I like what I see in him. He has look of a "LIVE arm" or "Rubber arm". I've seen him use of plenty of breaking stuff to almost actually overshadow any use of his fastball, and it allowed him to easily get into the 6th/7th inning with a pitch count under 80. Plus, unlike Rob, Miller is also now that major number of the day, 23 years old. This, in and of itself, is absolutely not old by any standards for high A level. But this young man has been playing professionally since 2009. His first experience at the A ball, full season level was back in 2012.
I hate to the use the term 'organizational filler', because I have nothing but respect for anyone and everyone that goes for their dreams and fights to make their dreams come true. But, I guess at this point, if the Mets have no plans for to promote this solid professional and savvy pitcher this year, then what is the plan with him going forward?
All in all, I've been happy to have had the chance to watch some beautiful minor league A ball out in port st Lucie. I've seen some very solid young talent. (I've also unfortunately/fortunately have seen too much major league talent getting ABs due to rehab work).
Now, in regards to promotions, I would throw my hat in the corner of McNeil, Oberste (if truly needed) and Miller Diaz.
Based on other factors like need, older-ish age and experience, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to find room at Bingo for guys like Miakis De La Cruz, Jeff Glen/Colton Plaia or anyone else I might have missed. I'm simply throwing out ideas, thinking about the possible 'promotion period' season that is right now in the majors and minors, and look forward to any/all thoughts, ideas, suggestions and maybe give me a kid you think might be in St Lucie soon and I should be paying them attention this year by going to see them LIVE if/when they get their promotion from Savannah.