Posted by Mack Ade at 7:30 AM
Here’s what would be my Las Vegas infield would be on opening day -
The cream's starting to rise to the top...
1B – Dominic Smith – It feels like this kid had been around for a decade, but he actually will play 2017 as a 22-year old. Let’s give credit where credit is due… he hit .305/456-AB for St. Lucie in 2015 and .302/484-AB for Binghamton this past season. The power is increasing each season (.683-OPS/2014, .771/2015, .824/2016) and he did go 14-HR/91-RBIs this past season (3rd in the league in ribbys), but I still see him more like a projected Keith Hernandez type hitter. Smith could move fast through AAA ball, especially if the Mets decide to pass on Lucas Duda this year and my temporary solution on first, Wilmer Flores, goes down with an injury.
2B – Amed Rosario – It’s Rosario time. Every Mets fan that follows the minors has been waiting this kid to make it to the majors and the soon-to-be 21-year old will make his step to the AAA level this coming spring. 2016 was an amazing year for the 6-2 Rosario, who hit a combined .324/5-HR/71-RBI/.833-OPS for St. Lucie and Binghamton. Like Smith, he will eat up PCL pitching and he too could be knocking on the door if Mets injuries leave it unlocked. The combination of Smith and Rosario, like the once dynamic duo of David Wright and Jose Reyes was on the right, could be the future left side of the infield for 10+ years.
SS – Gavin Cecchini – Even I can’t ignore the 3rd highest batting average in the PCL last season (.325), but I’ve never been high on this guy mainly because how badly he plays in the field. That seems to be continuing in the Arizona Fall League and I’ve added the Eastern League’s top hitter to this roster, who also is a shortstop. Look for a healthy battle at this position.
3B – T.J. Murphy – I still haven’t decided if Rivera gets a 25-man Mets roster slot on opening day, so I have reserve a slot for him in Las Vegas at one of the many positions he can play. We don’t have to spend any time talking about this guy’s ability to hit pitching at all levels; however, he did shock most of us with his .333-BA for the Mets this past fall.
IF/UT – Phillip Evans – Evans led the AA-Eastern League in 2016 batting average with .335. I still seem to be the only Mets writer that was ever excited that this guy was drafted by the Mets in the 15th round of the 2011 draft. I had him projected as the 3rd top shortstop coming out of school that year, but he fell this low because his representative told everyone that Evans would be going on to college. So the Mets, for the hell of it, had a ton of bonus money left and offered it to Evans who said yes. Since then, it’s been a long hard six years… until 2016, when the soon-to-be 24-year old finally banged out an .860-OPS. It’s going to be very interesting how the who Cecchini vs. Evans thing plays out at short, especially if Cecchini keeps dropping the hot potato.
IF/UT – To be determined - this originally was Eric Campbell whe I wrote this, but now that he's Japan bound, that's not going to happen. I expect the Mets to sign some AAAA type infielder to fill this slot.
C – Kevin Plawecki – I no longer consider Plawecki a prospect. I’m not sure I ever did, but I still want to keep him around for an insurance policy during the usual injury plagued season. And beside that, he has proven he can hit well at the AAA level. In my opinion, Plawecki is moving into the organizational AAAA level, but that’s fine. We’ve had worse catchers in that category.
C/UT – Xorge Carillo – Carillo is a .257 career minor league hitter (6 seasons) who will play 2017 as a 28-year old. Carillo was considered a wild card draft prospect that just couldn’t get his bat on the ball. It seems to be coming around along with his defense. I don’t expect him to ever make a run for a major league slot, but I said that around T.J. for years.