7/17/17

Tom Brennan - David Thompson, Mets' 2019 Starting 3B?

17 comments

Tom Brennan: David Thompson, Mets' 2019 Starting 3B?

Admit it...repeat after me...David Wright is finished, a tremendous career in the making truncated Mattingly-style.

Third base this year has not been kind to the Mets...21st in average at .241 (Nationals 3Bs have hit .306), 24th in RBIs at 37 (Brewers 3Bs have 78).

Perhaps Rivera or Flores, if they played every day, would do a lot better, but the position is not a strength should either be manning it full time in 2018, in all likelihood.

AAA has no answers: Phil Evans has perked up a bit lately, but he has been mediocre this year, far from a starting MLB 3B, and not close to a back up one.

So unless the Mets opt for the trade route, we look to AA:

DAVID THOMPSON

After a short 2015, full 2016, and season-to-date 2017, here is my take as of now:

He could take over as a starting 3B in late 2018 for the Mets if all goes right, and more likely in 2019.  Why?

PLUSES:

He drives in a lot of runs: 161 in 929 at bats, which works out to a rate of 100 RBIs over 575 at bats.  Nice.

He does not fan excessively: about 1 every 5.1 plate appearances.

His fielding is solid, if not sensational.

He only turns 24 next month, and so has climbed quickly and reached AA at an early enough age.

His name is David and he plays 3rd base. We're used to that.

ISSUES OR CONCERNS:

In 137 games in High A and AA in 2016 and 2017, he is only hitting about .260/.325/.410...decent but far from great.

However, after a very slow April start, he has hit .280 since in 204 at bats with 18 doubles and 7 HRs.  Solid.  Better.

He is not fast, but has stolen 14 of 17 over 257 games, showing he can be opportunistic.

MY TAKE:

Thompson could be the 2019 starting Mets 3B - or fall short. 

Wilmer Flores did better at an earlier age in the minors.  TJ Rivera hit better but with less power at the same age.  Right now, I'd favor either of them over Thompson in 2019.

Simply, Thompson will have to kick it into a higher gear to grab the 3B spot; he has made real progress but still has a lot to prove.  In fairness, he has played just 257 games, so further progress can be safely assumed.

How about Jhoan Urena?

Urena is a year younger than Thompson; after 2 bad years, he has rebounded nicely, to .293/.381/.436 over 87 games in St Lucie, although he has only hit in the high .240s since the start of June.  He seems to have a bit more speed than Thompson, but a slightly higher strikeout rate.  Fielding-wise at 3rd, Mr. Urena is not good: 37 errors in 134 games this year and last. 

He most likely forfeits his chance at starting for the Mets at 3B right there.  At first base and in the outfield, however, he has just 1 error in 31 games this year, so his future may lie more at first (where he competes with Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso) or in the outfield.

To me, I say ask me the same question this time next year.  Safe to say at this time, he has improved, but still is no shoe-in for the majors down the road. 

CONCLUSION: the last 10 weeks of 2017 will tell a lot as to the future of either Rivera or Flores at third base.  Neil Walker might be a candidate, too, but he'd have to sign a favorable contract and be willing to play 3rd. Rivera is a far cheaper option.

Thompson's outlook should start to clarify once we see how he performs the rest of 2017.

Maybe 2016 2nd rounder Pete Alonso can switch to third, which I believed he played some of while in college - he may have the best big league power bat if he can move there successfully.  However, all 68 pro games for Pete so far have been at 3rd, and he won't be ready before late 2019, in all likelihood.  He is, however, slow, to be blunt.

Manny Machado may be an expensive long term solution.  

However, I am now betting on TJ RIVERA as the Mets' 2018 starting 3B. The guy with the .314 major league career BA.

MUSINGS:

Who'd have thought as 2017 started that through July 17, TJ RIVERA would have a higher average and more RBIs than YOENIS CESPEDES.  But their combined RBIs total just 45.

Jose Reyes for Player of the Mid Month?  He has, after all hit .330 with 6 homers from June 16 thru July 16.

Jay Bruce with 24 homers in 82 games...my guess is only Kingman, Beltran, and perhaps Hundley had that many in their first 82 games of a Mets season.

Being objective, will Zach Wheeler and Steve Matz ever be more than # 5 starters?

Seth Lugo and a similar Mets minors starter Corey Oswalt in AA had similar pitching lines Saturday.  They both also homered.  And they are both pitching well.


8th round pitcher Trey Cobb has not allows an earned run for Brooklyn in 6 outings.  







17 comments:

Mack Ade said...

Good morning, Tom.

Thompson is one of many Mets minor leaguers (Molina, Conlon, Nido, Cecchini, Kaczmarski) at the AAA and AA level that just has not proved to be that they are ready to make the jump to the majors.

Dom Smith and Rosario have and I believe that Guillorme could be a long term solution at second, but Thompson has to have a break out 2018 in Vegas to open the doors to Flushing (IMO)

Zozo said...

I think Thompson will be good, but that why if we trade DeGrom we might be able to fill 3rd base and Centerfield asap.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack I agree - I am, however, hoping Chris Flexen is on the 25 man roster on OD 2018, based on his 2017 performance to date.

The way TJ Rivera is going, I am fine with him as our everyday 2B or 3B in 2018. He is .314/.347/.466 in 315 plate appearances in his career to date. I'd gladly take that from either position he'd start at.

Thomas Brennan said...

Zozo, if we traded deGrom, we'd make this rotation extremely suspect in the seasons ahead, at best, in my opinion. I would not trade him for that reason.

I have an article tomorrow at 8 AM assessing what I think of our rotation.

Charles said...

Thompson just doesn't seem to have enough power for 3rd base. Now, this guy had huge power in high school but I'm pretty sure he had a shoulder injury in college that took some of that pop away.

Maybe he grows, gets stronger and it eventually shows back up, but right now he doesn't hit enough to justify being handed third base on a major league team.

I think Urena in St.Lucy is the better bet. A little younger, switch hitter, and more power potential. Hopefully he continues to develop, but he also got hit with the injury bug and hasn't fully bounced back. Him and Rosario looked great back in Brooklyn, but Rosario has left him in the dust.

Reese Kaplan said...

I think Steve Matz has number one stuff when healthy. That's the problem. I suspect the last two awful starts are a result of yet another malady not as of yet revealed. It's so out of character for him.

With respect to Mack regarding keeping politics out of the site, I will simply say that Ty Cobb was a blatant racist which, at the time, was not uncommon. I don't know that I'd want someone to emulate that aspect of Cobb's personality.

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I forgot to mention Flexen who I have said a number of times in the pst is a slam dunk

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

sorry about the Cobb/Trump paragraph... it got past me... I revised the post

Thomas Brennan said...

Trey Cobb does have a liking for corn on the cob, that much I suspect. Was he a Husker in college by any chance?

Anonymous said...

I hope David Wright finally retires this year, so the club can move on with a buyout or perhaps, a position in the organization to be determined. Until that happens, it just feels like the team is in limbo.

I like TJ Rivera as the primary player at third for the short term. He hits and he plays solid defense.....there are bigger issues with this roster.

Mike

Thomas Brennan said...

Mike, I agree on TJ at this juncture - play him every doggone day and see what he can do. How do we know if he is not ready to take off to Murphy 2016-17 levels?

I wrote about TJ in 2015, saying that his fine hitting, coupled with limited power and lack of speed, might get him nowhere, and that if I were him, I'd beef up and ramp up the power game - which he promptly did in 2016.

I see in his picture on his MLB stat website that he has to have added muscle - the picture was physically impressive - and so his .466 major league slug %, higher than what he achieved in the minors, might still be something he can and will improve on.

The fact that he will essentially be making major league minimum wage still next year? He might right now be EXACTLY what the ownership wants and craves. Strong performance at a CHEAP price.

Gary Seagren said...

Thomas if we did go with an infield of Smith, any combination of Flores Cecchini or possibly Guillorme, Rosario and TJ it would have to be the cheapest infield in baseball and I can hear Jeffy salivating as we speak. Good pitching is SO expensive so I would keep Degrom as he's our heart and soul and ace and with the rest of the staff still on the cheap and figuring D Wright has to move on coupled with the free agent savings there no excuse for the FO not spending to fill the holes.

Thomas Brennan said...

Cecchini is just not impressing at all. Flores as 2B, Rosario SS, Rivera 3B, Smith 1B with Guillorme backing up.Cheap, risky given so much inexperience, little power.

Peter Hyatt said...

interesting article and discussion.

I think TJ needs a defensive position to work out at more definitively. He has shown good athleticism and a good bat. I don't know if he is the proverbial utility man, or if he should focus on a specialty; 3rd base or 2nd.

I don't want to see him become the next Wilmer...a bat that needs to learn effectively a single defensive position.

Peter Hyatt said...

PS: I am glad David Wright is done.

Such a man deserves to protect his health for his years ahead.

His condition is serious and life impacting. He needs a position with the Mets' player development. He has many years of high value input to young players ahead of him.

Thomas Brennan said...

Agree on Wright, Peter. Great person, but it is just risky long term for him to try to play again. I ran in the NY Marathon in 1981 and for a while after that. I have achy knees to show for it. Why push his condition trying to play and perhaps make it permanently even worse than it is now?

Thomas Brennan said...

Also, I would play Rivera daily, slump or no slump, and see if he truly can be a valuable STARTER. The budget conscious Mets' incentive is that 1/2 million a year salary.

Mack's Mets © 2012