Could Michael Conforto debut with Mets next August?

By Danny Abriano

During his most recent ESPN chat, Keith Law answered “August” when asked when he thought recently drafted outfielder Michael Conforto would debut with the Mets.

Law wasn’t referring to August of 2016, he was referring to this coming August…a bit over eight months away.

Could this happen?

Conforto, 21, was drafted by the Mets with the 10th overall pick last June, viewed as the best college hitter in the draft and as someone who should move quickly through the minors.

Here’s what Baseball America thought of Conforto around the time of the draft:

"Conforto ranks as the best present hitter in the 2014 draft….Conforto has present strength and above-average bat speed. He has controlled his aggressiveness as a junior, taming a swing that got too big over the summer with Team USA. … He has plus raw power and should project to hit 20-25 [homeruns]annually."

After signing, the Mets assigned Conforto to short-season Brooklyn and kept him there for the remainder of the Cyclones’ season. Conforto tore up the New York Penn League, hitting .331/.403/.448 in 186 plate appearances in 46 games.

Once Brooklyn’s season ended, Conforto was promoted to Low-A Savannah for a taste before their season came to a close.

It’s expected that Conforto will open the 2015 season with High-A St. Lucie, although him potentially opening with Double-A Binghamton hasn’t been ruled out.

Still, it’s tough to see an opening for Conforto on the big league roster as soon as August of 2015. A big league taste when rosters expand in September makes sense, but August?

The Mets would almost certainly not call Conforto up to serve as a bench piece, so there would need to be an opening in either left field or right field.

At present, the Mets are expected to go into 2015 with Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, and Michael Cuddyer from left to right in the outfield.

If one of the Mets’ starting outfielders suffers an injury that results in a trip to the disabled list, it’s conceivable that Conforto or Brandon Nimmo could be called upon to fill the need.

The presence of Conforto and Nimmo likely had a lot to do with the Mets giving Michael Cuddyer a two-year deal instead of potentially seeking a longer-term option via free agency or trade, which should be a hint at how highly thought of they are.

Conforto is expected to move quickly. Even if he opens with St. Lucie, he could be promoted to Double-A in a matter of months. If he opens with Double-A, he could conceivably be just a phone call away from the majors – evidenced by the fact that the Mets skipped the much more raw Dilson Herrera over Triple-A this past season.