It was a great offseason for the New York Mets. Under the new ownership of Steve Cohen, the Amazins’ are back to being that; with a bit of flair and star power to fill their basepaths.
Let’s start here: the Mets have Francisco Lindor – a reality that in past years could only be realized in the wildest dreams of fans, or on their MLB The Show Rosters. They also acquired a new starting catcher, much-needed reinforcements to their pitching staff, and a pool of new bench players for manager Luis Rojas to utilize.
But they’re not the only Mets creating a buzz throughout camp.
The new front office’s decision to invite 28 non-roster invitees to Port St. Lucie, Florida this spring brought their spring roster to the maximum 75 players!
In short, there’s a lot of competition in this camp. And SS Ronny Mauricio, RHP Matthew Allan, C Francisco Alvarez, last year’s first-round pick OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, and the recently added RHP J.T. Ginn are part of that!
As non-roster invitees, however, their presence is a chance for management to evaluate their progress after a long winter while at the same time, offering fans a glimpse of the future of the team they cheer for.
With another week in the books, and baseball returned, here’s the Mets news you may have missed.
The Front Office hit a home run this offseason, and the team’s young crop of talent is continuing to score. In their first week back, the young players are making their presence felt with the prospects rising to the top of the news coming out of big league camp.
This past week, the new and improved Mets team kicked off their Spring Training exhibition games for the month of March. And thanks to a solid offseason, the newest members of the orange and blue were wearing their new threads for the first time.
This year’s free agent haul included: RHP Sam McWilliams, RHP Trevor May, C James McCann, LHP Aaron Loup, OF Albert Almora Jr., INF Jonathan Villar, OF Kevin Pillar, and RHP Taijuan Walker – all of whom are likely to make the make the Opening Day roster.
Therefore, it’s fairly evident which players are already penciled in once the regular season begins in April. However, there are a couple of spots on the pitching staff and utility positions that remain competitive.
Minor Leaguers stealing the spotlight
With a 162-game season in front of us, it’s a long march from April to October. And along the way injuries, set-backs, and ‘other’ bumps in the road should be expected. That is why it was smart of the front office to invest so much time and money into bolstering the farm system in addition to adding major league talent to the roster this winter.
Each of these players ranked in the Mets 2020 top 30 prospects with ETA’s for this season, and each could contribute to the team’s postseason dreams, if needed down the stretch.
Drafted in this third round of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft, 22-year-old OF Khalil Lee is currently ranks No. 7 in the Mets farm system since they acquired him in a three-team deal with the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox.
With Brandon Nimmo, Pillar, and Almora Jr. all set to fill the centerfield position, it might not appear likely the former Royal will find himself in orange and blue anytime soon. But injuries could very well be the reason behind his future call to the majors.
Meanwhile, No. 9 prospect LHP Thomas Szapucki is a name fans might recognize, as his debut has been touted for the last year or so given his development – and the Mets need for pitching depth.
The 24-year-old posted a combined 2.63 ERA in 11 games split between Single-A and Double-A games in 2019 and was taken 149 overall in the 2015 draft by Sandy Alderson. Although they bolstered their staff this past offseason, it’s always good to have someone warming up in the minors.
That being said, one of the arms Sandy Alderson targeted for pitching depth – and who ranks among the most likely of these prospects to see playing time – RHP Sam McWilliams who signed a one-year with the team in November 2020 before taking over the No. 22 ranked prospect position in the organization’s minor league system this past week.
And as noted in my last list of non-roster invitees to look out for, LHP Jerry Blevins is one to watch for as well. Overall, each of these players could make their MLB debuts this season, which speaks to the new front office’s commitment to fortify their reserve and minor league players.
As an aside, here is a list of additional top prospects with ETA’s slated for 2021 who may not see major league playing time this season, but are still future Mets to look out for in camp:
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No. 18 2B Carlos Cortes, No. 21 RHP Ryley Gilliam, No. 23 RHP Oscar De La Cruz, No. 24 C/1B Patrick Mazeika, No. 27 RHP Tony Dibrell, and No. 28 RHP Tylor Megill are not likely to see playing time yet (even if the opportunity is there) given the development they still need to refine.