In eight plate appearances with the New York Mets, Khalil Lee has been the most predictable player of all time. He has gone down on strikes each opportunity. The number eight prospect within the organization was undoubtedly rushed to the major leagues following a string of injuries to the club’s position players.
It hasn’t taken long for everyone to realize Lee was far from ready for the show. He is striking out more consistently than I did with dates in high school. I consider the one pity date I got my senior year as an intentional walk.
Eight strikeouts in as many chances don’t mean Lee’s career is over. Plenty of guys were outmatched for far more than this and went on to have spectacular careers. In Lee’s case, Mets fans will just have to hope it’s a mix of jitters and not having all of the good fundies down.
Khalil Lee is not making a good case to have a more impactful role for the Mets anytime soon
The Mets have a few major decisions to make between now and Opening Day 2022. The biggest to affect Lee involves right fielder Michael Conforto. A major free agent after this season is over, the thought crossed my mind a few weeks ago about whether or not the team could possibly view Lee as a viable replacement if Conforto did leave.
Lee is the number eight prospect for the Mets for good reason. He’s an OBP machine with base-stealing abilities. He has hit for power at times on the farm. To nobody’s surprise, the one consistency has been an abundance of strikeouts.
Those strike three calls have carried over to the major leagues. Lee hasn’t just gotten unlucky and faced some tough pitchers—he is getting manhandled by a variety of arms.
In an extreme version of how this all ends, maybe Lee opens his Hall of Fame speech talking about his poor beginning. He’ll be known as the member of Cooperstown that couldn’t figure it out early on but managed to save the Mets a few games with his defense. Tears will be shed. The camera will pan to Jacob deGrom, a longtime teammate of Lee’s, and then we’ll all wake up from the dream.
More realistically, Lee can be a very good player for the Mets as soon as next year. Rookies aren’t always built to be productive members of baseball society immediately. Some need to see a few too many strike threes before their first conversation with a first baseman.
Any hope of seeing Lee reach the big leagues and make a case over Albert Almora are slipping away. Reserve players need to be a little more contact-driven. At least Almora has hit in the major leagues before. Lee is just seeking to knock a dribbler (I call this the Tim Boyle special from my days playing in leagues I had no business hitting in) in front of the mound, hoping someone throws the ball away.
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I haven’t lost hope in Lee yet. Instead, I’ve marked the 2021 season as a cup of coffee for him. It’ll be up to him in the interim if he adds any sweetener or if this cup of joe remains bitter.