What is Khalil Lee's destiny?

Colorado Rockies v New York Mets
Colorado Rockies v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Over the last two seasons, the New York Mets have managed to buy for the present while also having an eye for the future. One of the moves they made was the addition of minor league outfielder Khalil Lee last winter. He saw limited action with the big league club in 2021 when they were in some desperate need of outfielders. The results weren’t good but he did go back to Triple-A and show some positive signs.

Lee remains an official prospect of the Mets, ranking most places somewhere in the upper single-digits. He has a lot of fun tools including some speed some a little bit of pop in his bat.

Exactly what he’ll become remains unknown. Lee is the kind of player who could have a huge role with the Mets or become another lost soul on the highway.

Mets prospect Khalil Lee could be destined for a starting center field job

If the Mets could have their way, Lee might end up as a starting center fielder two years from now. Starling Marte shouldn’t be playing the position that late into his tenure. By then, he should have moved to one of the corner spots. This opens up the possibility for a younger player such as Lee to have the everyday gig in center field.

The search for a long-term solution in center field has been underway for a few years. Juan Lagares was the best defender but his injury history and subpar offense had the Mets thinking otherwise on a regular basis. Frequently, they began the year with questions at the position. Brandon Nimmo appeared to resolve many of them in 2021 with his improved defense and usual production at the plate. However, his nearing free agency and annual trips to the IL had them on the prowl to sign Marte this winter.

Lee profiles well as to what you may want from your center fielder. He is unlikely to go nuts with home runs. He has a 50+ stolen base season in the minors but didn’t commit much thievery last year which should have us expecting otherwise from him. A consistently brilliant OBP guy with a .382 number in the minor leagues, he’s a lot like Nimmo.

Starting center fielder is hardly the only job for Khalil Lee

Down a few spots on his list of hopes and dreams, just having a permanent spot in the big leagues would be nice. Players with Lee’s style can be helpful in a part-time or bench role. As a fourth outfielder—or maybe even a starter in one of the corners with a similar style of play as Nimmo—Lee could succeed.

The Mets farm system is not stocked with outfielders at any level. It has been lacking for several years, made more so by the fact that first-round picks Jarred Kelenic and Pete Crow-Armstrong were each traded away.

Rather than try to develop more outfielders from scratch, the Mets swung a deal for Lee prior to the 2021 season. In November 2021, they also added Nick Plummer, a comparable player to Lee. The Mets are somewhat hedging their bet by believing at least one of them works out. The winner could very well end up being whichever one plays a better center field.  

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