From almost the onset of the offseason, the New York Mets got busy adding to the organization. A major turnover in the front office with the addition of David Stearns to the captain’s chair is all it took for a complete overhaul of bodies.
If there’s one thing that isn’t up for debate this offseason it’s Stearns’ aggressiveness at adding players on minor league deals. Although often irrelevant, one of those minor league signings looks like it could have the largest payoff.
Back in mid-December, the Mets struck a deal with Taylor Kohlwey. The left-handed hitting outfielder has put up some excellent numbers at the Triple-A level dating back to 2019 and yet it wasn’t until 2023 when he finally played in the majors. How can his presence help the Mets?
Taylor Kohlwey is a more important Mets minor league signing than meets the eye
Unlike Trayce Thompson who has had his chance in the majors and not done much with it other than a few flashes, Kohlwey remains a bit of a mystery. Although just 2 for 13 in his brief time with the San Diego Padres last season, his minor league numbers stand out.
In 2786 plate appearances he’s a .282/.371/.418 hitter. Last season in El Paso he batted .276/.390/.437 with 12 home runs, 73 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.
There isn’t anything Kohlwey has done particularly special. As a 21st round draft pick, expectations for him to reach the majors were never really there. But he has stuck with playing baseball and chasing the dream. Like several minor leaguers, he jumped across to the Australian Baseball League during the pandemic and slashed .318/.434/.651 with 5 home runs in his 20 games in the Outback.
Helping Kohlwey stand out from some of the other minor league signings are his two remaining options. This may have been one of the reasons why the Mets seemed to randomly turn to DJ Stewart last year over some others. He had an unused option left (still does) and promoting him to the majors paid off. If the Mets ever did need an outfielder, they could call up Kohlwey without having to lose him. Of course, a corresponding 40-man roster move would need to take place to make room for him.
The major league outfield depth for the Mets is decent and always will be as long as Jeff McNeil is around and available. In the minors, it’s a little bit different. There are guys like Drew Gilbert who the Mets should be tentative about promoting until truly ready and based on need. He doesn’t need to be on the MLB roster prematurely or on a club whose season is spiraling out of control. Kohlwey is an early-season project to promote for a short or long period whereas Gilbert should probably come up and stay for good.
Kohlwey is a guy to give your team some temporary outfield relief early in the year or to see what, if anything, he has to offer. His Triple-A numbers suggest there’s something there. He just needs the chance to show if they can translate into any sort of major league competency.