The New York Mets called up a few of their top prospects in 2022. Francisco Alvarez (#1 overall in MLB), Brett Baty (#18 in MLB, #2 in the Mets’ system), Mark Vientos (#7 in Mets’ system), and Jose Butto (#15 in Mets’ system) all made their way to Queens to get their first taste of the Major Leagues.
The question is, can the Mets count on these young guys to make major contributions in 2023?
I think the answer to that is yes, but the Mets have to give them the opportunity to develop at the Major League level. If you look at the most successful prospects over the last couple of years - Julio Rodriguez, Jeremy Pena, Adley Rutschman in 2022, Jonathan India and Randy Arozarena last year - their teams committed to letting them play and develop at the highest level, and they were rewarded for it.
If you look at teams that don’t do that - most notably, the Yankees this year with Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera - it doesn’t work out well. If young players arrive at the ballpark not knowing what position they’re playing or where they’re hitting, it can be jarring for them.
Luckily, the Mets should be able to give the young guys plenty of playing time.
The most obvious candidate for that is Baty. I think there will be a time next year where he takes the starting third base job from Eduardo Escobar. Escobar can move around the infield a little bit when other guys need rest, or he could see time at DH. Baty is a better defender, and once he gets comfortable in The Show, I think he’ll have a better bat too. People love to talk about him in trade rumors, but I don't think he's going anywhere.
Francisco Alvarez is an interesting option at catcher. He is so young and way more talented than James McCann, but it’s going to be hard to move his contract if the Mets want to do a tandem of Alvarez and Tomas Nido. That would be my choice, so maybe Steve Cohen decides to eat McCann’s contract. It’s only $24 million, right?
Vientos is the one who might have a hard time finding the playing time he needs to develop at the highest level. He’s not going to play third over Baty or Escobar, and he’s not going to play first over Alonso. He could DH, but I don’t know if the Mets want to lock up their DH spot with one guy, since they used it as a rotating-off-day slot this year. He might be expendable enough to be traded this winter, but if not, he might find himself in AAA unless there’s an injured player he can fill in for.
Jose Butto is in a unique situation. He didn’t look good in his one appearance in The Show, but he’s been consistently good throughout his minor league career. Given how the Mets have to almost entirely overhaul their rotation and bullpen, I think he might sneak his way onto the roster in 2023. I see him as a swingman, similar to Trevor Williams, who will be the long man out of the bullpen and make the occasional spot start as needed.
The bottom line is yes, I think the Mets can rely on these young guys to contribute next year, especially if they get the consistent playing time they need to finish their development. This is the first wave of what Cohen and Billy Eppler call their “sustainable winning” goal, and I’m excited to see how it all unfolds next year.