SNY contributors Joe DeMayo and Jacob Resnick answer fan questions in our first Mets Minor League Mailbag…
Can we hear ETAs for Mauricio, PCA, Baty, Allan and Lee? — @DeitcherEzra
DEMAYO: Pete Crow-Armstrong was drafted in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft and his first professional at-bat was in a big-league spring training game. I imagine there is a reasonable chance he starts the season in Low-A St. Lucie and spends the whole year there. I would peg his big-league debut to be in 2024.
Matt Allan is a prospect I am incredibly high on and think he is even more advanced than the general public may think. He has a big-league body and delivery with two big-league pitches right now in his fastball and curveball. He has worked very hard on his change-up, and he told the media during the spring that the pitch has even exceeded his expectations. I think you could see Allan either late 2022 or early in 2023.
RESNICK: Let’s start with Khalil Lee, who is the closest to the majors of the above group. He’s currently a Triple-A-caliber player but still needs plenty of time in a minor league regular season to refine his skills before he’s ready to make the jump to the big leagues.
He’s also the only one in this group that will be at the Alternate Training Site, a good spot for development in the absence of minor league games in April. Unless the Mets suffer multiple blows to their major league outfield depth, Lee won’t be needed this season. That sets him up for a mid-2022 debut.
Ronny Mauricio’s Rule 5 timeline will push him onto the 40-man roster this winter. He should reach Double-A at some point this season, and a strong start in High-A would accelerate that promotion. You’re then likely looking at a late-2022 big league cameo, similar to Amed Rosario in 2017.
Brett Baty is over a year-and-a-half older than Mauricio but has yet to play a full minor league season. As long as he performs at each level, Baty’s ascent should be swifter than most 2019 high school draftees and you could see him in the majors in late-2022 as well.
Which prospect will make the most impact with the 2021 Mets? — @DavidM_77
DEMAYO: My guess would be Thomas Szapucki, whom the Mets still intend to develop as a starter for now. I project Szapucki to end up in the bullpen where he may get a tick up in velocity in short sprints and he already possesses a breaking ball with elite level spin rate. Khalil Lee showed in spring training that he isn’t quite there yet, but the skillset is intriguing, and he will start in Triple-A Syracuse, which makes him simply a call away. If you want perhaps a little more of an unexpected name, Jake Mangum could be that guy. Mangum was the Mets’ fourth round pick in the 2019 draft out of Mississippi State, where he is the all-time SEC leader in hits. He has a contact-based approach at the plate. He can play all three outfield spots and is that grinder type who could fit on the bench. The farm system is not loaded with upper level talent at the moment.
RESNICK: There isn’t a great answer here, but I’d throw a dart at Thomas Szapucki making his debut over the summer and offering some intrigue out of the bullpen. He isn’t a prospect by definition, but 28-year-old outfielder Drew Ferguson went 5-for-11 in spring training and could be a late bloomer with a nice all-around skillset. The organization isn’t exactly brimming with talent on the doorstep of the majors.
With the Lindor deal done, will the Mets be giving Mauricio more reps at 3B so he gets a clearer path to the majors? — @MichaelTConte
DEMAYO: I am a firm believer in playing prospects at the position they are most comfortable with for as long as possible. Mauricio still has something to prove with the bat, in my eyes, and the addition of learning a new position onto his plate could have an impact on his offensive development. You can have him try some things out, but most days I would have him play shortstop for now. With that said, it is obvious the shortstop position is locked in here until the 2030s and Mauricio will have to play somewhere else if he is to be an everyday player for the Mets at some point.
Scouts believe the most likely spot long-term is third base like you mentioned. However, there has been word that they may test him out in left field as well as second base.
RESNICK: Obviously the Mets are set at shortstop for the next decade. I’m not a fan of planning depth charts years in advance (what’s going to happen to Rosario when Giménez is ready?) but the Mets have an opportunity here to maximize their success down the road.
There have been rumblings that the organization will expose Mauricio to other positions this year, which is exactly what they should be doing. He’s a shortstop until he isn’t, but teams should be looking to develop versatile minor leaguers — $341 million superstar or not.
lvarez, Baty, Mauricio and Allan made the MLB top 100. Are there any names in the farm system who you have a high confidence will be added or supplant one of those names in the 2022 list? — @Rob_Z_31
DEMAYO: I think all four of the players you mentioned will remain on top 100 lists in 2022 barring something unforeseen. My money would be on Pete Crow-Armstrong being the next one to join them. I actually ranked him ahead of Baty in the Mets system in my Updated Top 20 Prospects. He is a fantastic glove in center field, and pre-draft he was considered to be more of a slap hitter, but he has made some adjustments to his stance and swing and in spring training showed the ability to drive the ball with more authority. I think we may be underrating Crow-Armstrong’s potential at the plate.
RESNICK: I thought Mark Vientos was on a top-100 track after his strong 2019 season. He needed to show in 2020 that he could maintain his plus-plus power while raising his walk rate, but of course never got the chance to do so. The cancelation and the entrance of Baty into the system has made Vientos, in my opinion, the underdog of the organization’s top prospects.
Will the increased effort in the Mets analytics/R&D department have a ripple effect on our minor leaguers or just the MLB players? And if so, how? — @DKmitsos
DEMAYO: Absolutely! The Mets are going to build a pitching lab in Port St Lucie, which is similar to what the Yankees are doing. The smart teams are the ones that will utilize analytics/R&D as part of the development process. You don’t want prospects to go through the minor leagues with analytics knowledge being more of a choice and then flooding them with information in the big leagues. The goal should be players having an understanding of analytics early and the information being second nature, so each player can maximize his abilities.
This is a spot that Steve Cohen has already allocated dollars, and frankly, there’s no excuse for the Mets to not go from a bit behind the pack to the top dog, even if it takes a few years to get there. Invest in the best technologies and invest in the best possible personnel for the department.
RESNICK: It’s possible that the investments made in this area are going to impact the minor leaguers more than the major leaguers. All big league teams are, by now, more or less on a level playing field with the data they have access to. The minors are more wide open, with organizations like the Dodgers and Yankees having been able to use their financial might to their advantage.
It will take a few years to see the payoff, but rest assured that any investment made by the team will benefit the entire organization, from the Triple-A team all the way down to the Dominican Republic complex. An early example: the Mets are planning to build a pitching lab at their Port St. Lucie complex, according to The Athletic.
It seems most likely that Francisco Alvarez will start with St. Lucie this year with Matt Allan starting in Brooklyn, but do you think it could be beneficial to have them play for the same affiliate and work their way through the system together as our future battery? — @metsfan0431
DEMAYO: I would not feel the need to necessarily have them rise the ranks together – their development timelines will likely eventually cross. Place the prospects at the level that they belong, and worry about them being together when that time comes. I would not want to have Allan be a level lower than he should be or Alvarez a level higher than he should be simply to have them as batterymates.
RESNICK: It’s an interesting premise, but it’s not like Allan and Alvarez are complete strangers. They’ve worked together in spring training, last year’s Instructional Camp, and at the Alternate Training Site. When their development timelines match up (which could happen as soon as this summer, nothing is official yet), they’ll be long-term batterymates.