Following a very successful 2017 season, which featured Binghamton rebranding as the Rumble Ponies, an 85-54 record, and a playoff appearance, there were fairly high expectations for the 2018 team. However, despite having a large chunk of the system’s top prospects spending time in Binghamton this season, the team finished with a disappointing 64-76 record.
Behind the disappointment of an under .500 record was some truly outstanding and encouraging performances. Those performances were not just an indication of how bright the Mets future is, but we would actually see some of Binghamton’s players contribute and impress at the Major League level.
The most outstanding performers on the Rumble Ponies included a top prospect and a player looking for a career resurgence coming off of two injury-plagued seasons: Peter Alonso and Jeff McNeil, respectively. Alonso already had an impressive minor league resume coming into 2018, but only raised his prospect status with a .314/.440/.573 performance at Double-A. With his 36 homers, he became the first ever Mets prospect to lead all of the minor leagues in homers. Alonso’s strong performance resulted in him being considered a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball.
McNeil’s career minor league numbers were also impressive, but, as a former 12th round draft pick who had only played in 51 total games since 2015, he was overlooked by many to begin the year. However, combining a huge power breakout with the impressive contact skills for which he has been known as a professional, McNeil performed so phenomenally he finally got some much-deserved recognition. Overall, his 1.029 OPS led the league at the time of his promotion. Both McNeil and Alonso were promoted to Triple-A on June 15, where they continued their strong seasons.
Binghamton was only without a top position player prospect for about a month following the Alonso and McNeil promotions before 19-year old Andres Gimenez was promoted in late-July. While Gimenez’s power numbers regressed upon promotion to Binghamton, his .277/.344/.358 slash line is still very impressive considering he was 5.2 years younger than the average player at the level. With his strong season, Gimenez is now widely considered to be a top 50 prospect in the league.
Other impressive performances included, midseason trade acquisition Will Toffey, who hit .254/.394/.433 after the trade. Levi Michael, who led the league in OBP on top of finishing in the top 10 in the Eastern League in six offensive categories, and Joey Terdoslavich, who hit .335/.386/.542 following the All-Star break. John Mora led the league in triples. Last but not lease, Tim Tebow performed surprisingly well hitting .273/.336/.399, which was actually above average for the level. Unfortunately, Tebow’s season was cut short when he broke his right hamate bone.
While the Binghamton rotation primarily consisted of a combination of minor league veterans like Mickey Jannis and Scott Copeland in the first half, by season’s end the rotation would look quite formidable.
Justin Dunn impressed immediately upon being promotion, throwing seven scoreless innings in his first Double-A start. While he had his inconsistencies against the advanced competition, including four starts allowing 5 runs or more, Dunn was able to maintain his outstanding strikeout rate and was able to pitch deeper into games than he ever had before, with 11 of his 15 Double-A starts lasting at least 6.0 innings. Overall, Dunn’s strong season led to him being ranked on several league-wide midseason top 100 prospect lists.
Franklyn Kilome only made seven starts after joining the Mets organization, but he showed major improvements from his time with the Phillies. While is ERA was only slightly better as a member of the Rumble Ponies, his peripheral stats improved significantly (4.20 K:BB ratio and 1.079 WHIP with the Mets vs. 1.63 K:BB ratio and 1.441 WHIP with the Phillies). Unfortunately, we will not be able to see him build off of this stretch as he recently underwent Tommy John surgery.
In addition to Dunn and Kilome, Nabil Crismatt performed well with Binghamton. He would get off to a very strong start to the season with a 2.67 ERA through his first 10 starts.
In addition to the top prospect starting pitchers, the Rumble Ponies’ bullpen featured many of the Mets top relief prospects, including most of the relievers acquired by the organization at the 2017 trade deadline. For the 2018 season, the bullpen was definitely a major strength for the Rumble Ponies.
Like McNeil, Tyler Bashlor, Gerson Bautista, Eric Hanhold, and Daniel Zamora would go from Binghamton to Flushing. Of the group, Zamora was the most impressive at the Major League level going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 16.0 K/9 in 16 appearances.
Even with the constantly changing nature of the Binghamton bullpen, several relievers had outstanding full seasons that deserve mention: Joshua Torres (1.19 ERA and perfect 9-0 record) and David Roseboom (had a big comeback year with a 2.72 ERA after returning from a major injury).
While the final record might not show it, there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the Rumble Ponies in 2018. Ten out of MMN’s top 30 prospects spent significant time at the level and there were several very impressive performances by players who hadn’t received much attention before the season began. It would be hard to call this season a disappointment, as it featured the continued the development and improvement of numerous prospects.
Manager: Luis Rojas
Bench Coach: Luis Rivera
Hitting Coach: Val Pascucci
Pitching Coach: Frank Viola
MMN Top 30 Prospects
Player of the Month: Peter Alonso (April)
Pitcher of the Week: Nabil Crismatt (May 28-June 3)
PA: Kevin Taylor 478
AB: Kevin Taylor 437
R: Levi Michael 72 (8th Eastern League)
H: Levi Michael 118
2B: Levi Michael 30 (T-5th in Eastern League)
3B: John Mora 7 (T-1st in Eastern League)
HR: Peter Alonso 15
RBI: Jhoan Urena 63
SB: Levi Michael 13
BB: Peter Alonso 43
BA: Levi Michael .305 (4th Eastern League)
OBP: Levi Michael .391 (1st Eastern League)
SLG: Levi Michael .470 (7th Eastern League)
OPS: Levi Michael .861 (3rd Eastern League)
Starting Pitching Leaders
W: Mickey Jannis 10 (T-5th in Eastern League)
ERA: Mickey Jannis 3.60
G: David Roseboom & Daniel Zamora 40
GS: Mickey Jannis 23
CG: Mickey Jannis & Nabil Crismatt 1 (T-5th Eastern League)
SV: Eric Hanhold 8
IP: Mickey Jannis 142.1 (4th in Eastern League)
K: Mickey Jannis 114 (8th in Eastern League)
WHIP: Mickey Jannis 1.356
K/9: Mickey Jannis 7.2