The Columbia Fireflies have released their initial roster for the 2018 season headlined by 2016 first round pick Anthony Kay.
Walter Rasquin – Rasquin sped by Angel Pagan’s Brooklyn Cyclones stolen base record last year, breaking it with 32 steals. The speedster has consistently hit for a high average over the past few years.
Rigoberto Terrazas – Kingsport had an opening at third base coming into the 2017 season and Terezaas solidified that position, having a breakout 2017 campaign with improved plate discipline.
Blake Tiberi – Last year, he was hoping to improve upon his horrendous 2016 debut, but his 2017 campaign was unfortunately cut short by Tommy John Surgery. Even though he’s struggled in the Minor Leagues so far, his college numbers were excellent so there’s hope he can put it all together.
Edgardo Fermin – He excelled in his stateside debut this year, hitting at a .352/.425/.451 clip with the Kingsport Mets. He’s regarded to be one of the better prospects in the lower levels of the Mets system, but he could develop into something special if he can hit for more power. He played second and shortstop last season.
Gio Alfonzo – Signed by the Mets early this month, he’s the nephew of former Met and Brooklyn Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo. Last year, Alfonzo hit ..309/.338/.395 with 17 doubles, a triple, four homers, and 45 RBI in 106 games for the Long Island Ducks.
Jeremy Vasquez – The 2017 28th rounder slashed .266/.368/.430 in his pro debut for Kingsport. He played exclusively first base.
Matt Winaker – The fifth rounder in 2017 had an excellent .402 OBP, but a .282 SLG rose some concerns. Fireflies listed him in the outfielder despite playing all 21 games for Brooklyn last year at first.
Wagner Lagrange – Already the owner of one of the best outfield arms in the Mets system, Lagrange finally broke out offensively last year with a .308/.378/.436 slash-line.
Quinn Brodey – The Mets 2017 third rounder had impressive offensive numbers with Stanford and in the Cape Cod league, but was not able to convert that to minor-league success. He only hit .253/.302/.355 last year in 245 at-bats for the Cyclones and the Fireflies.
Raphael Gladu – The Mets 2017 16th-rounder had a solid debut in Kingsport last year, posting a 269/.342/.369 slash-line which resulted in a 97 wrC+.
Jay Jabs – His offensive numbers need to improve, but last year’s offensive statistics took a step in the right direction, as he posted a slugging percentage that was over .100 points higher than his debut year. He has never caught in a minor league game though that’s were the team listed him.
Dan Rizzie – The backstop threw out 29 of the 63 baserunners who attempted to steal against him last year.
Scott Manea – Former Mariners draft pick that had as many walks (18) as strikeouts (18) last season for Brooklyn.
Anthony Kay, LHP – The former ace of UConn will pitch his first professional season in 2018. Reports coming out of minor league camp rave about the 23-year-old.
Tony Dibrell, RHP – Dibrell had a difficult 2017 debut, but is armed with one of the best changeups in the Mets system.
Jake Simon, LHP – It was a rough 2017 season for the former 11th round pick, he had a 6.02 ERA and 1.83 WHIP between Columbia and Brooklyn.
Nicolas Debora, RHP – Debora pitched well with the Cyclones last year, leading Brooklyn starters in strikeouts and ERA.
Darwin Ramos, RHP – It was a tale of two seasons for the 22-year-old in 2017. He struggled his first five appearances in St. Lucie, prompting the Mets to send him to Brooklyn. He succeeded in their rotation, but once he joined the Fireflies, he reverted back to his St. Lucie form.
Chris Viall, RHP – The Mets hoped that his elite velocity would allow him to blossom in the rotation, but injuries and command issues could force him to the bullpen.
Marcel Renteria, RHP – Mets sixth rounder from 2017 struck out 17 in 11.1 innings for Brooklyn last season though he walked seven in that span too.
Cannon Chadwick, RHP – A reliever to keep an eye on this upcoming season, Chadwick debuted last year and struck out 40 batters over 27.1 innings.
Trey Cobb, RHP – Another 2017 draftee, Cobb had a 3:1 K/BB and a 2.63 ERA as a reliever for the Cyclones last year
Conner O’Neil, RHP- O’Neil impressed in his first season in 2017, recording 27.5 K% and a 56.1 GB%
Steven Villines, RHP – The sidearmer had an impressive debut in 2017 striking out 41 and issuing only one walk in 27.1 innings , succeeding with his upper-80’s fastball and impeccable control
Joe Cavallaro, RHP – 34.2 dominant innings in Kingsport last year must have been enough to convince the Mets that their 24th rounder didn’t need another go-around at that level.
Joshua Payne, RHP – Payne appeared in nine games with Kingsport last year and although he did not post incredible numbers, his .169 batting average against was outstanding.
Got contributions from Andres Gimenez, Michael Paez, Merandy Gonzalez, Harol Gonzalez and of course Tim Tebow last season as they went 68-70. However promotions and trades drained many of the regulars and Colombia will field almost a completely new team this year, containing only a few holdovers from last year. There are some intriguing names on this team, but it seems likely that Columbia will need to exceed expectations to improve upon last year’s record.
Andres Giminez’s departure to the St. Lucie Mets left two huge gaps in Colombia roster; a lack of a starting shortstop and the absence of any blue-chip prospect. However, 18-year-old Mark Vientos could fill both of those positions later this season. The Mets second rounder out of the American Heritage High School last year impressed with both GCL Mets and the Kingsport Mets and he could be an early recipients of a promotion.
The lineup is filled with many prospects who had terrific 2017 seasons, however it may be difficult to repeat those stat-lines. Rigoberto Terrazas had a tremendous .348/.413/.486 stat-line, but his sky-high BABIP points to major regression. Same goes for Wagner Lagrange.
Their lineup doesn’t possess many boppers, but many players are intriguing. Despite an injury ruining his 2017 campaign, there is still hope that Blake Tiberi could give Columbia another decent hitter. Walter Rasquin will add some speed to a lineup that has been lacking a speed demon since Champ Stuart. Matt Winaker strong on base skills could make for a good top of the order hitter.
Their starting staff will be led by Anthony Kay, who will pitch in his first season after undergoing Tommy John surgery immediately after being drafted 31st overall in 2015. As long as everything goes to plan, the southpaw will start his pro career at Colombia and should quickly ascend the minor-league ladder.
The obvious strength of this team is their bullpen. Their deep pen will alleviate some pressure off the rotation, many of whom are coming off shortened seasons.