It’s that time of the year again. With the countdown clock to Minor League Opening Day being measured in hours rather than days, we’ll take a look at the under the radar prospects with a chance to take the next step in 2018. These players—one for each of the Mets’ full-season affiliates—are primed to become more well-known this year, whether in national or local circles.
Las Vegas 51s – Luis Guillorme
Already well-known in Mets minor league circles, Guillorme has all the makings of a prospect ready to burst onto the scene. The 23-year-old middle infielder has made a linear trip through the system since being selected in the 10th round of the 2013 draft, and that will continue with an assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas in 2018.
I don’t need to tout Guillorme’s all-world glove, but it’s his steadily improving bat that makes him an intriguing player. Start with his raw power, which to this point has only produced two home runs in over 1,700 minor league at-bats, but helped him smack a long ball to deep center during spring training.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 24, 2018
It isn’t unrealistic to think that Guillorme could begin to translate his batting practice power into more in-game extra-base hits, and that’s reportedly something he had been working on during the offseason and spring training. The batted ball numbers seem to favor such development, as his fly ball rate has improved every year, jumping from 10.7% in 2015 to 20.6% last season.
It’s already been well-documented that Guillorme uses all fields, possesses a fantastic eye at the plate (he led stateside Mets with a 1.31 BB/K in 2017), and has speed potential. When he puts all of his skills together, Guillorme, one of two minor league middle infielders on the 40-man roster, will have a big league role waiting for him.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies – Austin McGeorge
McGeorge, the Mets’ seventh-round pick in 2016, opened his first full season in Columbia, but the organization quickly realized that he was too advanced for the Low-A level. In 25 relief appearances with St. Lucie after May 1, McGeorge posted a 1.89 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 3.85 K/BB across 38.0 innings.
Similarly, some of the peripherals on McGeorge were fantastic. He led all Mets minor leaguers (min. 50.0 IP) with a 63% ground ball rate, and when batters weren’t punching the ball into the ground, they were whiffing hard—his sinker/slider mix led to the organization’s second-highest K% at 32.8, 88% of which were of the swinging variety.
McGeorge doesn’t throw particularly hard, topping out at around 90-91 mph, but that’s about where a guy like Paul Sewald sat before adding a few ticks to his fastball. While Binghamton bullpen arms like Tyler Bashlor, Gerson Bautista, and Adonis Uceta will deservedly get most of the fanfare, it’s worth keeping tabs on McGeorge, who will be Rule 5 eligible following the 2019 season.
St. Lucie Mets – Desmond Lindsay
Lindsay’s 2017 season can be broken into two parts, with the statistics shown below.
April 6 through June 12: .190 (31-163)/.320/.356, 14 XBH, 60 K
July 5 through July 20: .314 (16-51)/.352/.490, 5 XBH, 17 K
In the interim, the Mets’ top selection in the 2015 draft was placed on the disabled list with a vision issue that had been exacerbated by a concussion, and just as Lindsay began to find his stroke upon returning, he needed surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his elbow and missed the remainder of the season.
Between last year’s struggles and persistent leg injuries that date back to high school, Lindsay has only managed 450 at-bats in two-and-a-half professional seasons. No one has ever doubted his raw tools, which could potentially total five, but his inability to stay on the field has set his development back considerably. Coming into the 2018 campaign fully healthy (and he did look fantastic on the Port St. Lucie backfields, by the way), there is no reason why Lindsay shouldn’t be able to translate his skills into results.
Columbia Fireflies – Joshua Payne
A native of southern Connecticut, Payne struck out 101 batters and walked only 19 in 86.0 innings during his senior year at West Texas A&M before the Mets took him in the 22nd round last June. As most college seniors usually are, Payne was assigned to Kingsport (R), where he worked primarily two-inning stints. There, he continued his strong work, fanning 25 while walking a mere four in 16.1 innings.
One of only two pitchers promoted straight to Columbia from Kingsport, Payne, an imposing figure on the mound at 6’6″, 220, works with a fastball that consistently reaches the upper 90s, which evidently induces weak contact and a ton of swings-and-misses. I suspect he will be a part of a Fireflies rotation that will feature a ton of piggybacks and be comprised of a bunch of pitchers who have yet to prove themselves in pro ball, so there will be opportunities aplenty for Payne to separate himself from the pack.