Once again, there have been a number of outstanding performances in the Mets minor leagues during the Month of May with some players starting to raise their profiles. While we cannot mention everyone who has had a good month, here are the staff selections for the top performers in each category.
Position Player – Jeff McNeil, INF
In what may come as a surprise, it is McNeil, not Peter Alonso, who becomes the first Mets minor leaguer this season to be dubbed as the MMN Player of the Month for the second straight month. However, when you dig deeper into McNeil’s numbers, this award should not come as a surprise.
After getting promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas in the middle of the month, not only did McNeil not skip a beat, he actually improved his stats. In his first 14 games in Vegas, McNeil hit .397/.438/.603 with six doubles, two homers, and 12 RBI. He would actually end the month on a 12 game hitting streak, which has only grown to 17 games and counting.
In that stretch, McNeil has nine multi-hit games, three three hit games, and one four hit game. Just like in Double-A, it is near impossible to get him out.
Overall, during the entire month, McNeil hit .381/.436/.581 in the Month of June with nine doubles, four homers, and 22 RBI. With the way he has been hitting, how much he continues to improve, and his versatility, he was positioned himself well to be called-up to the majors once the Mets begin making trades.
Honorable Mention – Kingsport second baseman Luis Santana began his season hitting .432/.500/.622, and Mets first round pick Jarred Kelenic burst onto the scene hitting .579/.619/.737 in the Gulf Coast League (both in less than full months).
Starter – Harol Gonzalez, RHP
As we see each and every year with him, Gonzalez just continues to adapt, improve, and really just flat out pitch. In essence, Gonzalez is your pitcher’s pitcher who doesn’t beat himself. Instead, he hits his spots while making the batters get themselves out.
Looking over his past month for St. Lucie, it really is hard to pick a single stat that is most impressive. Immediately, you can look towards his 1.86 ERA in four starts. That’s terrific, but it could be the underlying stats which drove that low ERA which could be all the more impressive.
For instance, during the entire month, Gonzalez issues just four walks in 29.0 innings pitched. That’s just 1.2 walks per nine innings. His being stingy issuing free passes is one of the reasons he had a simply outstanding 6.25 K/BB ratio.
Of course, limiting his walks has more tangible effects as well. By not going overly deep into counts and not having to face an extra batter, Gonzalez was able to go deep into games averaging 7.1 innings per start in the month. That’s not an aberration for Gonzalez. In fact, despite having roughly four fewer starts than most of the league, he leads the league in complete games, which is something he also did last year for Columbia in the South Atlantic League.
Overall, in his four starts, Gonzalez allowed just one run in three of his four starts on four hits or fewer while striking out five plus in all four of his starts. To put it as simply as possible, Gonzalez was dominant.
Honorable Mention: Justin Dunn continued his dominant pitching in Double-A with a 2.77 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 26 innings during the month of June.
Reliever – Conner O’Neil, RHP
The Mets seventh round draft pick from last year’s draft was a dominant reliever at Cal State Northridge setting both career and single season save records for the school. In his brief Mets career, he has shown that his repertoire, including a plus slider, is going to allow him to be a dominant reliever in the back end of a bullpen at the professional level.
O’Neil really showed those flashes in this past month where he did not allow one run and struck out an astounding 19.1 batters per nine innings in eight innings pitched. Mathematically, you can not calculate his strikeout-to-walk ratio because O’Neil did not issue one free pass over the entire month.
During this month, he converted the only save opportunity he had. With his pitching this dominantly, you would have to believe more save chances will be coming his way not just in Columbia but also the upper levels of the Mets minor leagues.