Its already been a wild ride for the St Lucie Mets, High-A affiliate of the New York Mets, through the first 14 games of the season. There have been top prospects on display, a possible return to top prospect status for a player, and another facing back to back shortened seasons due to injury.
The player looking to re-solidify his top prospect status to start the year is 3B/1B prospect Jhoan Urena. Urena seemed to be moving up the system playing alongside Mets top prospect shortstop Amed Rosario up until the 2015 season in St. Lucie, where Urena was ultimately shut down with multiple hand/wrist related injuries. In 2016, back with the St. Lucie Mets, I saw the power and potential of Jhoan but the consistency never surfaced for the former top end prospect known throughout the early years in the system to hit for average. The Mets ultimately decided to restart Urena back again with the St. Lucie Mets for a 3rd season here in 2017 and the talent is finally showing in the box scores.
Through 14 games Jhoan is hitting .321 with two home runs, five doubles, three stolen bases and solid BB/K ratio of 10/11. In watching him in person this year, I’ve continued to see his power at the plate, both as a lefty and righty hitter. He has the ability to go the away with power as well. Defensively I’ve had the same concerns for two years in a row. With Urena I see a solid glove at third with quick reflexes and ability to handle shots at the hot corner. However, I’ve continued to witness some issues and concerns with his throws to first, whether it be accuracy or strength in the throws leading to errors or need by first to scoop out the ball from the ground.
I’ve seen Urena to look pretty natural at the first base position, showing an ability to charge on the ball, scoop grounders in dirt from position players around the diamond and showing a nice accurate flip throw to pitcher on grounders to first. Overall I’m expecting continued success offensively by Urena, and would like to see him finally make the transition to AA level some time this summer.
The bigger injury concern to start the year in St. Lucie is easily Peter Alonso, the big first who passed over Low-A Columbia level to begin the season with the St. Lucie Mets ball club, only to be hit by a pitch leading to a broken hand. I was able to tell even just from February camp this year that Alonso has legit power, with the ball exploding off his bat in batting practice. Defensively, based on my own personal small sample size, it appeared that Alonso is current average at best managing the position. As a physically imposing player, Alonso also is a bit slow of foot out in the field as well and does not appear to have a quick glove with the mitt over there. It will interesting to see where Alonso goes from here as he once again missed a large portion of a season.
Another injury to keep an eye on is with reliever Tyler Bashlor, who had to leave a game early this week with possible injury while fielding. I’ve seen Bashlor as a pure flamethrower who throws strikes. I was questioning his return back to St. Lucie to start the year, but with his previous TJS history perhaps it made sense to continue to bring him back along slowly. When healthy, Tyler will throw upper 90s and miss bats. He recently gave up his first two ERs of the season, through 6.2 innings he has 11 strikeouts.
The top prospect on the team is starting pitcher Justin Dunn, who like Alonso also jumped over the Low-A level to join the team. Through three starts this year, it has been bit of a struggle for Dunn, pitching 14 total innings, giving up 18 hits, 10 earned runs, nine walks with surprisingly only five strikeouts. During his 2nd start, per @BillWhiteheadFL, Dunn was topping out at 94 MPH on his fastball. All in all it will be a process with Dunn to simply adjust to starting full time at the pro level, along with the jump from Brooklyn to the FSL. I think we should still definitely keep an eye on the K rate for the rest of the season .
Back on the hitting side, one of the guys now fully on my radar is catching prospect Patrick Mazeika. With catching prospect Tomas Nido still adjusting to AA level, I’m keeping my eye on Mr. Mazeika, who while playing catcher and also some first, is hitting .295 to start the season. He also has two HR, two doubles and 11 RBIs in 12 games played. In recent trip to a game I saw a very solid approach and compact swing by Mazeika. Video below.
The other top hitting prospect at the level is outfielder Wuilmer Becerra, who unfortunately has played the entire young season so far as the DH. Offensively, Becerra is off to another monster start in regards to overall hitting, with a .315 AVG after actually ‘cooling off’ a bit in the past few games. The ongoing spot of concern for Becerra following the shoulder issues and surgery is the power numbers. So far this year Becerra has three doubles, triple and one homer for the team. Obviously first order of business for Wuilmer is to get him back on the field. Then its about time and health to see if the big bruising and talented prospect can to start to show consistent raw power.
Another pitcher showing promise this year is Nabil Crismatt. While watching Nabil in person what I saw was a control pitcher, with good breaking stuff, and a legit command of the strike zone. My small sample size opinion is that his breaking stuff is his out pitch and his go to when needed most in each at-bat to get the important out.
He works fast, draws a lot of weak contact and can be economical with his pitch counts because of his approach when his command of the zone is consistent. Through two starts and 12 innings Crismatt has allowed eight hits, three earned runs, four walks and eight strikeouts. Like many non-upper 90s control pitchers I’m looking for ongoing consistency and command of the zone from Crismatt throughout the year.
Other players of note on the team:
Closer Alex Palsha certainly can break bats with assortment of pitches (broke 3 in one AB during his save last week).
Possible out of nowhere sleeper might be LIVE arm 26-year old Justin Brantley, who at the time of this post has gone 9 2/3 innings without giving up a run, with only three, five walks and eight strikeouts.
Also of prospect note status is starter Andrew Church, who has struggled a bit overall, but is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
I’ll look to check in again with the team at a game the end of this month for more in person eye ball testing and analysis to come.