Last season, the Chicago Cubs became one of the most versatile teams we have ever seen, and it played a large part in that team winning their first World Series in over 108 years.
National League MVP Kris Bryant is a natural third baseman also played first, short, and all three outfield positions last year. Javier Baez, a well thought of young defensive shortstop, showed off his talents at second base much of the season showing the world he is the best at getting the tag down. Addison Russell would also play first, third, and left field. Of course, the Cubs also had Ben Zobrist who was playing multiple positions with the Tampa Bay Rays before it became a thing.
With all baseball being a copycat league, teams and organizations have been looking for ways to make their rosters more versatile. The New York Mets will look to do that with their top prospects in Triple-A this season.
According to Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Mets plan on giving both Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario time away from their middle infield positions during the course of the 2017 season. Specifically, Rosario will play third base every 10-12 games, and Cecchini will play shortstop every 10-12 games. Presumably, Cecchini will play shortstop in those games Rosario plays third.
In addition to learning second base and seeing time at his natural shortstop position, there are now unspecified plans in place for Cecchini to see some time at third. This exposure is important for Cecchini because in all likelihood, he may be the best major league ready player in Las Vegas. In his brief cup of coffee last September, Cecchini was 2-6 with two doubles and two RBI. In that small sample size, he didn’t look overwhelmed, and he looked like he belonged.
That is important because the Mets may need him sooner rather than later. No one knows when David Wright is going to return. Both Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are returning from serious back injuries. Asdrubal Cabrera dealt with a knee injury all last season. No one realistically knows if Jose Reyes can handle third base everyday, and his start to this season hasn’t exactly inspired confidence either. Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat. This creates an opportunity for Cecchini. Cecchini can best take advantage of that opportunity if he is able to play more than just shortstop.
For that matter, it also opens up an opportunity for Rosario. If the Mets feel confident with him at third base, it gives them ability to call him up even if there is no significant injury to Cabrera.
In addition to Cecchini and Rosario, the 51s also have Matt Reynolds and Phillip Evans. Reynolds, a good fielding shortstop, has also received playing time at second and third base last season. This year, Reynolds is slated to be the Opening Day left fielder. For his part, Evans, the 2016 Eastern League Batting Champ, has split time between second, third, and short in his minor league career.
With Cecchini, Rosario, Reynolds, and Evans, the Mets are developing a group of young and versatile players. This should make these players more opportunities to get called up to the majors. It should also allow the Mets to put the best players on the field should there be any injuries at the major league level. These players and the Mets organization as a whole will be better off for making these prospects more versatile players.