To Promote or Not To Promote, St. Lucie Mets Edition

By Ernest Dove

June 20, 2017 21 Comments

Photo By Ernest Dove

With the Florida State League All -Star in the rearview mirror, I wanted to share my thoughts on the future of some of the Mets prospects who have been playing for the High-A level St. Lucie Mets.

As is the case with the main club up in Queens, the St. Lucie Mets roster has been one of talent, but also one that has hit the injury bug during the first half of the season. However, this has also been a year of talent being showcased, reborn and those looking to jump into the spotlight of Mets prospect status.

For me a discussion on this first half of the season starts with the guy I projected back in the offseason to have a breakout year, 3B prospect Jhoan Urena.  I judged my thoughts and projections based off what I saw on the field and at the plate from Urena last year. And this season so far he has not disappointed.

FSL All-Star Urena is slashing .304/.397/.430 with a .827 OPS. Due to injuries, this is the third season for Urena to be playing in the FSL with the Lucie Mets, and I’m projecting it will soon be his last time playing at the level for the 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic.

The switch hitter might finally be living up to expectations in 2017, and due to those injuries and 2016 emergence of fellow third base prospect David Thompson it appears that Jhoan has added versatility defensively by learning to play the 1B position.

Offensively,  I’ve observed Urena to have good power, ability to drive the ball from both sides of the plate, and ability to hit to all fields. As a pro, Urena has been pretty consistent with his batting average from both sides of the plate. But this year Jhoan has been dominating as a lefty, slashing .314/.412/.465.

Defensively, I continue to wonder about his full potential. I’ve observed Urena to have solid glove skills and instincts at the hot corner with a strong arm.  However, I have also witnessed him make a few mental mistakes in the field, and be inaccurate with his throws to first base. At first base, in a small sample size, I’ve observed Urena to be more than adequate with his glove, instincts coming towards the ball and throws to pitcher to get outs.

Perhaps the one knock or area of concern for a now re-emerging Urena is the lack of homeruns this year. He currently has three home runs, all as a left-handed hitter. It’s never easy to judge home run totals from players in the FSL, but he did hit nine last season and I was hoping he would break 10-12 homers this season. It will interesting to see what the organization does with Urena as far as promotions due to David Thompson playing third base in Double-A and not statistically appearing to be earning himself a promotion. Perhaps the added ability to play first base will allow for a well deserved promotion upcoming.

The other position player looking to have earned a post break promotion from the team is C/1B Patrick Mazeika. The 23 year old former 8th round pick from Stetson is slashing .304/.394/.458 with a .852 OPS.

Offensively Mazeika looks to have a solid compact swing and has shown power hitting seven home runs in the pitcher friendly league. Defensively, Mazeika has split time at catcher and first base. Behind the plate what I saw was a player with good footwork and an accurate throwing arm to second. With C Tomas Nido beginning to shine lately at the Double-A level, it will again be interesting to see what happens with Mazeika.  Also of note regarding Mazeika is his current BB/K rate of 25/29, which shows solid discipline and approach for a player who appears to be better already at this point than High-A level.

Where it gets more interesting down in Port St. Lucie with the team is the status of possibly the two best position prospects on the roster, outfielder Wuilmer Becerra and first baseman Peter Alonso. One coming off injury to start the year, and the other getting hurt during this first half of the season.

Becerra has been playing consistently this year coming off surgery, but has played a number of games as the DH and not in the field. He has had hot spurts offensively, but overall is slashing .263/.318/.352 and only a .670 OPS. I assume the organization, along with many of the fans following Becerra since acquired in the big R.A. Dickey trade, continue to look for signs of his raw power.

Currently Becerra has three home runs, eight doubles and two triples on the year. I’m wondering if the still 22-year-old will be left in High-A post All-Star break to allow for more time to get his power stroke going.

Alonso, for the second straight year, has lost time due to a broken bone. After having jumped past Low-A level to start year in St. Lucie, it appears that Alonso may be staying put. I recently watched another game and saw the power of Alonso with his bat even in an out. I also saw a continued concern for Alonso defensively at first with his glove, range and instincts.

Fellow first base prospect Dash Winningham is currently playing in the Low-A level All-Star game. And with this being Dash second year at the level, I’m wondering what happens after that game for Dash.

Photo By Ernest Dove

Regarding the pitching, I wanted to focus on players I have seen in person last year and this season. I believe any promote or not to promote talk starts with starter Nabil Crismatt.

Crismatt, voted pitcher of the month by MMN, has been performing extremely well of late for the team. Crismatt currently has a 2.81 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and impressive 77 Ks in 73 2/3 innings work for the club.

For me, what stands out his changeup. It looks as if Crismatt utilizes his change as his out pitch, and when he has his command it looks close to unhittable at the High-A level. I also see command as a strength for Nabil, who showed the ability to stay around the strike zone, allowing for a low pitch count in the game I saw and again going to his off speed pitches at crucial times in an AB to get out of trouble. I would like to see the 22-year-old make the jump to Double-A and keep an eye on his command and K rate.

The relievers for me to keep an eye on and expect promotions from may be Tyler Bashlor, the hard throwing righty, and Kevin Canelon, the soft tossing lefty.

Starting with Tyler, what I’ve seen is a pure power pitcher and strike thrower. I actually thought he would have started the year in Double-A, but instead he was back in St. Lucie. He had an injury for a short period of time, but has been dominant when on the mound for Lucie this year, with 46 Ks in 25.2 innings.

In my extremely small sample size watching him last week I saw that his offspeed pitch was used in each at-bat but appeared to be more of a eye level change to batter and was not thrown for a strike. I would expect a promotion from Tyler, and a chance to show off his talent at the higher level real soon.

As for the soft tossing Canelon, who I had clocked at 87 tops from on field radar, the starter turned reliever has shown an ability to get outs lately.  Canelon currently has a 1.94 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and impressive 45 Ks over 41.2 innings. I believe the 23-year-old has earned his chance to move up and see how his style plays at the upper levels. Perhaps a future MLB LOOGY here in Canelon.

The final pitcher to discuss is also the top prospect on the team, Justin Dunn. I was able to see Dunn in person last week and liked what I saw. I saw a pitcher who threw a consistent 93-94 MPH and ability to dial up 95-96 to get outs. He also mixed in a heavy dose of sliders while also throwing a few change ups and curveballs. The positive signs for me were his ability to maintain velocity throughout the start, use of all four pitches and tendency to keep the ball down. Having started off slow, piggy backing Chris Flexen and then going back to logging longer innings lately I’m wondering if Mets keep him in Lucie until maybe a late August call up to Binghamton.