Spring training is in full swing, as Grapefruit League games are underway, and minor leaguers have reported to Port St. Lucie. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the backfields this weekend and check out the next crop of top prospects.
Some of the group, like the 2017 draftees, were experiencing their first spring training, while a few others, like Andrew Ely (above) and Daniel Zamora (below), were working out for the first time in the orange and blue. Ely was selected from the Chicago Cubs in the minor league phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft, and Zamora, who attended Stony Brook University on Long Island, was acquired in January from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Josh Smoker.
Players ran through outfield drills with new Kingsport manager Sean Ratliff, baserunning drills with field coordinator Kevin Morgan, and took batting practice off St Lucie hitting coach Joel Fuentes.
Desmond Lindsay looks fully healthy after an injury-plagued 2017, which included a concussion and season-ending ulnar nerve transposition surgery. The Mets’ 2015 second-round pick is slated to remain in St. Lucie with the High-A club to open the season.
The ball absolutely explodes out of the hand of Christian James, the Mets’ 14th-round pick in 2016. Only 19, James struck out 58 batters against 16 walks in 51.2 innings for Kingsport in 2017. I’ve spoken to multiple scouts who rave about James’ stuff, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him begin the 2018 season in Columbia’s rotation to see how he fares.
Throwing next to James was a notable name, Jeff Diehl. After spending the first six seasons of his career as a catcher/first baseman/outfielder, Diehl is trying to resurrect his career by making the move to the mound. He reportedly hit the mid-to-upper 90s in two mop-up outings with St. Lucie last season, and the sound of his pitches hitting Brandon Brosher‘s mitt seemed to agree. Because of minor league roster rules, Diehl can spend the first 13 days of the GCL Mets’ season on their roster, and then will have to be transferred to Brooklyn (or any affiliate higher than Kingsport) on July 1.
Here’s Marlon Anderson, who is in Port St. Lucie as a member of the organization for the first time since 2009. The 44-year-old will serve as the Brooklyn Cyclones’ hitting coach for the upcoming season, and he got right into the swing of things, slapping ground balls to Brosher, Anthony Dimino, Rigoberto Terrazas, Michael Paez, and Andres Gimenez.
The other former major leaguer joining the minor league coaching staff this season is Delwyn Young, who has played independent ball since his final major league game in 2010. Young worked with the outfielders, namely Wuilmer Becerra, Wagner Lagrange, and former Stanford teammates Quinn Brodey and Matt Winaker (pictured above), who were selected by the Mets in last year’s draft. Winaker exclusively played first base with the Cyclones last summer (before succumbing to a shoulder injury in July), although he was drafted as an outfielder.
I’ll be back out there on Sunday, following the talented young players who are putting forth their top effort to make it to the show.