Ahh, Spring Training, the reminder that the beginning of the regular season is just around the corner and the chance to see your favourite players back on the diamond once again, even if its only for a few innings per game. Even though the games don’t count, as baseball fans, we can all agree that it is amazing to have baseball grace our screens once again.
After highlighting the reasons for optimism in the last article, it’s time to concentrate on the baseball that’s being played right now. Just how are new manager Luis Rojas and the Mets settling into Spring Training?
From the pitching perspective, the battle for the 4th and 5th rotation spot between Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha have gotten off to a very encouraging start, with all 3 pitchers impressing Luis Rojas so far this spring. Amidst the current trade rumours, Matz is the pick of the bunch allowing just the one run in three starts while striking out six, the 28-year-old lefty has looked very impressive to start spring training and pitched three perfect innings in his last start against the Nationals. One thing that’s certain is that that this battle will go down right to the final week of spring training.Embed from Getty Images
Aside from the back end of the rotation battle, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman have dominated in their starts, deGrom who shut out the Nationals allowing just one hit in three innings while striking out two and Stroman; who has struck out seven in six innings allowing just two earned runs, and Syndergaard who has struck out 11 over eight innings, however, Syndergaard has struggled a little bit, allowing four extra-base-hits including one home run.
The Pitching Prospects
Many of our pitching prospects have impressed this spring, I would like to highlight two specifically: David Peterson and Daniel Zamora. Peterson (the Mets #7 prospect) had a disappointing season in Double-A, pitching to a 4.19 ERA in 116 innings. Peterson was extremely effective at limiting the longball, posting an impressive 0.7 HR/9. So far, in spring training Peterson has impressed, in six innings Peterson has allowed just one earned run, walked three and struck out six, also noting that his velocity is sitting at a comfortable 94mph which is a significant improvement on last year when his fastball was sitting at just 92mph. Peterson is likely to start 2020 in Triple-A and should see some time in the majors this year.
In 2019 Daniel Zamora was up and down from the minors but still managed to pitch in just 15 games for the Mets where he posted a 5.19 ERA. One important stat to note is right-handers slashed .294/.368/.529 against Zamora. Looking to earn a spot in the bullpen, Zamora has impressed many members of the organisation, in five innings he has surrendered just two hits against right-handed hitters while striking out eight over five innings. The key to success for Zamora is the ability to get right-handers out, if he continues to build on this success, he should make the bullpen as the second lefty behind Justin Wilson.
The two hottest hitters currently on the spring training roster are Jeff McNeil (who would have thought) and Brandon Nimmo. As of 09/03, McNeil has collected 10 hits in 18 spring at-bats, including three doubles and one home run, all together posting a 1.468 OPS, I know it’s spring training but that’s absurd; signs are pointing that McNeil is in mid-season form and is ready for opening day. Nimmo has collected eight hits in 20 at-bats so far, including 1 double and 1 triple, all together posting a 1.028 OPS. It is a very important season for Nimmo, as he looks to prove his doubters wrong and secure his place as an everyday outfielder.Embed from Getty Images
The Hitting Prospects
Many of our young hitting prospects have impressed this spring. Again, similar to the pitchers, I would like to highlight two specifically: Andres Gimenez and Johneshwy Fargas. Gimenez (the Mets #3 prospect) posted .695 ops in Double-A, hitting .250 and collecting nine home runs. Gimenez had a much better Arizona Fall Leauge, posting a .371 average. In Spring Training, Gimenez has gone 6-24 (as of 09/03) including a go-ahead home run. Since adding a leg kick to his stance, Gimenez has seen an increase in power as three of his six hits have been extra-base hits. Gimenez is expected to start the 2020 season as the starting shortstop in Triple-A and there is a strong chance we see him in the majors.
On the 9th January 2020, the Mets signed longtime Giants minor leaguer Johneshwy Fargas to a minor league deal. In seven seasons with the Giants, Fargas slashed .255/.331/.342 with 23 home runs and 177 RBI. Fargas is less-known for his hitting ability and is more-known for his elite speed, stealing 50 bases with the Giants Double-A affiliate. Amidst the 7-7 tie with the Cardinals, Fargas hit for the cycle and has already stolen 5 bases in 6 attempts. Fargas is an interesting player for the Mets, he is expected to start the season in Syracuse however he could be called up as a pinch-runner later in the season.