With Opening Day just 2 weeks out there have been a few surprises in NY Mets camp, as well as some things that reaffirmed what we already knew.
Amed Rosario: Even though the Mets #1 prospect was recently sent to Minor League camp, he showed why he is so highly regarded in baseball circles. While it doesn’t directly affect fantasy numbers (although helps getting AB’s) he showed superior defensive ability with an above average arm, quick hands and above average footwork. While hitting only .267 in his 30 Spring Training AB’s he showed the promise and potential that has him ranked as high as #3 overall on multiple prospect lists. The one thing that I noticed in his stat line is 0 walks were accrued in those 30 AB’s. This is nothing to be too worried about; just something to keep an eye on as making an impression with his bat was a goal for the spring. I still would not expect to see Rosario until at least September with the plan still being him taking over SS full time in 2018. IF he is up before then it will be for 1 of 3 reasons:
1- Multiple injuries make it a necessity
2- Underperformers on the infield that will lead to positional shuffling coinciding with Rosario tearing up AAA
3- The Mets struggling to stay in contention warranting some changes
Rafael Montero: Hindsight is 20/20….. This is a player I struggled with mightily while generating my top 50 list. Part of this was his previous MLB IP as well as the amount of time he has spent not only on the Major League squad yet also the time he has spent on Mets’ fans radar. Once an up and coming potential star, Montero’s stock has fallen mightily over the last few years culminating in a tough 2016 season in which he pitched to a 8.07 ERA over 19 Major League innings along with a 7.20 ERA in 80 AAA IP in Las Vegas. While some leeway must be given to his AAA numbers due to the league and home ballpark at some point numbers are hard to ignore.
Suddenly, we have started to hear rumblings about how good Montero has looked this spring and he has injected himself into the bullpen conversation. As of today, Montero has a 1.86 ERA with 14 K’s over 9.2 IP. Yes, I know this is a very small sample. The talent has always been there and the Mets are hoping that the consistently and ability to miss bats will carry over into the regular season when he gets another chance at the major-league level. Manager Terry Collins has said of Montero: “He’s been throwing well. His control is better, velocity is up, been using his slider a bit more and more command of it.” Knowing the volatility of consistent relief pitching I would not be surprised if Montero is a large contributor to the Mets bullpen this year and is pitching meaningful innings in September. It is pretty evident that the Mets brass again thinks of the 26-year-old Montero as a possible piece of the future and his stock is once again on the rise.
Surprise Name Of The Spring – Paul Sewald: A 26 year old rookie, the strike zone pounding Sewald has raised some eyebrows this spring as a possible option in the NY bullpen. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2012 draft, Sewald has put up a 2.20 ERA with 307 K’s in 257 total minor league innings throughout his career. 1.29 ERA in 7 IP with a microscopic 0.43 WHIP.
The Mets were sweating things a bit during the offseason as they did not place Sewald on the 40 man emerged as a dark horse candidate to make the opening day roster. If he does not, there is a good chance that you will see Sewald in Queens at some point in 2017.
Needs Some More Seasoning – Dominic Smith: While people may look at Smith’s Spring Training stat line of .185 in 27 AB’s with 10 K’s and be worried, there was no way Smith was breaking camp with the team. For Smith, this spring was more about exposure to all things Major League as well as a glimpse into the future. He is still on the same path he was before and his stock is just as high. He certainly exhibited a sweet swing and his defensive prowess is something that was evident from day 1.
Circumstances May Have Clouded My Vision – Robert Gsellman: I am the first to admit my previous evaluations of Gsellman always came with an asterisk. When evaluating a player in the fantasy world you must pay attention to the ML playing time that someone may receive during that current year. I fell into this trap a bit in my 2017 evaluation of Gsellman as I was not sure what his roll would be.
It has become pretty evident that Gsellman will likely start the year as the fifth starter for the Mets, thus bumping his value up immensely. While this is a problem most teams would love to have, when healthy the Mets simply have too many ML caliber starting pitching. Zach Wheeler’s 2017 season is somewhat of a question mark and it affects Gsellman more than any other player (Seth Lugo a close second, which I will talk about shortly). If Gsellman is in the rotation for the entirety of 2017 he could be something very special, as shown by the small sample at the end of 2016. If he ends up in AAA at some point, or even in the bullpen, his 2017 fantasy value is not as high.
What has become apparent is that Gsellman’s value is very high in baseball (and fantasy) circles and his future is very bright. At some point the Mets will probably have to make a permanent home in the rotation for him.
Caught Up In The Numbers Game – Seth Lugo: Another pitcher with quality upside that may get lost in the numbers game, Lugo burst on the scene in 2016 helping the Mets into the Wild Card game while posting a 2.67 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 64 IP that included 8 starts. There simply is currently not a spot in the rotation no matter how well he pitches in the World Baseball Classic. Lugo will either be transitioned into a bullpen role or be sent to AAA as insurance for a rotation littered with injury questions. I could see Lugo being shuttled back and forth from AAA to the majors yet I believe the best way for him to help the 2017 Mets will be in the bullpen and as a spot starter/injury replacement. Again, this is a fantastic “problem” to have as you can never have too much pitching.