Michael Conforto has climbed the charts of prospect rankings this season, currently the 12th-best prospect in baseball on Keith Law's midseason rankings. When he was taken in the first round (10th overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft, no one projected him to reach the major leagues in 2015. Even coming into this season, it appeared he wasn't being moved through the minor league system fast enough to justify his call-up this early.
There also was no need for the Mets to rush their top prospect to the big leagues, with an outfield that many felt comfortable with–top free agent acquisition Michael Cuddyer, last year's top free agent signing Curtis Granderson, and reigning Gold Glove award winner Juan Lagares. However, the current state of the Mets' outfield is very much in question, now even more so with the uncertain health of Cuddyer, who could be looking at an extended trip to the disabled list with a bone bruise under his left knee. Lagares has also simply not been the same center fielder defensively that the Mets are used to, much of which can be attributed to his right elbow that has still not fully recovered from his injury last September, and could potentially require surgery when and if the Mets decide to shut him down.
Many expect the Mets to acquire an outfielder on the trade market over the next two weeks leading into the trade deadline on July 31, but there is still a case to be made to call up Michael Conforto.
In 42 games with Double-A this season, Conforto has hit .325/.407/.531 with five home runs and 25 RBI. He is coming off of Eastern League Player of the Week honors from last week, where he hit .438, going 7-for-16 with two home runs and three RBI over that span. There is not much left for him to prove in Double-A.
In the past, the Mets have promoted top prospects from Double-A, most recently last year when they called up the then-20-year-old second baseman Dilson Herrera. Herrera was hitting .340/.406/.560 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI in 61 games with Binghamton last season before he was recalled. Conforto is 22 years old, and his batting line looks pretty similar to what Herrera's looked like when the Mets decided that he was ready.
While the Mets have expressed trade interest in star outfielders such as the Padres' Justin Upton and the Brewers' Carlos Gomez, it is unlikely that they could haul a player of that caliber with the prospects that have been rumored to be available at the deadline. However, the Mets could be able to trade for an outfielder such as the Padres' Will Venable, or the Brewers' Gerardo Parra. Newsday's Marc Carig reported that of the prospects listed as potential trade chips, both outfielder Michael Conforto and shortstop Amed Rosario appear to be off limits.
While Conforto's promotion may not be imminent, its possibility has been gaining traction of late because of his impressive offensive display in Double-A and the lack of production coming from the Mets' lineup. In early July, Mets' GM Sandy Alderson said that while he would expect Conforto to be up with the Mets in the near term, he didn't want everybody to go out and write that he was coming up in the next week. Nevertheless, Conforto's promotion could in fact be growing close. If he struggles in the majors initially, the Mets could still send him down to Triple-A to continue his development without having lost much.
The upside is that Conforto may in fact be ready, and the Mets could certainly use the help.