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Mets release 19 minor league players

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Preparing the roster for the 2017 season, the Mets have granted 19 minor league players their releases.

New York Mets Introduce Sandy Alderson as General Manager Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

After re-signing left-handed pitcher Alberto Baldonado and outfielder Victor Cruzado at the end of September, the Mets have released a bevy of minor league players:

Gaby Almonte, Right-handed pitcher

Signed out of the Dominican Republic as an international free agent during the 2010-2011 signing period, Gaby Almonte spent the first few years of his career in the Dominican Summer League, making his stateside debut in 2013. He was semi-successful afterwards, even being named a NY-Penn League All-Star in 2015. Generally speaking, Almonte did not have especially good stuff. His fastball was not particularly special, and while his breaking ball was more advanced than most at his level—due in part to his age—he often had problems controlling it, making him overly reliant on the fastball. In short, he lacked swing-and-miss stuff that could be harnessed with regularity.

Tyler Badamo, Right-handed pitcher

Drafted in the 24th round of the 2014 draft out of Dowling College on Long Island, Tyler Badamo had success when he first joined the organization, but began struggling more and more as he climbed the minor league ladder. His stuff—a low-90s fastball that topped out at 94, a mid-70s curveball, and a hard slider—played up in college and at the lowest levels of the minors, but Badamo would have had to have been perfect with it to fool the more advanced hitters of the upper minors.

Enmanuel Berihuete, Right-handed pitcher

An older international free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic, Berihuete spent most of his Mets career in the Dominican Summer League, where he did not enjoy much success. He made his stateside debut in 2016 with the GCL Mets and continued the trend.

Nicco Blank, Right-handed pitcher

Drafted in the 25th round of the 2014 draft out of Central Arizona College, Nicco Blank brought heat that one might not have thought possible from his 5’9”, 165-pound profile. His fastball sat in the low 90s and could be dialed as high as 95 or so, and was complemented by a raw slider and a raw changeup. Inconsistent command, likely due in part to the max-effort delivery he needed to generate his fastball velocity, held Blank back for all of his Mets tenure. Despite striking out more than a batter per inning over the course of his career, the right-hander was unable to maintain a 2:1 K:BB ratio thanks to an unwieldy 5.3 BB/9 rate.

Luis Carreno, Right-handed pitcher

Signed by the Mets as a 16-year-old in late 2012 out of the Margarita Island in Venezuela, Luis Carreno was moderately successful in his years in the organization. found success in the years he pitched for the Mets in the Dominican Summer League, but struggled when he made his stateside debut. The short right-hander put on roughly 25 pounds since signing with the Mets, but his fastball never developed much of the additional velocity needed to be successful in baseball. His changeup, on the other hand, was advanced for a player of his age.

Robert Coles, Right-handed pitcher

Drafted in the 28th round of the 2013 draft out of Florida State, Robert Coles enjoyed success as a mostly reliable reliever for virtually his entire tenure with the Mets. As a sidearmer, he often struggled with control, but at least initially got enough strikeouts to still be effective. As he began climbing the minor league ladder, his fringy high-80s fastball and sweeping slider simply stopped fooling hitters.

Mike Hepple, Right-handed pitcher

An undrafted free agent signed by the Mets thanks to a broken dryer, Mike Hepple had some success when he first joined the organization, but much of it was based on smoke-and-mirrors, and as he climbed the minor league ladder, his fringy stuff proved too much of an impediment. Throwing a low-90s fastball and slider, Hepple was never much of a strikeout pitcher, and he had a command problem to boot. In 2016, his final season in the organization, the right-hander had an inverted K:BB ratio, with 37 strikeouts to 44 walks between the St. Lucie and Binghamton Mets.

Raul Jacobson, Right-handed pitcher

Signed out of the Frontier League after enjoying a successful half season with the Schaumburg Boomers, Jacobson had a successful tenure in the Mets organization, the majority of it spent with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Darryl Knight, Catcher

Drafted in the 14th round of the 2014 draft out of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Darryl Knight was a big guy with great strength, giving him plus power and an above-average arm, but not much more. A long swing and suspect pitch recognition skills put more pressure on his catching ability, but struggled to find at-bats to continue his offensive and defensive development while playing on the same teams as catchers Ali Sanchez, Patrick Mazeika, and Dan Rizzie and first basemen Peter Alonso and Dash Winningham.

Lednier Ricardo, Catcher

Lednier Ricardo was a six-year veteran of baseball when the Mets signed him in 2015, as the Cuban played for the Camaguey Ganaderos and the Cienfuegos Elefantes in his native Cuba. Though Ricardo never hit particularly well in Cuba, he fared even worse with the St. Lucie Mets, with whom he spent the majority of his time in the organization.

Michael Katz, First baseman

Drafted in the 9th round of the 2014 draft out of the College of William and Mary, there were high hopes for Michael Katz. He had a power hitter’s build, an effective swing, and a good approach at the plate. His outfield defense was always suspect, and thus he was moved to first base. He lost developmental time to a knee injury at the end of 2014 that extended into the beginning of 2015, but the tools that made him so highly regarded simply never manifested themselves as a professional player.

Santo Marte, Third baseman

An older international free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic during the 2012-2013 signing period, Santo Marte was little more than a backup player, accruing 40 at-bats in his stateside debut with Kingsport in 2015 and 55 in 2016 with Kingsport and the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Luis Ortega, Third baseman

An older international free agent signed out of Venezuela during the 2010-2011 signing period, Luis Ortega spent the majority of his time in the organization in the Dominican Summer League. He made his stateside debut in 2014 with the Kingsport Mets and had moderate success with his well-developed hit tool.

Will Barring, Outfielder

A .347/.429/.499 hitter at Westmont College, Will Barring went undrafted and was signed by the Mets in 2015. He struggled in his debut with the GCL Mets, and although he displayed a decent eye at the plate in 2016 with Kingsport, did not have much more success.

Maikis de la Cruz, Outfielder

An older international free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic during the 2010-2011 signing period, Maikis de la Cruz enjoyed moderate success in the organization, advancing as far as Double-A Binghamton. The speedy Cruz often served as table setter, getting on base for others to drive in. His best season came in 2014, when he was named an All-Star for the St. Lucie Mets.

Vicente Lupo, Outfielder

Signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic during the 2010-2011 signing period, the Mets gave Vicente Lupo the largest signing bonus they handed out that season thanks to his power profile. The young outfielder mashed in the Dominican Summer League, and had an excellent stateside debut in 2014 with the Kingsport Mets. His time in Savannah and later Columbia in 2015 and 2016 did not go nearly as well, and all Lupo appeared to be was a one-dimensional slugger whose power dried up.

Hengelbert Rojas, Outfielder

Signed as an 18-year-old out of Venezuela during the 2011-2012 signing period, Hengelbert Rojas received a suspension after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol and Nandrolone at the conclusion of the 2012 season. He made his stateside debut in 2014, but never amounted to more than a part-time outfielder.

Stefan Sabol, Outfielder

Drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 draft out of Orange Coast College, the “Swinging Samoan” often found himself on the disabled list. When Sabol was on the field, his strong eye at the plate helped him contribute to his team, despite deficiencies with his bat.

Joe Tuschak, Outfielder

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft out of Northern High School in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania—and considered a steal at that—Joe Tuschak was never able to turn his exceptional athleticism into success on the diamond. With the exception of his 2013 season with Kingsport, when he hit .271/.313/.376, his batting average has hovered around the Mendoza Line and his peripherals suggested that he would not be turning a corner anytime time.

In addition, right-handed pitcher Jeff Walters has elected minor league free agency. Walters was drafted four times before eventually signing with the Mets in 2010: by the San Francisco Giants out of high school in 2006, the Washington Nationals in 2007, the Cleveland Indians in 2008, and the Baltimore Orioles in 2009. He was used as a starter early in his time with the organization but was quickly moved to the bullpen. He found success there, and remained a reliable bullpen arm until June 2014, when he underwent Tommy John surgery, likely in part to his mechanics. He returned to the mound almost a year to the day after his surgery but, due to the surgery and the more challenging environment in which he found himself in 2016, struggled. At his best, Walters had the potential to be a low-to-mid-leverage reliever. His fastball sat in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 95-96 MPH, and his mid-80s slider was a bit inconsistent but flashed plus at times.