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The 10 best Mets minor league hitters I saw this year: 9, Zach Rheams

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Counting down the best minor league hitters I saw in 2018.

Zach Rheams
Steve Sypa

Disclaimer: This is a ranking of the best players that I saw during the 2018 season. I saw a wide cross-section of teams in 2018, seeing the Kingsport Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, Columbia Fireflies, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but I did not see the GCL Mets, St. Lucie Mets, or Las Vegas 51s, nor did I attend every single game of the teams that I did see. As such, this is not a comprehensive Mets prospect list. If a player is not on the list, I either did not see him, or considered the listed ten players better.

Name: Zach Rheams

Team: Columbia Fireflies

Position: OF

Born: 7/05/96 (22)

Height: 6’

Weight: 230 lbs.

Bats/Throws: L/L

Acquired: 2018 Draft, Round 27 (Texas Tech University)

2018 Season: 51 G, 179 AB, .223/.307/.402, 40 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 16 BB, 56 K, 0/0 SB, .292 BABIP (Rookie/Low-A)

Date(s) Seen: July 14 @ Lakewood (1-2 2B, HBP), July 16 @ Lakewood (1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI), July 16 @ Lakewood (2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, K)

The Man

A graduate of Brazoswood High School in Texas, Zach Rheams initially attended Cisco College in Cisco, Texas. In his first year there, the power hitting first baseman hit .385 and slugged seven home runs, helping lead Cisco College to the NJCAA College World Series and earning a spot on the First Team All-Conference for the Region V Athletic Conference. He was even better in 2016, hitting an impressive .481/.570/.846 with 17 home runs, earning another First Team All-Conference as well as being named NJCAA All-American. He transferred to Texas Tech for his junior year and struggled, hitting .133/.322/.289 in 20 games and possibly costing himself getting drafted in the 2017 MLB Draft. He rebounded quite nicely in 2018, hitting .341/.461/.713 with 17 home runs, helping lead Texas Tech into the College World Series, where the Red Raiders beat the Florida Gators 6-3 in the first round but lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks 7-4 in the second. After being drafted by the Mets, Rheams was assigned to the Kingsport Mets. He was quickly reassigned and promoted to the Columbia Fireflies, where he remained for the rest of the 2018 season and hit .226/.313/.432.

The Hitter

Power is Rheams’ primary calling card. His swing has plenty of loft and he is capable of hitting towering moonshots when he connects squarely. Like most left-handed power hitters, his power zone is down and in, but Rheams has considerable power going to the opposite field as well. His bat speed is only average, and he generates most of his power through his own strength and by waiting on his pitch; Rheams is a studious hitter and comes to the plate knowing what pitchers throw and waiting on certain pitches.

Defensively, Rheams has long been a man without a position. While at Cisco College, he primarily played first base and DHed. At Texas Tech, he primarily DHed, but added middle infield to his repertoire. After being drafted, the Mets used him mainly in the outfield, splitting his time almost equally in left and right. Given his big 6’, 230 lb. frame and relative lack of experience, Rheams did not stand out in the outfield, but he did not embarrass himself either.

Looking To 2019

Rheams has a long, exploitable swing. Because he does not have above-average bat speed or barrel control, he may never be able to shorten it up without sacrificing his ability to hit for power. As such, bolstering his other skills will be key. Rheams has a solid eye at the plate but is sometimes too passive at the plate and may benefit by being more “selectively aggressive.”

The Countdown

10. Juan Uriarte