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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Five

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, May 6th to May 12th?

Chris McShane
Jhoan Urena

Pitcher of the Week

David Peterson

2018 Season: 4 G (4 GS), 23.2 IP, 20 H, 8 R, 6 ER (2.28 ERA), 8 BB, 21 K, 1 HBP

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

David Peterson 5/7/18, MiLBTV

This was by far the best start of Peterson’s professional career. He only has a handful of them under his belt right now, but seven scoreless innings is a good outing whether or not you are making your very first professional start or you are a grizzled 20-year veteran. I’ll be honest, I’m happy he’s just on the field. The Mets claimed that he was dealing with a “tweaked knee” when they held him back when the season started, but I had reason to believe that he was hurt worse than they were letting on. Regardless, he now has four starts under his belt, and everything seems well. His numbers are fine, and the stuff doesn’t seem to be diminished.

When he made his debut this year, a lot of people were surprised that he was assigned to the Low-A Columbia Fireflies. Being an advanced pitcher from a highly-regarded college, it was widely believed that he would be assigned to High-A St. Lucie Mets, like Justin Dunn was last season. While it might speed his developmental track up a bit, in the long run, it doesn’t really matter much. There are talented hitters in the South Atlantic League just like there are talented hitters in the Florida State League. The difference in overall talent between the two leagues isn’t massive enough to make a pronounced difference in his baseball maturation, especially for a half season or so. In his start this week, he really looked like he was toying with hitters. He was using all of his pitches, he was hitting all of his spots, and he was keeping hitters unbalanced and guessing. If the Mets want Peterson to get used to the life of being a minor leaguer and get his confidence up, spending a little time in Columbia is fine.

His pitching in Columbia has a secondary bonus, in addition to all of that. The Fireflies have, by far, the most talented pitching rotation in the Mets minor league system. Peterson and Anthony Kay have high ceilings, both being first-round draftees, Tony Dibrell and Chris Viall have intriguing upsides, and Marcel Renteria, Jake Simon, and Joe Cavallaro are all wildcards with their own strengths. All in all, the Columbia Fireflies have an exciting starter taking the ball every night of the week.

Hitter of the Week

Jhoan Urena

2018 Season: 27 G, 105 AB, .276/.304/.448, 29 H, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 5 BB, 29 K, 1/1 SB

Week: 7 G, 27 AB, .407 /.414/.741, 11 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 BB, 8 K, 0/0 SB

Jhoan Urena 5/7/18, MiLBTV

It feels like Urena has been around forever, but the third-baseman-turned-outfielder is only 23. He last appeared on a top prospect list at Amazin’ Avenue in 2016, when he was ranked the Mets’ 21st top prospect. In the 2015 list, he was ranked even higher, being named the Mets’ 14 top prospect. What caused his prospect fall from grace was not one, but two broken hamate bones- being a switch hitter, he hits from the left and right sides, and both hamates in his hand fractured. The hamate bone is a very small bone, but the impact it has on hitters when it is damaged is huge. As Amazin’ Avenue’s Ketul Shah explained, “injury to the hook of the hamate results in reduced grip strength and wrist pain, both causing an inability to swing a bat.”

Beyond the Box Score did a study and concluded that the majority of players that sustain hamate fractures return to prior norms, but it takes roughly a season to do so. When Urena returned to the field in 2016, he did play in a career high 115 games, but he hit a paltry .225/.301/.350. In 2017, he hit .282/.364/.437, clubbing a career high eleven home runs.

In addition to Urena being fully healthy, he appears to be ITBSOHL, In the best shape of his life. He’s always been a thick, stocky guy, but he’s trimmed down a bit and it is showing. His bat speed, whether it was because of the hamate injury or because of some of the bad weight that he was putting on, was looking like it was slowing down. This year, his bat is looking a lot better. Combine that with the fact that he’s gotten better against recognizing spin over the last couple of years and putting together better at-bats and he might starting to be fulling those 50 hit tool grades he was getting projected to have years ago.

He is also now able to play the outfield. His destiny seemed to be first base, but he played a little bit of the outfield last season, got reps there in the Instructional League last year, and is now Binghamton’s primary right fielder. He isn’t exactly a natural outfielder- and never will be- but with John Mora and Champ Stuart out there next to him in center, his defensive shortcomings can be mitigated a bit. He has a strong arm and is able to read the ball off the bat decently, so that’s all you can ask of him. He will never be a Gold Glover, but he has shown the ability to make basic plays. Like other position players with reputations as being less-than-stellar defensively, as long as his bat is effective, the poor defense can be overlooked.