As the late spring days turned to hot summer evenings and the losses continued to mount for the Mets, hopes of a pennant race, a big deadline deal, or even a winning season became increasingly implausible. Nonetheless, the lack of meaningful games in August and beyond doesn’t leave us without reasons for optimism, or more importantly, reasons to watch our favorite baseball team. Many Mets farmhands have emerged as potential future bright spots this season, and with the Mets likely being sellers at the trade deadline, they will get a well-deserved chance to test their skills against the game’s best. Here are a few prospects to keep on your radar screen when the second half gets underway.
Perhaps the most obvious candidate for a promotion in the Mets’ farm system, McNeil is enjoying a breakout season at age 26. He was never a highly regarded prospect and has matured as a player later than expected due to two major injures, but he appears to be finally realizing his true potential. He hit an outstanding .327/.402/.626 with Double-A Binghamton and has barely lost a stride after being called up to Las Vegas, putting up a .381/.433/.637 line since his promotion.
Despite his impressive showing at the plate, however, McNeil has not been considered for a promotion so far because the Mets said they consider him “purely a second baseman”. He has played 150 games at third base throughout his minor league career, though. McNeil has recently played other positions with Las Vegas, including third base and left field, and with Asdrubal Cabrera likely headed to a contender before the end of the month, a roster spot for the hot-hitting infield prospect will become a near certainty.
McNeil and his teammate Peter Alonso have provided a deadly combination of pure hitting ability and raw power for Binghamton and Las Vegas this year, and they may be bringing the same package to the big leagues very soon.
Alonso has struggled defensively at first base this season, but what he lacks in defensive abilities he makes up for in power, as he demonstrated with a prodigious bomb of a two-run home run in the Futures Game on Sunday. After a rip-roaring start to the season with Binghamton, Alonso has struggled in Triple-A. But he could still be a valuable source of instant offense, as well as a long term solution at first base, for a Mets lineup that rarely lights up the scoreboard.
Flexen made fourteen appearances for the Mets as a starter and reliever last season, and clearly, he was not ready for life in the major leagues. He struggled again in the first half of this season and was hit hard in his brief forays back into the big leagues. The right-hander has always seemed to have the potential of a future back-end starter, and his 4.56 ERA is not a terrible mark in the Pacific Coast League, so with Zack Wheeler or Steven Matz potentially on the move at the trade deadline, Flexen may be on a plane back to New York again soon.
Borenstein has become somewhat of a minor league lifer. At age 27, the outfielder is playing for his third different organization and has never received a call to the majors despite posting great numbers at the plate in every year of his minor league career. Recently, though, he has displayed an increase in power, which makes him an interesting candidate for a promotion this summer.
Borenstein hit 28 home runs in 2013 for the High-A Inland Empire 66ers before seeing his power numbers decline due to injuries and adjusting to higher levels of play. In 2017, though, he hit 24 home runs in just 122 games, and he already has 20 this season. Given the uncertain health of both Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto’s unexpected struggles, the Mets could decide to give the lefty slugger a more extended look once the calendar turns to August.
Crismatt was very good with Binghamton this year with a 3.58 ERA in 93.0 innings over the course of 16 starts. After two solid starts upon his promotion to Las Vegas, however, he unraveled on Tuesday night, giving up seven runs in less than three innings. Still, struggles are to be expected in the PCL, and the right-hander has demonstrated enough potential to warrant a spot start or two this September.
Guillorme got a brief taste of the major leagues earlier this season, but he was quickly relegated to the bench in favor of Jose Reyes and Amed Rosario. In Triple-A, however, he has exceeded expectations, hitting .309, a promising sign for someone who has always been regarded as one of the better defenders in the Mets’ system. His opportunities may be limited again in the second half if the Mets want to work Jeff McNeil into the lineup without taking away starts from the trio of Rosario, Frazier, and Reyes, but fans should nonetheless expect to see him back in New York soon.
Ever since his promotion to Double-A, Dunn has been on top of his game, with a 3.02 ERA and almost ten strikeouts per nine innings. A call-up this year seems like a long shot, but maybe he gets one or two shots to showcase his skills for the big club after the minor league season ends in early September.
With the Mets most likely out of contention and struggling to sell tickets in September, management may turn to everyone’s favorite former football star to help him out. Tebow is hitting just slightly above the league average with Binghamton, has been known for occasional flashes of power, and of course, he would be a bigger draw at the box office than the other names on this list. The chance of celebrity entertainment, albeit small, is always there. All of this will depend on whether or not the wrist injury he suffered keeps him out for any significant period of time.
Smith, by any measure, has been the 51s’ best pitcher this year, sporting a shiny 2.26 ERA out of the bullpen and allowing just three home runs in over 32 innings, an impressive feat for a PCL pitcher. Just like his fellow 2017 trade acquisitions Gerson Bautista and Jacob Rhame, Smith has not looked great in his brief major league appearance, but three innings is a tiny sample. Smith still has potential and he should be someone to keep an eye on in the Mets’ bullpen come September.