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The 11 best Mets minor league hitters I saw this year: 11, Luke Ritter

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Counting down the best minor league hitters I saw in 2019.

Luke Ritter
Luke Ritter
Steve Sypa

Team: Brooklyn Cyclones

Position: 2B

Born: 2/15/97 (22)

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 185 lbs.

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, 7th Round

2019 Season: 68 G, 229 AB, .245/.351/.371, 56 H, 15 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 33 BB, 50 K, 5/8 SB, .292 BABIP

Date(s) Seen: June 22 (0-3, BB, 2 K), June 29 (2-4, R, 3B, RBI, K), July 30 (0-2), September 1 (1-5, RBI, BB), September 5 (1-2), September 10 (1-4, 2 K)

The Man

Luke Ritter was a multisport star at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. He lettered three times in football and twice in baseball. As a junior, he earned All-District honors with a .377 average, and as a senior, won All-State and All-District honors with a .473 batting average. He honored his commitment to Wichita State, and in his freshman year hit .272/.372/.373 in 43 games, 28 at second base, 10 in left field, three at third base and two as the Shockers’ DH. He experienced something of a sophomore slump in 2017, hitting .223/.348/.349 in 55 games. He regrouped that summer, playing for the Santa Barbara Foresters of the California Collegiate League and hitting .353/.443/.500 in 37 games. Returning to Wichita State for the 2018 season, Ritter took his gains with him. He appeared in 55 games and hit a career-best .341/.420/.484, hitting six home runs and stealing six bases. His performance led to the Minnesota Twins drafting him with their 37th round pick, the 1114th overall pick, but the utilityman elected to return to Wichita for his senior season instead of signing with them. He earned All-Conference honors in 2019, hitting .336/.458/.555 in all 59 games the Shockers played. His nine home runs and twelve stolen bases were career bests.

With their seventh-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Ritter. He agreed to a $10,000 bonus, saving the Mets roughly $205,000, as the slot value for the pick was $216,600. He made his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones and was their iron man, leading the team with 68 games. He hit .245/.351/.371 in total, with his on-base percentage trailing Jose Mena by one-hundredth of a point for best among players who appeared in 30 or more games for Brooklyn.

The Player

At the plate, Ritter has a balanced stance, with a small stride. He is quick to the ball with a short swing, driving line drives around the field. He is a bit on the smaller size, but he has a bit of pop to his pull side, and that power could develop in theory if he adds on additional weight and strength. He has a good understanding of the strike zone, taking walks and not striking out much. For his entire career as both an amateur at Wichita and a professional in Brooklyn, Ritter has nearly a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While his speed as a whole is below-average, Ritter has good instincts on the base paths, allowing him to take extra bases on hits and to steal the occasional base.

Over the course of his four years at Wichita State, he spent time at second base, third base, shortstop, and left field, but he profiles best at second base thanks to an average arm. Thanks to his ability to play other positions, Ritter should be able to get decent playing time going forward should he ever be rostered on a team where second base is not available on a full-time basis.

Looking To 2020

Ritter had a fine season in Brooklyn in 2019 and should begin 2020 in full-season ball as a result. He will likely be assigned to the Columbia Fireflies, though due to a combination of his age, collegiate career, and skillset, could in theory be pushed to St. Lucie if regular playing time on the Fireflies was unavailable due to how the 2020 roster is made.