Name: Alexander Ramirez
Weight: 170 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, June 2, 2019 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
2019 Season: N/A
Considered one of the top players available in the 2019-2020 international rookie agent class, the Mets signed Alexander Ramirez as soon as it was legally possible, inking him to a contract worth $2.05 million dollars. Listed at 6’3”, 170-pounds, Ramirez is extremely athletic, and that athleticism suggests future physical and skill growth.
Far from a finished product, Ramirez currently stands square at the plate with his hands held high. Using a slight leg kick, he currently has line drive power, spraying the ball to all fields. His eye at the plate and his advanced understanding of the strike zone for someone so young helps in this regard, as he is able to lay off of pitches outside the zone, allowing him to make good contact more than often. Because of his age, he has only shown flashes of power rather than featuring it regularly, but his physical build and current baseball skills suggest that in-game power will eventually manifest itself as a part of his overall game.
Ramirez currently plays outfield, patrolling center field, and he has the body and baseball skillset to stay at the position for years to come. That potential is primarily tied to his speed, where he projects to be a plus runner. With more time and reps in center, it is believed he will be able to harness his speed and be an average-to-above-average defender in center field.
The Mets have done well for themselves in Latin America over the past couple of years. While they were never the biggest spenders, they identified excellent talents in Andres Gimenez, Ronnie Mauricio, and Francisco Alvarez, and hopefully Alexander Ramirez is the next in that line. The token “He’s still very young, so who knows how his career goes” applies, but Ramirez has an exciting blend of projectable skills that landed him on the back end of our list.
I don’t have a ton to say about the big-bonus Dominican signing just yet. The scouting reports speak glowingly about his hitting skills and knowledge of the strike zone – encouraging given that these are typically the weakest parts of a July 2nd singing’s game – and his long-limbed, skinny frame passes the eye test. Hopefully he’ll get an aggressive assignment next season and we’ll get some state-side stats to talk about as the season goes on.
For the second consecutive season, we have ranked the IFA signing who received the highest bonus during last season’s July 2 signing period in the last spot on our top 25 prospects list. As with all recent IFA signings, we have limited information to work off of when evaluating the player’s potential future, but we do know a few things about Ramirez and his abilities on the diamond. At present, Ramirez is a tall, lanky, 16-year-old outfielder from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We also know that someone in the Mets international scouting department saw fit to offer him $2.1 million to sign with the team. But, that is probably the extent of what we know about him at present, at least that isn’t predicated on public reports from people that are in some way affiliated with either the player or the organization that signed him. This lack of information means it’s entirely too early to tell what kind of prospect Ramirez is bound to become when he eventually makes his way stateside. It’s possible the Mets bring him stateside immediately and he hits his way toward being the literal youngest player in the Appalachian League, like his predecessor in the 25th spot from a year ago. It’s also possible he toils away in the low minors for parts of four seasons, and ends up getting released before making it out of rookie-ball like the 2014 model. For now all dreams of Ramirez blossoming into the center fielder of the future remain possible, although it’s unclear if they will remain within the realm of what is possible for long.
The Mets signed Ramirez for $2.1 million as an IFA this year. Obviously, it’s hard to judge him as we sit here today, but he is a projectable player – he is said to be quite athletic and has a strong approach at the plate already.
Name: Jake Mangum
Weight: 180 lbs.
Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft, 4th Round (Mississippi State University)
2019 Season: 53 G, 182 AB, .247/.337/.297, 45 H, 5 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 15 BB, 26 K, 17/23 SB, .287 BABIP (Short-A)
Jake Mangum comes from a family of football players- his grandfather, John Mangum, was a defensive tackle for the Boston Patriots from 1966-1967, his father, John Mangum Jr. was a defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1990-1998, and his uncle, Kris Mangum, was a tight end for the Carolina Panthers from 1997-2006- but he did not follow in the family business, instead choosing the diamond over the gridiron. A standout while playing at Jackson Preparatory School, he was recruited by numerous colleges, but ultimately settled on Mississippi State University, passing over others, including Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama.
In 62 games as a freshman in 2016 he hit .408/.458/.510, winning the SEC Freshman of the Year Award and being named to the First All-SEC Team. He experienced something of a sophomore slump in 2017 but still hit a solid .324/.380/.385 in 65 games, being named to the Second All-SEC Team. The New York Yankees drafted him in the 30th round of the draft that year, but he turned them down, choosing to return to Mississippi State University. In his junior year, he hit .353/.432/.484 in 68 games, prompting the Mets to select him in the 2018 MLB Draft. Citing unfinished business at Mississippi State he chose not to sign, instead returning to college for a final year. In his final season there, he hit .355/.411/.462 in 64 games, breaking the record for most hits in a single season in MSU history and most hits in a career in the SEC and establishing a new one with 378 hits. He was drafted by the Mets for a second time, and without any leverage remaining, he signed with the team, inking a deal worth $20,000, well below the assigned slot value of $487,900. He was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones for the remainder of the season and hit .247/.337/.297 in 53 games for the eventual New York-Penn League champions.
A switch hitter, Mangum stands extremely open and spread at the plate, holding his hands high. He uses a contact-oriented approach to slash the ball around the field. While it limits his in-game power, he makes up for it with his speed, which is his best tool, earning plus and even plus-plus grades by scouts and evaluators. He is still learning how to make it translate on the base paths, but the number of bases he has stolen and the times he has been caught have steadily improved over the years. He is aggressive at the plate, but like the stolen bases, has improved on working deeper counts and drawing walks.
In the outfield, Mangum is an average-to-above-average defender in center. He possesses plenty of range in thanks to his excellent speed, and his routes have refined since his earlier college days. In addition, he possesses a strong arm as well, even pitching a few innings for Mississippi State in 2017.
In twenty years, Jake Mangum is going to be coaching somewhere. Given his connection to his alma mater, there’s a very good chance it’ll be at MSU, but depending on his professional career goes, I could see him being a roving instructor or a bench coach in a professional organization. Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind regarding Mangum are his intangibles, but there’s plenty to like as a player. The value his bat brings is probably minimal, but he plays a good center field and he’s speedy. He probably will never be a star, but he has useful complementary skills that will play independent of his offensive contributions.
At the risk of starting more twitter beef with Mets prospects, I’m not a huge fan of Mangum. He’s a great athlete and someone who really thinks about the game (props to him taking a shot at the NCAA’s ridiculous coach limits on the way out the door), but I just don’t think he’ll hit enough to ever be a viable major-leaguer. The speed and defense are legit, but he’ll need a total swing and approach overhaul to be anything more than another senior the Mets picked to make room for Matthew Allan.
Mangum is an interesting player, even if I don’t fully buy in to a player with his profile developing into an impact player at the Major League level. He employs a cut and slash approach at the plate that limits the power he is able to get into his game. It’s an approach that tends to work less as you get closer to the high minors, due to improvements in the quality of the defense players face. Despite his limited power, Mangum does have some solid bat to ball skills, and manages to keep strikeouts to a minimum. His best tool is his speed, which plays well on both the basepaths and in centerfield. There’s not a ton of upside here, given the lack of power, but Mangum is a very good defender at a premium position, with above average speed that plays well on the base paths. Players with this profile make the big leagues every year and should have more opportunities moving forward with the addition of a 26th roster spot. There’s a good chance the defense and speed profile earns him big league service time someday, although he’ll have to tackle full season ball this upcoming season first.
Mangum was drafted in the fourth round this season, the first of a string of senior signs that allowed the Mets to pull off signing the Baty-Wolf-Allan trio. Mangum has a relatively high floor because he is a solid fielder who is athletic, but he struggled a bit with the bat despite being 23 and at Short Season-A ball. His future completely depends on how much the bat improve, if it does at all.