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State of the System 2020: Outfield

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The Mets minor league outfield depth is very thin in the upper levels, but intriguing at the lower levels.

Major League Baseball Archive: Under Armour All-American Game Photo by Stephen Green/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Outfield depth has been a major problem at the higher levels of the Mets organizational ladder for a few years. The Mets have had a few very good outfielders come through their system to make an impact at the big league level, but have failed to continue to develop usable outfield depth to fill the spots behind them. While the Mets outfield depth at the upper levels of the minors is comprised of mostly organizational players and veterans on minor league contracts, they have drafted and signed several interesting players over the last few seasons that are currently working themselves through the lower levels of the minors.

With a general lack of outfield depth in the upper minors, the Mets have mostly filled their outfield roster spots in the upper minors with veterans on minor league contracts and organizational players. The Syracuse Mets gave significant playing time to Gregor Blanco, Rajai Davis, Rymer Liriano in center and right, all of whom have accrued big league service time. Tim Tebow was the team’s primary left fielder in 2019, getting into 55 games at the position. Now in his third season in professional baseball, Tebow appears to have hit a bit of a wall. Tebow hit .163/.240/.255 with a 26 wRC+ in 264 plate appearances for Syracuse, and struck out in 37.1% of his plate appearances. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies also gave the bulk of their outfield reps to minor league veterans, including Barrett Barnes, Braxton Lee, and Jason Krizan, and organizational players, including Quinn Brodey. Brodey played 74 games in the outfield for the Rumble Ponies, and hit a roughly league-average .251/.314/.377 with a 8.0% walk rate and a 22.1% strikeout rate.

The St. Lucie Mets similarly gave the majority of the playing time in the outfield to organizational players. Jacob Zanon, Hansel Moreno, Matt Winaker, and the aforementioned Quinn Brodey all got into more that 50 games for St. Lucie in 2019. Desmond Lindsay, a former top ten prospect in the system, got into 15 games for the Mets, and struggled mightily before injuries ended his season before the end of April. Lindsay hit .196/.305/.294 with an 86 wRC+ in 59 plate appearances in 2019, and struck out in an eye-popping 42.4% of his trips to the plate. The Columbia Fireflies primarily relied upon Gerson Molina in center, Jose Medina in right, and Wagner Lagrange in left, and got roughly league average batting lines out of each of them in 2019.

The Mets primarily used the short season levels to get reps for recent outfield draftees, including several senior signs from the 2019 season itself. The Brooklyn Cyclones gave the bulk of their innings in left field and center field to Antoine Duplantis, a 2019 senior sign out of LSU, and Jake Mangum, a senior sign and the Mets fourth round draft pick in 2019. Duplantis and Mangum are both known to be excellent defenders, although both struggled offensively in their first taste of professional baseball. Duplantis hit .237/.286/.294 in 216 plate appearances, and Mangum hit .247/.337/.297 in 210 plate appearances. The Cyclones also gave significant time to Ranfy Adon, who hit .270/.318/.358 in 148 plate appearances and also saw time with Columbia, and Raul Beracierta, who got into 31 games in the outfield and hit .188/.286/.213 in 93 plate appearances. The Kingsport Mets similarly gave significant playing time in the outfield to 2019 senior signs Scott Ota, Tanner Murphy, and Kennie Taylor, in addition to 2017 40th round draft pick Cole Kleszcz. Scott Ota was particularly good for Kingsport, hitting .273/.355/.519 with seven homers in 211 plate appearances in the Appalachian League.

While the Mets lack prospect depth in the outfield across most of their system, they do have a number of interesting prospects at the complex level and below. The Gulf Coast League Mets opened the season with Adrian Hernandez, the Mets 20th best prospect, on their roster to open the year. Hernandez hit .286/.375/.643 in 16 plate appearances before a hamstring injury ended his 2019 season after just four games. The GCL Mets also gave playing time to 2019 draftee Blaine McIntosh, an extremely athletic outfielder whom the Mets bought out of a college commitment to play for Vanderbilt. McIntosh got into 28 games for the GCL Mets, and hit .228/.311/.228 in 103 plate appearances for them. Kennedy Corona got into the most games in the outfield for the GCL Mets, before being sent to the Astros as part of the prospect package that brought Jake Marisnick to the Mets. The team’s best Dominican Summer League prospect, right fielder Freddy Valdez got into a few games in the complex at the end of the season to make his stateside debut. Signed by the Mets for $1.45 million during the 2018-2019 IFA signing period, Valdez hit 268/.358/.432 in 257 plate appearances for the DSL Mets, and had an excellent three game stint in the Gulf Coast League to end the year. Valdez hit .400/.538/.800 in 13 plate appearance across three games played for the GCL Mets.

Perhaps the Mets most interesting outfield prospects are also the furthest away. The Mets drafted a pair of intriguing young outfielders in the early rounds of the 2019 draft. The Mets drafted Pete Crow-Armstrong, an outfielder out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. with the nineteenth overall pick in the 2020 draft. Crow-Armstrong was drafted on the strength of his hit over power offensive profile, and his stellar defensive ability in center field. If Crow-Armstrong has a higher floor than your average prep outfielder, given his extremely advanced defensive abilities at a premium position, and there’s a decent chance his offensive game develops to the point where he ends up a solid big league regular. The Mets also drafted an outfielder in the second round, drafting Isaiah Greene, an outfielder out of Corona Senior High School in Corona, California. Greene is a premium athlete who is similar to Crow-Armstrong in a lot of ways. Greene is an easy plus runner, which helps him make more than his fair share of plays in center, but is very raw offensively at present. He hasn’t really shown much power at any point in his career so far, but there’s a good amount of potential for power to develop in the future as he continues to get stronger as he gets older. The Mets also gave their largest signing bonus of the 2019-2020 IFA signing period to Alexander Ramirez, an outfielder from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Mets gave Ramirez a $2.05 million signing bonus on the strength of athleticism and skinny projectable frame, as well as his offensive potential.

In recent years, the Mets have struggled to develop outfield depth, and relied on veterans on minor league contracts and organizational players to fill out their upper minors outfield spots. While they haven’t had a ton of luck with developing outfielders in recent seasons, they do currently have a number of interesting prospects at the system’s lowest levels that will hopefully reverse the trend.