Name: Sam McWilliams
Weight: 230 lbs.
Acquired: MiLB FA (November 20, 2020)
A dominant pitcher at Beech High, a high school in Hendersonville, Tennessee, Sam McWilliams had an excellent senior season in 2014, getting named to the Tennessee All-State team by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and finding his name among the top prep players available in the upcoming 2014 MLB Draft. The Philadelphia Phillies selected the tall right-hander in the 8th round of the draft and signed him to a $200,000 bonus, over the MLB-assigned slot value by roughly $39,000. He was assigned to their GCL team for the rest of the 2014 season and the entire 2015 season, but was then traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the conclusion of the season in exchange for Jeremy Hellickson. The right-hander began blossoming in Arizona and by 2018 had become a borderline top 10 prospect in their system. On May 1, 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired McWilliams and Colin Poche from the Diamondbacks as the players to be named later from their February trade that saw the Diamondbacks acquiring Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays. After a year in Tampa, the Kansas City Royals selected the right-hander in the 2018 Rule 5 draft, but was returned to the Rays after a terrible showing for himself in spring training. His time there came to an end in November 2020 and he was signed by the Mets roughly three weeks later, inking a one-year major league contract worth $750,000 despite never having pitched above Triple-A.
McWilliams is a big, athletic guy, standing 6’7” and weighing 230 lbs. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot with a loose and easy delivery from the stretch featuring a simple leg lift and a long action through the back, very much toned down from earlier in his career in an effort to improve his control. Thanks to his height, he throws downhill, giving his pitches downward plane. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s and features generous sink. He commands the pitch well, but it loses consistency locating arm-side. He pairs the pitch with a slider and changeup, both of which flash as average or better pitches but the former is much more consistent than the latter. The slider has sharp two-plane action when it is on but flattens out into spinning frisbees when it is not. The changeup has improved since switching from a circle change grip to a split-change grip, but it still needs work to become a viable third offering.
Name: Daison Acosta
Weight: 160 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2016 (Paraiso, Dominican Republic)
Daison Acosta was signed as a minor league free agent out of Paraiso, Dominican Republic on July 2, 2016, receiving a $70,000 signing bonus. He made three starts in the Dominican Summer League later in the year, posting a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 6, and striking out 8. He made his stateside debut in 2017, getting assigned to the GCL Mets, and posted a 3.27 ERA in 22.0 innings, allowing 18 hits, walking 7, and striking out 19. He was assigned to the Kingsport Mets for the 2018 season and posted a 4.46 ERA in 42.1 innings, allowing 38 hits, walking 18, and striking out 46. He began the 2019 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, but was quickly promoted to the Columbia Fireflies after allowing just two earned runs in 18.1 innings in Coney Island. He was not as dominant in the South Atlantic League as he was in the New York-Penn League, but still enjoyed a successful season, posting a 3.78 ERA in 52.1 innings, allowing 50 hits, walking 26, and striking out 49.
The 22-year-old is tall and lanky, suggesting additional growth to come. He throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple, effortless delivery with a long arm action in the back and a whippy arm. His fastball sits in the low-90s, topping out at 94 MPH. Because of his size and weight, Acosta has the potential to add additional strength and muscle to his frame, increasing his fastball velocity. He complements his fastball with an assortment of pitches, his curveball being the best secondary offering. The pitch sits 77-82 MPH and features big 11-5 and 12-6 vertical drop. His changeup, which sits in the mid-80s, features some fade, especially when thrown down in the zone. He prefers working down in the zone in general, but because his command is far from pinpoint, it leads to elevated pitch counts and more walks than you would want to see.
Name: Alexander Ramirez
Weight: 170 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, June 2, 2019 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
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.
Name: Robert Dominguez
Weight: 195 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, November 20, 2019 (Irapa, Venezuela)
Born on November 30, 2001, Robert Dominguez was eligible to sign as an international free agent over in 2018 but flew under the radar as his stuff generally did not draw much attention from scouts and evaluators. An additional year of growth and development added a few miles per hour to his fastball and got him noticed. Receiving unsatisfactory offers, the Venezuelan put off signing and spent the summer of 2019 in the Dominican Republic, working with new trainers and coaches to make mechanical changes to his delivery and improve his stuff. By the end of the summer, he had transformed his 93 MPH fastball into a pitch that flirted with triple digits. Impressed by the velocity, the Mets signed him shortly thereafter.
At 6’4”, 200 lbs., the Venezuelan right-hander has an ideal frame for pitching. Complementing his impressive fastball is a curveball and a developing changeup. The curve flashes being above-average or better, with late break. The changeup, as is the case with most young pitches, lags well behind the rest of his arsenal and is still far from being an effective pitch during in-game situations.
Name: Harol Gonzalez
Weight: 160 lbs
Acquired: IFA, March 26, 2014 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Harol Gonzalez has been a case study of a player making steady improvements since making his professional debut. After having a solid professional debut with the DSL Mets that year, Gonzalez put himself on the map in 2015 thanks to a combination of stuff and personality, playing for the Kingsport Mets. The undersized right-hander began realizing some of that potential as the 2016 season progressed, and by the time the year was over, had one of the most statistically dominant seasons in Brooklyn Cyclone history. He ended the year with a 7-3 record, posting a league-leading 2.01 ERA in 85 innings, walking 18 and striking out a league-leading 88. His stuff looked sharper and his fastball faster when he was promoted to the Columbia Fireflies in 2017 but the numbers trended in the wrong direction, as he posted a 3.53 ERA in 137.2 innings, most of them in Columbia but a handful in St. Lucie. He began the 2018 season with St. Lucie and seemingly righted the ship, posting a 2.82 ERA in 73.1 innings there, allowing 62 hits, walking 19, and striking out 59. After being promoted to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies midseason, things fell apart, and the right-handed posted a 7.79 ERA in 52.0 innings in the Eastern League, allowing 79 hits, walking 17, and striking out 30. Gonzalez began the 2019 season in Binghamton, but unlike his time there in 2018, Gonzalez pitched well, posting a 3.14 ERA in 97.1 innings, allowing 83 hits, walking 23, and striking out 89. While he already had experience pitching in the International League, as he made a spot start earlier in June, he was promoted to the Syracuse Mets at the end of July and remained there until the end of the 2019 season. Gonzalez was very effective for Syracuse as well, posting a 2.68 ERA in 40.1 innings, allowing 33 hits, walking 10, and striking out 23. After not appearing on the mound in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he became a free agent but re-signed with the Mets.
The biggest knock on Gonzalez is his size and lack of fastball. The right-hander stands an even six feet tall and weighs just 160-pounds, making it unlikely he adds more muscle to his frame, helping his fastball. The pitch is fringe-average for a right-handed pitcher, sitting around 90 MPH, though it has progressively gotten better as he as aged, holding velocity- as minimal as it may be- deeper into games. Velocity is only one component of a successful fastball, and while Gonzalez may be lacking in that regard, the pitch has a bit of arm side life, and he is able to command it. He pairs his fastball with a curveball, slider, and changeup. Of the three, his changeup is his most effective pitch and his slider the least. Nothing in his pitching arsenal projects to be better than average, leaving Gonzalez with a wide array of weapons but no true out-pitches. Despite his relatively small size and stature, Gonzalez has been a starting pitcher his entire career and has pitched 130 innings plus in three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019.