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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Seven

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, June 15th to June 20th?

Justin Lasko
Steve Sypa

Luke Ritter

Week: 6 G, 26 AB, .250/.308/.792, 5 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 0/0 SB, .154 BABIP

2021 Season: 33 G, 122 AB, .230/.289/.459, 28 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 11 BB, 44 K, 1/2 SB, .278 BABIP

Luke Ritter was a multisport star at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri, lettering in football three times and in baseball twice. After a senior season that saw him win All-State and All-District honors, he left home to attend Wichita State University, where he had a commitment to play baseball. He appeared in 53 games in his freshman year, splitting his time at second base, third base, and left field and hitting .272/.372/.373 with 3 home runs, 2 stolen bases, and 23 walks to 32 strikeouts. He experienced something of a sophomore slump in 2017, hitting .223/.348/.349 in 55 games with 4 home runs, 0 stolen bases, and 26 walks and 47 strikeouts. That summer, he played for the Santa Barbara Foresters of the California Collegiate League and hit well, and he brought those improvements back with him to Wichita.

Appearing in 55 games for the Shockers, Ritter hit a career-best .341/.420/.484, hitting 6 home runs, stealing 6 bases, and walking 24 times to 43 strikeouts. His performance prompted the Minnesota Twins to select him with their 37th round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, but the utilityman elected to return to Wichita State for his senior season instead of with them. A veteran presence on the 2019 Wichita Shockers baseball team, he earned All-Conference honors, hitting .336/.458/.555 in 59 games with 9 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and 36 walks to 39 strikeouts.

Ritter was selected by the Mets in the 7th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, one of many college seniors who were drafted on the second day of the draft in order to save bonus pool money in order to afford signing first-round pick Brett Baty, second-round pick Joshua Wolf, and third-round pick Matthew Allan. Ritter ended up signing for a $10,000 bonus against a slot value of $216,600, freeing up $206,600 for the Mets to spend elsewhere. He signed with the Mets fairly quickly and was assigned to Brooklyn Cyclones, where he made the opening day lineup and ended up being the team iron man, playing in 68 of their 75 regular season 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. In the postseason, Ritter hit .250/.304/.300 in 6 games.

Down in St. Lucie for spring training in February and March 2020, Ritter returned home to Overland Park. He was fortunate as he was not released by the organization, as many teammates were, and returned to a newly reorganized minor leagues in 2021, where he was once again assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones, no longer a short-season affiliate but rather, the Mets’ High-A affiliate. Unbelievably, on a team that has top prospects Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty, and Fransisco Alvarez, in addition to power threat Joe Genord, Luke Ritter is currently leads the team in home runs.

Ritter is far from a power hitter. At the plate, he has a balanced stance, with a small stride. He is quick to the ball with a short swing, spraying the ball around 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 further if he grows into additional weight and strength. He has a good understanding of the strike zone, taking walks and not striking out much. For his entire career until 2021, as both an amateur at Wichita and a professional in Brooklyn, Ritter had nearly a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is striking out at a much higher rate this season, which could be for a variety of factors ranging from a long layoff from baseball to due COVID-19 to being challenged by High-A pitchers. A utility man for Wichita State, Ritter has overwhelming played second base as a professional, playing 85 games there as opposed to 6 at first base and 2 as the DH. Due to an average arm and not much speed or range, Ritter profiles best there.

Justin Lasko

Week: 2 G (2 GS), 12.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER (1.50 ERA), 2 BB, 8 K, .257 BABIP

2021 Season: 8 G (6 GS), 45.2 IP, 32 H, 14 R, 14 ER (2.76 ERA), 8 BB, 44 K, .239 BABIP

Justin Lasko was a four-year letter winner at Bunnell High School in Stratford, Connecticut, where he contributed on both sides of the plate. In his senior year, he hit .310 and posted a 1.02 ERA, making the Connecticut All-State Team. Unlike his older brother, who enrolled at Boston College and played baseball there, Justin enrolled at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst. In his first year there, he posted a 4.19 ERA in 58.0 innings over ten starts and a relief appearance, allowing 69 hits, walking 15, and striking out 40. In his sophomore season, he posted a 3.69 ERA in 83.0 innings over twelve starts and a relief appearance, allowing 94 hits, walking 20, and striking out 62. In 2018, his junior season, Lasko became the Minutemen’s Friday night starter and the right-hander responded in a big way. In 82.0 innings over twelve starts, he posted a 2.52 ERA, allowing 76 hits, walking 24, and striking out 77. Despite having his best season, Lasko went undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft and returned to the University of Massachusetts to finish his degree. Named co-captain along with two other players, the right-hander posted a 3.81 ERA in 80.0 innings, allowing 73 hits, walking 24, and striking out 77, becoming the UMass strikeout king on May 4th.

The Mets selected him in the 30th round of the 2019 MLB Draft. After signing with the team, he was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones. He spent June and July in Coney Island and then was promoted to the Columbia Fireflies, where he finished out the season. He pitched as a multi-inning reliever at both levels and posted a combined 2.14 ERA in 21 appearances, allowing 25 hits, walking 6, and striking out 28. After not pitching in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lasko was assigned to the St. Lucie Mets when minor league baseball resumed in 2021. After posting a strong 1.96 ERA, capstoned by an exceptional 8-inning start, the 24-year-old right-hander was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he has established himself as an effective starter in his four starts with them thus far.

Lasko throws from a three-quarters arm slot, with a very basic and mechanically sound motion, short arming the ball. His fastball generally hovers around 90 MPH, sitting 88-92. The pitch has some natural run and sink to it, borne out by spin rates that measure slightly above-average at their best.

He has a wide arsenal of pitches that he feels confident using during games, but mainly relies on his slider and curveball. He is able to command both pitches well enough, but the slider is the better of the two, as it gets more swings and misses. He throws two versions of the pitch, one with higher velocity that is virtually a cutter coming in in the high-80s and a slower, more traditional pitch that sits in the low-80s. His curveball sits in the mid-to-high-70s and features floaty 12-6 break. In addition, he also throws a changeup that sits in the low-to-mid-80s that features good fade when thrown down in the zone or below it.

Players of the Week 2021

Week One (May 4-May 8): Francisco Alvarez/Tylor Megill

Week Two (May 9-May 15): Antoine Duplantis/Tylor Megill

Week Three (May 16-May 23): Francisco Alvarez/Franklin Parra

Week Four (May 24-May 30): Mason Williams/Franklyn Kilome

Week Five (June 1-June 6): Brett Baty/Alec Kisena

Week Six (June 8-June 13): Carlos Cortes/Josh Walker