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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Ten

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What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, July 6th to July 11th?

Jaylen Palmer
Steve Sypa

Jaylen Palmer

Week: 5 G, 21 AB, .429/.478/.571, 9 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, 1/2 SB (Low-A)

2021 Season: 50 G, 184 AB, .272/.383/.359, 50 H, 8 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 33 BB, 60 K, 19/22 SB, .394 BABIP (Low-A)

Canarsie native Jaylen Palmer attended Holy Cross High School in Flushing, about 15 minutes over from Citi Field. His first few years in high school were relatively unremarkable, but a massive growth spurt changed all of that. He began his 2016 sophomore year a scrawny, 5’5”, 150-pound undersized middle infielder and returned in 2017, his junior year, a 6’3”, 195-pound athlete. That year, he hit .308/.439/.371 in 28 games for the Holy Cross Knights, getting the attention of major league scouts. He was even better in his senior year, hitting .286/.511/.476 in 24 games this past season.

With their twenty-second selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Palmer, signing him for $200,000. The 17-year-old was assigned to the GCL Mets for the remainder of the 2018 season and hit .310/.394/.414 in 25 games, slugging a lone home run and stealing five bases. He was promoted to the Kingsport Mets for the 2019 season, and as the fourth-youngest hitters in the Appalachian League hit .260/.344/.413 in 62 games, launching seven homers and stealing one base.

Coming into the season, there were questions about Palmer’s hit tool. He struck out 108 times in 62 games with Kingsport, an unsustainable percentage. The swing had length and loft, but it also partially contributed to his power, along with his above-average bat speed. Palmer’s 27% strikeout rate is still higher than you would like it, but he is walking at an elite rate, 14.9%.

Curiously, his power has not manifested itself in terms of home runs. He has in-game power; he hit 7 home runs in Kingsport in 2019, second on the team behind catcher Andres Regnault. So far this season, he has none, though he is hitting doubles and triples in spades. Due to the spike in walks he is drawing this season, clearly he is working on his approach at the plate and perhaps even his swing mechanics and these changes are impacting his home run swing.

Another factor that may be impacting his offense is his defense. A shortstop in high school, he split time at short and third base as a professional, but he is now playing the outfield as well. When he was drafted, I thought he might be able to handle center, as he is athletic, has speed, is rangy, and has a strong arm, and now the Mets are making that a reality.

J.T. Ginn

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER (0.00 ERA), 1 BB, 10 K, (Low-A)

2021 Season: 7 G (7 GS), 32.2 IP, 23 H, 9 R, 9 ER (2.48 ERA), 8 BB, 31 K, .250 BABIP (Low-A)

John Thomas Ginn was a dominant pitcher at Brandon High School, where he was named to numerous honorary teams, earned all-American, all-state, all-region, and all-district honors multiple times, and was a two-time team captain and three-time team MVP. In the four years he attended the school, he pitched a total of 110.0 innings for the Bulldogs with a cumulative 1.02 ERA, allowing 52 hits, walking 30, and striking out 195. In addition, he hit .415/.581/.829 in 270 total at-bats, slugging 28 home runs and stealing 17 bases in 19 total attempts. His senior season in 2018 was particularly impressive, as he posted a 0.36 ERA in 39.1 innings with 78 strikeouts and hit .419/.624/.918 with 9 home runs, making him one of the top prep players available in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Los Angeles Dodgers ended up drafting Ginn with their first-round selection, 30th overall, and reportedly offered him a $2.4 million signing bonus to break his commitment to Mississippi State University, a slightly over slot offer. Ginn considered the offer and weighed his options, but in the end decided to forego the money in order to attend Mississippi State University.

In his freshman season with Mississippi State, Ginn posted a 3.36 ERA in 80.1 innings, allowing 69 hits, walking 18, and striking out 103. He began experiencing arm soreness as he continued accumulating more innings than he ever had in a single season, but the soreness did not slow him down. His 8 wins ranked second on the team, and his strikeout total ranked second as well, both trailing staff ace Ethan Small. He was extremely dominant for most of the year, was named to numerous honorary teams, won a handful of prestigious awards, and was named SEC Freshman of the Year.

The 2020 season was a lost year for all players, as COVID-19 caused the baseball season to end prematurely for all high school and college players, but the 2020 season was even worse for Ginn than most. In his first start of the season, a brief, uninspiring outing against Wright State that saw him allow two earned runs in three innings, he began experiencing soreness in his right arm once again. Head coach Chris Lemonis pushed back his next start in order for him to have more time to heal, but the right-hander ended up being diagnosed with a torn UCL, necessitating Tommy John surgery. He went under the knife in early March and missed the rest of the season.

Available to be selected in the 2020 MLB Draft and considered one of the top talents available, his draft stock dropped considerably as a result. In a move similar to what the Mets did in 2019, when they selected Matthew Allan in the third round and specifically drafted players who would sign for a minimum value in order to assign those savings to Allan, the Mets drafted Ginn with their second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the 52nd player selected overall. After selecting Isaiah Greene, Anthony Walters, Matt Dyer, and Eric Orze behind him, the Mets were able to offer Ginn a $2.9 million signing bonus, almost double the MLB-assigned slot value of $1.4 million. He accepted.

Ginn returned to the mound in early June, assigned to the St. Lucie Mets. Slowly but surely, he has reacclimated himself to pitching, now as a professional. Over the course of 7 starts now, he has a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched, having allowed 23 hits, walked 8, and struck out 31.

Prior to Tommy John, Ginn had an explosive fastball that sat in the low-to-mid-90s and topped out in the upper-90s. In addition to healthy velocity, the pitch also featured plenty of life and sink. In his limited innings so far this season, the pitch has averaged 92 MPH (91.85 to be exact), ranging between 88-95 MPH. With a 2100 RPM spin rate, right about at the demarcation line between below- and above-average spin for a fastball, the pitch sinks anywhere from 16-28 inches, which is why the right-hander has a 63% ground ball rate to date.

He complemented his fastball with a plus slider, and a changeup that showed flashes of being an average-or-better pitch.

The slider, which has averaged roughly 84 MPH so far this season, sitting 81-86 MPH, has generally posted just average spin rates up to this point (2390 RPM), but this may just be the tip of the iceberg for Ginn. Breaking pitches such as sliders and curveballs generally take longer to return to form after Tommy John surgery, and as such, it is reasonable to expect the pitch to improve. As it is, it has not been bad offering, as he has a 50% swing-and-miss rate with it and has yet to a hit off of it with a 100+ exit velocity. His changeup, which has averaged 86 MPH so far this season, sitting 84-88 MPH, which represents, on average, a six MPH differential from his average fastball velocity. It’s ~30 inches of vertical movement and ~15 inches of horizontal movement on average this season put it firmly within the bounds of an MLB average pitch.

In addition to the slider and change, he throws the occasional curveball and cutter, though these pitches may simply be his intentional/unintentional variants of his slider that are being thrown with more/less velocity and/or break.

Ginn has not shown the extra giddyap on his fastball that he was capable of, hitting 94 MPH only a handful of times this season. In a vacuum, this could be concerning, but in the context of Ginn only being on the mound for roughly a month now, it really is not problematic. Also, considering that the players he is pitching against in the Low-A Southeast East are arguably inferior to those he faced in the SEC in 2019 and 2020, the case could be made that Ginn simply has not needed to really ramp the pitch up to escape out of trouble.

All in all, Ginn being healthy and on the field is all that really matters. The numbers, the results, the slight variances in pitch velocity or pitch spin rate or pitch movement from week to week, all of it is micro analysis minutia that does not really matter much at this point. Unless something goes catastrophically bad or we something out of him that we have never seen before, nothing that Ginn does in 2020 should be read into too much. The 2020 season should be viewed like an extended rehab start and the real work begins in 2021.

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

Week Seven (June 15-June 20): Luke Ritter/ Justin Lasko

Week Eight (June 22-June 27): Mark Vientos/Oscar Rojas

Week Nine (June 29-July 4): Mark Vientos/David Griffin