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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Four

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, May 3rd to May 8th?

Atlanta Braves v. New York Mets
David Peterson
Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Alex Ramirez

Week: 6 G, 28 AB, .536/.552/.893, 15 H, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/2 SB (Single-A)

2022 Season: 24 G, 104 AB, .385/.423/.606, 40 H, 9 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 20 K, 2/4 SB, .463 BABIP (Single-A)

The Mets made officially signing Alex Ramirez their first order of business when the 2019-2020 international rookie free agent signing period began, and on July 2, 2019, tendered the 16-year-old Dominican outfielder $2.05 million dollar contract, the third highest given to an international rookie in franchise history, behind fellow top-prospects Francisco Alvarez’s $2.7 million and Ronny Mauricio’s $2.1 million.

He would have likely suited up as a professional for the first time in 2020 with the DSL Mets had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead made his professional debut during the fall instructional league, where he got some more experience playing right field and facing premium velocity using high speed pitching machines. He performed well during extended spring training and was assigned to the St. Lucie Mets at the beginning of June, an extremely aggressive assignment. The second-youngest player in the Low-A Southeast and one of three 18-year-olds to play in the league along with Pittsburgh’s Alexander Mojica and the Yankees’ Jasson Dominguez, Ramirez appeared in 76 games and held his own. All in all, he was roughly a league average hitter, posting a 96 wRC+ with a.258/.326/.384 batting average, 5 home runs, 16 stolen bases in 23 attempts, and a 23:104 walk:strikeout ratio.

Interestingly, many of his struggles came when he was playing in night games, perhaps a consequence of his background and upbringing as the son of a single mother in Santo Domingo Oeste, a municipality of the Santo Domingo that logged a Human Development Index between 6.5 to 7.2 over the past two decades and currently averages a monthly average income of roughly $777. In 42 night games, playing in conditions Ramirez had very little prior experience, the 18-year-old hit .235/.287/.348 with a 35.1% strikeout rate and 5.9% walk rate. In 34 day games, he hit .296/.386/.443 with a 25% strikeout rate and an 8.3% walk rate.

At the plate, Ramirez holds his hands high and close, wrapping the bat behind his head. He has a smooth, whippy swing but unnecessary movement in his hands and long levers sap his in-game power and cause him to turn over pitches, resulting in too many ground balls. The Mets paired him with Francisco Alvarez to learn be more direct to the ball- and so far this season, the work is paying dividends. In 2021, he had a 22.2% line drive rate, 53.1% ground ball rate, 24.7% fly ball rate, a 27.1% infield fly ball rate. Through games in 2022, he has a 28.0% line drive rate, 45.1% ground ball rate, 26.8% fly ball rate, and 18.2% infield fly ball rate. In short, he is hitting more line drives, fewer ground balls, roughly the same amount of fly balls, and fewer infield fly balls. Another problem that Ramirez had last season were the strikeouts. In 2021, he struck out 104 times in 302 at-bats, a 31.1% strikeout rate. Once again, we see marked improvement, albeit in fewer games- the 19-year-old currently has struck out 20 times in 104 at-bats, an 18% strikeout rate.

When Ramirez makes contact, it generally is loud. In his 24 games this season, he has averaged an 88.2 MPH exit velocity on all ball put in play, with a maximum of 108.8 MPH. Of those balls, he has averaged a 91.5 MPH exit velocity on all hits, and a 100.8 MPH exit velocity on all extra base hits. Ramirez’s biggest issue so far this season has been recognizing spin and adjusting his swing path in a manner that he hits with a launch angle conducive to tapping into the power he is capable of producing.

Of the 74 balls he put in play so far this season, 33 had negative launch angles, 7 had single-digit launch angles, 17 had launch angles between 10 and 25, 13 had launch angles between 26-50, and 4 had launch angles greater than 50 degrees. According to the guidelines provided by Major League Baseball, a ground ball is anything less than 10 degrees, a line drive is anything between 10-25 degrees, a fly ball is anything between 26-50 degrees, and a pop up is anything greater than 50 degrees. A full 50% of the balls Ramirez has put in play were either ground balls or pop ups. While 16 of his 33 balls put in play with negative launch angles ended up being hits (and an additional 2 were errors), ground balls are too dependent on BABIP to be a viable strategy- especially as Ramirez begins progressing up the minor league ladder, where fielders become more and more proficient.

Defensively, the 6’3” outfielder has added about 20 pounds of so since signing in July 2019 but is still tall and lean. The weight is good weight rather than bad, adding to his power while not slowing him down. Speed is indeed one of his best attributes as a ballplayer. He runs with an effortless, graceful gait, posting plus speed scores, allowing him to cause havoc on the base paths should he choose and play excellent defense. He reads the ball off the bat well, has more than enough range to cover anything remotely hit in his direction, and can turn on the afterburners to close in quickly on the ball. If he continues growing to the point where his ability to play center is compromised in the years to come, he has a plus arm and that would allow him to shift to right field with ease.

David Peterson

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K (Triple-A)

2022 Season: 2 G (2 GS), 9.2 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 7 ER (6.52 ERA), 4 BB, 13 K, .414 BABIP (Triple-A)

A two-way player at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, David Peterson was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 28th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He ended up not signing with them and attended the University of Oregon, posting a cumulative 3.47 ERA in 256.2 innings, allowing 231 hits, walking 76, and striking out 282. With their first selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Peterson, and the two sides agreed to a signing bonus worth the MLB-assigned slot value of $2,994,500.

Peterson made his professional debut that summer, suiting up for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was used sparingly, owing to the innings he threw with Oregon and an ingrown toenail that was causing discomfort, appearing in three games and pitching only 3.2 innings. He was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies to start the 2018 season, but he had his full-season debut delayed by a few weeks due to injury. When he finally got on the field, Peterson posted excellent numbers- as you would expect an advanced college pitcher in the South Atlantic League, a fairly conservative assignment, to do. He was promoted to St. Lucie in mid-June and struggled a bit initially, suffering from a dead arm period, but ended the year strong. Over the two levels combined, he posted a 3.16 ERA over 128.0 innings, allowing 120 hits, walking 30, and striking out 115. Promoted to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in 2019, Peterson had a comparable season, posting a 4.19 ERA in 116.0 innings, allowing 119 hits, walking 37, and striking out 122.

In 2020, he was expected to be a dark horse candidate to compete for the fifth starter’s spot, but as was the case for virtually all of 2020, things did not go as expected. Due to Noah Syndergaard’s Tommy John surgery and Marcus Stroman opting out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, Peterson was thrust into the spotlight and thrived. Starting 9 games and appearing in 10, he posted a 3.44 ERA in 49.2 innings, allowing 36 hits, walking 24, and striking out 40.

Despite his breakout 2020, Peterson was unable to keep it going. Locked into a rotation spot to start 2021, at times he looked solid, but other times looked lost. He made 15 starts and posted a 5.54 ERA in 66.2 innings before leaving his start on June 30 with an oblique injury. As he rehabbed and came closer to his return, he fractured his foot while simply walking, requiring season-ending surgery.

Peterson was not particularly sharp in Spring Training 2022, but due to injuries in the starting rotation got some starts with the Mets in April. All in all, before being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, he posted a 0.64 ERA in 14.0 innings over three appearances. He made one start for Syracuse, allowing 7 earned runs in 4.2 innings, before being promoted to the Mets once again, making a start against the Atlanta Braves and allowing 3 earned runs in 5 innings. Peterson was optioned to Triple-A on May 7 and is expected to serve as starting pitching depth throughout the 2022 season.

Players of the Week 2022

Week One (April 5-April 17): Francisco Alvarez/Jose Butto
Week Two (April 19-April 24): Daniel Palka/Keyshawn Askew
Week Three (April 26-May 1): Shervyen Newton/Alec Kisena