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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Three

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, April 26th to May 1st?

Syndication: Binghamton Kate Collins / Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, pressconnects.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Shervyen Newton

Week: 6 G, 20 AB, .350/.409/.850, 7 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 2 BB, 7 K, 0/0 SB (Single-A)

2022 Season: 19 G, 66 AB, .303/.373/.576, 20 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 20 K, 0/0 SB, .386 BABIP (Single-A)

When the 2015-2016 international free agent signing period began, the Mets handed out seven-figure deals to Andres Gimenez and Guerrero-clan member Gregory Guerrero, eating into most of the money that had available. The largest bonus they gave after signing that duo was $50,000, given to Shervyen Newton, a 16-year-old shortstop from Tilburg, Netherlands, by way of Curaçao. Newton wasn’t exactly impressive in his first year of organized ball, hitting .169/.347/.229 in 35 games in the DSL in 2016, but he looked much better in his second year there, where he hit .311/.433/.444 in 66 games. He made his stateside debut in 2018, getting promoted to the Kingsport Mets, and the young shortstop more than held his own, hitting .280/.408/.449 in 56 Appalachian League games with 5 home runs, 4 stolen bases, and 46 walks to 84 strikeouts.

Promoted to the Columbia Fireflies for the 2019 season, Newton appeared to be primed for a breakout. Instead, a shoulder injury delayed his season debut for about a month, and when he finally got back on the field, he struggled to hit. It may have been the shoulder injury, being overmatched by Low-A pitchers, learning new hitting mechanics, or a combination of all three, but Newton hit a paltry .209/.283/.330 in 109 games with 9 home runs, 1 stolen base, and an alarming 37:139 walk:strikeout ratio.

After missing the 2020 season due to COVID-19, Newton got back on the field in 2021 with the St. Lucie but his season was abbreviated as he appeared in just 30 games before injuring his shoulder in mid-June while making a diving play; making matters worse, in those games, he hit an anemic .190/.312/.293 with 2 home runs, 1 stolen base, and 20 walks to 58 strikeouts.

Now 23-years-old, Newton hasn’t added as much mass as we envisioned he might years ago. He is roughly 20 pounds heavier, but his 6’4” frame is still long, lean, and leggy.

A switch hitter, Newton holds his hands high from both the left and right sides, standing a bit more crouched and open on the left side and more closed from the right side. He swings with a slight leg kick from both sides and takes big cuts. His above-average bat speed and the torque that his long, violent swing creates produces big time raw power- so far this season, he’s averaged a 90.18 MPH exit velocity on all balls put in play, a 96.24 MPH exit velocity on all hits, and a 101.50 MPH exit velocity on all extra base hits- but he has historically struggled to make solid contact. He has struggled with pitch recognition historically, and coupled with his swing, he often swung through pitches or connected for weak contact. Through the first month of the season, Newton is posting the lowest K% and groundball rates of his career, but the numbers- especially the strikeout rate- are still extremely problematic. His willingness to lay off of borderline pitches he identifies as being out of the zone and draw walks mitigates the strikeout issue a bit, but the issue has hamstringed his development and will continue to be an anchor around his neck weighing him down.

Defensively, Newton has experience playing all over the infield. His physical attributes translated well at second base, third base, and shortstop. He is quick-twitch fast, reads the ball well off the bat, and possesses above-average range. He had an above-average arm, but two fairly major shoulder injuries later, and we may need some more data to confirm if it still is or not.

Alex Kisena

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (Double-A)

2022 Season: 4 G (4 GS), 17.0 IP, 13 H, 6 R, 6 ER (3.18 ERA), 6 BB, 18 K, .286 BABIP (Double-A)

A Seattle, Washington area native, Alec Kisena attended Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Washington, and after graduating in 2013 attended Edmonds Community College, a junior college in Lynnwood, Washington. If “Mill Creek” sounds familiar, you must be a diehard ‘alternate baseball’ fan, as the Mill Creek Little League team qualified for the 2008 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Kisena was on that team, which was eliminated by Waipio Little League in the elimination quarterfinals. According to the memories of those who say him, he was a hitter who nibbled a bit below and above the zone but could handle any pitch left in it.

Originally an infielder who began pitching in earnest in his sophomore year of high school, Kisena was among the best starters the Tritons had. In 2015, the right-hander posted a 2.28 ERA in 75.0 innings, allowing 48 hits, walking 6, and striking out 82. Eligible to be drafted because of his JUCO status, the Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Detroit Tigers all expressed interest in drafting him in the upcoming 2015 MLB Draft. He only attended the Seattle and St. Louis workouts, missing the Detroit workout because of unavoidable scheduling conflicts, but ironically, the Tigers would be the ones to draft him, selecting him with their 16th round pick, the 490th player selected overall. Because of his excellent performance during the season and his ability to return to Edmonds Community College for the 2016 season if he wanted, the Tigers were forced to dig a little deeper into their pockets to sign Kisena, and the two sides eventually agreed to a $100,000 signing bonus.

The big right-hander was assigned to the Tigers’ GCL team and had an excellent year, posting a 2.25 ERA in 40.0 innings, allowing 35 hits, walking 16, and striking out 44. He would be unable to replicate that success in 2016 as he missed the entire season due to an ACL injury. The injury was taking Kisena longer to recover and rehab from, and in early May 2017, the Tigers released him. Roughly a month later, he got a call from the pitching coach of the Gateway Grizzlies, a team in the Frontier League. The team needed to bolster their pitching and reached out to Kisena, who was now healthy and could do just that. After weighing his options- he had received similar offers from two other Can-Am League teams- he decided to sign with the Grizzlies.

He would spend the rest of the 2017 season with them and would re-sign and spend the entire 2018 there as well. In total, he would post a 5.51 ERA in 168.1 innings, allowing 165 hits, walking 74, and striking out 167. His performance in the Frontier League attracted the attention of Mets scouts, and the Mets signed him to a minor league contract in late February 2019. He was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies to start the season, was briefly promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones and the St. Lucie Mets in July and ended the season back in Columbia. All in all, he posted a solid 3.32 ERA in 81.1 innings, allowing 75 hits, walking 31, and striking out 86. He took a step back in 2021, partially due to the loss of the 2021 season and partially due to Major League Baseball’s restructuring of the minor league, and posted a 4.94 ERA in 85.2 innings spit between the High-A Brooklyn Cyclones and Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, allowing 84 hits, walking 38, and striking out 110.

Kisena throws from a three-quarters arm slot, short-arming the ball. Despite being a 6’5”, 250-pound Samoan, right-hander does not have an intimidating fastball. The pitch hovers around the 90 MPH mark. Because of his size and slot, Kisena the pitch has some sink and arm-side movement to it. In addition to his fastball, he also throws a mid-80s changeup and a big, loopy curveball in the mid-to-high-70s. Because of his height, the plane his pitches have, and the natural downward movement that all three pitches have, he is most effective pitching down in the zone and under it.

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