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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Five

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, May 2nd to May 7th?

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets
DJ Stewart
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

DJ Stewart

Week: 5 G, 14 AB, .333/.474/1.133, 5 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 4 BB, 2 K, 0/0 SB (Triple-A)

2023 Season: 15 G, 53 AB, .208/.344/.566, 11 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 11 BB, 10 K, 0/0 SB, .135 BABIP (Triple-A)

DJ Stewart attended high school at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, alma mater of noted Mets killer and famous Larry, Chipper Jones. He was selected by the Yankees in the 28 round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but did not sign, choosing to enroll at Florida State instead. Stewart had an extremely successful collegiate career, hitting .364/.469/.560 in 60 games as a freshman, in .351/.472/.557 in 53 games as a sophomore, and .318/.500/.594 in 64 games as a junior. His cumulative .344/.481/.570 batting line with the Seminoles turned heads, and by the time the 2015 MLB Draft arrived, Stewart was considered a late first-round talent by reputable industry sources.

The Baltimore Orioles selected Stewart with their first-round pick, making him the 25 player selected overall. He signed for $2,064,500, exactly the MLB-assigned slot value, and spent the rest of the year with the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Orioles’ Short-A New York-Penn League affiliate. He progressively climbed the Baltimore minor league ladder, playing for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds and High-A Frederick Keys in 2016, the Double-A Bowie BaySox in 2017, and the Norfolk Tides in 2018 before getting a late season cup-of-coffee with the Orioles in September 2018.

Despite hitting .250/.340/.550 in 17 major league games, he began the 2019 season with the Tides. The outfielder forced the issue by hitting .316/.425/.586 through his first two month or so, and the Orioles recalled him in late May. Due to injuries, Stewart was unable to get regular playing time, and when he was able to get on the field, was not playing at 100%. He ended up appearing in 44 major league games, hitting .238/.317/.381.

The outfielder would get regular playing time in 2020 and 2021 but struggled, hitting .193/.355/.455 in 31 games/88 at-bats in 2020 and .204/.324/.374 in 100 games/270 at-bats in 2021. After going 0-3 in three different pinch hitting appearances early in the Orioles’ 2022 season, Stewart was designated for assignment in mid-April. He cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Norfolk. Injuries once again limited his time on the field and how effective he was when able to play, and he was put on the injured list three different times. All in all, he appeared in just 29 games for the Tides and hit .256/.391/.488. After the season ended, he elected for free agency and signed with the Mets in early February. Through the first month of the 2023 season, the outfield has already had a stint on the injured list, missing time in mid-April.

Mike Vasil

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (Double-A)

2023 Season: 5 G (5 GS), 22.0 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 8 ER (3.27 ERA), 4 BB, 34 K, .233 BABIP (High-A)

Born in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, Mike Vasil attended Boston College High School, an all-male, Jesuit prep school. Over the course of his career there, the right-hander was named to various honorary teams and received various accolades from local media, posting a cumulative 1.06 ERA in 191 innings pitched with 217 strikeouts. He was considered a prep player of interest by reputable national scouting and evaluation organizations coming into the 2018 MLB Draft, but an arm issue that started bothering him early in his senior season prompted Vasil to announce that he was going to follow through on his commitment to the University of Virginia and would not sign with a professional team if drafted. As such, he went undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Vasil’s time at the University of Virginia was not disastrous, but he did not live up to expectations. In his freshman year in 2019, he posted a 5.93 ERA in 57.2 innings for the Cavaliers, allowing 68 hits, walking 22, and striking out 40. He looked to be back on track in 2020, posting a 2.45 ERA in 22.0 innings over four starts, allowing 21 hits, walking 10, and striking out 23, but the season ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Serving as Virginia’s Saturday starter in 2021, Vasil posted a 4.52 ERA in 81.2 innings over 16 starts and one relief appearance, allowing 101 hits, walking 18, and striking out 75. All in all, he posted a cumulative 4.74 ERA in 161.1 innings with the Cavaliers, allowing 190 hits, walking 50, and striking out 136.

Vasil was drafted by the Mets in the 8th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the 232nd player selected overall. He signed for $181,200, exactly the MLB-recommended slot value, and was assigned to the FCL Mets for the remainder of the season. Appearing in three games and pitching 7.0 innings, he allowed one run on three hits while walking none and striking out ten. He was assigned to the St. Lucie Mets in 2022 and got off to an excellent start, posting a 1.81 ERA in 35.0 innings over 8 games with 23 hits allowed, 11 walks, and 37 strikeouts. He was promoted to Brooklyn at the end of May and his performance took a 180, posting a 5.40 ERA in 28.1 innings over 6 games with 23 hits, 12 walks, and 39 strikeouts before being pt on the injured list due to bone spurs in his elbow. He returned to the mound after nearly two months of down time and made a pair of abbreviated starts at the end of the season. All in all, he posted a cumulative 3.53 ERA in 71.1 innings, allowing 51 hits, 26 walks, and striking out 85. After the season ended, the Mets sent him to the Arizona Fall League to log a few more innings, and he was excellent in 6 games, posting a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings with 10 hits allowed, 9 walks, and 18 strikeouts.

The 6’5”, 225-pound right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with simple, repeatable mechanics. Vasil does not engage his lower half much in his delivery, generating velocity with his live arm. In college, Vasil nibbled too much, trying to avoid the strike zone and batters making contact rather than going after them, but has been a bit more aggressive since turning pro, as Mets coaches have given him more confidence in trusting his stuff. After being drafted, the Mets made some major alterations to his pitch selection and in-game sequencing; the coaching staff at the University of Virginia had him mainly throw a two-seam fastball, but the Mets have had him focus on throwing his four-seam fastball instead.

Both pitches sit in a similar velocity band, his four-seamer 93-96 MPH and his two-seamer 90-94. His four-seam fastball has above-average spin, giving it rising life when thrown up in the strike zone, while his two-seam fastball has above-average run, averaging between 12-15 inches of horizontal movement in 2022. Vasil had problems holding his velocity for both pitches last season but has not shown similar issues in limited innings so far this year. Rounding out his arsenal is a slider, curveball, and changeup, all considered fringe-average or better, with his slider generally considered his best of the bunch.

Players of the Week 2023

Week One (April 4-April 9): Ronny Mauricio/Jose Butto

Week Two (April 11-April 16): Ronny Mauricio/Joey Lucchesi

Week Three (April 18-April 23): Mark Vientos/Jordan Geber

Week Four (April 25-April 30): Mark Vientos/Nathan Lavender