2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Champ Stuart

The Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual sums up my excitement and hesitation about Champ Stuart beautifully and succinctly: “Champ Stuart, speed demon from the Bahamas, is perfectly qualified to be the Mets’ Terrance Gore, right down to the inability to hit upper-minors pitching”. Since Champ’s team for the WBC didn’t make it out of qualifiers (Great Britain), we’ll get to see him in the Spring.

His first 71 games in St. Lucie was his best in the minors as he put up a .265/.347/.407 slash line spraying 73 hits, 9 doubles, 6 triples and 6 homers with 25 steals. Then he went to Binghamton and his slash line dropped to .201/.264/.261 with 37 hits, 3 doubles, a triple, 2 homers, 15 steals.

All of last year he was a center fielder, which is what the Mets are going to need down the road as everyone keeps turning into a corner outfielder. Plus, he has speed and the Mets haven’t a consistent speedy person in a few season. If he can step up this year and figure out how to hit in AA, then he’s going to work his way into conversations about future squads. Right now, he seems far away behind outfield competition that is quite complicated.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith is by far the most well known player on the Mets Non-Roster Invitee list. Before the 2016 season these were Smith’s prospect rankings:

  • Baseball America, #79
  • MLB.com. #51
  • Baseball Prosectus, #86

Before this season, these are Smith’s prospect rankings:

  • Baseball America, #71
  • MLB.com, #63
  • Baseball Prospectus, Not Ranked.

It would seem from these rankings that Smith’s stock is dropping. He had his best year in the minors so far last year putting up a .302/.367/.457 line finally showing some power as he hit 14 homers, up from 6 the year before and 1 the year before that.

The problem: Smith is a first basemen. Moderate power and spray hitting won’t cut it in a position where he needs to display a lot of power. Plus, he was drafted to develop power. The expectations of showing a lot of power and playing in a power position have hurt his perception. Still working as an advantage for him: his age. He’ll be 22 this season, still enough time to start showing some pop since he’s making solid contact.

Like a few other players in the system, if he keeps hitting, even not for power, the Mets are going to have to call him up. He’s blocked by Lucas Duda right now, but if the Mets made it through a season replacing Lucas Duda with James Loney, they could do a lot worse replacing Lucas Duda with Dom Smith.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Luis Guillorme

The Mets journey with Shortstops over the 5+ years has been a wild ride. There was Reyes departing and the rise of Tejada while waiting for Flores. Then Tejada didn’t quite work out. Neither did Flores. So a cast of other characters came in to try to bridge the gap, but that didn’t really work out either. Then the Mets signed Cabrera, Rosario stepped it up in the minors and a replacement level player in Reynolds appeared.

And now the Mets have Luis Guillorme coming through the system. Luis is protected by not being Rosario so he’s gone under the radar but he’s been with the Mets since 2013 at age 18 in the Gulf Coast league.

In four seasons in the minors he has hit a respectable .285/.355/.326. He doesn’t really have pop yet, at all, but his offense isn’t what he’s known for. As the Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual puts it, he’s “the best defensive infielder in the system”.

Luis is still quite young (will be 22 this season) and the Mets don’t need him to be a bonfide hitting stud. But just a little increase in power and his value will move. He also hasn’t played above St. Lucie yet.

Let’s see how he does this spring against tougher pitchers and revisit at the end of the season where he is on the Mets depth chart and where he should go.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Phillip Evans

Phillip Evan’s is sort of coming out of nowhere. He signed with the Mets after being drafted in the 15th round in the 2011 draft as a high school student so the 24 year old has the combination of both being young and with the Mets for a while. He started out 2016 with the St. Lucie squad hitting .143/.273/.143 but then he had an opportunity to go up to Binghamton and everything changed.

He played 96 games in Binghamton with a .335/.374/.485 line, which is tremendous. In 361 AB’s he hit 121 hits, 30 doubles and 8 homers. He’s a middle infielder spraying the ball. Sound familiar? The Mets had another player who made a leap like that last year (T.J. Rivera).

Now there’s a lot of players in the way of Phillip Evans getting the bench spot (Reyes, Walker, Wright, Flores, Rivera and Cabrera) for three positions. I’m curious to see what happens if Evans is given time in the PCL. does he keep up the hitting? He hasn’t put numbers like he did last year at any other time.

I am confident about this though: If Phillip Evans puts up similar numbers, or close numbers, to what he did in Binghamton last year, and somehow doesn’t make the 40-man by the end of the season, he’s going to have to be traded otherwise he’s going to get snatched in the Rule V draft.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Xorge Carrillo

Today we’ll take a look at the only catcher not on the 40-man to get an invite to Spring Training this year. Catching right now on the Mets is tough. There’s Travis d’Arnaud who is hoping to put together a healthy season and one where he hits. Then there’s Kevin Plawecki who has hit at every level except the majors. There’s Rene Rivera who doesn’t hit at all consistently but is tremendous defensively. Finally, there was the breakout season in the minors for Tomas Nido.

So that leaves Xorge Carrillo with quite the log jam in front of him. He’s in a better position than he was last year where he had to also compete with Johnny Monell, Raywilly Gomez and Nevin Ashley who all got NRI’s with Carrillo.

This also leaves the Mets in an interesting position in Spring because Carrillo right now is slated to be on the Mexican WBC team, so either the Mets have their four 40-man guys split the catching load early (which I highly doubt will happen) or they’ll have to reach into the backfields.

Anyway, Xorge played 80 games for Binghamton and then 5 games in Vegas. In Binghamton he put up a .269/.347/.364 line while he had 5 hits, all singles in 15 ABs.

I’ll be paying attention to Xorge this season because my gut tells me he may be slightly ahead of Nido on the depth chart, who the Mets might want to protect more and call him up in a predictable way.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Adam Wilk

Adam Wilk is the last pitcher we’ll look at in our Non-Roster Invitee Preview list. Wilk is your typical minor league signing with Invite type player. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round in 2009 and was released from the Tigers in December 2012. A day short of a full year later*, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and became a free agent at the end of the season. Same the following year with the Angels. Same the following year with the Rays.

Now he’s a Met. Will he stay?

He made his MLB debut in 2011 and logged only 5 game sand 13.1 innings with a 5.40 ERA. The following year he started three games with the Tigers and allowed 10 ER over 11.0 innings and 21 hits. He was 0-3. He didn’t make it back to the majors until 2015 where he allowed 1 ER over 2.0 innings with the Angels.

Last year he went 2-8 over 15 games and starts over 87.1 innings with a 4.64 ERA. Despite that rough line, he had a 1.122 WHIP with a 7.7 K/9 with a 5.77 K/BB ratio. These numbers are intriguing. AND HE’S A LEFTY. That right there gives him an inside track as the Mets depth of lefty’s on the 40 man (but not on the active roster) are littered with injury question marks.

*In that year where he wasn’t in an MLB organization, he played in the KBO and posted a 4.12 ERA over 17 games.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Logan Taylor

Logan Taylor is unique in a few ways to the Non-Roster Invitee list. First, he’s been with the Mets organization for a while as he was drafted in the 11th round of the 2012 draft from East Oklahoma State College and played his first season with the Mets at age 20. Second, he spent the bulk of his time in the minors as a starting pitcher with the exception of his first year and portions of last year.

Like many pitchers we’ve seen this past week, he had a great short season with Brooklyn tossing 19.1 innings over 13 games with a 0.93 ERA. He then went to Savannah where he only pitched 30.1 innings, all from 7 starts but still posted a good/great 2.67 ERA while striking out 35 and posting a WHIP of 1.220. He walked 9 batters over that time.

He split his time in 2014 spending time in the Rookie League on the Gulf Coast, dominating in 3 starts and 16.0 innings with a 1.12 ERA and then going back to Savannah where he pitched 48.2 innings with a 2.77 ERA. His numbers looking good, he got the promotion to St. Lucie in in 2015 where he was more human with a 3.69 ERA over 136.2 innings. All during this time, his K/9 dove to a 6.5 and his K/BB ration dove to 1.78.

Last year he spent the entire year with Binghamton where he made 5 starts over 44 games and 85.2 innings. He posted a 3.99 ERA and saw his highest career WHIP at 1.447 but also tied his highest K/9 at 10.4.

Ultimately, the Mets need to see what they have in the “long-outing” / “spot starter” side of the pen for future seasons (2018/2019) so that’s what I’ll be looking for from Logan Taylor this spring.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Corey Taylor

Corey Taylor will be the second player from the 2015 draft that we take a look at this week. He was drafted in the 7th round out of Texas Tech. Amazin Avenue has a good write up of his stuff when he was drafted. The basic gist of it is, he’s big (to put his size in perspective, Logan Taylor is 6’4″ and 250 lbs. The Mets official website lists Corey Taylor at 5’11” and 245 lbs), he throws in the “slightly impressive” range for his fastball (as in, not fast enough to be really impressive, not slow enough to have to consistently and constantly paint the corners) and is mainly a sinker pitcher. So a reliever.

However, and stop me if you heard this before for non-roster invites, his numbers have been impressive in the minors and forced the issue that we need to talk about him. In his first season in Brooklyn he tossed 18.0 innings over 18 games with a 1.50 ERA with 16 K’s and a 1.000 WHIP. Pretty good.

Then last year he tossed 53.0 innings over45 games as the closer for St. Lucie recording 20 saves and a 1.87 ERA. He struck out 45, allowed only 1 homer and posted a 1.245 WHIP.

He then followed that up with 14.0 innings of work over 9 games and a 1.93 ERA in the Arizona Fall League, where he allowed only 1 homer, 17 K’s with only one walk. He was then named to the All-Star game.

These are the pieces you need to become a prospect, to get noticed in the 2018 Baseball Prospectus Annual. If he does it again this year, then start sounding the alarms. I’m hoping he has a good spring and makes a large jump in the Mets system.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Paul Sewald

I’m excited about this Non-Roster Invitee and I hope you are too. If you hang out with Mets-Prospect-Heads and force them to say who is the “unknown”, possibly hidden talent in the Mets system, they’ll point you in the direction of Paul Sewald.

How did Paul get to this point, let’s go to my favorite resource, the Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual who chimes in with this lineout: “Paul Sewald has pitched well at every level, and was by far the most effective pitcher for Las Vegas in 2016, but he never got a chance to add some major league per diem to his $1000 signing bonus out of the draft”.

Like many pitchers that land themselves as NRI, they have numbers that suggest they are better than their initial scouting reports on their skills. Scouting Reports on skills push players into prospect status as their skills are extrapolated out. Paul produces solid numbers. Eventually, that turns heads and it’s the part about him being the most effective pitcher in Las Vegas of all geographic locations, that turns heads.

Paul was drafted out of the University of San Diego in 10th round of the 2012 draft and is from Las Vegas (which had to lead to some interesting times last season). He came into the Mets system in a big way as a 22 year old with a 1.88 ERA over 16 starts and 28.2 innings while posting his first several sub 1.000 WHIPs and a 11.0 K/9.

He spent all of 2013 with Savannah where he posted another great ERA, this time 1.77, over 35 games and 56.0 innings, another sub 1.000 WHIP and 10.8 K/9. 2014 he spent the bulk of his time with St. Lucie where he posted a 1.73 ERA over 40 games, 52.0 innings, a 1.0338 WHIP and a 10.7 K/9.

Then in 2015 he made it to Binghamton where he tossed a 1.75 ERA over 51.1 innings and 24 saves with his best WHIP at 0.857 and a his worst K/9 at 9.8. Finally last year he tossed 65.2 innings with Vegas posting a 3.29 ERA, his worst WHIP at 1.203, but one of his best K/9 at 11.0. He also recorded 19 saves.

As for his actual pitches, Sewald has your standard fastball (above 90, not going to completely blow you away if you’re a major league hitter) and a slider. There’s a small write-up here about his approach to pitching and while the Mets should consider him given what other pitchers at Las Vegas did when they jumped over to Queens.

I’m excited to Paul this spring as the Mets look to round-out the depth chart outside of the 40 man.

2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Ben Rowen

Ben Rowan was signed to a minor league contract by the Mets in mid-December. He had an active few years in terms of moving around. He was drafted in 2010 by the Rangers out of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and was released in December 2014.

He signed with the Dodgers in January of 2015 and was traded to the Orioles in the first week of April. The Orioles released him in July of that year and the next day he was signed by the Cubs who then put him on waivers a month later where the Blue Jays got him. A year and a day later, the Blue Jays put him on waivers and the Brewers selected him. At the end of the season he was granted Free Agency where the Mets got him.

He made his major league debut in 2014 where he tossed 8.2 innings over 8 games and a 4.15 ERA. Last year he tossed 3.0 innings over 4 games for the Brewers and allowed 5 ER, 6 total. So not of lot of major league work to look at.

He does have an interesting lineout note in the Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual. Is a submarine fastball a screwball? Ben Rowen’s is 80-82 mph, drops six inches compared to a spin-less ball and runs seven inches armside” (Nicholas Zettel, Mauricio Rubio and BP Staff). This is ultimately why I’ll be watching the right hander in Spring this year. He’s got a different type of delivery and unusual pitch. He was effective in the minors last year posting a 2.47 ERA in Buffalo in 37 games and then a 1.69 ERA in Colorado Springs. And for the most part, his minor league stats look good.

There’s nothing for the Mets to lose here, and I’m intrigued. Are you?