Mets 2024 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Tomás Nido

I’ve previewed non-roster invitees to camp for the better part of a decade, and writing one for Tomás Nido is one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. I know Nido! You know Nido! Francisco Lindor listed him as the teammate he couldn’t wait to see in the Mets socials a couple of weeks ago:

So how did we get here? Nido started the season in 2023 essentially as the back up catcher to Omar Narváez. Narváez ended up on the injured list fairly early in the season and Francisco Álvarez was called up to join Nido to split catching duties. In mid-May the Mets placed Nido on the injured list with dry-eye syndrome and recalled Michael Pérez. Days before doing this though the Mets signed Gary Sánchez to a minor league contract (additional context, the Mets had to move Narváez to the 60-day injured list). So it’s May and the Mets have already had multiple injuries to catchers, including Nido, and had already used five catchers in games.

After completing his rehab last year Nido activated in late May and then DFA’d in the first week of June, he was then outrighted to Syracuse and played for them the rest of the season. That’s how Nido ended off of the Mets roster.

In 22 games last season he hit .125/.153/.125 over 61 plate appearances which translated to a -22 OPS+. This was a massive departure from his previous season where he played in 98 games hitting .239/.276/.324 over 313 plate appearances with a 72 OPS+. He led the league in 2022 with 12 sacrifice hits. Nido is not in the lineup for his offense though, he’s there for his defense. In 2022 he was in the 94th percentile according to Baseball Savant in fielding run value. For catchers specifically, he was in the 92nd percentile in blocks above average and 90th for framing.

Chances are we are going to see Nido at some point this year in Queens. He knows the pitching staff well and in Syracuse he has been and will be working with the pitchers of the future. If there is a long term injury to a catcher or the Mets are able to move Omar Narváez, it will be Nido time again in Queens!

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Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Austin Allen

The Mets invited four non-roster catchers to camp last year (Nick Meyer, Kevin Parada, Michael Pérez and Hayden Senger). Last season they had five different players play behind the dish, with Pérez being the non-roster spring player seeing playing time with the big league club. This year the Mets are inviting four catchers to camp to fight for depth chart positioning behind Francisco Álvarez and Omar Narváez. Austin Allen is the only catcher of the four who has never been in Mets camp before.

Austin Allen was drafted by the Padres in 2015 and made his major league debut with them in 2019. At the end of the 2019 season Allen was traded to the Athletics for Jurickson Profar. He saw some time in the majors over three seasons with the Athletics each season until mid-way through 2022 when he was traded to the Cardinals. After a year with the Cardinals organization he signed a one year deal with the Marlins.

Austin Allen played in 34 games in 2019 getting 71 plate appearances hitting .215/.282/.277 with a 51 OPS+. The following year he played in 14 of the Athletics’ 60 games getting 32 plate appearances hitting .194/.219/.323 with a 49 OPS+. Since then he has played in only nine major league games. Allen was defensively solid during his time in the majors. He has a career caught stealing percentage of 24% and in 2020 he was in the 82nd percentile for blocking.

Last season with the Marlins AAA team he got into 91 games hitting .225/.311/.409. Allen slammed 23 homeruns, and it was the fifth time he had more than 20 homers in a minor league season. He has some serious pop, it just has never translated in the minor leagues (two homers over 57 games compared to 125 homers over 690 games in the minors).

As of writing I would put Allen fourth on the Mets catching depth chart, behind non-roster invitee (and Met legend) Tomás Nido. We’ve seen over the last couple of years how many catchers the Mets use in a season, and Allen’s major league experience puts him over Hayden Senger. This spring we’ll look to see which pitchers Allen works with and how he handles the bat against major league pitchers.

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Mets 2024 Non-Roster Invitee: Austin Adams

Today’s non-roster invitee profile was still on the Mets roster when we started this series a couple of weeks ago. Adams signed a major league contract with the Mets at the end of November and was outrighted to make room for Jake Diekman on the roster. He’s on a split-deal contract, so he’ll make different amounts depending on which roster he’s on for the Mets.

Adams was drafted by the Angels back in 2012 from the University of South Florida. In 2016 he ended up with the Nationals as part of the Danny Espinosa trade. He then made his debut with the Nationals in 2017 (so if he seems familiar to you, that’s probably why). In May of 2019 he was traded to the Mariners. The Mariners then traded him in 2020 as part of seven player swap with the Padres. After playing with the Padres for two years he signed a one year deal with the Diamondbacks before signing with the Mets.

Adams had a shortened 2023 campaign due to a fractured ankle. Before landing on the injured list he was playing better than the traditional stats indicate. Over 24 games, 17 1/3 innings, Adams had a 5.71 ERA but a 3.72 FIP. That’s a pretty large difference between those stats! He was striking opponents out at a 11.4 K/9 rate, which is both good and below his career mark at 13.4.

He tossed most of his 114 1/3 career innings back in 2021 where he threw 52 2/3 innings over 65 games as a member of the Padres. That season he had a 4.10 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.196 WHIP with a 95 ERA+. He also managed to league the entire league in hitting batters at 24, despite only throwing slightly above 50 innings. His Baseball Savant page for 2021 is wild. Adams ranked in the 99th percentile for xBA, 95th for Exit Velocity, 93rd for Whiff%, 91st for K% and 99th for Hard-Hit%. He was also in the 22nd percentile for Chase% and the 2nd percentile for walks.

During that 2021 season, Adams threw two types of pitches in games. 87% of the time he tossed a high-80’s slider. The rest of the time he threw a low-to-mid-90’s fastball.

Adams can get batters to strikeout and, at least in 2021, got them to generate really weak contact. The Mets are hoping for more of the same this spring and an increase in his control. His career walk rate is 14.6%, which he did bring down to 9.9% last season. That was the first time in his career it wasn’t in double digits. Given how bullpens are used, we’ll probably see Adams with the major league team at some point this season. The hope is that his heavy slider usage pairs well with the flamethrowers the Mets have added to the bullpen this off-season.

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Mets 2024 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Danny Young

Travis d’Arnaud. Luis Guillorme. Jarred Kelenic. All three are former Mets on the Atlanta Braves active roster. There are few things guaranteed in the universe, but one of them is excellent performance by former Mets, currently with the Braves, playing against the Mets.

The Mets are hoping they have the reverse scenario with Danny Young.

Danny Young had a long trip to the major leagues after getting drafted by the Blue Jays in 2015. He was selected by Cleveland in the 2019 rule V draft. In 2022 he signed as a free agent with the Mariners where he finally got his break. In the middle of the 2022 season the Braves selected him off waivers and this past off-season he signed with the Mets.

Danny Young had a solid, short stint with the Braves last year. Over eight games he pitched 8 1/3 innings allowing one run from seven hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters. He was hit fairly hard in triple AAA last year, allowing 22 hits and 11 earned runs over 15 2/3 innings, but still recording 18 strikeouts. A hip injury that led to surgery knocked him out for most of the season.

Young threw only two types of pitches last year in the majors. He used his upper-80’s fastball 55% of the time and mixed-in his upper-70’s slider for the other 45%. In 2022 he also threw a low-80’s changeup, but it was rare, making up only 2% of his overall pitches. Young’s arsenal a continuation of the overall vision that David Stearns has for the bullpen this year. He’s the first player in this series that throws a much slower fastball and has the slowest slider out of the group as well. He’s definitely a different look.

You know what else is always true, besides former Mets on the Braves crushing the Mets? The Mets need for left-handed relievers. Before signing Diekman to a major league deal the Mets left-handed depth list was looking real short. Danny Young adds to that depth.

This spring we’ll be looking for two things from Young. First, does he keep the ball on the ground, which was his calling card throughout his career. Second, can he limit the hits allowed. If he can do both of things, and if he’s healthy, he can be a nice surprise for the Mets bullpen this year.

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Mets 2024 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Mike Vasil

The Mets invited three big starting pitching prospects to camp this year: Dominic Hamel, Christian Scott and Mike Vasil. Similar to Scott, Vasil is another pitcher who saw his stock rise considerably last season. At the end of the 2022 season he was listed as the #21 prospect in the Mets system by MLB Pipeline. At the end of last season he was listed as the #9 prospect. In the 2024 pre-season Mets prospect rankings by the Athletic, Vasil is #10. Both organizations predict that he’s going to make his major league debut at some point this season.

Mike Vasil is mostly a fastball-cutter pitcher. His fastball sits in the low-90’s and in addition to the cutter he mixes in a curveball and changeup. One of the more interesting notes from MLB Pipeline is that the Mets actually got rid of one of his pitches after drafting him. He used to throw a two-seam fastball that the Mets worked out of his arsenal.

The Mets drafted Vasil in the 8th round back in 2021 and he made a few starts totaling only seven innings in his first year with the Mets (which is fairly normal for pitchers coming out of a full season in college). Vasil quickly turned heads in 2022, posting a 2.19 ERA over 37 innings in nine games in St. Lucie earning a promotion to Brooklyn. He didn’t dominate in Brooklyn as indicated by a 5.67 ERA over 33 innings. Vasil did get better at striking players out in Brooklyn though, jumping from a 9.5 K/9 to an 11.9 K/9. The difference was homers. He only gave up one homer with St. Lucie but three in less innings in Brooklyn.

The Mets saw enough positive with Vasil in Brooklyn last year to move up him to Binghamton last year and he looked great over ten starts (51 innings) with a 3.71 ERA. Homers became a problem again as he allowed eight, which was a 1.4 HR/9 clip, or almost double the rate he had in Brooklyn. But he was able to keep his strike numbers up. Vasil earned a promotion to Syracuse to finish off the season. Similar to 2022, his performance took a step back, but there was still a lot to like. His ERA jumped to 5.30, mostly due to a jump in walks (1.4 BB/9 to 4.7) but his strikeout and homer numbers didn’t change.

If the pattern holds, then Vasil should put up great numbers in Syracuse this year, and put up below average numbers as a Met after a late season call-up. Then he dominates in 2025! This is mostly a joke, but it has been fascinating watching Vasil repeat the same performance pattern the last two seasons. To comeback stronger each year shows he’s doing something in the off-season to get better.

At some point this year the Mets will need another starter. There’s going to essentially be an open competition all season between Hamel, Scott and Vasil for who will be first to get that call. This spring we are going to be looking to see if Vasil keeps the ball in the ballpark and keeps his walk numbers down, as those were the two knocks on his game at the end of last season.

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Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Cole Sulser

Cole Sulser is one of the more interesting veteran non-roster invitees in camp as a couple of years ago he had a dominant season. Since then he’s been mired by injuries.

Sulser was drafted in 2013 out of Dartmouth by Cleveland. In 2018 he was part of a massive 3-team trade between Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Seattle that included Carlos Santana coming to Cleveland. Sulser was part of the package that Tampa Bay received. He would make his debut during the 2019 season. After that campaign he was selected off waivers by the Orioles and that’s when his career took off. At the start of the 2022 season he was traded to the Marlins as part of a five player swap. Since then he has bounced around between the Diamondbacks and Rays organizations until the Met signed him.

Sulser struggled in his first real season, 2020. Over 19 games and 22 2/3 innings (remember, this was the shortened baseball season), he had a a 5.56 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 1.500 WHIP and an 85 ERA+. Then things clicked for Sulser in 2021. Over 63 1/3 innings he had a 2.70 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 1.121 WHIP and a 166 ERA+. His Baseball Savant stats that year reflected his traditional stats. He ranked in the 98th percentile for offspeed run value, 86th for xERA and 85th for xBA.

Sulser’s 2022 season looked more like his 2020 season. Last season he got into three games near the start of the season but then headed to the injured list with a shoulder strain.

The 33-year old righty has four pitches in his arsenal. About half the time he throws a low-to-mid-90’s fastball. He tosses a mid-80’s changeup about a third of the time. His third pitch is a mid-80’s slider and on occasion he will toss a curve.

In camp we’ll be looking to see if Sulser looks healthy and effective. If he looks resurgent this spring he could be in a position battle for one of the final roster spots. Last year the Mets had a lot of pitchers in camp that weren’t hard throwers, like Sulser. This year the Mets have brought in a diverse array of arms, so Sulser is really competing against the pitchers left in camp that have a similar profile to him.

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Mets Non-Roster Invitee: Chad Smith

As part of their 2024 bullpen and depth chart make-over, the Mets signed Chad Smith to a minor league deal back in December. Chad Smith was drafted twice, first in 2015 by Cleveland and then in 2016 by Miami. When Cleveland drafted Smith he played for Wallace State Community College then he transferred to the University of Mississippi. Waiting the extra year and transferring schools took him from a 23rd round pick to the 11th round.

In 2020 the Marlins traded to the Rockies. Smith then got traded again after the 2022 season to the Athletics. Smith would make his major league debut with the Rockies and pitch in a few games across 2022 and 2023 before signing with the Mets at the end of the season. Over 25 major league games and 31 2/3 innings Smith posted a 7.11 ERA, 1.674 WHIP, 5.26 FIP and a 63 ERA+. These numbers were echoed in the minors last season as well. Over 34 2/3 innings in Las Vegas he posted an 8.57 ERA with a 2.077 WHIP fueled by a 10.9 H/9 and a 7.8 BB/9. Obviously not great, but his strikeout rate was 10.9 K/9. Over the last three seasons he posted double digit strikeout rates in the minor leagues.

Smith is known as a groundball pitcher and that was the bright spot in his short spurt in the majors. Between both seasons got batters to hit it on the ground 55.2% of the time. His weakness though also came in his short time in majors – opponents worked out walks 15.2% of the time. According to Baseball Savant he throws a mid-90’s fastball 56% of the time and a mid-80’s slider 42% of the time. Occasionally (3%) he will throw a high-80’s changeup.

The Mets came into 2024 clearly lacking pitching depth. Chad Smith’s minor league strikeout rates and his major league ground ball rates are intriguing. If he starts to improve his control, he could force his way into the major league roster at some point this season. This is exactly what we are going to look for this spring – groundballs, strikeouts, limited walks.

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Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Christian Scott

The narrative about the Mets over the last couple of seasons, by people who don’t follow the Mets, is that the farm system lacks pitching prospects in the upper levels. The Mets actually have several arms at the upper levels of the minors that could be breaking through as soon as this year. This crew includes Dominic Hamel, Mike Vasil, Blake Tidwell and the focus of today’s article, Christian Scott.

Christian Scott is the first pitcher in that group that is starting to buck the trend of Mets pitching prospects being ignored. He landed as the #99 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list a few weeks ago and #88 for Baseball Prospectus.

The Mets drafted Scott in 2021 out of Florida where he was mostly used as a reliever and have used him as starter and reliever over his time in the minor leagues. Scott had a solid introduction in 2022 between St. Lucie and Brooklyn where he posted a 4.45 ERA over 18 games, nine starts, with a 58 2/3 innings. In 2022 he had a solid K/9 at 11.8 but gave up a lot of hits (9.4 H/9) leading to a 1.415 WHIP.

Then last year happened, which is why he has seemingly shot out of no where. Last season the Mets fully converted Scott into a starting pitcher. Scott played over three levels last year, spending most of his time in Binghamton where he made 12 starts. Over his 19 total starts he logged 87 2/3 innings with a 2.57 ERA and a 0.856 WHIP. He kept his strikeouts constant (11.0 K/9) while slashing his hits and walks around (hits down to 6.5 per nine innings, walks dropped from 3.4 to 1.2 BB/9). That’s definitely going to turn heads.

MLB Pipeline notes that he has a mid-90’s fastball, a low-80’s slider and a changeup. They note that he learned his slider from watching videos of Max Scherzer pitch.

Scott has clearly grown while in the Mets system, his next challenge is endurance. Because he was used mostly as a reliever, he only tossed about fifty innings in 2019 and then again in 2021. He almost got to 60 innings in his first season with the Mets where he was split between a starter and a reliever. Last year he almost got to 90 innings. If Scott comes out of spring training demolishing batters in Syracuse, he’s going to force the Mets to consider calling him up. In that scenario, do the Mets cap his innings?

This spring we are looking for two things with Christian Scott. First, once he gets a few games under his belt, do his spring strikeout/hit/walk numbers resemble 2023 or 2022? Second, how is he using all of his pitches? Are they all effective?

Scott rocketed up the Mets system last year, here’s hoping that rocket continues to rise in 2024!

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Mets Non-Roster Preview: Yacksel Ríos

Yacksel Ríos broke into the majors at 24-years old with the Phillies. Since 2017 he has spent time in the majors with the Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, Red Sox and Oakland. Over his career he’s been good in the minors but struggled in the majors. As we know the Mets went into this season needing a lot of pitching depth from the majors all the way through the minors, so the Mets signed him January on minor league deal.

A key sign that Ríos hasn’t figured it out yet in the majors is how he has ended up in so many different organizations. In addition to the teams listed earlier, he has also been a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, White Sox and Atlanta Braves organizations. Ríos has never been traded. He’s either been selected off waivers by different teams, has his contract purchased, or gets released and signs with a different team.

Last season Ríos barely saw any time at the major league level, allowing seven runs over 1 2/3 innings spread across three games. During that time he allowed three hits and six walks. My gut says the reason the Mets signed Ríos though is because of a stretch he had as a member of the Red Sox in 2021. Over 24 1/3 innings (20 games) he had a 3.70 ERA (1.110 WHIP and a 4.90 FIP), by far his best stretch in the majors. In 2021, Baseball Savant had his fastball averaged at 97.1 mph and at the 94th percentile in the majors.

The other reason the Mets signed Ríos is his minor league numbers. In the Braves system last year he had a 2.49 ERA of 25 1/3 innings while keeping his walks down to 2.9 BB/9 (5.1 in the majors). In the winter league before last year he had a 0.65 ERA over 27 2/3 innings. The potential is there!

Ríos has fastball that sits in the upper-90’s that in 2021 he tossed 61% of the time. His slider (tossed 25% of the time) averages in the upper-80’s, but is really spread out between the low-80’s to the low-90’s. He mixes in a mid-80’s changeup.

This spring we are going to look for Ríos leaning into his strength (striking players out) while limited his weakness (walking players). If he can do that effectively throughout March, he’ll start to see his stock rise throughout the Mets system.

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Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Cam Robinson

David Stearns has remade the Mets roster since joining at the start of the off-season, especially the bullpen. The Mets bullpen was a disaster last season and had a lot of players who had similar arms. Stearns remade the pen by signing a diversity of throwing styles and a high number of players on a combination of major league and minor league deals. Cam Robinson falls into the latter category.

Cam Robinson was signed by the Mets in mid-December after spending his career with the Brewers organization – clearly, he’s one of the pitchers that David Stearns believes in. MLB Trade Rumors wrote a good, quick profile of Robinson after he signed. He has a low-mid 90’s fastball, a curveball with spin and a slider. Over his career he has posted a strong K/9 rate at 10.7 over six seasons but control has been a problem (5.7 BB/9).

Robinson struggled in Rookie ball between 2017-2019 posting a 7.81 ERA over 83 innings. He was walking 6.4 batters per nine innings and had his worst K/9 rate at 9.9. After the pandemic though he was a different pitcher. In 2021 he had a 3.08 ERA over 49 2/3 innings mostly between different A leagues. Then in 2022 He had a 2.49 ERA going advanced A all the way AAA baseball, pitching a total of 65 innings. The big change for Robinson in 2021 and 2022 was he kept the ball in the park. He gave up exactly one homer each season leading to a 0.2 HR/9 and 0.1 HR/9 respectively.

That stopped last year. Hitters had six homers off Robinson and he also saw his walks sky rocket from 4.2 BB/9 in 2022 to 6.9, a career high, in 2023. His strikeouts fell from 11.6 to 10.3 K/9. He is still getting batters to miss his pitches, but batters are getting more patient, getting on base more (H/9 also jumped from 6.2 to 10.3) and driving more power against Robinson.

Cam Robinson was drafted by the Brewers out of high school. The other pitchers we covered from the Mets system so far have pitched three seasons in the minor leagues and are the same age or older than Cam Robinson who turned 24 back in September. If he can return to his 2021/2022 self, the Mets will be elated. Also because of his age, he’s on the short list to fill in for the bullpen during those stretches of the year when the bullpen gets worn down.

This spring we are looking for Robinson to return to his 2021/2022 season. This means his strikeouts are up, his hits and walks are down. If hitters are swinging and missing, he’s going to rise up the the depth chart.

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