AFL Season Recap: Mets Pitching Dazzles

Although they were stacked with blue-chip prospects, the Scottsdale Scorpions season came to a close yesterday with a 7-4 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. Despite finishing third in the East League, many Mets excelled during their tenure with the Scorpions.

Offense

Tomas Nido

The only one of the Mets players to not impress in the Arizona Fall League, Tomas Nido completely whiffed on his chance to prove that 2016’s breakout year was not a fluke. This was his second year at the AFL. He did not play last year because of recurring injuries. Although he had some memorable moments, his AFL stint turned out to be a disaster.

Overall, he hit .184/.250/.327, with one home run and seven RBI in 13 games. He only drew five walks, which led to his alarming on-base percentage. If there was a bright spot about his AFL tenure, it was that he finished with one error, which was prompted by a tricky Mickey Jannis knuckleball.  Although he had always been known as low strikeout player, he finished with a 26 percent strikeout rate.

He participated in both the AFL All-Star Game and Bowman Hitting Challenge this year, impressing in both events. Ironically after not hitting for most of the season, he finished second in the Hitting Challenge, narrowly losing to the Twins Chris Paul. In the AFL All-Star Game, his defense was on display as he prevented Ronald Acuna from stealing second base, throwing a laser to nab MLB.com‘s No. 1 prospect.

However, by the end of the season, he was frequently passed over as the starting catcher for Aramis Garcia, a San Francisco Giants farmhand. This AFL season was utterly disappointing for Nido. With the Mets catching situation in a flux, Nido failed on his chance to make a positive impact to get an opening day roster spot.

Luis Guillorme

The slick fielding shortstop made a huge impression during his time with the Scorpions. Ranked as the third best shortstop in the Mets farm system, Guillorme is often overlooked by people fanboying over Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez. However, Guillorme should not be overlooked, as shown by his .289/.333/.356 slash line and usual amazing defense. Although Guillorme will never be known for his ability to hit for power, his defense makes up for it. Jim Callis, a MLB.com analyst, said:

“Guillorme stands out with his hands, quickness and instincts, which along with his solid arm allow him to make all the plays at any infield position.”

Healso participated in the 2017 AFL All-Star Game, going 1-for-3 with a cue-shot double and a run scored.

Although his AFL stint was too short of a sample size to show this, he had always been known to make contact, take walks and rarely strikes out. A scrappy player, he has always found success in taking the ball to the opposite field as  51 percent of his hits in 2017 went to left field. Guillorme’s floor is Rey Ordonez, a glove-first shortstop who played for the Mets in the early ’00s. Unless he’s picked in the Rule 5 draft, Guillorme will start 2018 with the Las Vegas 51s and will eventually be part of the Mets 2018 roster.

David Thompson

Another Mets infielder that exceeded expectations, Thompson had arguably a greater AFL season than Guillorme. He led the Scorpions in SLG and OPS, absolutely obliterating the ball every time he was at-bat and closed the season with a .328/.371/.569 slash line. He finished in the middle-of-the-pack in both walks and strikeouts, with four and 11, respectively. He concluded his AFL stint with one home run, seven doubles (which tied the AFL lead), and most surprisingly, two triples. The high slugging percentage is especially encouraging considering that Thompson needed to tap into his raw power to succeed in the MLB. MLB.com‘s insider Johnathan Mayo agreed, saying that “If he can continue to refine his approach, his raw power should play up even more, so offensively he’d fit the profile well.”

Coming into the AFL season, Thompson’s defense was worrisome. Its questionable at best and many scouts are worried that he will eventually have to move to first base due to his size. However he allayed those fears during his tenure with Scorpions, only committing one error. Nevertheless, the 210 pound Thompson may soon find it difficult to continue playing a decent third base if he doesn’t cut down his weight. In 2018, he will most likely be taking his talents to Las Vegas to play for the 51s.

Kevin Kaczmarski

The most surprising breakout Mets position player in the AFL this year, Kaczmarski had himself an outstanding year with Scorpions, leading the team in AVG and OBP. The 25-year-old had 11 RBI and five walks in 20 games. Kaczmarski also showed off his terrific defense. Although he played every outfield position for the Rumble Ponies this season, he predominantly played left field for the Scorpions.

Photo courtesy of MLB.com

Pitchers

Mickey Jannis

What a season for the knuckleballer! After pitching to a 2.36 ERA in the second half for Rumble Ponies, he continued that dominance into the AFL. He was among the team leaders for starters in innings, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. His 2.33 ERA was eighth in the AFL. As one of the oldest prospects in the entire AFL, he had an incredible start, only allowing one run in his first 17 innings. However, he faltered in his last two starts, giving up six runs in his final 10 innings.

After playing in the Independent League for four years, Jannis was signed as a full-time knuckleballer in 2015. After average seasons in 2015 and 2016, Jannis broke out in 2017, which can be attributed to his newly-learned command of his knuckleball. Jannis, who throws a harder knuckleball than usual knuckleballers, was snubbed out of the AFL All-Star Game. As the closest MLB-ready starting pitcher the Mets have in their system, he must be protected in the Rule 5 draft so the Mets can keep him.

His dominance wasn’t the only important event that took place during this AFL season. He got married the past weekend, so on behalf of everyone at MetsMinors and MetsMerized, we congratulate him.

The Mets bullpen utterly dominated everyone they faced this AFL season. Along with the Yankees Cody Carroll, they formed an incredible bullpen that their opponents couldn’t even touch.

Kyle Regnault

Although he’s the oldest reliever with the Scorpions, Regnault was part of the all-Mets three-headed monster in the Scorpions’ bullpen. In 12.2 innings, he only allowed 2 runs and had 0.95 WHIP with 17 strikeouts.

He has four main pitches, all which were used effectively. His fastball is thrown around 91 mph, having decent glove-side run. Although his 75 mph curveball is his main breaking pitch, he also uses an above-average 85 mph slider to retire right-handed batters.

Regnault was part of the 51s bullpen in 2017 and due to his success in the AFL, he’s in prime position to complement Jerry Blevins as the second lefty in the Mets bullpen in 2018.

Matt Pobereyko

The 25-year-old impressed enough in St.Lucie this year that the Mets sent him to the AFL to compete against higher level competition. No one, especially the Mets, would have ever imagined how much he would dominate. If he had enough innings to qualify, he would have led the AFL with his ERA and WHIP. Teammwise, he finished top three in relievers in almost every pitching stat, ending with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP in 11.2 innings.

One of the most underrated relievers in the Mets system, Pobereyko finished third among Mets minor league pitchers in 2017 with a 13.9 K/9. He continued that dominance in the AFL, striking out 56.7 percent of his batters. Pobereyko’s delivery resembles Nate Jones and his pitches are similar to Jones, as he also throws a mid-90’s fastball and a wipeout slider. Although he needs more seasoning, he will probably appear in the Mets bullpen as soon as 2019.

Tim Peterson

The final part of the three-headed monster in the Scorpions’ bullpen, Peterson had a very successful AFL season. Right next to Pobereyko and Regnault in many of the team’s pitching leaderboards, Peterson had a 0.87 ERA with a 0.77 WHIP in 10.1 innings, almost exactly replicating his numbers that he had for the Rumble Ponies last year.

The 20th round pick in 2012, the 26-year-old had been rotated around Binghamton and St.Lucie for the past several years. However, in 2017, he dominated for the Rumble Ponies, only permitting 33 hits in 55.1 innings. Peterson will be eligible for the annul Rule5 Draft, however if he’s not picked, he will most likely begin 2017 with the 51s.

Many of the Mets prospects that participated in the AFL quickened their journey to the major leagues due to their success against higher competition.

About Matt Mancuso 6 Articles

I’ve been a Mets fan ever since I was young, which unfortunately means my first Mets memory is Carlos Beltran taking a curveball in 2006. I’m hoping for better Mets memories ahead. My twitter is https://twitter.com/Cuso__.