With Opening Day this Thursday, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies have released their 2018 Opening Day roster:
Tyler Bashlor (MMN Rank: 14) – Bashlor has tremendous stuff, and he made strides last year to harness it. He had a career best 15.2 K/9, and when he was called up to Binghamton late in the year, he had a 2.5 BB/9. If he wants to go through to Las Vegas and the majors, he will have to have his BB/9 closer to that mark than the 5.4 it was in St. Lucie last year.
Gerson Bautista (MMN Rank: 16) – With a fastball that reaches the triple digits, Bautista likely has the highest ceiling of the three relievers acquired in the Addison Reed trade. Albeit in an extremely small sample size, he cut down his BB/9 from 5.6 to 1.9 after joining the Mets organization.
Andrew Church – In putting his disappointing 5.06 ERA last year into context, the then 22 year old was unlucky with a .326 BABIP and 66.1% of batters left on base. However, it is still troubling his strikeout rate dropped from a 7.3 K/9 in 2016 to a 5.6 K/9 last year.
Nabil Crismatt (MMN Rank: 17) – With his excellent change-up, the Mets finally gave him an opportunity to start for a full season. After a brilliant May and June (1.51 ERA), he tired as the season progressed (5.80 ERA). The next step for him is to build the stamina to be able to pitch effectively for a full season.
Drew Gagnon – Mets added Gagnon this offseason as organizational bullpen depth. Last year, Gagnon had a 6.25 ERA in 31 appearances for the Angels Pacific Coast League affiliate.
Eric Hanhold – Hanhold has pitched two straight seasons for the High-A Brewers affiliate, and came to the Mets in last year’s deal for Neil Walker. His best year was last year, when he posted a 3.94 ERA and 8.4 K/9 for the High-A Carolina Mudcats.
Austin McGeorge (MMN Rank: 48) – Intriguing right-hander who is adept at both keeping the ball on the ground (66.2% ground ball rate in 38 St. Lucie innings and only two homeruns allowed in his career) and striking batters out (11.7 K/9).
Marcos Molina (MMN Rank: 15) – In his first season back from Tommy John, Molina pitched well enough to get himself added to the 40 man roster. If the takes the leap in 2018, he has an outside shot to make his Major League debut.
Joseph Shaw – After struggling most of last year, Shaw went on a tear his final four starts winning them all while posting a 2.00 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP.
Drew Smith (MMN Rank: 23) – At the time the Mets acquired Smith from the Rays for Lucas Duda, he had allowed just one home run in his entire professional career. That homer was hit by teammate Peter Alonso.
Corey Taylor – The rise in Taylor’s ERA and WHIP was fueled by a .330 BABIP, which was the highest he has yielded in his professional career. With his BABIP stabilizing and his walking fewer batters, Taylor and his power sinker are poised for a return to the dominant numbers he posted in 2015 and 2016.
Joshua Torres – After being released by the Brewers organization in 2015, Torres pitched in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues before signing with the Mets last year. Last year, with St. Lucie, he struck out 11.0 batters per nine.
Daniel Zamora – Mets acquired from the Pirates for Josh Smoker earlier this year. He limited left-handed batters to a .232/.284/.261 batting line between the Florida State and Eastern Leagues last year.
Patrick Mazeika (MMN Rank: 28) – Mazeika’s bat profiles extremely well for a catcher, but he has not progressed to the point defensively where the Mets fully trust him behind the plate. An interesting note is Mazeika seems to hit for more power when playing first base than when he catches. Despite only slugging .416 overall last year, he slugged .568 in the 34 games Alonso was on the DL with the broken hand.
Tyler Moore – The backup catcher only has a .578 OPS across four seasons. In addition to his time behind the plate, he has also seen time at first and second base.
Tomas Nido (MMN Rank: 9) – Nido had a strong season behind the plate. However, with his BABIP dropping from .344 to .255, he saw his 2016 Florida State League batting title lead to a middling .232/.287/.354 batting line for Binghamton last season.
Peter Alonso (MMN Rank: 3) – Despite suffering a broken hand, the Mets 2016 second round pick slugged .524 and hit 18 homers in 93 games. For him to take the next step, he will need to improve his defense and perform better against right-handed pitching.
Andrew Ely – Mets acquired Ely in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. The glove first middle infielder hit .259/.356/.355 last year for the Cubs Double-A affiliate
Jeff McNeil (MMN Rank: 34) – Over the past few seasons, McNeil has dealt with injuries, but when he is on the field, he has been a productive player who has shown the ability to get on base. Even with the injuries, he managed to hit .295/.351/.432 in 48 games between Binghamton and Las Vegas.
Levi Michael – The recently released Twins former first round draft pick signed a minor league deal with the Mets about a month ago. The middle infielder is coming off a season he hit .262/.353/.375 for the Twins Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
Nick Sergakis – The 2B/3B has a good eye at the plate with a 11.9% walk rate and a .371 OBP last year.
Jhoan Urena (MMN Rank: 32) – After struggling defensively at third, the Mets moved him to the outfield in the Instructional Leagues. It is an attempt to find a place for a potent bat that was good for .277/.358/.440 last season. He’s likely to see time at all four corner spots.
John Mora – With his speed, he plays good defense at all three outfield positions. He will need to improve both his walk and stolen base success rate for him to better utilize his speed on the other side of the ball.
Champ Stuart – For the first time in his professional career, Stuart did not significantly improve when repeating a level. He has tremendous speed which has helped him be a plus defender, but he needs to being drawing walks to utilize that speed.
Kevin Taylor – The former Dodger prospect and Independent League player has found a home in the Mets organization and the Mets outfield. He played 76 of his 114 games for the Rumble Ponies last year in left field, and he hit .292/.375/.373.
Tim Tebow – Last year, the legend was reborn as he homered in his first professional at-bat. There were not many that ensued as Tebow hit .226/.309/.347 in his first full season. It will be interesting to see if the crowds which followed him in Columbia and St. Lucie will follow him to Binghamton.
The name that is going to draw everyone’s attention is going to be Tebow. However, from a pure prospect perspective, there are much bigger names on this roster like Alonso and Bashlor. Overall, the Rumble Ponies Opening Day roster has 12 of the Mets Top 50 prospects.
One move that was a bit of a surprise was having Nido begin the year in Binghamton. This may have likely been the result of the Mets wanting both he and Jose Lobaton getting a chance to play everyday, and they couldn’t do that if both were on the Rumble Ponies roster. The end result of this means Mazeika is going to miss out on a chance to get reps behind the plate.
Another thing which stands out is the team listing Urena as an infielder. Due to his defensive struggles at third, the team had him work in the Instructional Leagues as an outfielder. With the way this roster is constructed, it does at least appear he is going to get another opportunity to reestablish himself as a third baseman.
Overall, what really stands out is the bullpen.
With Baustia, Hanhold, and Smith, it has half of the right-handed relief prospects Sandy Alderson obtained prior to the Sept. 1 trade deadline last year. With Bautista and Bashlor, the Mets will have two of the hardest throwing relievers in any bullpen at any level of professional baseball. When you include Uceta and Taylor with Bautista and Bashlor, you have four potentially dominant relievers who could all close games.
At a minimum, Rojas and Viola are going to have the type of bullpen the Rumble Ponies need to help get them back to the Eastern Division postseason. With those arms and Alonso’s bat, this will be a roster to keep a close eye on this year.