Jeremy Vasquez, 1B
Stats: .343/.477/.597, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI
MMN Ranks: N/A
Heading into the season, the Mets future at first base seemed to be a two man discussion between Peter Alonso and Dominic Smith. With his debut in Kingsport last year, and with this start to the season in Columbia, Vasquez is doing all he can to enter his name into that discussion.
Vasquez is currently the most productive first baseman in the South Atlantic League. He is the league leader in walks, and he is second in doubles and OBP. Among first baseman, he is the leader in doubles, triples, RBI, walks, average, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Overall, Vasquez has an astounding 207 wRC+ this season.
Part of the reason for Vasquez’s success is his eye at the plate, and his ability to make contact to all fields. So far, Vasquez has a Brandon Nimmo like 22.6% walk rate with just a 14.3% strike out rate. Both numbers are excellent, and they somewhat mirror the numbers he had in his impressive debut in Kingsport.
With numbers like this, he should be in line for a promotion sooner rather than later.
Ian Strom, OF
Level: St. Lucie
Stats: .321/.393/.491, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB
MMN Rank: N/R
Of all the outfielders in the Mets farm system, none have done more than Strom to improve his profile. Right now, Strom is drawing more walks and cutting down his strike outs. The end result is a batter who is getting on base more frequently thereby allowing him to best utilize his speed.
So far, Strom has six stolen bases, which is almost half of the total he had all of last season. He also has four extra base hits, which is about a third of the production he had all of last year. Basically, Strom is going out there, hitting the ball with more authority and taking the extra base.
Now, these results from the Mets 2016 22nd Round draft pick should not solely be looked upon as the results of a small sample size or one hot streak. Rather, this is the continuation of a strong finish he had last year. Consider from August until the end of the season last year, Strom hit .336/.382/.520 with seven doubles, two triples, four homers, 17 RBI, and seven stolen bases.
That hot streak helped lead to his call-up from Columbia to St. Lucie, and he has carried that hot hitting into the beginning of the 2018 season. Given how he’s replicating it now, it is certainly possible we are witnessing a player who is breaking out.
Honorable Mention: With Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton being called-up, Patrick Mazeika has taken advantage of his opportunity hitting .286/.342/.514 and throwing out 42% of base stealers since becoming the everyday catcher for Binghamton. In Las Vegas, Gavin Cecchini has a six-game hitting streak and is now hitting .311/.373/.459 on the season.
If you are looking for a reason to include Kay in a list of prospects improving their status, look no further than what his general manager had to say about him. As recently reported by MMN, Sandy Alderson told Jim Bowden of The Athletic, Kay has “at least mid-rotation potential and could move quickly.”
Seeing how Kay has started his professional career, you could accuse Alderson of tempering enthusiasm for the 2016 supplemental first round draft pick.
In two of his three starts, Kay did not allow a run. In all of his starts, he has walked just one batter while allowing four or fewer hits, and so far the only extra base hit he has yielded was a double. Over his last two starts, he has gone six innings while striking out five batters.
More than any of that, for a pitcher who had not pitched since being drafted due to his needing Tommy John surgery, Kay has had his low to mid 90s velocity return, and he has been able to successful use his breaking pitches. He is pounding the strike zone, and he is getting batters out who mostly muster weak contact.
Overall, Kay is not just a prospect who is improving his prospect status because of his results, he is one because his general manager and really all of baseball is taking notice of his pitching.
No, that’s not a typographical error. The Mets 2016 sixth round draft pick is really striking out 18.2 batters per nine innings. The reason is Viall has recorded 11+ strikeouts in his last two starts.
In those last two starts, Viall has pitched long enough to qualify for the win, which is something he had never done previously in his professional career. One of the reasons why was of his wildness. Even with a high 5.0 BB/9, he has begun to cut down on the walks and throw strikes. The end result is he is dominating opposing batters.
When batters are not striking out against him, they are only hitting .222 against him with just one double. What is incredible to consider is with opposing batters having a .462 BABIP against him, that .222 batting average against him may actually be inflated.
Overall, Viall has a big arm that can ramp his fastball up to triple digits. He is now learning how to better harness his stuff, and he is getting terrific results.
Honorable Mention: Corey Oswalt acquitted himself well in his Major League debut allowing just two runs on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 4.1 innings of relief. Like Viall, Tony Dibrell has an 11-strikeout game under his belt, and he is the South Atlantic league leader in strikeouts.