For McNeil, 26, it was his second big league homer and his third hit of the evening. He ended the game going 3-for-4 with two runs scored in addition to the homer.
Since the California native debuted late last month, he has already been worth 0.5 bWAR, while hitting at a .364/.462/.606 clip.
Originally drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB draft, McNeil’s minor league career was hampered by injuries, which stunted his development.
Finally healthy in 2018, he did nothing but rake in the minors. Between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, McNeil appeared in 88 games, launched 19 homers and drove in 71 runs, and slashed .342/.411/.617 across 384 plate appearances.
For the infielder now in the bigs, he realizes this is the time to prove himself for the future.
“It’s definitely a showcase for me, so I’m just trying to go out there every single day and play hard, just play my game,” he said. “I know if I just play my game, everything will take care of itself.”
Mets manager Mickey Callaway, however, cited his injury history and will likely give him regular maintenance days to keep him fresh. However, his bat has been so hot and defense so solid, it’s hard to keep him off the field.
“He’s going to have a chance to really show us what he can do, not only in August, but in September, because we’ll be playing some division opponents trying to make the playoffs, things like that,” Callaway said.
If he continues to stay hot through the remainder of the season, Callaway adds that the team might not have to go out and get themselves a new second baseman.
“Is this guy going to be a kid that, we might not have to find a second baseman over the winter?” Callaway said prior to Monday’s game. “So that’s kind of where we’re at right now. I think you will, at times, see him play other positions, but I think that’s our main focus, to see exactly what we have. Because this kid can hit.”
For McNeil, as long as he stays healthy, the sky’s the limit.