Mets Minors: Best Surprises Of 2018

While the Major League team has had a disappointing season, the Mets minor leaguers have had much better than expected seasons.  At each level, there were players exceeding expectations leading many to view the Mets farm system in a much more positive light than in years past.

Las Vegas – Peter Alonso, 1B

2017 Stats: .289/.359/.524, 27 2B, 3B, 18 HR, 63 RBI
2018 Stats: .285/.395/.579, 31 2B, 3B, 36 HR, 119 RBI

When he was drafted, we all knew Alonso had power, but he also had a number of question marks.  He was injury prone.  He was terrible defensively.  He needed to get into better shape.  Overall, he needed to be more than just a one-dimensional slugger.

Well, this past offseason, Alonso put in the work to get batter in each and ever aspect of his game.  His hard work and drive paid dividends as Alonso had about as good a year in the minors than you can remember from any Mets prospect.  In addition to leading the entire minor leagues in homers, he also made significant strides defensively.  With all that, Alonso turned himself into a Top 100 prospect who is knocking at the door of the Major Leagues.

Binghamton – Jeff McNeil, 2B

2017 Stats: .295/.351/.432, 12 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB
2018 Stats: .342/.411/.617, 26 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 9 SB

Since he was a 12th round pick in 2013, McNeil had shown offensive promise with enough defensive versatility to have some promise as a future utility infielder at the Major League level.  Unfortunately, McNeil was not able to fulfill that promise as he suffered a number of injuries over the years.

This year, McNeil was finally healthy.  With him being healthy, he was not only able to go out there and showcase his abilities, but he was also able to improve upon his game.  With him adapting as a hitter and learning how to better drive the ball he would actually out-slug Alonso, and people like Las Vegas manager Tony DeFrancesco would invoke Daniel Murphy as a comp.

With how McNeil performed, he all but forced the Mets hands.  Upon getting called up to the majors, he has continued to hit, and more than that, he has seemingly all but secured the 2019 starting second base job.

St. Lucie – Justin Dunn, RHP

2017 Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
2018 Stats: 8-8, 3.59 ERA, 1.330 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 10.4 K/9

When he was drafted, many questioned whether Dunn was better as a reliever than as a starting pitcher.  With Dunn struggling last year in his first full season as a starter, he did very little to quiet those questions pitching to a 5.74 ERA as a starter as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his limited relief appearances.

With those struggles, Dunn would begin the season by repeating St. Lucie.  It would prove to be the right decision as it led Dunn towards a bounce-back season.  He improved all three of his pitches making him a true three pitch pitcher, and now, instead of looking upon him as a bust or as a reliever, he is now firmly entrenched as a starter.  With another step forward next year, we may even see him in Queens at some point in 2019.

Columbia – Scott Manea, C

2017 Stats: .223/.380/.277, 3 2B, HR, 11 RBI
2018 Stats: .261/.368/.432, 23 2B, 12 HR, 53 RBI

The undrafted free agent catcher showed a clear understanding of the strike zone and an ability to get on base as evidenced by his having the same amount of walks and strikeouts.  Finally, in July of this season, something in him clicked, and he began hitting for more power.  In fact, his 13 extra base hits that month matched his season total from April to June.

In Manea’s final 48 games of the season, he hit .273/.354/.483.  Suddenly, a catcher who had just one homer in his first two seasons combined would hit 12 with seven of them coming over the final two months of the season.

Another promising sign for Manea was he caught a higher percent of attempted base stealers while significantly reducing the amount of passed balls.  Overall, this was a huge step forward for Manea.

Brooklyn – Ross Adolph, OF

2018 Stats: .276/.348/.509, 9 2B, 12 3B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB

When you draft a player in the 12th round of the draft, you are not expecting them to be the outstanding performer for your New York Penn League affiliate, but that is exactly what Adolph was this season.

Adolph flashed speed and some power for Brooklyn leading him to be named an All Star.  He would be the MVP of the New York Penn League All Star Game.  He also led the league in triples, was third in the league in runs (47), SLG, and OPS, fourth in total bases (118), eighth in stolen bases, ninth in homers, and 10th in hits (64).

Overall, Adolph had a terrific professional debut for the Mets, and suddenly, he looks more like one of the top outfield prospects in the Mets farm system than he does a 12th round draft pick.

Kingsport – Jarred Kelenic, OF

2018 Stats: .286/.371/.468, 10 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 15 SB

There were any number of surprise and breakout seasons for Kingsport this season, but perhaps none were more surprising than the season Kelenic had this year.  The sixth overall pick from this year’s draft was so dominant with Gulf Coast, he quickly found himself in Kingsport.

What made his season with Kingsport so special and surprising was that he did struggle against players with more experience and were more than two years older than him.  Kelenic would make the necessary adjustments, and he finished the season hitting .321/.368/.509 with seven doubles, two triples, three homers, and 22 RBI with five stolen bases in the Month of August.

If you’re looking for evidence the Mets made the right pick with Kelenic, you saw it in Kingsport.  Not only did he perform well against a higher level of competition, but he learned and adjusted to get to that point.

Gulf Coast – Ronny Mauricio, SS

2018 Stats: .273/.304/.410, 16 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 35 RBI, 2 SB

When Mauricio was signed out of the Dominican Republic last year, he surpassed Amed Rosario for the largest international bonus ever given to a signee.  Despite his being just 17 years old, being more than two years younger than league average, and his never before playing professional baseball, the Mets assigned Mauricio to the Gulf Coast League.

Mauricio more than held his own.  In fact, he began his career with a 20 game hitting streak, and he would reach safely in 32 of his first 34 games.  Overall, Mauricio performed so well, he would find himself playing for Kingsport as they battled for a position in the Appalachian League playoffs.

Dominican Summer League – Andres Regnault, C

2017 Stats: .270/.359/.383, 4 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB
2018 Stats: .333/.420/.573, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI, 9 SB

Regnault had a breakout season in the DSL setting career bests in each and every offensive category.  Additionally, he would throw out a higher percent of base stealers while not yielding one passed ball all season long.

About John Sheridan 644 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.