With various New York Mets jockeying for just a handful of available roster spots this spring, some exciting competitions have emerged from the fracas. But there’s one that’s largely flown under the radar, and it’s shaping up to be just as exciting as the others.
Most eyes have been focused on the epic battle at first base between rookie sensation Pete Alonso and former first-round pick Dominic Smith, and with good reason. Alonso is slashing .423/.464/.885 with three homers, three doubles, and six RBI through 26 Grapefruit League at-bats and Smith is keeping pace, hitting .435/.500/.609 over his first 23 at-bats.
Folks are keeping a close watch on the back-end of the bullpen, as well. The last two spots in the Mets’ ‘pen after Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Robert Gsellman are still very much up for grabs between guys like Luis Avilan, Hector Santiago, and youngsters Tyler Bashlor, Tim Peterson, and Drew Smith.
With Jed Lowrie (left knee capsule sprain) and Todd Frazier (oblique strain) still on their respective shelves — which, of course, adds all the more drama to the Alonso/Smith saga — it also leaves the door open for organizational mainstay Luis Guillorme and Mets newcomer J.D. Davis to prove themselves worthy of a bench spot come March 28 in Washington.
So far, both are doing all they can to garner all the attention and momentum they can heading into the homestretch of camp.
Guillorme, still just 24 and seemingly having been passed over for consistent playing time in the majors a generous handful of times, is doing his best to leave no doubt in Brodie Van Wagenen’s mind that he can help the Mets this season, in any capacity.
He’s virtually split his time in the field this spring, playing six games at second base and five games at shortstop, and has been absolutely on fire at the plate, slashing .429/.520/.667 with a homer, two doubles, three RBI, and just two strikeouts in 21 at-bats. Talk about making your case.
J.D. Davis, acquired by Van Wagenen this offseason from the Astros along with minor-league infielder Cody Bohanek, in exchange for a trio of arguably high-upside, mid-tier prospects in outfielder Ross Adolph, catcher Scott Manea, and second baseman Luis Santana, while not hitting at the level Guillorme has, is making a case of his own thus far, as well.
He’s spent three games at first base this spring and six at third, presumably also looking to show off his versatility and capitalize on the temporary absences of Lowrie and Frazier, and carries a .324/.378/.471 line with one home run, seven RBI, two doubles, and five strikeouts through 34 Spring Training at-bats.
Guillorme’s ability to play second, third and shortstop, along with his outstanding performance at the dish this spring should, in this writer’s opinion, give him the upper-hand over Adeiny Hechavarria, currently hitting .125/.222/.313 through 16 at-bats, for the backup job at shortstop. So there’s that.
J.D. Davis has adjusted to playing against (mostly) major-league competition this spring very nicely. On Saturday he made a handful of great plays at third and began the day 3-for-3.
Both Davis and Luis Guillorme have done all they can over their minor league careers to make it to this point. Guillorme hit .304/.380/.417 in 69 games with Las Vegas last season and Davis has a .335/.400/.589 slash line through 101 games (over two seasons; 2017 and 2018) with Triple-A Fresno.
Davis still has minor league options remaining, so he could very well be headed back to Triple-A Syracuse once the injured Mets return. But Guillorme should be the Mets’ backup shortstop and emergency infielder until he gives Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway reason to think otherwise.
There’s no Four-A minor league level, folks. It’s time to see what J.D. Davis and Luis Guillorme have to offer at the highest level. At least until Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier return.