SNY contributor Joe DeMayo answers fan questions in this edition of the Mets Minor League Mailbag...
From Steve D: What was the word on Calvin Ziegler’s first start back?
In a bit of a surprise, Calvin Ziegler got into game action to close out Low-A St. Lucie’s season. He had missed the first half after having surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. As he was rehabbing to get back into game action, he suffered a quad injury that was expected to sideline him the remainder of the season.
He worked hard to make it back to see game action and he threw one inning vs. Daytona (Reds organization) and struck out the side. His fastball was sitting 93-94 mph and touched 95 with his signature 12-to-6 curveball. I ranked Ziegler No. 16 in my post-trade deadline prospect list, and the Mets still believe he has a high ceiling, although with high variance for a pitcher. I would not be surprised If you saw them send him to the Arizona Fall League to get some more innings under his belt in anticipation of his probable start with High-A Brooklyn in 2024. If you are seeking a pitching prospect in the system with potential to follow, Ziegler is one to watch.
From @SheaWasBetter: What’s the feeling on Alex Ramirez’s struggles? Is his ceiling still what evaluators thought it could be?
In a season with a lot of positive player development stories that I have written about here and talked about on The Mets Pod, Ramirez is one that did not go as well. The Mets were very optimistic on Ramirez repeating the High-A Brooklyn level, figuring he’d find his way to Double-A Binghamton by the middle of 2023. That did not occur and he spent the entire year with Brooklyn. Ramirez’s season concluded Sunday and he ended with a slash line of .221/.310/.317 (.627 OPS). He had very small spurts of performing offensively but was simply unable to string together any level of consistency for the entire spring/summer.
Defensively, he had a strong year, playing all three outfield spots and amassing 11 outfield assists. He showed above average range getting to balls as well as arm strength to throw out runners. On the basepaths, he stole 21 bases and was caught six times (77.7 percent success rate).
With that said, Ramirez made Top 100 lists prior to 2023 and I had him pegged as a prospect who would make a big jump in 2023, but it is heading in the other direction. He will not be on any Top 100 lists and there is going to be a case to drop him outside of the Top 10 in the Mets system. However, Ramirez is turning just 21 in January, and he will have the opportunity in 2024 to rebound his stock with I would guess Double-A Binghamton. Don’t forget there was a point in time that a lot of people had given up on Ronny Mauricio as well.
From Vinny From The Bronx: Has Jett Williams’ ETA moved up? What kind of benchmarks do you think the organization has set for him next year?
Hey Vinny! It is safe to say when I asked for questions (you can ask yours for the next mailbag by responding to me on X/Twitter at @PSLToFlushing) I got a lot of different Jett Williams questions. If you missed it, Jett has been promoted to Double-A Binghamton for the final week of the minor league regular season, as well as Binghamton’s playoff run -- however long that lasts. When he suits up for a Double-A game on Tuesday, he will do so at 19 years old, and the last Mets player to appear at the Double-A level at 19 was Andrés Giménez back in 2018.
In 36 games with High-A Brooklyn, Jett slashed .299/.451/.567 (1.018 OPS) with 18 extra-base hits, including seven home runs and more walks (33) than strikeouts (32). He frankly could not have had much better of a first season in pro ball straight out of high school.
If you look at my post-deadline Top 20 list where I had Jett ranked No. 2 in the system, I had him listed with an MLB ETA of 2026. Barring injury or something unforeseen, I cannot imagine Williams has two full minor league seasons left before making his way to the big leagues. With that said, the test will start now. Many in the game say that the real challenge of pro baseball begins at the Double-A level. That is when you start seeing pitchers pitch backwards, throw pitches in counts that are unexpected, and pitchers who are just older and more experienced.
It is safe to deduce that he will begin the 2024 campaign with Binghamton, and once a prospect is in the upper minors, they can make that jump within a calendar year. You see examples of this every single season. Could it be 2024? 2025? Either could be the case. The more exciting thing for Mets fans is that Williams is emerging as one of the better prospects in the sport, and I imagine as you see various Top 100 lists and organization lists updated this offseason/spring, he will see a big jump for those that had him lower.