Mets Minor League Mailbag: How many top prospects will make big league debut in 2022?

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Alvarez Mauricio Baty Vientos treated
Alvarez Mauricio Baty Vientos treated

SNY contributors Joe DeMayo and Jacob Resnick answer fan questions in this edition of the Mets Minor League Mailbag...

If the Mets are in the playoffs next year, do you think Francisco Alvarez and J.T. Ginn will be promoted to help in that playoff run? - @metsandmusic

Joe: First off, an important thing to note is that the top prospects in this system (except Matt Allan coming off of Tommy John surgery) should all begin the 2022 season at Double-A or Triple-A. Quickly, the top of the system is getting closer to big league ready.

As far as Alvarez and Ginn specifically, I would expect to start 2022 in Double-A Binghamton. Alvarez had a tremendous season as a 19-year-old in High-A and he will get quite the test in Double-A. The biggest jump in the minors is from Single-A to Double-A, and Alvarez will be doing it at 20 years old.

In 2021, the average age of a hitter in the Double-A Northeast League was 23.9 years old and the average age of a pitcher was 24.7 years old. Alvarez will be facing players four-plus years older than him. As exciting as Alvarez is as a prospect, the Mets still want to see him improve on the defensive side of the ball. I would have the expectation that Alvarez spends the entirety of the 2022 season in Double-A.

Ginn had a strong season in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. He made 18 starts, throwing 92 innings and posting a 3.03 ERA between Low-A St. Lucie and High-A Brooklyn. His velocity started to tick up closer to normal towards the end of the season, where he was more 94-95 mph.

While I would consider a 2022 big league debut for Ginn unlikely, as we saw with Tylor Megill this year, a pitcher in the upper minors could move quickly if he performs and a need arises.

Both Ginn and Alvarez have great upside and they are getting closer to Queens, but I still think there is some time left before that happens.

Jacob: Is there a chance Alvarez becomes a generational, can't-miss talent who could succeed in the majors as a 20-year-old? Sure, his offensive tools can let you dream on that scenario. Is that remotely likely? Absolutely not.

The worst thing an organization can do with a player as young and skilled as Alvarez is rush him to the major leagues. The Mets are highly aware of this, even holding off on promoting him to Double-A when he continued his assault on High-A pitching. The continued struggles of James McCann have made the clamoring louder, but rest assured the urgency to promote a teenage Alvarez to fill the void is as close to zero as possible.

Ginn on the other hand is older and more advanced, having completed a college career in addition to a year of full-season minor league ball. As he gets further away from March 2020 Tommy John surgery, his stuff should look more consistent. When that happens, it isn’t unreasonable to envision, as Joe alluded to, a Megill-like quick ascent through the upper levels.

In what ways can the Mets improve the depth of their farm? Feels like it really cost us not having multiple B prospects to deal and instead having to give up an A prospect like Pete Crow-Armstrong. - @victor_fucci

Joe: I believe this organization continues to draft well, and every couple of years they make an impactful international free agent signing. I would like to see continuous aggressiveness in the draft as well as more aggressive pursuits internationally. You have not seen the Mets dip much into the Asian market or the Cuban market. Some expansion there could go a long way.

I know this won’t sit well with some Mets fans, but the organization must begin to operate smarter when it comes to the trading of prospects. They need to start holding on to first round picks and treat prospects as pieces who can benefit the big league team, not just trade chips.

The Mets have had seven first round picks since 2016 and only two remain (David Peterson and Brett Baty). Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic went in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade, Anthony Kay went in the Marcus Stroman trade, Pete Crow-Armstrong went in the Javier Baez trade, and the team failed to come to terms with this year's first rounder Kumar Rocker.

Mets prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong smiling with bat in hand at 2021 spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Mets prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong smiling with bat in hand at 2021 spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

They’ve made plenty of smaller deals that dealt from their prospect depth for minimal big league impact. It is about finding a balance between doing whatever is necessary to win now and having that farm system in place. The best way to have sustainable success is to have a constant flow of prospects coming through.

For me, it is holding on to first round picks unless it is a special circumstance. And when the opportunity arises to improve the depth of the big league team, utilize free agent dollars to do that rather than prospect depth.

Jacob: If it was simple enough to the point where we had all the answers, you’d think the organization would have accomplished it by now!

The easy thing to point to as to why the system has dropped off in recent years is obviously the incessant trading of minor leaguers under the previous front office. That’s not just referring to players like Kelenic. Losing players like Blake Taylor (for Jake Marisnick) and Felix Valerio (for Keon Broxton) were footnotes at the time, but Taylor has become a valuable member of the Houston Astros' bullpen and Valerio had an .870 OPS across two levels for the Milwaukee Brewers this year.

Not tossing around these lottery ticket players for veterans who amount to nothing or could have been bought on the free agent market is an ideal first step. Then, you’ve got to put the processes in place to get the most out of the players you do keep in your system. I think the current player development staff has them on the right track, but time will tell how successful they’ll actually be.

Which of Mark Vientos or Brett Baty will make the majors first? - @AkaHatrick

Joe: With Vientos needing to be added to the 40-man roster this winter, I think that gives him a bit of a leg up in that race. Vientos had a very unique season as a 21-year-old in Double-A, while Baty had more of your typical transition from Single-A to Double-A, where he had his ups and downs.

Mets prospect Mark Vientos swinging at 2021 spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Mets prospect Mark Vientos swinging at 2021 spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

As I have written in the past, my expectation would be that both Vientos and Baty start the 2022 season in Triple-A, which puts them simply a call away. I expect both players to continue to work at third base as well as left field, so that if a need arises at either spot the Mets can call upon either Vientos or Baty.

They are both legitimate bats for Mets fans to be excited about, and they are clearly on the precipice of the big leagues. I think it is a very realistic possibility that both players knock down the door to the majors in 2022.

Jacob: Logic tells me Vientos, although Baty did some incredible things on the field this season. The primary factor in Vientos’ favor is that he will be on the 40-man roster next season, meaning a promotion is as simple as recalling him and sending down someone else. For Baty, a promotion would mean having to clear a 40-man roster spot elsewhere. Not that it’s impossible, just more complicated.

It’s also worth noting that Vientos crushed his Double-A competition at a younger age than Baty, who looked overmatched at times after his promotion. You could argue that Vientos had more time to figure out the league, but his adjustment time was only about three weeks at the beginning of the season.

I’d guess that both open the year in Triple-A, continuing to see time at multiple positions, but at their current trends I’d wager on Vientos being the first to break the seal.