A homer, a double, multiple two out RBI, and two runs scored. That’s not too shabby of a box score for a New York Mets outfield. The rub? It’s the Binghamton Mets outfield not the major league squads. Still, it’s something positive. We could all use some of that these days. There is life stirring on the farm. We are being asked to look forward to 2014 and 2015 so why not see what’s brewing down there. We know about the flamethrowers that are tearing up AA and AAA with electric arms but what about the bats. Wheeler, Syndergaard, Montero, and Leatherrocket are all waiting in the winds but as Matt Harvey knows you need some hits to win games too. We need offense to support these gunslingers. There is a core group led by Wright and Murphy that exist today and will usher in the new generation. Who else completes this jigsaw puzzle? D’Arnaud is slotted to fill-in at the back stop position and the Mets had put faith in Tejada and Davis to round out the other positions. That faith may have been blind though both showed huge potential last year. The outfield is still a question mark though.
The free agent market will offer some decent options. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the prize of the 2014 outfield class and will no doubt be looking for a big money, long-term deal. The 29 year old is struggling early as rumors of the Red Sox not resigning him are peppered throughout the media daily. The career .293 hitter is stuck at .242 with only 1 homer and 16 RBI to his name. This after smacking 32 and driving in 105 in an MVP caliber 2010. His speed is still intact with double digit steals and his glove would be very valuable in the Citi center field. An added bonus is Ellsbury’s ability to hit in the lead-off spot and fill a gap the Mets have been unable too though not for trying in 2013. Mega-agent Scott Boras, who the Mets have a terrible track record with, will be looking for bocu bucks/years for Jacoby. He would fit nicely into the Mets plan if they can get the right deal done. The Wilpons are going to have to cough up some dough to make it happen.
Shin Sin Choo is another option. The Reds centerfielder is coming into his own this year and is poised to make a big splash in free agency next year. Choo is another lead-off option who has a career .386 on base average. This puts him in the top 10 among all active MLB players. He is a career .289 hitter with a little less pop than Ellsbury but has still bashed 92 dingers in parts of nine MLB seasons. Choo will turn 31 this summer and could easily find a home in New York which sports a huge Korean fan base (second largest in the US). It is not hard to imagine Korean fans embracing Choo much in the same way Japanese fans adored Shinjo in his tenure. Get ready for some spicy Korean noodle stands if the Mets look in this direction.
David Murphy, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Morse round out the rest of the top flight outfield candidates. Of the three, the only one the Mets might look to make a run at is Murphy. He seems to be the odd man out in Texas right now and there have been no discussions about a contract renewal. Though off to a slow start, Murphy profiles as a 20-85 guy if he plays regularly. The Mets might be able to snag him on the cheap to potentially patrol a corner OF position and could do a lot worse. The 31 year old is currently making close to 6 million a year and it would not be a waste for the Mets to offer a 2 year/15 million deal.
Outfield is a glaring concern but there are other problems on the diamond as well. Brian McCann will be a free agent in Atlanta and with the play of rookie Evan Gattis it is possible the Braves let him go. With Ike Davis unable to get out of the horrible slump he is mired in, long term options for him to man first base may not be as rock solid as they once were. There have been rumors of the Mets taking a dive at McCann and moving D’Arnaud to Davis’s former position. If Ike can’t get his act together during his inevitable stint in Vegas, this rumor may very well turn into a reality. McCann will not come cheap though. He is a great offensive and is only 29 years young. He is currently signed to a 7 year/41 million dollar deal and coming off shoulder surgery. If the Braves pass on the five time Silver Slugger he will be the most sought after free agent this summer. His .826 career OPS is impressive and well worth the 12 million dollar option Atlanta picked up this year. Who knows how much he will command in 2014? Wilpon has said he has plenty of money to burn. Time will tell.
Regardless of what the Mets spend this winter, they will still need help from within. Cory Vaughn, Cesar Puello, and Brandon Nimmo may ultimately provide this assistance. Vaughn, son of former major leaguer, Greg Vaughn certainly has the power pedigree. Greg bashed 355 long balls over 15 years at the show. His son has hit 55 in just three minor league seasons. His best came at St Lucie last year when he mashed 23 with 69 rib eye steaks and 25 doubles. He is currently hitting .296 with 5 homers and 28 RBIs at Class B Binghamton. He also has good speed with six steals after swiping 21 last season. He ended 2012 ranked as the 40th best Mets minor league prospect but the 24 year old seems to be showing renewed signs of promise. A promotion to AAA may be around the corner. If he shows discipline and power at the plate in Vegas, he may surface in New York in the 2014 season. He has the ability to be a two tool player with his combination of speed and power. The Mets are being uber-patient with him and he may reward them down the road.
Of the two B Mets, minor leaguer Cesar Puello definitely has the higher ceiling. Puello has been ranked as high as six in the Mets farm system behind only Brandon Nimmo and Captain Kirk. He currently leads the team with 7 dingers and is tied with Vaughn for the lead in RBIs with 28. He also has above average speed with 10 steals thus far. Like Vaughn, he also profiles as a corner outfielder, a position which the Mets desperately need. As is the case with many power hitters, the knock on Puello is his high strikeout and low walk numbers. He has whiffed 32 times in 140 at bats this year. He has made strides to become more patient and his walk ratio has climbed to 6% after being as low as 2% the previous year. Puello’s production does not come without questions as he was one of the players linked to the Biogenesis investigation earlier this spring. Unlike the other minor leaguer involved, he was unable to be suspended for his involvement because he sits on the Mets 40 man roster. If things get worse in New York (if that is possible) fans may get a glimpse of Puello as early as this summer.
Of course, you can’t talk about minor league Mets players without touching on 20 year old phenom Brandon Nimmo. He is currently on the DL in Class A Savannah with an injury to his left hand but had been playing solidly up to that point. He is batting .322 with a homer and 11 RBI. He has faced his share of struggles at the plate but has made the necessary adjustments. Taken as the thirteenth overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, the Mets have high hopes of Nimmo being the cornerstone of their outfield in 2014/15. Brandon became the highest player ever drafted out of the state of Wyoming, a state that bizarrely has no high school baseball to lay claim too. If he continues to progress and excel at each level his legend will grow. He is a five tool player receiving scouting scores of average or better in his ability hit, throw, and run. If he continues to hit well after his return from the DL stint, he will be propelled quickly to the next level. As he continues to sharpen his tools fans will hear more and more about how the Mets Found Nimmo. He represents the paradigm shift in draft pick strategy from Minaya to Alderson. It is an experiment that the Mets hope will pay huge future dividends. Nimmo has already found a big Mets fan following on Twitter and is a great prospect to follow at @You_Found_Nimmo. Give him a look to see what all the commotion is about. Trust me, its worth it.
Strap in, sit back, and put on your rose colored glasses. 2013 is going to be a bumpy ride. Looking forward may be the only thing that gets you through and it will only making looking back in 2014 and beyond all the sweeter.
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|Yup, you found Nimmo|