Mets all-minors team: Joander Suarez sizzles, Luisangel Acuña shows power and speed (2024)

The Mets’ minor-league season ended Tuesday night after Double-A Binghamton lost in the Eastern League Championship series with a roster featuring a handful of the organization’s top prospects.

It was a pivotal year for the farm system. When the Mets’ playoff outlook dimmed, New York retooled its talent in the minor leagues by trading accomplished veterans at the trade deadline. While work remains, the Mets’ farm system is starting to feature more promise.

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Who stood out the most?

Using information culled from statistics and conversations with evaluators, The Athletic created an “all-minors team” for the Mets, choosing a player from each position within affiliated baseball who performed the best.

Catcher

Kevin Parada, 22

14 home runs, .248/.324/.428 at Low A (15 plate appearances), High A (382 plate appearances) and Double A (60 plate appearances)

Since the Mets drafted Parada with the 11th pick of the 2022 draft, evaluators gushed over his power, particularly from a catcher. In his first full season in affiliate ball, Parada showcased that tool. His .447 slugging percentage at High-A Brooklyn ranked behind only Atlanta’s Drake Baldwin (.466) among catchers at the level. Parada received a promotion to Double A, where he served as the starting catcher during Binghamton’s postseason run. He will appear in the Arizona Fall League.

Worth mentioning: After joining the Mets from the Miami Marlins in exchange for reliever David Robertson, Ronald Hernandez turned some heads as a 19-year-old. Hernandez showed the plate discipline he was known for with a 22.8 percent walk rate, which helped his on-base percentage climb to .435. While the Mets have some other teenagers way down in their system, they used a host of veterans —Tomás Nido, Gary Sánchez and Michael Perez — and older minor-leaguers — Nick Meyer and Hayden Senger — at the higher levels once Francisco Alvarez graduated to the majors.

First base

Mark Vientos, 23

16 home runs, .306/.387/.612 at Triple A (269 plate appearances)

Vientos’ season confirmed he has nothing left to prove in the minors. He just has to show he can produce in the majors, where he recently performed better with more consistent playing time. While splitting time at third base, Vientos took steps forward by continuing to offer power while lowering his strikeout rate.

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Second base

Luisangel Acuña, 21

9 home runs, 57 stolen bases, .294/.359/.410 at Double A (569 plate appearances)

Arguably the Mets’ best prospect, Acuña posted just a .622 OPS with Double-A Binghamton after the Mets acquired him from the Texas Rangers for Max Scherzer. Still, Acuña profiles as an exciting player and someone that scouts say will be an above-average big-leaguer because of his power-speed combination. Before joining the Mets’ organization, he hit .315 in 84 games. He ranked second in Double A in stolen bases. With Binghamton, Acuña played 25 games at shortstop and 12 at second base. He can also play center field.

Third base

Ronny Mauricio, 22

23 home runs, 24 stolen bases, .292/.346/.506 at Triple A (532 plate appearances)

After dazzling in winter ball, Mauricio continued to shine at the plate and proved himself as a legitimate offensive player because of elite exit velocity, strong overall power and a good contact tool. At Syracuse, Mauricio saw most of his action at second base, but he also played shortstop (originally his primary position), third base and left field. His defense needs some refining and he showed he’s likely best suited for the infield.

Shortstop

Jett Williams, 19

13 home runs, 45 stolen bases, .263/.425/.451 at Low A (346 plate appearances), High A (162 plate appearances) and Double A (26 plate appearances)

Williams, whom the Mets chose with the 14th pick in the 2022 draft, also racked up 81 runs, 22 doubles, eight triples and 104 walks. Williams finished the season second in the organization in OPS (.876) and first in walks (104). He became the first Mets minor-league player with 100 or more walks since 2013 and the first teenager to lead the organization in walks since David Wright in 2002. Williams was one of two players in all of major-league and minor-league baseball to walk more than 100 times and swipe more than 40 bases. Williams displayed such a good eye and seems to know the strike zone so well that some evaluators believe he has room to swing more; he can be more aggressive on pitches in the zone without having to worry much about developing bad habits of chasing out of the zone. He pairs elite pitch recognition with great bat speed. A right-handed batter who stands at only 5-feet-6, Williams also saw action in center field.

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Utility

Luke Ritter, 26

27 home runs, 5 stolen bases, .244/.372/.496 at Double A (186 plate appearances) and Triple A (264 plate appearances)

An oblique strain in late August cut Ritter’s season short. At both levels, he split time between first base, second base and third base. Though he’s an older minor-leaguer, some rival scouts said they were intrigued by his power and versatility as a bench player. He’s Rule 5 Draft-eligible this fall.

Worth mentioning in the infield: Third baseman Brett Baty played in only 26 minor-league games, so he graduated from such lists and teams. … Jeremiah Jackson had seven home runs, six stolen bases and a .802 OPS in 151 plate appearances with Binghamton while seeing time at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and right field. The Mets acquired Jackson from the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Dominic Leone.

Outfield

Drew Gilbert, 22

18 home runs, 12 stolen bases, .289/.381/.487 at High A (418 plate appearances) and Double A (95 plate appearances)

Ryan Clifford, 20

24 home runs, 5 stolen bases, .262/.374/.480 at Low A (121 plate appearances) and High A (390 plate appearances)

Rhylan Thomas, 23

3 home runs, 7 stolen bases, .328/.407/.425 at Low A (139 plate appearances), High A (148 plate appearances) and Double A (59 plate appearances)

The Mets acquired Gilbert and Clifford from the Houston Astros for Justin Verlander. Gilbert, who played mostly center field for Binghamton, hit an impressive .325 with six home runs after the trade. Clifford, who can also play first base in addition to the corner outfield spots, hit just .188 with six home runs after the trade, but scouts love his power. Thomas, who appeared at all three outfield spots, earned the organization’s gold glove award in the outfield. The Mets picked him in the 11th round of the 2022 draft out of USC. He hit above .300 at every level this season.

Worth mentioning in the outfield: A consensus top-100 prospect, Alex Ramirez slashed just .221/.310/.317 with seven home runs in 521 plate appearances in High A. … Stanley Consuegra, a lesser-known prospect, carries serious pop and hit 23 home runs with High-A Brooklyn, but ended up with a .294 on-base percentage partially because of a high strikeout rate.

Starting pitchers

Christian Scott, 24

87 2/3 IP, 2.57 ERA, 31.9% K rate at Low A (1 game), High A (6 games) and Double A (12 games)

One of three pitchers The Athletic’s Keith Law nominated for Prospect of the Year, Scott had a huge breakthrough season as he continued his shift from a college reliever to a professional starter. Showcasing an improved slider, Scott ran an incredible 107-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. (The only Mets’ major-league starters to run a nine-to-one K-to-BB rate? Jacob deGrom and Bret Saberhagen. They own four Cy Youngs.)

Scott’s innings total was limited by injuries both last year and at the start of this one. It will be interesting to see just how much the club ramps him up next season, with an eye on being a major-league option during the year.

Blade Tidwell, 22

116 IP, 3.57 ERA, 31.4% K rate at High A (17 games) and Double A (8 games)

Tidwell’s first full professional season was bookended by a rocky start and a couple of stumbles with Binghamton, but in the middle, he was as dominant as anyone in the minor leagues. Over his final dozen starts for Brooklyn, he compiled a 1.56 ERA while striking out one-third of opposing hitters.

Taken in the second round of the 2022 draft out of Tennessee, Tidwell has since reworked much of his repertoire, tinkering with his slider and adding a new changeup he refers to as the “Starfish” because of its unorthodox grip. Given the shoulder issue that cost him part of his final college season, Tidwell’s main goal coming into the year was hitting 100 innings, which he breezed past in late August. He may still have the highest ceiling of any starter in the system.

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Mike Vasil, 23

124 IP, 4.65 ERA, 26.4% K rate at Double A (10 games) and Triple A (16 games)

Vasil’s final stats for the season were wrecked by a few outings that got away from him for Syracuse in early September. Nevertheless, the right-hander opened eyes from spring training, when he held his own against a representative Atlanta lineup in a spot start in late March, through the end of the season, when he presented himself as an option for the big-league club. (Vasil doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster this winter, and thus the team preferred to keep a roster spot open rather than get a look at Vasil in the majors.)

Creating consistent ride with his four-seam fastball was the key this season for Vasil; one of the reasons he struggled in Triple A was adapting to the different baseball used at that level and above. He should be in line for a major-league debut sometime next season as a depth starter.

Dominic Hamel, 24

124 IP, 3.85 ERA, 30.4% K rate at Double A (26 games)

Hamel’s season finished sensationally, with 7 2/3 shutout innings to pitch Binghamton into the Eastern League Finals. He pitched scoreless baseball in five of his last six outings overall, yielding a total of three runs over 32 2/3 innings with 43 punchouts.

Hamel switched to a sweeping slider this year to go along with an evolving changeup. Once he felt better with both, the results took off. Evaluators still view Hamel as likelier to end up in the bullpen once he reaches the majors. That would still represent important progress for a system that hasn’t graduated many useful pitchers — in the rotation or the pen — in the last several years.

Tyler Stuart, 23

110 2/3 IP, 2.20 ERA, 25.1% K rate at High A (14 games) and Double A (7 games)

The transition from fastball-heavy reliever at Southern Mississippi into a four-pitch starter went about as seamlessly as possible for the 6-foot-9 Stuart, who led the minor leagues in ERA. He never allowed more than two runs in a contest for Brooklyn, and he rebounded from consecutive poor starts at Binghamton by tossing six two-hit frames in his last start of the season.

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Stuart leaned heavily on his slider, and the further development of a sinker and changeup to round out his arsenal will determine whether he can continue on the starter track and be a viable big-league option soon.

Joander Suarez, 23

108 1/3 IP, 4.24 ERA, 29.7% K rate at High A (21 games) and Double A (3 games)

Suarez might have put together the best finishing kick to a regular season in this organization since Tom Seaver in ’69. Over his final four starts — the first with Brooklyn, the last three with Binghamton — he allowed just four hits while striking out 25 over 24 shutout innings. That included a seven-inning no-hitter in his second Double-A start. (Like Seaver, Suarez did take a step back in the postseason, allowing a run in a single-inning relief appearance on Monday.)

His hot streak capped a startling midseason turnaround for the 23-year-old, whose ERA started with a seven in the middle of June. Over his final 14 games, he pitched to a 2.33 mark while striking out five batters to every one he walked.

It’s a huge bounce-back season for Suarez, who was out from June 2021 to July 2022 thanks to Tommy John surgery. He’s Rule 5 Draft-eligible this fall.

Relief pitchers

Nate Lavender, 23

54 1/3 IP, 2.98 ERA, 36.9% K rate at Double A (7 games) and Triple A (35 games)

The lefty Lavender has placed himself firmly on the major-league radar for next season; if the Mets had needed to add him to the 40-man roster this winter, he probably would have gotten a look in the big leagues down the stretch this season. A 14th-round pick out of Illinois in 2021, Lavender owns a 2.32 ERA over his professional career, and he’s shown reverse splits, holding righties to a collective .167/.273/.281/.553 slash line over the last two seasons.

He should enter next spring as a candidate for the big-league bullpen as a second lefty behind Brooks Raley.

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Paul Gervase, 23

57 IP, 2.05 ERA, 38.6% K rate at High A (31 games) and Double A (7 games)

After Hamel tossed his 7 2/3 brilliant innings last week, it was the 6-foot-10 Gervase who came in to shut the door and, as is his wont, pick up a pair of strikeouts along the way. A 12th-rounder out of LSU in 2022, Gervase led the organization in strikeout rate thanks to a fastball with good run to his arm-side, a sweeping slider and a changeup that helps limit lefties. The best development of Gervase’s season was the reduction in his walk rate from 18.2 percent in Brooklyn to 10 percent in Binghamton. (That 10 percent walk rate paired with a 50 percent strikeout rate over 10 innings with the Rumble Ponies.)

(Photo of Joander Suarez: Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images via Associated Press)

Mets all-minors team: Joander Suarez sizzles, Luisangel Acuña shows power and speed (2024)
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