Takeaways from a busy night in the Mets' minor-league system (2024)

The Mets had Thursday off in Los Angeles, preparing for their six-game California swing against the Dodgers and Giants. So with the night free, I powered up MiLB TV and flipped through the five different games played by Mets affiliates on the night, checking in on prospects at each level.

The menu tonight:

Low A: St. Lucie Mets v. Tampa Tarpons (New York, AL)
High A: Brooklyn Cyclones at Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Philadelphia)
Double A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies v. Reading Fightin’ Phils (Philadelphia) in a doubleheader
Triple A: Syracuse Mets at Charlotte Knights (Chicago, AL)

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5:18 p.m. — Binghamton

José Rodriguez fouls off Tyler Stuart’s first pitch in Game 1 of a doubleheader in Binghamton between the Rumble Ponies and the Reading Fightin’ Phils in a doubleheader. It is tempting to drop the -g from Reading, too, I know.

One of New York’s breakthrough minor-league pitchers last season, Stuart had a rough first start for Binghamton, allowing three runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings in Erie. He’d be better on Thursday.

6:11 p.m. — Port St. Lucie

At Clover Park in St. Lucie, Wyatt Hudepohl delivers his first pitch to George Lombard Jr. of the Tampa Tarpons. Lombard was often connected to the Mets in mock drafts last summer before being selected 26th by the Yankees. In this first inning, the shortstop Lombard walks, steals two bases and scores on a groundout.

6:26 p.m. — Port St. Lucie

Not to be undone, Colin Houck, the Mets’ actual first-round pick at No. 32, fights off a pair of 0-2 deliveries before getting to an upstairs fastball and ripping a double to center. Like Lombard, he’d come around to score in the inning, on a Vincent Perozo single.

Houck entered the night with two hits in his prior 31 at-bats. The double was a welcome sight.

6:35 p.m. — Jersey Shore

In Lakewood down the Jersey Shore, the Cyclones’ Wilfredo Lara takes the first pitch from right-hander Jean Cabrera for a strike. Cabrera is embarking on what will be the best performance by any starting pitcher in these five games, and it will be undone in hilarious fashion.

6:43 p.m. — Binghamton

Stuart works around a double to close out five innings. He allowed eight more baserunners but limited Reading to two runs.

6:50 p.m. — Binghamton

In the scariest moment of the night, the Mets’ consensus best prospect, Jett Williams, is hit in the head by a pitch from Carlos Francisco. Williams pops back up immediately and, after consultation with the trainers, takes first base. Williams had already been hit in the back in his previous plate appearance. He finished out this first game but did not start the nightcap.

(While Williams will be monitored moving forward, the Mets didn’t see any reason to be alarmed on Thursday night.)

As a reminder that these games aren’t produced like big-league games, there are no replays of the hit-by-pitch and no camera on Williams as he’s tended to by the trainers. Instead, there’s a look at the out-of-town scoreboard.

7:06 p.m. — Charlotte

On an 89-degree night in Charlotte, Luisangel Acuña steps in against major-league veteran Chad Kuhl. Acuña goes down on three Kuhl pitches, chasing a breaking ball out of the zone. It’s been a slow start for Acuña, who after an 0-for-3 night will see his average dip below .200.

7:49 p.m. — Binghamton

Brandon McIlwain, fresh off the bench and clad in a thick hoodie under his jersey, pulls a Luis González. With one out, the bases loaded and the infield in, the pinch-hitter McIlwain pokes one just to the outfield grass in right field for the walk-off RBI. Binghamton wins the first game of the doubleheader 4-3 in eight innings — which is still weird, but at least it isn’t happening in the majors anymore.

The Rumble Ponies walk it off in game one of their doubleheader! pic.twitter.com/678IXSmzLT

— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) April 18, 2024

7:52 p.m. — St. Lucie

Nick Morabito’s sinking line drive tails away from Tampa’s right fielder and skips by him to the wall. Morabito, one of the fastest players in the system, ends up on third with an RBI triple to pull St. Lucie back within a run at 5-4.

The Mets are excited to see how Morabito, a high school shortstop, uses that speed in his transition to center field.

“I wouldn’t call him an 80 runner, but it’s not that far off,” said Andrew Christie, the club’s director of player development. “He can really go get it, so it’s just refining those instincts a little bit, playing very consistently out there.”

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8:30 — Binghamton

Troy Miller throws out the first pitch of Game 2 with one key difference: This game is on SNY.

It’s the second of 19 minor-league games this season that will be broadcast on the network, which hasn’t shown any minor-league games since 2017.

Why the change in strategy?

“I give our social media guys credit,” said Matt Sandulli, the network’s vice president of live game and long-form programming. “I was amazed at all the conversations we had where, ‘Hey, we posted Brett Baty’s home run and it got x amount of views.’ Or a Mark Vientos double. There was a whole lot of interest in Baty, Vientos and Francisco Alvarez.

“And with all the trades at the deadline last year, the interest increased tenfold.”

Minor-league games are already produced for MiLB TV, and so SNY just needed to strike a deal with MLB to put that broadcast on the network.

This is the first of eight Rumble Ponies games that will air on SNY, which will also show six Syracuse games, four Brooklyn games and one September game that will be flexed to the most interesting contest.

8:32 — Jersey Shore

The BlueClaws’ Cabrera is done after six shutout innings. The Cyclones take immediate advantage by standing at the plate and doing little else. Brooklyn takes the lead on a walk, an error, a hit batsman, another walk, another hit batsman, a wild pitch, a walk and another walk.

Four runs, no hits, an error, three left on base.

The 'Clones score four runs in the top of the 7th to take a 4-1 lead. The runs were scored on a bases-loaded BB, bases-loaded HBP, wild pitch, and another bases-loaded BB.

Not a lot in terms of highlights … so here's a picture of a dog wearing a Cyclones hat. pic.twitter.com/cXsg43VYpJ

— Brooklyn Cyclones (@BKCyclones) April 19, 2024

8:42 — Charlotte

Former Met Danny Mendick homers off Syracuse starter Joey Lucchesi. Mendick has been a menace in this series, with homers in all three games (and five total on the young season). He’s not the only 2023 Met that will factor into the decision here.

Lucchesi posts an otherwise solid outing: six innings, three runs (two earned) on four hits with four punchouts and three walks.

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8:52 — Jersey Shore

You are not gonna believe how the bottom of the seventh plays out in Lakewood. Fresh off a four-run top of the frame that included zero hits, the BlueClaws tie the game with runs on a bases-loaded walk, a bases-loaded hit batsman, and — in the “The Aristocrats!” coda to this inning — a popup that, despite being well into the outfield grass behind second base, qualifies for the infield fly rule but is dropped by second baseman Wilfredo Lara. The ball was deep enough that the runner on third scored easily, and Lara’s wild throw to third allowed the other two runners to move up as well.

8:53 — Port St. Lucie

I flip back to St. Lucie and hear broadcaster Adam MacDonald say, “It’s become a walk-a-thon.” He isn’t kidding. Through seven innings, there have been 14 free passes in the contest. St. Lucie just scored a run on four walks but left the bases loaded.

9:03 — Charlotte

Sean Reid-Foley gets a double-play ball to finish off his rehab inning with Syracuse. Reid-Foley allowed an unearned run to tie the game, though it was his error — fumbling a Rafael Ortega comebacker — that sparked the inning. Wilmer Difo collected the tying knock up the middle.

9:04 — Jersey Shore

Lara makes amends for his popup adventure with an honest-to-goodness RBI single. Brooklyn is back ahead. Following an intentional walk, Ryan Clifford atones for three earlier strikeouts with an RBI knock the other way. Clifford is also off to a sluggish start offensively, though that was to be expected. The South Atlantic League can be tough on offense early in the season, and Brooklyn’s home park is especially brutal on left-handed hitters with the wind coming off the ocean. It’s a tough transition for Clifford, who played a lot of games last year in Asheville’s McCormick Field, which is 297 feet down the right-field line and just 320 feet to right-center.

9:25 — Port St. Lucie

Yohairo Cuevas grounds into a crisply turned 4-6-3 double play, and Tampa closes out a 9-5 victory over St. Lucie. Only two of the 10 Mets who worked a walk in the game came around to score.

9:32 — Jersey Shore

Justin Lawson strikes out Emaarion Boyd, and the Cyclones have a 6-4 win over Jersey Shore.

9:37 — Charlotte

The Knights walk off Syracuse on Carlos Perez’s double off Yacksel Ríos. Ortega, who saw plenty of action in the big-league outfield for the Mets last season, scored the tying run in the seventh and the winning run in the ninth.

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9:42 — Binghamton

The nightcap in Binghamton is cruising along, into the fifth inning in just over an hour. Alex Ramírez breaks up a scoreless pitchers’ duel with a two-run single off lefty Matt Osterberg.

It’s been a very encouraging start to the season for Ramírez, who even after a 1-for-8 in the doubleheader is hitting .310. Ramírez of course had a miserable season in 2023 for High-A Brooklyn, yet the Mets showed faith in him by placing him on the 40-man roster in November and pushing him to Binghamton. He spent the offseason reworking his swing mechanics to eliminate a hitch to catch up to velocity and to make more consistent hard contact.

According to Christie, not all was lost for Ramírez last season: The issues with his mechanics concealed real improvements in his plate discipline. Ramírez walked a third more often in 2023 than in 2022 while striking out less.

10:17 — Binghamton

The Rumble Ponies were so close to polishing off a doubleheader sweep. But Reading rebounded with three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at four. For the second time today, they’re playing extras.

10:52 — Binghamton

Rowdey Jordan hits into a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the eighth, and the Fightin’ Phils complete a 7-4 comeback win.

That closes the book on five hours and 34 minutes of minor-league action for Mets affiliates, who went 2-3 over that stretch. There are five more games for the organization Friday.

You can buy tickets to every MLB gamehere.

(Top photo of Colin Houck from spring training: Gordon Donovan / NurPhoto via Associated Press)

Takeaways from a busy night in the Mets' minor-league system (1)Takeaways from a busy night in the Mets' minor-league system (2)

Tim Britton is a senior writer for The Athletic covering the New York Mets. He has covered Major League Baseball since 2009 and the Mets since 2018. Prior to joining The Athletic, he spent seven seasons on the Red Sox beat for the Providence Journal. He has also contributed to Baseball Prospectus, NBC Sports Boston, MLB.com and Yahoo Sports. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBritton

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