6 New York Mets That Had A Good Winter League Season
6 New York Mets That Did Well In A Winter League
Get excited, baseball fans, because Spring Training is just around the corner. You know that Spring Training is getting close because the winter league season is officially over after last night’s Caribbean Series final. American fans often overlook the winter leagues in the Caribbean, but they are filled with players and prospects from major league teams, including the New York Mets.
Winter ball was actually quite kind to the Mets last offseason. Outfielder Marlon Byrd, who the Mets signed to a minor league contract last offseason, played all winter in the Caribbean, enabling him to come to Spring Training with the Mets in mid-season form. Byrd ended up earning a job on the Mets’ opening-day roster and ultimately became one of their most productive hitters. The Mets were then able to trade Byrd to the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates for Vic Black, who will contribute out of the Mets’ bullpen this year, and second baseman Dilson Herrera, who is now one of their top prospects.
As was the case with Byrd last year, playing winter ball can pay off big for players and their teams during the major league season. Like most teams, the Mets had a slew of players in various winter leagues this offseason, and while many of those players are low-level prospects, some are players that are on the major league roster, while others are minor leagues that may have a chance to play in the big leagues this season.
Here are six Mets that played well this winter in offseason leagues.
6. Wilmer Flores, Infield
Wilmer Flores didn't quite make it to 100 at bats in the Venezuela Winter League, but he did hit .375 with three home runs and six doubles, while walking nearly as many times as he struck out. It's the kind of performance we've come to expect from Flores against sub-major league competition.
During the winter, Flores also spent time at a strength, conditioning and nutrition camp with other Mets players to help improve his speed, agility and quickness, which means he should be in great shape when Spring Training gets underway.
5. Xorge Carrillo, Catcher
Xorge Carrillo is one of the Mets' top catching prospects who got more at bats in the Mexican League this winter than he did during the 2013 season, and he handled himself well with a line of .285/.347/.391. He's known more for his defense than his offense, but if he can be a somewhat productive player at the plate, he'll have an outside chance of reaching the big leagues one day.
4. Juan Centeno, Catcher
Juan Centeno has a chance to win the job as backup catcher in Spring Training, and he'll do so after a solid winter, putting up a line of .280/.337/.360. He doesn't have the power that his main competitor Anthony Recker does, but Centeno makes good contact and is a reliable receiver behind the plate.
3. Randy Fontanez, Pitcher
Although he's never pitched above A-ball, Randy Fontanez struck out 83 batters in 60 innings of work in 2013, and he continued pitching well in winter ball, putting up an ERA of 1.26. He could become a pitcher to watch in the Mets' farm system in 2014.
2. Joel Carreno, Pitcher
After a good season in the Dominican Winter League, Joel Carreno will come to camp with the Mets with a chance to earn a spot in the bullpen. He's spent some time in the majors before, and during the winter he had an ERA just above two, a WHIP just above one, and averaged more than a strikeout per inning, which is a positive sign for his chances heading into a wide-open bullpen competition.
1. Juan Lagares, Outfield
Juan Lagares may have had the best winter of any Mets player, as he won Rookie of the Year in the Dominican Winter League. He hit .342/.379/.412 and had five stolen bases. He wasn't always facing major league competition during winter ball, but this is a great sign for the Mets, as well as for Lagares, who will have to hit and take a few walks, this spring if he's going to lock down the starting job in center field.