New York Mets Spring Training: 5 Players Who Are Sure to Shine
New York Mets Spring Training: 5 Players Who Are Sure To Shine
In a few short days, the New York Mets will wipe the slate clean with the start of a new season when players officially report for Spring Training. A week later, the team will begin the Grapefruit League season and start to play its first, albeit unofficial, games of the 2014 season. Obviously, Grapefruit League games don't count for anything once the regular season gets underway and nobody remembers which teams had the best record during Spring Training games last season. But teams like the Mets, who have struggled for the past few seasons, would prefer to win a lot of games during Spring Training.
With a lot of spots up for grabs in Mets’ camp, many of the team's players have an incentive to perform at a high level during Grapefruit League action instead of merely using the spring as preparation for the season. The Mets are also bringing a lot of young players to camp, especially young pitchers, which should also help to raise their level of play during the exhibition season Those young players are hoping to make a positive impression even if they're fighting an uphill battle to make the opening day roster.
Whatever the situation or the incentive for the player, I have compiled a list of five players that are sure to shine for the Mets during Spring Training. These are the guys that are going to stand out in the exhibition with the hope that it carries over into the regular season, when the games actually matter.
5. Rafael Montero
Montero is competing for the fifth spot in the Mets’ rotation this spring, and while he’s not the front-runner to win the job, he’s going to make the decision a tough one for the Mets to make. He’s all but ready to pitch in a big league rotation, and he should be able to handle the watered-down lineups he’ll face during the exhibition season without a problem, making a strong case to break camp as a part of the Mets’ rotation.
4. Jon Niese
Niese has been great over the past two seasons and he had a fantastic spring last year -- don't expect any of that to change. With Matt Harvey being ruled out for the season, there is some competition to see who will be the Mets’ Opening Day starter, giving Niese incentive to pitch well in the spring and lock down his second straight Opening Day start.
3. Wilmer Flores
Mets’ manager Terry Collins has said that he’s going to watch Flores closely and give him a lot of at-bats this spring, and that should lead to Flores having a good spring campaign. He got off to a hot start his first week in the big leagues last year before an ankle injury hindered his performance. But now that he’s healthy and had a productive winter, Flores will be ready to make a good impression this spring -- if only the Mets had a place to put him.
2. Juan Lagares
Despite being an elite defensive outfielder, Lagares isn't guaranteed to be an everyday starter in the Mets’ outfield this year, so he’s going to have to hit enough during the spring to earn the job. Lagares is coming off a great winter season during which he was named Rookie of the Year in the Dominican Winter League, so he should carry that momentum into the spring, have a good Grapefruit League season, and become the Mets’ every day center fielder.
1. Ike Davis
Believe it or not, despite how horrible his 2013 season was, Davis was great during Spring Training last year. When the pressure was off in exhibition games, Davis hit .327 with a .455 slugging percentage. There will be a little more pressure on Davis this spring as he has to compete for the starting job at first base, but it shouldn't be seen as a surprise if he puts up good numbers during the exhibition season and forces the Mets to give him another chance.