Last year, the contingent of prospects the New York Mets sent to the Arizona Fall League wasn’t all that impressive. Outside of Jeurys Familia, the Mets mostly sent pitchers who maybe have a chance of becoming middle relievers in the majors if everything works out perfectly. But this year, the Mets are sending legitimate prospects, including a few that have a chance to play in the big leagues next season.
The Mets’ contingent of prospects going to the AFL is highlighted by outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s had a great year and will finish the 2014 season in Double-A at the ripe old age of 21. Nimmo struggled initially after being promoted to midway through the season, but he’s hit .289/.372/434 in the month of August, and a trip to the AFL will further expose him to upper-level pitching. The hope for Nimmo is that a few extra reps in October and November will have him ready for Triple-A early in 2015, with a September call-up in 2015 being a possibility.
Next on the list of prospects is shortstop Matt Reynolds. A trip to Arizona likely means he won’t get a taste of the big leagues in September, but playing in the AFL can be beneficial for him. Reynolds was brilliant in Double-A over the first half of the season, and he’s been almost as good in Triple-A the second half of the season. Playing in the AFL could set up Reynolds to compete for a spot on the Mets’ Opening Day roster in 2015 either at second base, shortstop, or as a utility player.
Cory Mazzoni and Robert Whalen are the top two pitching prospects the Mets are sending to Arizona. Both are in need of extra reps after missing significant chunks of the season due to injury. Mazzoni has a chance to compete for a spot in the bullpen at Spring Training next year; although the team also has to decide whether or not to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, his performance in the AFL could help the Mets decide to do so.
Whalen has put up an impressive 8-1 record and 2.18 ERA in nine starts in Class-A this year. At age 20, the hitters in the AFL will challenge him and he may struggle, but it’ll be advantageous for his development to face upper-level competition.
Pitchers Paul Sewald and Julian Hilario will round out the Mets AFL contingent, although neither are a major prospect. Sewald has put together an impressive season at Advanced-A, and a stint in the AFL could be telling as to whether or not he will have a future in a big league bullpen. As for Hilario, he struggled in the first half of the season, but he throws his fastball with good velocity and is ending his year strong, not allowing an earned run in over 12 consecutive innings and counting.
The AFL can be beneficial for a team’s prospects, and unlike last year, the Mets have done well to include prospects who can get a lot out of playing in it.
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