New York Mets: Full Non-Roster Invites Announced For Spring Training

New York Mets spring training finally begins on February 17th, and the team has announced their full group of players that will join them in Port St. Lucie. The non-roster invites feature an interesting group of veterans signed this offseason and prospects trying to make a name for themselves.

Starting Pitchers: Matt Allan, Jerad Eickhoff, Harol Gonzalez

The Mets opted for three non-roster starting pitcher invites, and all three are in different stages of their careers. Allan is the Mets top pitching prospect and is coming off an impressive 2020 summer camp. He threw just 6.1 professional innings after the 2019 MLB Draft and will get an opportunity to showcase his stuff in big league camp.

Eickhoff has a 5.07 ERA since 2017 after putting up a 3.44 ERA in his first two seasons. If the Mets need starting pitching help, he will be at the top of their list. Gonzalez is coming off a 3.01 ERA in 2019 between AA and AAA. He has been in the minors since the 2014 season.

Relief Pitchers: Jerry Blevins, Oscar De La Cruz, Ryley Gilliam, Trevor Hildenberger, Tylor Megill, Marcel Renteria, Jared Robinson, Arodys Vizcaino, Tom Windle

Blevins is a former Met who has a good opportunity to take Seth Lugo‘s spot in the bullpen if Justin Wilson does not return. De La Cruz spent his first seven professional seasons with the Cubs, has starting experience but found more success in the bullpen during 2019. Gilliam has a great mid-90s fastball and sharp curveball but struggles with walks (5.0 BB/9). He is ranked 21st in the Mets farm system.

During his 2017 rookie season, Hildenberger pitched 37 games with a 3.21 ERA. The next two years combined resulted in a 6.35 ERA; he does bring a unique look with his sidearm delivers. Megill is another reliever with starting experience in the minors; he had a 3.52 ERA in his first full pro season in 2019. Renteria’s highest level is one game in AA and has a 4.76 ERA over 62 minor league games.

Robinson spent six years with the Cleveland Indians and recorded his highest K/9 (12.5) during 2019. Vizcaino has a 3.01 career ERA, but his health is a major liability to any team willing to take a chance on him. Windle is a left-handed reliever with a 4.13 ERA in seven minor league seasons.

Catchers: Francisco Alvarez, Bruce Maxwell, Nick Meyer, David Rodriguez

Alvarez is just 19-years old but is already the second-best prospect the Mets have. It will be exciting to watch him get his first taste of a big-league spring training at such a young age. Maxwell has only a .347 slugging percentage in 127 career games, but his .524 slugging with 25 homers in Mexico intrigued the Mets to sign him last season.

Meyer is getting his opportunity after spending 2020 with an independent league. He has never played above high-A during his career. Rodriguez did not hit much during his seven minor league seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays but had a terrific winter league season. In 44 games, he slashed .376/.473/.567 with five home runs and 28 runs batted in.

Infielders: Brett Baty, Brandon Drury, Jake Hager, Ronny Mauricio, Jose Peraza, Wilfredo Tovar, Mark Vientos

Baty is the third-ranked prospect with tremendous line to line power but needs to improve his defense at third base. Drury is a veteran utility man with a .248 career average over 456 career games. Hager is an infielder who has shown flashes of power with 23 homers during the 2018-19 seasons.

Mauricio is the top prospect in the Mets farm system and should have less pressure with Andres Gimenez on the Indians. Peraza is another utility infielder but only hit .225 in 34 games with the Boston Red Sox during 2020.

Tovar is a former Met with a solid glove but has never hit at the big league level. Vientos is a third baseman and the seventh-ranked prospect for the Mets. He has great power but needs to become a complete hitter before moving on to the next level.

Outfielders: Pete Crow-Armstrong, Johneshwy Fargas, Drew Ferguson, Mallex Smith, Tim Tebow

Crow-Armstrong is the most promising outfield Mets prospect since…Jarred Kelenic. This will be his first professional baseball experience and will be a tall task for a player coming straight out of high school. Fargas is full of speed and pure athletic ability but has never figured it out with the bat. During his minor league career, he has 235 stolen bases but slashes at .255/.331/.342.

Ferguson never hit much as a minor leaguer with the Houston Astros but made great strides in 2019. During 115 games in triple-A, he batted .281 with 65 walks, 11 homers, and 27 stolen bases. Smith is another speedster with two 40-steal seasons under his belt but does not hit for any power. Tebow is going to give it another try after hitting .163 during the 2019 triple-A season. This might be the last chance for his baseball career.

New York Mets Sign 11 Minor League Free Agents

Oakland Athletics, Bruce Maxwell

With the election day hangover sweeping through the news cycle, the New York Mets were active on the free-agent market. The big fish of Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto are still on the market but the Mets scooped brought in 11 players on minor league deals. Five were in the organization this year but Jose Peraza and Mallex Smith highlight the group of outsiders.

The five Mets returning to the team are Johneshwy Fargas, Jake Hager, Harol Gonzalez, Bruce Maxwell, and Luis Carpio. Fargas is a centerfielder with supreme speed, stealing 235 bases over seven minor league seasons. His minor league batting average of .255 with a .342 has kept him back.

Hager is a 27-year old utility infielder who is still waiting on his first major league action. He has recorded slugging percentages over .400 in his last two minor league seasons.

Gonzalez is a right-handed starter who suffered from the canceled minor league season in 2020. He pitched to a 3.01 ERA in a career-high 137.2 innings between AA and AAA. Gonzalez should scratch the surface of the big leagues in 2021.

Maxwell is trying to revive his career after spending 2020 in the Mets alternate site. He is known as the first MLB player to take a knee for the National Anthem and hit 24 home runs in the Mexican League during 2019.

Carpio is entering his eighth year in the Mets organization but is just 23-years old. His hitting has kept him in the lower levels of the minors with a career .246 average and 20 home runs.

New Kids on the Block

Mallex Smith was a hot commodity after the 2018 season. His slash line of .296/.367/.406 with 40 stolen bases proved him to be a quality leadoff hitter. It was one of the reasons why they traded to get him back in 2018 after dealing him in the previous offseason. Smith’s bat tailed off significantly to .220/.290/.323 over the last two seasons. While he still stole 48 bases, he also tailed off defensively. As a minor league pick up, it is a good low-risk move.

Jose Peraza has a similar career arc to Smith; a promising contact hitter who has not replicated those numbers in the last two seasons. From 2016-2018 Peraza slashed .284/.320/.382 compared to .236/.283/.345. Peraza also saw his strikeout rate increase and his defense at second base decline over those poor two seasons.

Arodys Vizcaino‘s career has been plagued by the injury bug. He has undergone Tommy John and torn labrum surgery but still maintains a 3.01 career ERA. Vizcaino still throws in the upper 90s and if the Mets can keep him somewhat healthy, he could be a steal in the bullpen.

Little Known Signings

Oscar De La Cruz is a right-handed pitcher heading into his age-26 season. The intrigue from the Mets comes from his 2019 season where he had a 3.64 ERA over 96.1 innings with 105 strikeouts. It was his best season in the minors, with a majority of it being spent in AA.

David Rodriguez is a 24-year old catcher known primarily for his good defense behind the plate. In 2017, Rodriguez threw out 60% of base stealers (33 of 55) at high A. In his second season at AA in 2019, he threw out 31% of base stealers (20 of 64). Rodriguez only hit .225 in 2019 but gives the Mets some competition in the lower ranks of their catching depth chart.

Mitchell Tolman is the final signing and spent his entire minor league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tolman plays a handful of positions and had a chance to move up the ranks in their organization if the minor league season was not canceled. At 26 years old, Tolman’s .364 minor league OBP and ability to play multiple positions is part of what garnered the Mets interest.