Mets Spring Training Invitees
The New York Mets have (thus far) invited twenty players not on the 40-man roster to spring training.
They are as follows:
The bulk of these players are youngsters who will be given a quick look before sent down to minor-league camp. Of this entire list, the player with the best opportunity to go north with the big club at the end of March is catcher Taylor Teagarden, though he’ll have to beat out Anthony Recker and Juan Centeno for the backup backstop role behind Travis d’Arnaud. Even if Kevin Plawecki is outstanding, I doubt the Mets will bring him up to be a back-up — they’ll want him playing every day and developing.
Other than Teagarden, Cory Mazzoni and Joel Carreno have outside shots at cracking bullpen roles. Mazzoni has been a starter throughout his pro career, but at 24 years old, isn’t showing enough to project in that role; some think that focusing on fastball velocity and one secondary offering could allow him to be a decent middle reliever. The 26-year-old Carreno converted to relief in 2012, and struck out 12.2 batters per nine innings last year, splitting the season between AA and AAA; he was signed as a minor-league free agent after 8 years in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system. Carreno’s bread and butter is a heavy sinker that gets to about 91-92 MPH.
There’s been buzz that Rafael Montero could be in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation, but, barring injuries to others, I’m not seeing it happen just yet. Same goes for Noah Syndegaard.
I’m guessing that Syndegaard and Jack Leathersich will be kept around longer than others so that the Mets brass can get good, long looks at them. Paul DePodesta seems especially hot on Leathersich as a future LOOGY, I suppose because the little lefty has had ridiculously high K/9 rates in the minors. Unfortunately those swing-and-miss stats are accompanied by high walk rates; he walked 29 batters in 29 innings in AAA last season, and has averaged 5 BB/9 in his pro career (along with an eye-popping 15.2 K/9). His lefthandedness and 94-MPH fastball are intriguing, and he doesn’t turn 24 until mid-July, so there’s time for him to one day become Matt Thornton. Maybe a few weeks under the brilliant guidance of Dan Warthen can accelerate his progress.
Eric Campbell likely won’t make the team, but he turns 27 in April so this may be his last shot. He’s a corner infielder / corner outfielder who can swing the bat from the right side but doesn’t have much power. In a similar spot is Brandon Allen, a first baseman / left fielder with some pop from the left side, but who has never shown quite enough to earn a big-league job in ten years of pro ball, including parts of four MLB seasons. Allen is the prototypical “AAAA” player, but considering the mystery at 1B for the Mets, who knows what might happen? If Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, and Josh Satin all look awful in the spring, and Allen hits bombs, he might just steal a roster spot. My feeling, though, is that Allen won’t have enough opportunity to prove himself, considering the “glut” of players at first base.