Today was the first full day of minor league camp for the Mets in Port St. Lucie. The best Mets prospects were already there taking part in the STEP camp, but today they are joined by the rest of the players in the Mets farm system. Also taking part in minor league camp will be Fernando Martinez, Ruben Tejada, Zach Lutz, Jordanny Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Kai Gronauer, Josh Stinson, Manny Alvarez, Armando Rodriguez, and Tobi Stoner. These guys may still make appearances in major league spring training games as they have done already, but they have been all but eliminated from making the opening day roster. There’s no real surprises on the list. The key is who is not on the list: Lucas Duda. Duda is hitting .303 and slugging around .600 in the spring, including two home runs. He is starting to get playing time in right field, which is an indication that he will stick around major league camp and be in the discussion for the opening day roster as long as the health and readiness of Carlos Beltran is in question.
As for the other guys: Martinez has hit .364 in 22 at bats, including a home run in the spring opener, but he needs to prove himself healthy before in the minors for an extended period before the Mets think of bringing him up. Tejada has played in ten games hitting .313, but has already been named the everyday shortstop in AAA, but could be an option at second base at some point if things get ugly at that position. Despite a nice looking home run, Nieuwenhuis hit just .115 over 26 at bats, and still needs to prove he can hit AAA pitching. Valdespin hit 5 for 15, including a double, triple, and home run, but just one walk; he did showcase a lot of talent and athleticism but is probably a year away from making a serious run at a major league job. Zach Lutz managed just two hits in 14 at bats and Gronauer, despite blasting a three-run homer is a year away from being in the top 3 or 4 catchers on the organizational depth chart. Stinson, Alvarez, and Rodriguez all pitched 3 innings, and not surprisingly, did not prove to be legitimate competitors for the few unspoken bullpen spots. Staying in major league camp for now is top prospect Jenrry Mejia who has surrendered one unearned run in four innings.
Minor Leaguers from the STEP camp who have gotten at bats in spring games include Cory Vaughn, who belted a two-run home run, as well as Matt Den Dekker and Darrell Ceciliani, who have two hits each in limited action.
One more thing of note: Joe Christensen who covers the Minnesota Twins tweeted that an MLB scout told him the Drew Butera is the best defensive catcher he’s seen this spring. Butera was catching the Binghamton Mets in 2007 until he was traded to the twins along with outfielder Dustin Martin for Luis Castillo. I wonder how both teams feel about that trade today?