Last night, the Mets announced that five minor leaguers players, in addition to the ones already on their 40-man roster, have been invited to Spring Training. Those players are pitchers Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni, catcher Juan Centeno, utility player Josh Satin, and outfielder Matt den Dekker.
Montero is a bit of a surprise. Not because he isn’t good, but because he’s still 22 and has thrown exactly 0 pitches above a-ball. To think that Montero would be ready to make the ML club out of spring training in any role is a little crazy. However, Montero was fantastic in a-ball last season and should be in or close to the top-10 on a lot of peoples top prospects list (I have him 12). The Mets could use the spring as a litmus test to see how close he could be to the big leagues, as he should get at least some opportunities to pitch against big league hitters in spring games.
Mazzoni is far less of a surprise. The Mets drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft, and as expected, he has risen quickly. With a decreased strikeout rate in AA last year, Mazzoni is looking like a bullpen arm, but one that can crank it up into the mid 90′s at times. With some empty spots in the bullpen, there’s no reason not to take a look at Mazzoni. Even if he doesn’t make the opening day roster, he could join the big league bullpen at some point this year.
Centeno is an obvious choice, with catching depth with a place of need for the Mets. Centeno is a low-strikeout high-contact type hitter, who is solid defensively, but somewhat undersized. A lot of things would have to fall in place for him to make the opening day roster, but he’ll be in big league spring training so the Mets can gauge how close he is to being viable ML catching depth.
Satin is kind of a token invite. Theoretically, he could impress in camp and compete for a job as the 25th man, but that’s unlikely. Satin is 28, and a nice guy to have on a AAA ball club, but he has no place on a big league roster. The Mets are giving him an invite because their roster is thin and to keep Satin happy and willing to stick around the organization in future years, because, like I said, he’s a useful AAA player.
den Dekker might have the best chance to compete for a spot on the opening day roster. The Mets are thin in the outfield, and right now Kirk Nieuwenhuis is penciled in to play centerfield, but den Dekker could become a serious part of the competition. He has a half season of AAA under his belt, and he didn’t exactly impress during that time, but if he has a good spring with the bat he’s going to become a contender to be the opening day centerfield real fast. He hits left-handed, which doesn’t help his case, but he has some pop and as we all should know plays incredible defense. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and keep a decent average he can be a major league center fielder. He’ll be an eye to keep an eye on early in camp, and a guy to keep watching in the spring for as long as he’s hitting.
On a related note, for winter league stats for Mets players, click here: http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/org.jsp?id=nym