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Mets drop exhibition to Team Venezuela while the young Mets infielders continue to impress
Could the WBC help New York's prospects make the team?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
The Mets lost to WBC’s Team Venezuela 6-4 on Thursday afternoon in Port St. Lucie (Box)
RHP Jose Butto struggled for New York, giving up five runs in two innings
RHP Steven Nogosek - who is auditioning for a spot in the Mets bullpen - tossed two scoreless innings in relief
Hard-throwing relief prospect RHP Bryce Montes de Oca threw a perfect seven inning with two strikeouts
Ronny Mauricio had another big day, collecting two hits in three plate appearances, and Brett Baty had an RBI hit and scored a run
Mets in the World Baseball Classic 🌎
1B Pete Alonso (USA): 1-for-4, K 🇺🇸
2B Jeff McNeil (USA): 0-for-3, K 🇺🇸
SS Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico): 0-for-2, BB, 2 K 🇵🇷
3B Eduardo Escobar (Venezuela) 1-for-5, R, 2 BB 🇻🇪
C Omar Narvaez (Venezuela) 1-for-2, RBI, R, 2 BB, K 🇻🇪
Today’s Game 🦩
Game 1️⃣4️⃣ of 3️⃣0️⃣
Match-up: Astros vs. Mets
Where: Clover Park - Port St. Lucie, Florida
Starters: RHP Shawn Dubin vs. RHP Justin Verlander
When: 1:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
The WBC gives young Mets extended playing time ✍🏻
The Mets entire starting infield of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor, and Eduardo Escobar are all away representing their countries for the World Baseball Classic, which has opened the door for several of the club’s best prospects to get an extended look this spring.
Shortstop Ronny Mauricio has already been the talk of spring training, slashing .400/.438/1.067 with three homers and a double in 15 at-bats. As we’ve discussed at length in this newsletter, Mauricio is an incredibly exciting young player that is becoming a bit of a conundrum for the Mets. He’s blocked from playing his natural position by Francisco Lindor, could conceivably shift to third were it not for Brett Baty, and he has no experience in the outfield. Mauricio’s track to the big leagues will logistically be more challenging for the Mets, but with Lindor representing Puerto Rico at the moment he’s getting an extended look in big league spring training games—and you can be sure other teams are noticing as well.
The aforementioned Baty was expected to begin the season in Triple-A Syracuse and he still very well might. But the Mets fully expect him to be their first long term franchise third baseman since David Wright, and the .474/.524/.684 slash line in 10 spring training games thus far has only further encouraged the team’s enthusiasm. The Mets expect Escobar to open the year as their starting third baseman, but they do have wiggle room to change their plans, as Escobar could replace Darin Ruf as the club’s right handed DH while opening up the hot corner for the youngster.
Speaking of right handed DH options…
Then there’s Mark Vientos, whose crushed 49 home runs in the last two minor league seasons before getting a small big league cup of coffee last September. This spring the 23-year-old has swung the bat well, and crushed a pair of home runs the other day. Vientos has gotten looks at both corner infield positions during spring training, but his best position is clearly in the batter’s box, and he, too, is a prime candidate to replace Ruf should the team decide to go in that direction.
Of course, their paths to the big leagues are all dependent on their ability to improve defensively. And as of right now, all of them have work to do in that area. Mets GM Billy Eppler has made it clear they want their prospects to be well-rounded on both sides of the ball before they graduate to the big leagues.
But their time to shine in front of Eppler and Buck Showalter is right now.
Around the League 🚩
The Yankees announced that LHP Carlos Rodon, RHP Lou Trivino, RHP Tommy Kahnle, and OF Harrison Bader will all begin the season on the IL (MLB.com)
Colorado OF Sean Bouchard needs surgery to repair a left distal biceps rupture (MLB.com)