Prior to the season we’re previewing the 12 Eastern League teams in reverse order of last season’s record. Rosters won’t be finalized until the week before Opening Day, so my Players to Watch is pure speculation at this point.
Up next, we have the Binghamton Mets…
2015 record: 77-64
Affiliation: New York Mets
Manager: Pedro Lopez
Hitting coach: Luis Natera
Pitching coach: Glenn Abbott
Five Players to Watch
1B Dominic Smith – Smith is coming off a 2015 season which saw him slash .305/.354/.417 on the way towards winning the Florida State League MVP. The Mets’ first round draft pick in 2013 is a pure hitter in the throwback mold, but for a corner infielder he has yet to show a power stroke slugging only 10 home runs over three minor league seasons.
SS Amed Rosario – The 20-year-old got a taste (more like an amuse-bouche) of Double-A last season as the B-Mets competed in the playoffs. Rosario has a strong arm and great footwork to stick at shortstop, but he has yet to show enough offensively more than a swing and approach at the plate that is contact-oriented.
LHP Josh Smoker – Smoker was at one time a top prospect of the Washington Nationals after being selected 31st overall in 2007. But injuries piled up for the southpaw and his velocity took a nosedive until he found himself pitching in Rockford, Ill., in the independent Frontier League. But somehow, Smoker rebounded in 2015 as his fastball got back into the upper 90s and he fanned 60 in 49 innings.
2B L.J. Mazzilli – After being suspended for a “drug of abuse” for the first 50 games last year, Mazzilli struggled to get back on track. His abundance of grit and improving batter’s eye don’t quite make up for his lack of power, but as the son of former Mets All-Star Lee Mazzilli he has the pedigree that will enable opportunities.
3B Jhoan Urena – The corner infielder managed to break both of his hamate bones last season and he wasn’t the same afterwards. Urena hit only .186/.240/.228 in 24 games when he returned to St. Lucie. The switch-hitter may very well spend 2016 repeating the Florida State League, but if he can show he’s healthy and productive he may finish the season in the Southern Tier.
Under the patience and guiding hand of Pedro Lopez, the B-Mets have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons while averaging 82 regular season wins. For my money, Lopez is the best manager in the Eastern League and I’m shocked he hasn’t moved up in the Mets’ system or been poached by another organization yet. The B-Mets’ roster won’t be as talented as the recent past, but that shouldn’t stop them from once again playing meaningful games into September.