The focus in Mets-land has been on the team’s trio of young aces. And for good reason: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard have posted a combined 5.1 fWAR, 3.05 ERA, and 5.45 strikeouts-to-walks ratio this season.
With the New York Mets’ below-average offense (ranks 20th with a 7.2 fWAR) incapable of providing necessary run support, however, even the most dominant of pitching efforts haven’t consistently resulted in wins.
Needless to say, adding a bat or two at the July 31st trade deadline is a must for the Mets. But the front office could better evaluate the extent of their offensive needs by calling up top prospect Michael Conforto now.
After an exciting rookie-ball debut in 2014, the 22-year-old hasn’t stopped hitting this season. Conforto, promoted to Double-A in late-May, has combined for a .308 batting average, 10.7 percent walk rate, and nine home runs over 289 plate appearances in 2015.
In addition, the left-handed hitter has demolished Double-A pitchers to the tune of a .377 batting average and park-adjusted 217 wRC+.
Yet, his success isn’t particularly surprising.
ESPN.com’s Keith Law (insider-subscription needed) praised the Mets’ 2014 first-round pick in his pre-season Top 100 prospect rankings, calling Conforto the “best pure college hitter in the 2014 draft class […]” and tabbed him at #41 on his list.
Later that month, Law even took a swipe at the Mets in his April 30th ‘Chat with Keith Law,’ remarking that the team has been “too conservative with their more polished prospects and [that] Conforto should be in [Double-A] already.”
Even though it’s a pretty rare feat for a player to make the jump from Double-A, it’s been done before. For instance, the Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Yasiel Puig from Double-A to the majors on June 2, 2013. The then-22-year-old Puig had only collected 167 plate appearances in the upper-minors prior to his promotion.
Batting close to .400 in the upper-minors hardly guarantees Conforto will become an instant star in the majors. But the Mets shouldn’t put such expectations on his shoulders if they do decide to promote him soon.
If Conforto could produce at a league-average or slightly above-league average rate, it would rightfully force the Mets to platoon Curtis Granderson with Michael Cuddyer. Any success at the major-league level would also take some pressure off David Wright returning too soon.
In the event Conforto is over-matched in the proposed month-long audition, then the Mets can simply demote the future stud to Triple-A – perhaps recalling him again in September. No harm done.
But there’s always a chance Conforto does his best Yasiel Puig impression; affording the Mets the luxury of not having to dangle one of Steven Matz or Syndergaard in what could turn out to be a regrettable summer trade.
Statistics (through June 20, 2015) sourced from FanGraphs.