Now that the 2017 season is over, Minor League Mondays will take a look at each of the New York Mets’ minor league affiliates over the next several weeks. This series will take a look at each affiliate’s season highlights, top prospects, interesting promotions, and more. We continue our climb up the ladder today with a look at the Advanced A level St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League.
Minor League Mondays Affiliate Review: St. Lucie Mets
2017 Record: 63-75, Sixth Place in Florida State League South Division
Story: Like many of the Mets’ minor league affiliates, the St. Lucie Mets finished well below .500 in 2017. St. Lucie actually played better in the first half (33-35) than the second (30-40), which may be due to the midseason promotions of some top prospects to Binghamton. It wasn’t the debut that new manager Chad Kreuter was hoping for, but he did the best he could to try and develop talent in a losing situation. Things got a bit crazier for Kreuter in mid-June, when Tim Tebow was promoted from Low-A Columbia. Tebow’s presence brought extra media attention and fans to St. Lucie games, but from all accounts the situation was handled smoothly by the coaching staff.
Tebow Watch: The St. Lucie Mets were the second Mets’ affiliate to benefit from the presence of Tebow, who was promoted from Columbia on June 28th. Despite the fact that Tebow seemingly hadn’t earned a promotion, he actually performed better against more advanced competition. Tebow batted .231 with five home runs and 29 RBI’s in 62 games for St. Lucie, including a dramatic walk off homer against the Dayton Tortugas on July 13th. St. Lucie also benefited at the turnstiles with Tebow around, setting a new single season attendance record of 132,359 fans. That easily demolished the previous record of 105,215, which was set back in 2011.
Top Promotion: Everyone loves the Christmas spirit, but its hard for baseball fans to truly celebrate it since the season concludes before December 25th. The St. Lucie Mets have tried to solve this problem over the past couple of years, holding an annual Christmas in July event at First Data Field. The players wore custom Buddy the Elf jerseys that were auctioned off after the game, with all proceeds going to local children’s charities. Santa himself threw out the ceremonial first pitch and the team accepted toy donations at all ballpark gates.
1B Jhoan Urena: Urena, a 23 year old first baseman out of the Dominican Republic, had a breakthrough campaign in 2017. After a poor 2016 led the Mets to make Urena repeat the High-A Level, Urena responded by batting .282 while setting career highs in doubles (34), home runs (11), and RBI’s (62). The strong performance not only earned Urena a late season promotion all the way to Triple-A Las Vegas, but also the organization’s Sterling Award for St. Lucie, the equivalent of a team MVP award. Urena will be one of the more intriguing choices the Mets have to make this winter since he is Rule V eligible and needs to be added to the 40 man roster if the team wants to avoid losing his rights.
1B Peter Alonso: Alonso, the Mets’ second round pick in 2016 out of the University of Miami, overcame a rough start to put together a strong season for St. Lucie. In 82 games for the St. Lucie Mets, Alonso batted .286 with 16 homers and 58 RBI’s, earning himself a late season promotion to AA Binghamton. Alonso should start 2018 in Binghamton and could force his way to the big leagues by the end of the year if he keeps up his torrid hitting.
RHP Justin Dunn: Dunn, the Mets’ first round pick in 2016 out of Boston College, had a rough transition to full season ball in 2017. In 20 games for St. Lucie, including 16 starts, Dunn went 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA and an unsightly 1.56 WHIP. Walks were a problem for Dunn, who issued 48 free passes in 95.1 innings pitched, and he actually pitched worse as the season wore on. The Mets will likely have Dunn repeat the High-A level to start 2018, and if everything clicks he could earn a mid-season promotion to AA Binghamton.
Check back next week as we continue climbing the ladder with a look at the AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies of the Eastern League!