Standout Mets prospects from the '21 season

October 19th, 2021

NEW YORK -- While it’s true that the Mets’ farm system remains a work in progress, significant developments across the organization changed the landscape in 2021. Outside of Matt Allan, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, the Mets’ highest-ranked prospects all enjoyed success throughout the summer -- from blue-chippers Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio on down.

“Everyone just really stepped up and showed us that they were what the hype said that they were,” Mets director of player development initiatives Jeremy Barnes said. “I haven’t been around the game forever, but I’ve been around long enough to know that’s not always the case. So to have that happen with just about everybody was really exciting.”

Plenty else happened beyond those headlining names. Here’s a look at a sampling of Mets Minor Leaguers who stood out in one way or another, or are primed to do so in 2022:

Three players who forced their way onto the radar this year

No. 6 prospect , 3B
The system’s most significant breakout belonged to Vientos, a second-round pick who was one of the youngest players in the Mets’ 2017 Draft class. Vientos’ age and the pandemic kept his progress up the Minor League ladder slow, until he erupted for 22 homers in 72 games with Double-A Binghamton this summer. That led to a quick promotion to Triple-A Syracuse, where the 21-year-old thrived in 11 games down the stretch. Because Vientos plays the same position as Baty, the Mets exposed both players to first base and left field to get a feel for their versatility. It will now be a race to the big leagues for those two.

“Vientos was … probably the biggest risk going into the season because we pushed him up to Double-A,” Barnes said. “He started off a little slow, but we all felt like he was ready, and if he was who we thought he was, that he was going to figure it out and it was just a matter of time. And the year that he had, it was just absolutely ridiculous.”

No. 10 prospect , OF
The ambidextrous Cortes played both outfield and second base in college, before transitioning exclusively to the corner outfield positions this summer. He responded with his best professional season to date, debuting at Double-A with a .257/.332/.487 slash line and 14 homers in 79 games. Considering the Mets’ outfield needs, plus the fact that Cortes is already 24 years old, it’s likely that his breakout could lead to a significant role with the big club as soon as next summer.

Unranked prospect Adam Oller, RHP
The Mets’ organizational pitcher of the year, Oller did not produce the most eye-popping statistics in the system. But given his history -- a 20th-round pick by the Pirates who came to the Mets in the Minor League phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft -- perhaps no farmhand did more to improve his stock. Following a midseason promotion to Syracuse, Oller produced a 2.45 ERA in eight starts, striking out 43 batters in 44 innings. He’ll continue to face obstacles, considering he just turned 27. But, as Barnes put it, “I’m really excited to see him continue to go.”

Two possible breakout players to watch in 2022

No. 7 prospect Alex Ramirez, OF
The Mets’ top international signing in 2019, Ramirez is reaching an age -- he’ll be 19 in January -- where it’s becoming easier to project his future. It helps that he just finished his first professional season in the Minors, hitting .258 with five homers and 16 steals in 76 games for Low-A St. Lucie. As a speedy outfielder with developing power, Ramirez’s range of outcomes remains wide, but a return to Low-A ball next summer would give him a chance to showcase his improvements. If he does, while posting some gaudier numbers in the process, Ramirez would rapidly rise up the Mets’ prospect list.

No. 12 prospect , RHP
Because the Mets did not sign 10th overall pick Kumar Rocker, Ziegler will forever be known as the Mets’ top selection from the 2021 Draft. He did not pitch this summer for a multitude of reasons, including his high school workload and COVID issues forcing starts and stops to the Minor League season. But if he debuts well next summer, Ziegler has a chance to join Allan and J.T. Ginn as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects.

“We wanted to do things the smart way and be overly cautious this past year,” Barnes said, “so that way we can see people in a full season next year ready to rock and roll.”

One big question for next season

What will ’s role be?
One of the Mets’ overlooked acquisitions last winter, Lee struggled early this season while the Mets’ injury issues forced them to debut him ahead of schedule. It was not until June that the organization’s No. 8 prospect settled in at Syracuse, using a revamped swing to produce a 1.005 OPS with 13 homers over his final 79 games.

“It’s OK to fail as long as we learn from it and use it to grow and get better,” Barnes said. “And he did that.”

Now 23 years old, Lee will compete this spring for a spot on the Mets’ Opening Day roster, though his ability to win one will depend largely upon how the club addresses its outfield holes. One way or another, Lee will almost certainly see time in Queens in 2022.