The plan for Ridings, plus a peek at Baty at Triple-A

April 2nd, 2023

MIAMI -- Of the 62 players who reported to Mets Spring Training in February, only one never appeared in a game. , a waiver claim from the Yankees who was last seen slinging triple-digit fastballs in the Majors in 2021, officially ended camp on the injured list due to a right lat strain.

Unofficially, the Mets have been easing Ridings back into action after he missed nearly the entire 2022 season due to a shoulder injury. Upon returning to the mound for a pair of Minor League appearances late last season, Ridings strained the lat. He hasn’t pitched in a game since.

That’s not a problem for the Mets, who claimed Ridings envisioning him as a weapon they could deploy once he returned to full health -- be that early in the season or closer to midsummer. When Spring Training ended, Ridings estimated he was still a couple weeks away from appearing in Minor League games. Everything feels good now for the right-hander -- no small acknowledgement, given his injury history -- but he still must face hitters and hike up his velocity before he can think about helping the big club.

“It’s still a little early, so it’s not where it needs to be yet,” Ridings said of his velo at the end of camp.

Still technically a rookie, the 27-year-old does not rank among the Mets’ top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. But team officials nonetheless spent much of Spring Training talking up his potential as a late-innings weapon, assuming he can reclaim the mojo that saw him strike out 49 batters in 34 innings over three levels in 2021. Given the spring injuries to fellow Mets relievers , and , there should be plenty of opportunity for someone like Ridings to step in later this season.

Triple-A Syracuse
When the Mets optioned No. 2 prospect to Syracuse late in Spring Training, a quick return seemed unlikely. There was always a chance that would prove healthy and effective enough to keep his fellow third baseman confined to the Minors, or that Baty would struggle in his first extended test at Triple-A.

Through two games, however, it’s clear that Baty will do everything in his power to keep this conversation relevant. The former first-round Draft pick hit a 112-mph opposite-field grand slam on Saturday as part of a four-hit, two-homer game at Worcester. He’s a career .406 hitter over an (admittedly tiny) eight-game sample at Triple-A, prompting many to continue wondering if he should be starting in the Majors over Escobar, who went 1-for-12 over the first three games of the Mets’ season.

Said general manager Billy Eppler, upon demoting Baty: “We think he’s got a chance to be an above-average regular player at the Major League level for a championship-caliber team.”

The question is how long Eppler will be willing to wait to see it for himself.

Double-A Binghamton
Season begins April 6.

Top 30 prospects on the Rumble Ponies’ roster include pitchers Dominic Hamel (No. 9), Mike Vasil (No. 11) and Junior Santos (No. 19).

High-A Brooklyn
Season begins April 7.

Top 30 prospects on the Cyclones’ roster include catcher Kevin Parada (No. 3); pitcher Blade Tidwell (No. 7); outfielders Alex Ramírez (No. 4) and Stanley Consuegra (No. 21); and infielder William Lugo (No. 26).

Single-A St. Lucie
Season begins April 7.

Top 30 prospects on the Mets’ roster include pitchers Layonel Ovalles (No. 16), Jordany Ventura (No. 20) and Javier Atencio (No. 25); plus infielder Jacob Reimer (No. 17)