It's important to remember a few things while looking at the results that each guy put up in the league:
- The numbers mean very little. Everything is a small sample size. No Mets farmhand picked up 100 plate appearances.
- Context is important, and we must adjust all of the performances for the AFL's offense-friendly environment.
- Players are sent to the AFL for different reasons. In some cases its to work on a specific aspect of a prospect's game while in others the reason is more generally to play against advanced competition.
Overall, scoring is down from a peak of 6.7 runs/team game in 2008 to 4.8 r/g in 2014. The primary reason is a decline in league slugging, best captured by the decline in isolated slugging (a useful measurement that is calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging) to yield a measure of power.
The last two years - 2013 and 2014 - were the first AFL seasons since 2005 with a league slugging percentage below .400 and from 2005 through 2012 the average was .435. Basically, slugging in the league is 50 points below recent norms. By AFL ISO, the league is missing some sixty points since its 2008 highs.
And, we can show that AFL ISO is extremely tightly correlated with league scoring level.
How did Mets prospects do in the desert?
Their Scottsdale Scorpions finished 12-20 but their team's record is of negligible lasting significance to the prospect's development or Mets fans.
The power was non-existent. Nimmo did not have an extra-base hit against lefties against. whom he was 3-for-16 against, but the second number is the most important: it was only 16 at-bats.
Nimmo confessed that he was out of gas after his longest season as a professional, telling ESPNNY, "I’m definitely a little bit tired."
Mets GM Sandy Alderson said while Nimmo is "right on track," though he looked tired in Arizona. Nimmo's going to Triple-A to start 2015 where he will see more left-handed breaking balls. Expect platoon splits and a 2015 MLB debut.
Every one of Reynolds' 21 starts in the Arizona Fall League came at shortstop. With Wilmer Flores the nominal Opening Day shortstop for the Mets, the team needs Reynolds to get as many repetitions as possible at the position. Any move towards learning second base will have to wait. Reynolds did show some secondary skills, his extra-base hit rate, ISO and walk rates were all above league average. In part this was driven by a 3.4 percenthome run rate which would imply 20 bombs over a 600 PA regular season. He's never shown that kind of power before, but if he can get to 12-15, he'll have a MLB job, and be a valuable big leaguer.
Mazzilli was named to the AFL squad later than all of the other guys, but he had a productive month and half in the desert playing every other day. He showed patience and some gap power. He's surely going to start in Double-A in 2015 trying to prove he has the bat to be an asset as an everyday second baseman.
Hilario kept his ERA under 6, but at 5.06, it was hardly something to brag about. In 16 innings over 10 appearances, he fanned 15 (21 percent) and walked six (8.4 percent). His average four-seam fastball was 92.54 and he maxed out at 94. That's good but not great from a righty out of the bullpen with iffy command and secondary stuff. He threw twice as many changeups (18) as sliders (9) in the AFL. With a good spring, he could land in a Double-A bullpen.
The fastball/slider righty out of the bullpen lived at 90 mph, and was hit very hard, yielding a 7.59 ERA on 17 hits and nine runs in 10 2/3 innings. He fanned 17 and walked four, but was hurt on contact. He'll have a chance to earn his way in the double-A bullpen in spring training.
Whalen made six short starts on his way to a 6.87 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. The primary problem was walks as he issued 10 free passes, a rate of 12 percent compared to 15 strikeouts (18 percent ). He averaged 90 mph on his two-seamer and 91 on his four-seamer, and mixed in his curve, changeup and cutter. Brooks has an interesting comment about his curve, "(take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 11 of them in 2014) generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' curves, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has little depth." I wonder if some of the pitches that Brooks was classifying as curves were actually Whalen's slider that he was throwing more frequently as the year went on.
In any case, Whalen learned that more advanced hitters will chase his breaking stuff outside the zone less and 90 mph fastballs in the zone are a dangerous way to live against more better batters.
He's still ticketed for advanced Single-A St. Lucie to start the year.
After missing all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery, the converted first baseman popped up in the AFL where he delivered 5.1 scoreless innings with hits, two strikeouts and a walk. Per Brooks, he was sitting at 91 mph with his two-seamer and 82 with his slider and has "less depth" than normal and little horizontal displacement. That's a nice way of saying it doesn't move much.
Cory Mazzoni was a late scratch from the team's AFL delegation, replaced by left-hander Dario Alvarez, who was eventually replaced by Kuebler. The Mets insisted that the oft-injured Mazzoni was not hurt, but that the team decided he could use the rest heading into 2015. Las Vegas 51s pitching coach Frank Viola believes his eventual role will be out of a big league bullpen. With health, that could be as soon as 2015.