3 younger players who have taken a leap in 2021

Mets prospect Alex Ramirez

With the minor league season nearing its conclusion, it’s worth looking back at some players who have taken a considerable leap in 2021.

We’ve covered the Mets’ top prospects in depth, and looked recently at some relatively close-to-the-majors names to know.

Now, let’s examine a few younger players who have stood out this year…


3B Jose Peroza

2021 Stats: .260 AVG, .809 OPS, 12 HR, 6 SB

Let’s take a quick look at the Mets minor league home run leaderboard over the last two seasons (2019 and 2021), excluding players with Triple-A or major league experience:

  1. Mark Vientos – 34

  2. Francisco Álvarez – 29

  3. Carlos Cortes – 25

  4. Ronny Mauricio – 23

  5. Jose Peroza – 22

  6. Brett Baty – 19

That’s five players who get consistent top 10, if not top five consideration on every organizational list, and Peroza, a young infielder who has quietly been exceeding expectations for a considerable amount of time. Perhaps it’s worth including him — maybe not in the same breath — but in the general conversation of up-and-coming hitters in the Mets’ system.

Outside of a brief and nondescript run in the GCL as an 18-year-old in 2018, Peroza’s minor league career has been excellent. He earned a telling Dominican Summer League-to-Gulf Coast League promotion in 2017, and was pushed up to Brooklyn as a 19-year-old for the final month of 2019. After starting this season in St. Lucie, Peroza was promoted once again to Brooklyn (now the High-A affiliate).

As the home run numbers from the above list reveal, Peroza hits the ball hard. At just 21, he led full-time St. Lucie players with an 111 mph maximum exit velocity, also barreling up a team-best seven balls in play. Since joining Brooklyn, where he’s found his footing after a shaky first two weeks, Peroza has continued to post triple-digit exit velos.

At the age of most college juniors, Peroza is already succeeding against competition that averages two years his senior. In addition to owning a rocket arm from the hot corner, the Mets have attempted to increase his versatility by running him out at first and second base this season.

With Vientos and Baty likely to split the duties at third base at Triple-A Syracuse next year, it’s not a stretch to think that Peroza could jump up to Binghamton as a 22-year-old (technically, he’ll still be 21 until mid-June). The Mets have seen a lot of him over the last four years, but it looks as though he’s truly ready for a breakout into the system’s upper echelon.

CF Alex Ramirez

2021 Stats: .253 AVG, .695 OPS, 5 HR, 15 SB

On the surface, Ramírez’s stats don’t blow you away. But for an 18-year-old who was thrown into full-season ball with no prior professional experience, the Mets will be thrilled with his development in 2021.

On the stat sheet, Ramírez surrounded a tough July (.284 weighted on-base average) with strong play in June and August (.363 in both months). Beyond the numbers, he’s consistently offered a taste of the tools that made him a millionaire when the Mets signed him as a 16-year-old for $2.05 million in 2019.

Ramírez’s loudest tool is his bat speed, which helps him make the lumber look like a toothpick as he whips it through the zone. A tendency to get long with his swing, as is the case for most players his age, is a major contributor to his 31 percent strikeout rate on the year. That’s not so much a concern as it’s an area for development.

When he does make contact, Ramírez hits the baseball as hard as anyone in the organization. His 90.5 mph average exit velocity is second-best among St. Lucie regulars this season, though that lack of bat control has led to a launch angle (6 degrees) that produces an obscene amount of ground balls.

Ramírez will use great speed and athleticism to fly around the bases and track down balls in the outfield. He has seen the majority of his reps in center field, though he’s been exposed to the corners more recently.

There’s a lot to like here, only on the condition that Ramírez is at least four years away from sniffing the majors, and there are unlimited paths his career could take between now and then. The Mets can afford to take it slow with their young outfielder, but that should pay dividends down the line.

RHP Joel Diaz

2021 Stats: 39.0 IP, 0.23 ERA, 50 SO, 8 BB

I’m digging deep for this one, because that’s what you have to do in a system that drops off a cliff after the top prospects who get dissected and discussed ad nauseam.

Way down in the Dominican Summer League, at the lowest level of the minor league ladder, a 17-year-old named Joel Diaz has been having his way with opposing batters all summer long. After avoiding an earned run like the plague over his first nine starts, Diaz finally cracked to allow one to score on Sept. 7.

That doesn’t mean batters have figured him out. Diaz is still running a .388 opponent’s OPS and striking out exactly a third of the hitters he’s faced. The only starting pitcher in the organization with as many innings pitched and a better strikeout rate than Diaz is Tylor Megill, who fanned 36 percent of his counterparts before earning a major league promotion.

He sits in the 91-93 mph range, but Diaz has been able to dial his fastball up to 95-96 mph. Though he isn’t skinny and super projectable like some of his DSL teammates, the occasional appearance of mid-90s velocity is confirmation that it exists and can be harnessed with continued mechanical refinements.

Diaz also works in a changeup and curve ball, the latter of which is the primary offspeed offering. He commands it pretty well for a 17-year-old and goes to it frequently with two strikes.

The old adage of not scouting the statline rings especially loud when it comes to the DSL, but Diaz has the stuff to back up the numbers. In a non-COVID year he would have likely been on a flight to Florida in August, but he’ll set his sights on a stateside debut in 2022.