Khalil Lee vs. Nick Plummer
Spring training will take place at some point. It remains to be seen whether this starts in winter as expected (false advertising) or maybe a little closer to the start of actual spring (I seriously hope not). The MLB lockdown has many parts of the game on hold. What we can say with some certainty is that there are things about the New York Mets that we can hope to include this upcoming spring training battle to keep tabs on.
In this corner we have Khalil Lee. The organization’s number 8 prospect according to MLB.com, Lee had a brief ineffective stint in the big leagues last season. Fortunately, he returned to Triple-A where he improved a lot.
Against him, the challenger, Nick Plummer. Newcomer this winter in free agency, Plummer is prospect number 9 according to the same list of MLB.com. A former first-round pick in the St. Louis Cardinals draft, he finally showed some positive signs last season in his final year with the organization.
Two young voltigeurs enter. We are leaving with a chance to have a replacement role on the Mets in 2022. Who comes out on top?
Lee should have the advantage in this fight because of the familiarity. The Mets got to see what he can do up close last year. Even though he was only 1 for 18 in the big leagues, his AAA performance surely turned a few heads.
Down but also geographically up in Syracuse, Lee hit .274 / .451 / .500 with 14 home runs and 37 RBIs. It was a successful first year with the orange and blue organization. As his 24-year-old season approached, it was enough to make him one of the first candidates to join the club in 2022.
The little more mysterious Plummer spent his first four professional seasons with the Cardinals never reaching more than .228 in a single season. Just as all hope seemed lost, he combined to reduce last season’s 0.280 / 0.415 / 0.479 in Double-A and Triple-A. Older than Lee, he’s already 25 but is now back in the conversation as someone who can court the big boys and make an impact.
The two are quite similar, each playing a lot in the middle of the field in the minors with good speed and decent pop in their bats. Lee’s stolen base prowess should excite us a bit more considering he stole 53 bases in 129 Double-A games in 2019. However, last year he settled for just 8 in 18 attempts.
Because everyone is on the 40-player roster and has minor league options, there is no need for fun deals. It’s one of those real spring battles that will boil down to which of the leadership of the pair who feel most prepared to take on the big league pitchers. Lee has done it before, while Plummer could benefit greatly from more batting appearances compared to prospects and Triple-A mates.
In this springtime skirmish, it’s possible neither will emerge victorious until opening day. The Mets could eventually start both in the minor leagues. If so, we can expect this melee to reach Syracuse. From there, it’s a matter of need for the major league club and which of the two is making the most noise for a promotion to the major league.