Mets fans have been clamoring for a Conforto promotion for quite some time as they’ve watched the big league offense struggle tremendously to score runs in support of an excellent young pitching staff. Conforto, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been moved through the minor leagues at a very cautious rate — perhaps unnecessarily cautious in the eyes of many. He started out in short-season Class-A despite being one of the top college hitters in the 2014 draft, and he’s only reached Double-A as a result of the slow-paced track on which he has been placed.
Conforto has, however, hit at every level and should provide a boost to the Mets’ lineup. He’s currently batting .312/.396/.503 with five homers, 12 doubles and three triples in 197 plate appearances at Double-A Binghmaton. Baseball America rated him as the game’s No. 14 prospect in the game on their midseason update, while ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Conforto 12th, writing that he has a chance to be the type of hitter who posts .400 OBPs and hits 20-plus homers in the Majors.
The 53 runs scored by the Mets this month is tied for 29th in all of Major League Baseball, and outfield production has been a problem for the team all season. The Mets have seen their offensive output hindered by injuries to David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Daniel Murphy, as those three hitters — three of the team’s most potent bats — have spent large amounts of time on the disabled list. Murphy has been limited to 73 games, while d’Arnaud and Wright have barely played at all. Lucas Duda, expected to be one of the team’s most productive bats, has seen his offense tank since early June.
The result has been a collective .233/.298/.357 batting line for the Mets on the season. That translates to a wRC+ of 85, which ranks 28th in all of baseball. Conforto, then, doesn’t need to hit like a superstar in order to bolster the lineup; producing even like an average or above-average regular, as teammate Curtis Granderson has done, would be a notable boost to the team’s postseason chances.
The Mets remain on the hunt for offensive upgrades via the trade market, with recent reports indicating that adding an outfield bat that is controlled beyond the 2015 season is a priority for the team. A fast start for Conforto could shift that focus elsewhere, but for the time being, the promotion was the quickest fix available.
If Conforto’s in the Majors to stay, he’ll accrue 74 days of big league service time this year, leaving him well short of Super Two designation. That would place him on pace to be eligible for arbitration following the 2018 season and eligible for free agency upon completion of the 2021 campaign.
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