The Mets announced Wednesday that they’ve placed outfielder Albert Almora Jr. on the injured list with a shoulder contusion and promoted outfield prospect Khalil Lee for what will be his Major League debut. Almora sustained the injury on a full-sprint collision with the center field wall on what was very nearly a brilliant catch against the Orioles last night (video link). Almora briefly caught what was a deep drive off the bat of Austin Hays before the impact knocked the ball loose and resulted in a triple. He left the game for testing, and the fact that he escaped with what appears to be a relatively minor injury is welcome news.
In place of Almora, the Mets will turn to the 22-year-old Lee — a 2016 third-round pick by the Royals who ranked as one of the better prospects in the Kansas City organization before coming to the Mets by way of the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade over the winter. Lee opened the season in Triple-A but will get his first call to the big leagues after a six-game stint in Syracuse that saw him bat .250/.478/.313 in a small sample of 23 plate appearances.
Entering the season, Lee was generally regarded among the Mets’ ten best farmhands, ranking seventh at MLB.com, eighth at FanGraphs and ninth at Baseball America. Scouting reports on Lee praise his plus arm, above-average raw power and above-average speed, but his tools have been counteracted to an extent by his penchant for striking out. Lee has punched out in just over 28 percent of his professional plate appearances, though he’s also walked in nearly 12 percent of them. He can handle all three outfield positions and has a 53-steal campaign in 2019 under his belt, although both BA and FanGraphs note that’s more a product of his aggression on the bases than blistering raw speed.
Lee’s initial call to the big leagues comes at a time when the Mets have both Almora and Brandon Nimmo on the injured list, which should create some opportunities to get him into the lineup. He may not have an immediate path to a roster spot once the team is back up to full strength, but Mets fans will get their first look at a player who could factor into the team’s plans for the next several years at some point in the near future. Lee isn’t in the starting lineup today — Dominic Smith, Kevin Pillar and Michael Conforto are manning the outfield — but is available off the bench and figures to get into a game before too long.