The New York Mets’ pitching and hitting carries a lot of uncertainty, but Michael Conforto, currently with Triple-A Las Vegas, is making a strong case to rejoin the big league squad.
Conforto, 23, was demoted on June 25 after a prolonged slump left his batting line at .222/.296/.431. From May 1 to the day of his demotion, Conforto was hitting just .150. Despite his 10 home runs and 29 runs batted in, the former first-round pick in 2014 (10th overall), needed to work on his swing. In his place, the Mets called up fellow former first round pick and outfielder Brandon Nimmo.
Since his promotion, Nimmo and his pearly white smile took New York by storm. The Wyoming native homered in his fifth game with the Mets, a three-run blast to right-center field at Citi Field in Queens, New York. Through six games, Nimmo was batting .286/.310/.393. It seemed that Nimmo was the 2016 version of Conforto; receiving his first opportunity in the majors and dominating.
However, since that hot streak, Nimmo has looked mortal at the plate. His batting line sits at .250/.313/.318 with that one homer and four RBIs. His last hit came on July 8 and he has not recorded an RBI since that home run on July 1. In the Mets’ final game before the All-Star break, Nimmo — pinch-hitting for Juan Lagares — struck out in the ninth inning.
Conforto, on the other hand, has been on a hot streak in Triple-A. In 13 games, the Oregon State product is hitting .340/.411/.580 with three HRs, 13 RBIs. In his last 26 at-bats, Conforto has 11 hits.
Also, Conforto has seen action in right field after playing left field exclusively with the Mets.
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) June 26, 2016
“When you’ve got two young guys, they’ve got to go play someplace,” Mets’ manager Collins said to the New York Post about Nimmo and Conforto needing regular at-bats.
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is currently dealing with a strained right quadriceps. He injured himself last Friday after running down a Daniel Murphy RBI double in the third inning. After sitting out the final two games before the break and having four additional days off, the hope is that Cespedes can return to the Mets’ lineup on Friday.
However, if Cespedes’ injury and Nimmo’s poor hitting (3-for-16 since July 3) linger, Conforto could force the Mets’ hand.
— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) July 1, 2016
After finding out about his demotion, Conforto expressed his intentions to get away from the scrutiny of his struggles and work on sharpening his skills.
“It will be good to get away from the craziness of everything going on right now, just to try to simplify things and just work on getting back to who I am — who I know I am at the plate,” Conforto said to ESPN before departing for minors. “… It’s been tough. It’s been very tough. It’s upsetting not having the success that I know I can have.”
If and when the Mets deem Conforto ready to return, Nimmo — barring an unforeseen injury to an outfielder — will be sent down to Triple-A. Nimmo, 23, would be wasted as a reserve outfielder and would benefit from regular playing time in the minors. At the time of Conforto’s demotion, it was suggested that his minors stint would not be long.
“I think in talking with the coaching staff and the manager, we just felt that, look, this is counterproductive and what we need to do is get him to Las Vegas, get his swing back, and then hopefully get him back here within a relatively short period of time,” Mets’ general manager Sandy Alderson said, via ESPN.
[Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]