2021-22 International Reviews: New York Mets

Image credit: Willy Fañas

After Steve Cohen reached a deal to buy the Mets in September 2020, that led to changes throughout the organization, including international scouting.

With Cohen buying the team and bringing Sandy Alderson back to the Mets as president, Alderson broadened the role of Tommy Tanous to lead domestic and international scouting as vice president of amateur and international scouting, with Steve Barningham elevated to international scouting director after previously working as a crosschecker.

The turnover from the previous regime to the current one had an impact on the process for the 2021-22 signing class that opened this year on Jan. 15, given the speed of how early players commit to sign with clubs in Latin America. Despite the timing, the Mets signed a pair of Dominican outfielders for north of $1 million, with an intriguing mix of shortstops and catchers filling out the next tier of their class.

Top Of The Class

Dominican outfielder Willy Fañas initially looked like he was headed to the Angels in their 2020-21 class, but that never came to fruition, and the Mets instead stepped in to sign Fañas for $1.5 million when the 2021-22 signing period opened on Jan. 15. At 18, Fañas, is a year older than most of the top international signings in his class. He has a strong, physical frame with athleticism and tools that pop across the board. He has a chance to be a power-hitting center fielder, with plus-plus speed underway. His speed might slow down given his body type, so some scouts thought he might be headed for a corner, but scouts highest on him see an athletic center fielder with a strong arm. At the plate, Fañas has a good eye for the strike zone, seldom chasing and driving the ball with impact from both sides of the plate when he does swing with a chance for above-average power.

Like Fañas, fellow Dominican outfielder Simon Juan looked set to sign with the Angels, but after that organization shuffled front office personnel, Juan instead signed with the Mets for $1.9 million. Juan projects to be a physical center fielder who sticks out for his tools. He has impressive bat speed for his age, driving the ball with impact during batting practice with the potential for plus raw power once he’s physically mature. He also has plus speed, giving him a chance to be a power/speed threat in center field. The risk with Juan comes in his ability to translate those tools in games, as it’s not the cleanest swing and he tends to expand the zone, leading to swing-and-miss tendencies. Juan has at least a plus arm that could still tick up, with the athleticism to handle center field for now, though there’s a chance he outgrows the position and heads to right field.

Names To Know

Dangelo Sarmiento, SS, Venezuela: There are few shortstops in Latin America this year with better defensive ability than Sarmiento. A 70 runner, Sarmiento moves around like a point guard, with bouncy athleticism, a quick first step and excellent hands. Sarmiento has a plus arm that could tick up to another 70 tool once he gets stronger. Layering on more strength will be critical for Sarmiento, who has a slender 6-foot-1 frame and little present power. He has the projection in his frame and bat speed where some more power could come, though he’s more of a contact-oriented hitter who has a good foundation to build from with a sound swing and solid sense of the strike zone for his age.

Jesus Baez, SS, Dominican Republic: Baez has two huge tools with his power and arm strength. He shows plus raw power and does more than just put on a good show in batting practice. Baez has a sound, adjustable swing with a knack for driving the ball for impact and out of the park against live pitching. It’s an exciting offensive profile, though his best tool is in the field, with an arm that’s a plus-plus tool and draws some 80 grades. A solid-average runner, Baez might end up at third base because of his range and defensive actions, but his arm strength gives him extra margin for error at either spot on the left side of the infield.

Daniel Silva, C, Venezuela: At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Silva is a physical, offensive-oriented catcher who stands out for his feel for hitting and raw power from both sides of the plate. He’s an advanced hitter for his age who should be able to stick behind the plate as well with plus arm strength.

Orangel Rodriguez, C, Venezuela: While Silva is an advanced hitter, Rodriguez’s strength is behind the plate, with advanced catch-and-throw skills for his age. Rodriguez does have impressive power for a younger catcher as well, with a power-over-hit profile.

Sleeper Watch

Dominican shortstop Yonatan Henriquez has shown the ability to drive the ball for impressive impact for a young middle infielder. He projects to have a strong build with intriguing power, whether it’s at shortstop, second or third base long term.

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