Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Nine (2024)

AJ Ewing

Week: 5 G, 23 AB, .353/.542/1.000, 9 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 6 K, 1/1 SB (Rookie)

2024 Season: 19 G, 63 AB, .254/.422/.571, 16 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 19 BB, 22 K, 5/6 SB, .297 BABIP (Rookie)

A multi-sport athlete who also played football at Springboro High School, AJ Ewing stood out on the diamond. In 2022, he earned All-Southwestern Ohio Conference honors with a .386 batting average and 4 home runs, and in 2023, he was named Great Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year after winning the triple crown, hitting .464 with 4 home runs and 37 RBI. He made the All-Conference First Team each year from 2021-2023 and was named to the Ohio Division I Second Team this past season.

Ewing had a commitment to the University of Alabama but was drafted by the Mets in the free agent compensation round, the 134th overall pick gained when Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers. The two sides agreed to a $675,000 signing bonus, roughly $200,000 above the MLB-assigned slot value of $483,000. The shortstop was assigned to the FCL Mets and appeared in 7 games, hitting .286/.524/.357 in 14 at-bats with 1 double, 1 stolen base in as many attempts, and 5 walks to 6 strikeouts. The 19-year-old remained in the Florida Complex League to begin the 2024 season and has been having a great deal of success; his five home runs are tied for the league lead along with Tigers farmhand Nomar Fana, his slugging percentage is tied for tenth in the league along with Twins farmhand Walker Jenkins and Pirates farmhand Jhonny Severino, and his 19 walks are one behind teammate Yonatan Henriquez for most in the FCL.

Ewing stands square at the plate, holding his hands high and wrapping his bat behind his head at about 9:30. He swings with a slight leg kick and has a long, whippy stroke. Standing 6’ and weighing roughly 175-pounds at present, Ewing has room to continue growing and adding muscle mass but is still capable of making surprisingly loud contact. When he squares up on the ball, he has the ability to post exit velocities over 100 MPH. He does most of his damage to his pull side and has been pull-happy in general over the course of his high school career and now in his short professional career, with a 59.5% pull percentage 11.9% up-the-middle percentage, and 28.6% opposite field percentage. Ewing has been having success despite the extreme pull approach because he is hitting the ball in the air a lot more than he is hitting it on the ground, with a 39.0% groundball rate, 39.0% flyball rate, and 22.0% line drive rate. As more balls are hit on the ground, Ewing will likely need to use more of the field to succeed.

Originally drafted as a shortstop, Ewing always profiled better at second base than short, and the Mets have been having him play center. His arm is only average at best, while he has above-average speed. That is not to say that he can’t play shortstop, or even second in the near long term, as he is quick-twitch athletic with quick reaction times, but his overall ability will likely be stretched there as plays get more advanced at higher levels of the minor leagues.

Brandon Sproat

Week: 2 G (2 GS), 14.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 15 K (Double-A)

2024 Season: 6 G (5 GS), 25.1 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 3 ER (1.07 ERA), 16 BB, 33 K, .216 BABIP (High-A) / 4 G (4 GS), 26.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 4 ER (1.38 ERA), 6 BB, 30 K, .208 BABIP (Double-A)

Armed with a fastball that sat in the high-80s-to-low-90s and a full arsenal of effective secondary pitches, Brandon Sproat dominated his high school competition at Pace High School, a school in Florida’s Santa Rosa County. In his junior year, he posted a 1.78 ERA in 59 innings, helping lead Pace to Florida’s Class 7A State Championship Game, and in his senior season, he posted a 1.53 ERA in 32 innings. All in all, he made 27 starts and 5 relief appearances for the Pace Patriots over three seasons and posted a cumulative 1.83 ERA. The Texas Rangers selected the right-hander in the 7th round of the 2019 MLB Draft and expected him to accept their over-slot offer, but the right-hander elected to honor his commitment to the University of Florida instead.

Sproat missed most of his freshman season with the Gators thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, appearing in 4 games out of the bullpen and posting a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 innings with 2 hits allowed, 3 walks, and 8 strikeouts. He supplemented his time on the mound by pitching in the Texas Collegiate League that summer, playing for the Tulsa Drillers. The right-hander posted a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings, allowing 6 hits, walking 11, and striking out 7.

In 2021, he returned to Florida and appeared in 16 total games, starting 2 midweek games and making 14 appearances out of the bullpen. All in all, he posted a 6.65 ERA in 21.2 innings, allowing 29 hits, walking 15, and striking out 18. That summer, he made a brief appearance with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Code League, allowing 3 earned runs in 2 innings with 3 hits allowed, 4 walks, and 2 strikeouts. In 2022, his redshirt sophom*ore season, Sproat established himself as Florida’s Saturday starter and top starter following the injury to Hunter Barco. Making a team-high 16 starts, the right-hander posted a 3.41 ERA in 89.2 innings, allowing 84 hits, walking 33, and striking out 82. The Mets selected him with their third-round selection, the 90th pick overall, but the two sides were unable to agree to terms, with Sproat returning to Florida.

He appeared in 19 games for the Gators as the staff ace and posted a 4.66 ERA in 102.1 innings with 81 hits allowed, 43 walks, and 134 strikeouts. He matched up against Ty Floyd in the 2023 College World Series finals and pitched four innings, allowing two runs on six hits, with five walks and seven strikeouts. With LSU’s victory in the exciting best-of-three series, Sproat’s career at the University of Florida came to an end. For his career, he appeared in 56 games, starting 37 of them. In 223.2 total innings, he posted a cumulative 4.27 ERA with 202 hits allowed, 99 walks, and 242 strikeouts.

The Mets once again selected the right-hander in the 2023 MLB Draft, this time in the second round. The two sides agreed to a $1,474,500 signing bonus, exactly the MLB-recommended slot value, and Sproat finally became a professional baseball player. He did not suit up for the Mets for the remainder of the season. After impressing in spring training, the right-hander was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones to begin his professional career. He appeared in 6 games for the Cyclones, starting 5 of them, and posted a 1.07 ERA in 25.1 innings, allowing 12 hits, walking 16, and striking out 33. He was promoted to Binghamton in mid-May and has been just as good against Double-A hitters.

Sproat’s quick arm generates easy, plus velocity. His fastball consistently sits in the mid-90s, topping out in triple digits. In college, the right-hander did not miss as many bats with it as you would expect with it, but the Mets have worked with him to raise his arm slot a bit and throw his fastball higher in the zone, giving the pitch rising life up instead of sinking.

The right-hander complements his fastball with a slider, changeup, and curveball. In college, his slider was more of a tight upper-80s gyro slider, but since going pro, Sproat has also added a low-to-mid-80s sweeping variant. His changeup sits in the mid-80s and tunnels well with his fastball as he maintains his arm speed well. While he is able to generate strikes and strikeouts with it, the pitch more often induces ground balls from weak contact. His curveball sits in the upper-70s-to-low-80s with 12-6 break, though sometimes it can get less top-down and become slurvy. While he can bury it below the zone for strikeouts, it is a soft, floaty pitch and is mainly used as a get-me-over offering.

Consistency in terms of command and control has been an issue for Sproat in the past, but the right-hander seems to be improving in this regard as well, especially since his Binghamton promotion.

Players of the Week 2024

Week One (March 29-April 7): Ben Gamel/Joey Lucchesi
Week Two (April 8-April 14): Jesus Baez/Christian Scott
Week Three (April 16-April 21): Mark Vientos/Blade Tidwell
Week Four (April 23-28): Matt Rudick/Jonah Tong
Week Five (April 30-May 5): Matt Rudick/Blade Tidwell & Joander Suarez
Week Six (May 7- May 12): Nick Morabito/Douglas Orellana
Week Seven (May 14-May 19): Trayce Thompson/Kade Morris
Week Eight (May 20-May 26): Luke Ritter/Jose Butto
Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Nine (2024)
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