Jiovanni Mier’s bat is stuck on his shoulder and his career is hanging in the balance. After living up to his first round expectations in his first professional season in rookie level, Greeneville, Mier turned in a disappointing .637 OPS last year in Lexington. This year, he opened the season in Lexington with a promising increase in his power numbers and a good approach at the plate that yielded a nice .354 OBP. However, after being promoted to Lancaster, the wheels have fallen off what started as a promising season.
Last night, Mier went 0-4 with 3 strike outs to give him 32 k's in just 91 at bats for the Jethawks. And while he is still drawing walks at a good clip, his power has vanished since being promoted to one of baseball’s more hitter-friendly parks. It’s looking more and more like Jio does not belong in the California League yet. With the Astros recent aggressive approach in promoting prospects, there were bound to be a few guys who would not handle the call-ups well. The aggressive approach has payed off so far with guys like JD Martinez, Jose Altuve, Jacob Goebbert, Jimmy Paredes, and Chris Wallace. It’s too early to tell with Kody Hinze and Adam Bailey but the early returns in their new leagues are promising. Jonathan Villar and Mier, on the other hand, have struggled with their new assignments this year.
Villar and Mier are also both young for their league. However, Mier is well on his way to a second disappointing season in as many years. That could be an indication that Mier has been pushed to fast through the Astros system. Or, it could indicate that Mier is not the type of prospect the Astros think he is. A cursory look at the top 40 middle infielders in the major leagues reveals only one (Ian Desmond) who has had the type of early career struggles that Mier has had and went on to be productive at the Major League level.
Watching Mier play, it’s easy to see what the Astros saw in him: he is smooth in the field with good range, he has a patient approach at the play, he displays a nice line drive swing, and he has shown a positive, even keel attitude and even leadership qualities. However, at some point, stats start counting. If Mier doesn’t start consistently producing, expectations will need to be lowered.