The Mets diversified their portfolio around Conforto, who the team viewed as a cornerstone on offense. Robinson Cano, a second baseman whose smooth left-handed swing Conforto long admired, and closer Edwin Diaz were acquired via a trade with Seattle. The utility man Jeff McNeil, whom Conforto had played with in the minors, was sticking around after earning a spot with his bat last summer, and Pete Alonso, the first baseman, was on his way to making the major league roster.
After a season defined largely by a lack of offensive production, Conforto was ready to have them hitting in front of him, with catcher Wilson Ramos, another new steady bat, following behind him.
“We’ve got guys with power, we’ve got guys who can spray the ball all over the field, we have speed, we have guys with incredible plate discipline,” said Conforto, an All-Star himself in 2017. “I think it’s a winning formula. As we’ve shown, we can put a lot of runs up.”
Conforto rose through the organizational ranks faster than McNeil or Alonso did. Selected by the Mets with the 10th pick in the 2014 amateur draft, he had been marked for the majors from the start.
At 21, he made his minor league debut in Brooklyn. The next season, he drove in a run during his first game in the majors, but then found himself playing with Class AA Binghamton and in Port St. Lucie, Fla., before returning to Queens. In need of more work, he was sent to Class AAA Las Vegas, a step he had initially skipped.
“It was kind of bitter to go back down,” he said.
On the night he arrived in Vegas, his new manager, Wally Backman, approached him in the dugout. Conforto had just come off a flight and made it to the ballpark during the fourth inning. It was now the seventh.