I thought it would be a fun time in a slow offseason to take a look at the best tools in the farm system.
One thing the Mets were lacking coming into last season was relief prospects capable of pitching in the back-end of a bullpen with a big fastball. That is not the case anymore with the breakouts from guys like Tyler Bashlor and Adonis Uceta combined with the trades for arms that include Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan.
All of the guys listed above have good fastballs, some with more movement (Uceta) than simply just velocity (Rhame), but none of them compare to the guy I pick with the best fastball in the system:
Gerson Bautista, RHP – Bautista has one of the fastest fastballs in the minor leagues hitting 102 MPH last year. He also had an appearance last season when he threw 11 pitches with the slowest one coming in at 99 MPH. The Mets got him in the trade that sent Addison Reed to the Boston Red Sox. The 22-year-old was added to the 40-man roster this offseason after striking out 20 and walking only three in 14.1 for the St. Lucie Mets.
Nabil Crismatt, RHP – I’m a shocker for a pitcher with a good changeup and Crismatt has arguably the best in the Mets system. The 23-year-old Colombian led the Florida State League with 142 strikeouts (145 innings) in 2017 and only walked 38. Crismatt has good arm action on his change and gets above average run as well allowing him to use it as his out pitch for a guy that doesn’t hit the mid 90’s.
Best Breaking Ball
Thomas Szapucki, LHP – Some have called it a slider, or a slurve or more of a curveball now. Regardless of what you call it, the 21-year-old gets a crazy amount of spin and movement on the pitch. Unfortunately, his season was ended in July of 2017 when he had Tommy John surgery. When healthy Szapucki has struck out 116 batters compared to only 30 walks in the minors.
Mickey Jannis, RHP – Okay I rigged this one simply because I wanted to talk about the former 44th round pick. When evaluating knuckleballers you tend to look at two things, walks and homers. Jannis didn’t allow a single home run and walked only five in 27 Arizona Fall League innings. The 30-year-old Jannis limited both in the regular season too, 0.7 HR/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in Double-A. He normall uses a knuckler in the 73-78 MPH range.
David Peterson, LHP – The Mets 2017 first round pick only walked 15 batters in 100 innings his final year at Oregon. His control is a big reason for his potential value and his breakout season for the Ducks in 2017. I would also mention Ricky Knapp and P.J. Conlon are two starters that know their way around the strike, a must for both considering they live in the high 80’s. Crismatt was in consideration here too.
Stephen Villines, RHP – My second weakness for pitchers is sidearmers or submariners and the Mets actually have a couple they recently drafted. Villines was taken in the 10th round last year and rewarded the Mets with 41 strikeouts compared ton only one walk (intentional) in 27 innings between Kingsport and Brooklyn. Mets also drafted the funky Adam Atkins in 2016, he has a 2.60 ERA in two pro seasons thus far.
Best Closer Mentality
Tyler Bashlor, RHP – I know it’s another kind of goofy one that I made up so I could gush about Bashlor. It’s pretty rare you see a relief prospect and think closer but that is me with the hard-throwing. After talking with him I was convinced even more. He enjoys the adrenaline rush of pitching in high leverage spots and he has the stuff to do so with a heavy fastball at 95-98 MPH and sharp breaking ball. Another guy the Mets added to the 40-man roster this offseason.
Best Plate Discipline
Luis Guillorme, SS/2B – The defensive wizard only struck out 9.9% and walked 12.9% of the time in Double-A last year for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The hurdle that remains for Luis becoming a big league regular is power, any of it. His ISO was .048 in 2017, the second lowest among all Mets minor leaguers. Infielder Luis Santana has to get a mention here after walking 34 times and striking out just 22 times in the DSL this past season. Anthony Domino (career .414 OBP) deserves mention as well.
Best Power Hitter
Peter Alonso, 1B – This is the easy pick here with Alonso smashing 18 home runs in only 393 plate appearances in 2017. He had a .516 slugging percentage in the Florida State League, for reference Michael Conforto had a .462 slugging percentage in the same league back in 2015. Shout out to outfielder Anthony Dirocie who actually had a higher ISO (.245) than Alonso (.235).
Best Pure Hitter
Andres Gimenez, SS – I can’t talk about Mets prospects without mentioning their top prospect. You simply cannot look at his stats from last year and tell the immense talent this 19-year-old has. He’s shown incredible bat control in his first two seasons and played last year in a league where players averaged to be 3.5 years older. His sweet left-handed swing is a big reason the Mets gave him a $1.2 bonus in 2015.
Desmond Lindsay, CF – I have no idea why he played the infield in high school, the kid has the chance to be a plus defender in center field. Problem with the uber-talented Lindsay is that he can’t stay healthy though he’s still only 20-years old. The 2015 second round pick has only played 137 games in three seasons since being drafted. The 18-year-old Mark Vientos is a good honorable mention here.
Best Defensive INF
Luis Guillorme, SS/2B – This one isn’t fair given that Guillorme is one of the slickest middle infielders in the minors. His hand-eye coordination and lightning fast movements are worth the price of admission. Andres Gimenez isn’t as flashy at shortstop but he can really pick it too and makes it look effortless.
Best Defensive OF
Ian Strom, OF – The recently turned 23-year-old from Massachusetts is fun to watch track balls in the outfield. Uses good speed, great instincts and fearlessness to get to balls not many do. Champ Stuart and Patrick Biondiare two plus glove guys that played for Binghamton in 2017.
Champ Stuart, OF – Champ has this one tied down it would seem until he’s down in the Mets system. He had 35 steals in 2017 and played a plus defense. Unfortunately, he also struck out 122 times in 320 at-bats. Infielder Walter Rasquin set a new Brooklyn Cyclones record with 32 steals in 2017.
Now we get to the part that always gets fun and that is picking the best name in the Mets Minors. There are plenty of solid choices but I always go with Nelmerson Xavier Mariano Silvano Angela. He’s pitched to a 2.01 ERA in 89 pro innings to boot.
I will also take this opportunity to say that we will begin rolling out our Top 50 Mets prospects this week.