Ernest Dove: 10 Players I Feel Are Top 50 Worthy

By Ernest Dove

February 8, 2018 18 Comments

Wuilmer Becerra

We recently finished out Top 50 here at MMN but will now give a chance to each writer to express their own opinions on which players they felt should have been included in the list or are in the next group of players just outside the list.

For me it has to start with the former top 20 ranked prospect Wuilmer Becerra. His entire career going forward is centered around his shoulder (had surgery prior in 2016). He remains a big strong player who will be age 23 through the 2018 season. He was pretty limited on the field and with his play for the past two seasons due to the shoulder, but did end up playing in a career high 128 games last season for the St. Lucie Mets.

Last year he saw his K rate go up, but also his BB wake went up as well from the 2016 season with the same club, for an up and down season which saw him still manage overall to have a .332 OBP and somewhat surprising 16 stolen bases. With the current Mets farm system lacking true elite talent in the outfield, the Mets have every right to play Wilmer everyday in the outfield down on the farm and see what another year removed from surgery does for him out there. He was removed from the 40-man roster this offseason.

Third base prospect Blake Tiberi is a former 3rd round pick (2016) of the Mets who in two seasons has only played in a total of 61 games after missing most of the 2017 season due to Tommy John Surgery. He will also play out the upcoming season as a 23-year-old. I recently interviewed Blake about the upcoming season. Expectations are that he will be cleared to play right from the start of the season. The self confessed “dirt bag” and “grinders” of a player has a true pro swing, and could be due for a strong season ahead and from a premium position of need for the organization.

Andrew Church

The one starting pitcher I believe was overlooked is Andrew Church, who was one of the workhorses last year, along with MMN top 20 prospect Nabil Crismatt, in the St. Lucie Mets rotation. Yet another player who will be age 23 throughout 2018, Church is a former 2nd round pick who had career highs in numerous categories in 2017 due to also having his healthiest year, throwing 156.2 innings total which led the Mets farm system.

I recently interviewed Andrew during this offseason and learned more details about pitches he was working on during the season, plans to stay healthy in the years to come and positive signs for him going forward with his assortment of pitches and possible increase in fastball velocity to come.

One of the younger players I feel needed more consideration for the list is infield prospect Hansel Moreno, who will age 21 throughout the upcoming season. The Dominican native took three years of development in the DSL before finally coming over the states in 2017 where he began first with the GCL Mets.

I interviewed Hansel just prior to his eventual promotion to the Kingsport Mets. The young man has a lot of potential and has already shown his versatility having played three positions in the infield during the 2017 season, all but first base. I believe in his talent. I believe in his improved maturity and his loyalty to the game. He slashed .295/.360/.432 overall in 2017 with 14 stolen bases.

Colby Woodmansee

Staying on the theme of versatility, I think that defines infield prospect Colby Woodmansee and why I think he belongs in the top 50 in the rankings. What I saw attending games started by Colby in 2017 was a player with an above average glove, arm strength and instincts at every single position on the infield (except catcher). Colby had an injury plagued 2017 and it was brought to my attention by a source that this was his first true injury riddled season as a baseball player, pro or amateur. I expect a bounce back season from Woodmansee, and again I say his versatility can be valued and utilized by Mets going up the levels. Oh and it didn’t hurt that I saw him hit a bomb over the left field wall end of last year, so his compact swing has pop to it.

John Mora

Talking versatility in the outfield, I believe one player possibly being overlooked is prospect John Mora. The soon to be 25-year-old in my opinion looks to be above average defensively at all three outfield positions. The bat statistically has just not come around for Mora since entering into the High-A level, but to the naked eye, time after time at the level past two years, I’ve seen him as a tough out. I see him as a scrappy player who when facing more of an elite type pitching prospect opponent can draw that walk. I see 2018 as an all or nothing type season for Mora and I’m rooting for a positive season, while again also keeping in mind his defensive versatility in this current system right now.

Anthony Dimino

Perhaps one of the players you simply can’t help but root for is the versatile and diminutive Anthony Dimino. He’s scrappy, he has a good pro swing, and he’ll play pretty much wherever you want him to including catcher. He’ll be 25 towards the end of the 2018 season and deserves a chance at the AA level this year. He has an incredible .414 career OBP in the minors going into this season. His career BB/K ratio is 69/70. I’m curious to see what position/s they put him at in the year ahead.

Joshua Torres

One reliever I felt could have been given more consideration for the list is Joshua Torres, who will turn 24 in April. Torres started his pro career with the Brewers and later found himself playing in the independent leagues for a couple of years before signing a minor league deal with the Mets prior to the start of the 2017 season. He ended up with a very solid 77 Ks in 63 innings pitched for the St. Lucie Mets, showing a live arm which I believe topped out at about 94. I’m curious to see what becomes of Torres but the youth is still there, and his live arm can be valuable to the organization up the levels.

Champ Stuart

One thing you can’t teach is 80 grade speed. Outfield prospect Champ Stuart, speaking of rankings, is probably top 20 if not top 10 in overall speed in minors and majors combined. This also comes with what I’ve observed as above average defense in center field and a strong arm especially for someone listed at under 170 pounds.

The question from the day he turned pro is the hit tool. He will play out the 2018 season as a 25-year-old with a career .225 AVG and .317 OBP through five pro seasons. I saw improvements to his game from 2015 to 2016, which carried over into the Arizona Fall League after the 2016 season when he hit .300. He then however went to Binghamton in 2017 and slashed .222/.310/.331 with 122 strikeouts in 372 plate appearances. I still say the talent is still there.

Ian Strom

For my final choice I found myself deciding between infielder Nick Sergakis and outfielders Jacob Zanon and Ian Strom. I’m going with Strom based on his numbers in 2017 with Low-A Columbia. Ian slashed .294/.370/.462 for the Fireflies before ending the season in High-A St. Lucie Mets where I saw him late last year. He will be 23 years of age throughout the year, and I’d like to see him get a crack as an everyday player going forward into the year.

All pictures and videos courtesy of Ernest Dove

 

  • MetsNextYear

    Hansel Moreno was one of hte guys I liked to follow in the lower part of the system.
    Does he start in Brooklyn this year, or Columbia?

  • He’s had slow development . Maybe they go Brooklyn with him.

  • I wasn’t in love with the Tiberi and Woodmansee picks coming out of the draft. For your 3rd and 5th round picks, I’d like to see some upside. They seem to have ceilings of UTIL guys, barring the unforeseen.

    I am curious about the live arms they nabbed in similar rounds in last year’s draft: Marcel Renteria and Tony Dibrell. These guys were also cheap to sign, and with some interesting traits (live arms), seem to have a higher chance at a more meaningful ceiling.

  • Nessim Toledano

    I know Woodmansee’s resume is lacking. But the coaches in the org are said to love his swing and believe he will consistently hard once he gets on track. And I’m not sure what you’re expecting from a list of 51st-best prospect candidates. Few if any organizations can boast 50 legitimate prospects. And even many of those kids will fall short of expectations.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Hard to see John Mora going anywhere in this org. He’s a year away from free agency and he had a below average year in advanced-A last year. It’ll be a struggle for him just to get playing time this year, let alone enough to excel and get himself added to the 40-man by then. Mediocre batting average, little power, and decent speed, but not enough to make up for the other limitations. Its pretty much the standard recipe for a 2-and-a-half-A player who may or may not get a chance to play indy ball after the Mets cut him next year.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Talent or not, I struggle mightily with the mere idea of rating a player who needed 3 years to graduate from DSL. If nothing else, the clock on his minor league free agency will very likely run out before he gets far enough to be put on the 40-man roster. Sometimes (actually, often), a player is treated as “versatile” at this level because his defense is just bad. And that appears to be the case here. Terrible fielding percentages at short and 3rd and his range factor (admittedly not a very good stat) suggest limited range all over the infield.

  • Nessim Toledano

    I like Dimino and agree that he’s long been under-rated. That said, he’s a year away from free agency and there are at least 68 players in full season alone right now who will be eligible for Rule 5 and another ten for free agency. While Dimino’s bat seems to belong in AA, I’m not sure if there’s a position for him. His catching needs work, but Mazeika will get the bulk of the playing time there. And Alonso will play the field at 1st every day. So where, when, and how does Dimino get enough playing time at a level that gets him into the top 5 or so players (out of 70+) who are protected?

  • Nessim Toledano

    Jayce Boyd was Vegas’ hottest hitter. and one of the hottest in the entire PCL after the all-star break last year. At this point in time, Wuilmer Becerra and Jayce Boyd each have just one year left until free agency, and Boyd is currently the more polished, more advanced, and more accomplished player, regardless of [presumed] talent. But he never gets a mention. I’m not sure why shoulder injuries are, it seems, a valid excuse for Wuilmer Becerra failure to thrive for any length of time, but are a kiss of death for Boyd’s public profile.
    i realize that Becerra was believed to be the more talented and higher-celing player at some point some years ago. But at some point, performance has to start taking some of the weight away from promise and potential.

  • You mean hansel Moreno?
    I base things off what I can. Lucky enough to interview him. He was honest about his trouble with anger down in DSL.
    I took that as a young teen needing maturity. It’s just as important as talent,which he has.

  • Jayce boyd is like 4-5 years older than Becerra.
    Boyd is a nice versatile pro baseball player. AAA teams across mlb would all be lucky to have him.

  • Rob Thomas

    Dimino played games in the OF and 2b as well. Could be a DH / utility / catcher in AA this year

  • Nessim Toledano

    Come on. Please get realistic, here. He played TWO games at 2b and five 5 in the OF. That is hardly an indication that he’s capable of playing there on any kind of a regular basis. The guy’s bat is solid, but he needs a position to play and he does not, realistically have one.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Thank you – for being the first on this site to acknowledge Boyd’s existence and even say something positive about him.
    I get the age difference. But regardless of that, they’re both coming up on free agency next year. At some point, the age becomes irrelevant. One is performing and one is not. At some point, the level/class at which they’re playing is significant. Boyd finished
    very strong in AAA, while Becerra struggggled in A ball. How many stops-and-starts, how many years of under-performance does the org give Becerra? The suggestion that a somewhat accomplished AAA player does not deserve mention on what has now grown to a top 60 list out of only 250 or so players is… well, I’ll leave it there.

  • Nessim Toledano

    My mistake – he’s a year away from Rule 5, not free agency. FA is still a few years away., and that would allow him another year to spend more time at advanced-A, or on the bench in AA while he hones his skill someplace on the field.

  • Jacob Falk

    Mets recently have been targeting easy sign low $$ college players after round 2 to save some money for high upside high schoolers later in the draft, usually ~ round 10 or so

  • It’s always fascinating how things play out in minors.
    Wasn’t long ago I was excited and paid full attention to plawecki and boyd together as they starting passing through lower levels .
    I also heard so much about Rosario and Urena together.
    So many things go right or wrong over the years.

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  • Nessim Toledano

    It is fascinating. But its also a lot more common for things to go wrong than right. There’s a reason – no, a lot of reasons – why 94% of the players in rookie ball never reach the majors.