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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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