5. LHP David Peterson
Ht: 6’6″ Wt: 240 lb. Level: Brooklyn
B/T: L/L Age: 9/3/95 (21) Age Dif: -0.4
Acquired: 2017 First Round Draft Pick (20th overall) from the University of Oregon
Previous Rank: N/A
2017 Stats: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, G, GS, 1.0 IP, 2.000 WHIP, 9.0 K/9
Profile: Peterson had a big year at the University of Oregon going 11-4 this season wa 2.51 ERA in 100 innings and had 140 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP in those innings. In an April start, he set a school record with 20 strikeouts in his first career complete game shut out. That start certainly raised his profile, and he very well could have been considered around the top 10. The Mets getting him at 20 was a coup.
Peterson was able to dominate mostly due to his sinking fastball that he typically throws in the low 90s, which at times he can top off around 95 MPH. The fastball looks all the better with a plus change-up many consider to be his best pitch. When he is not striking batters out with those pitches, he is inducing a number of ground balls. To complete the repertoire, Peterson throws a slider and a curve ball. The slider is an inconsistent pitch that with some refinement could be a plus pitch for him. At the moment, the curve serves as nothing more than a get me over pitch.
Like any first round pick, Peterson has room to grow, and Peterson knows it himself. As he told MMO‘s Rob Piersall, he has to continue working on a number of areas:
I think my strikeout-to-walk ratio this year. Not necessarily the strikeouts, but the walks more importantly and keeping free bases down was huge.
I think when you give guys free bases and you let them get on base, you allow more runs to score. I think the key to my success was the control I had in not walking guys and really pounding the strike zone.
When you get ahead of hitters and put the pressure on them, and when you get up 0-2 or 1-2, you can have some fun with them.
Peterson will likely not have much time to work on this and other areas this year. After a collegiate season where he threw 100 innings, the Mets want him just to get his feet wet. In his first professional start, he only pitched one inning, and it is not likely he will pitch much more than that as the season winds to a close.
4. RHP Chris Flexen
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 235 Level: St. Lucie, Binghamton, MLB
B/T: R/R Age: 7/1/94 (22) Age Dif: -6.7 (MLB)
Acquired: Drafted in 2012 (14th round) from Memorial HS in Newark, California
Previous Rank: 20
2017 MiLB Stats: 6-1, 1.76 ERA, 10 G, 10 GS, CG, 61.1 IP, 0.815 WHIP, 9.2 K/9
2017 MLB Stats: 1-1, 8.49 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 11.2 IP, 2.143 WHIP, 6.2 K/9
Profile: Flexen entered the 2017 season with tremendous potential that he needed to harness. He was mostly a fastball/change-up pitcher who needed to developa third pitch. More than anything, he needed to learn how to better control his pitches. This doesn’t just mean showing the ability to throw strikes, but also the ability to locate pitches to put batters away. Fortunately, Flexen is a hard worker who was in the right organization to help him fully realize his potential.
Flexen tightened up his mechanics living in the low to mid 90s. His curveball continued to be a terrific pitch, but he also saw improvement in his slider and change that saw him progress from a two pitch pitcher to a pitcher with a full repertoire. With him pounding the strike zone, and with his continued development, Flexen dominated St. Lucie, and he followed that by being even better with Binghamton.
With the Mets pitching staff decimated once again by injuries, the Mets made the rare move to call up a starter from Double-A. It is something they had not done since 2006 with Mike Pelfrey.
In Flexen’s three starts, we have seen a number of things. First, we see a pitcher who is poised on the mound despite his struggles. We see a pitcher who is not afraid to pitch inside even if he needs to improve in that area. He is also not afraid to go out there and throw strikes. Mostly, we see a pitcher who could very well be a future part of this rotation. That time may not be now, but Flexen will be better for the experience.
3. SS Andres Gimenez
Ht: 6’0” Wt: 165 Level: Columbia
B/T: L/R Age: 9/04/1998 (18) Age Dif: -3.5
Acquired: Signed as an IFA in 2015 for $1.2 MM bonus
Previous Rank: 9
2017 Stats: 74 G, 317 PA, 280 AB, 38 R, 78 H, 8 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 11 SB, 7 CS, .279/.344/.357
Profile: There are many reasons to get excited about Gimenez. When the Mets signed him in 2015, he was considered the second best international prospect available. He has tremendous foot speed and athleticism with a tremendous glove and arm. He has an advanced approach at the plate with a good bat speed, quick hands, and good knowledge of the strike zone.
More than that, Gimenez has shown tremendous baseball IQ, coachability, and the maturity of a player well beyond his years. This may be why Gimenez has been more than holding his own in Columbia despite his never being having played full season ball or having played in the United States.
Over his first 20 games, Gimenez was terrific hitting .282/.341/.372 with four doubles, a homer, and seven RBI. He did this while playing a good defensive shortstop. His play there was enough to unseat Colby Woodmansee at the position. It is an important consideration when Woodmansee was a player the Mets thought highly enough of to have him play shortstop over two other players who were drafted in the 2016 class, and they thought highly enough of him that he began the season in St. Lucie.
This stretch wasn’t a mirage or driven by an extremely high BABIP. Still, Gimenez hit his expected period of struggles with him hitting .267/.327/.356 from May 28th until the end of June. Gimenez then made the necessary adjustments, and he has gotten better hitting .286/.359/.348 from July 1st until the present.
Any of these stats would be impressive when you consider Gimenez never played full season ball or played in the United States. The fact Gimenez has struggled and made adjustments is all the more incredible. Seeing the way he has played, and they way he has made adjustments, it shows why many people believe he has a high ceiling. It also shows why he could very well reach that ceiling.
2. 1B Dominic Smith
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 250 Level: Las Vegas
B/T: L/L Age: 6/15/95 (21) Age Dif: -4.4
Acquired: Selected in the first round (11th) of the 2013 draft from Junipero Serra HS.
Previous Rank: 2
2017 Stats: 113 G, 496 PA, 453 AB, 76 R, 149 H, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 75 RBI, SB, CS, .329/.385/.519
Profile: In the offseason, Smith really dedicated himself dropping 20-25 pounds while building muscle. The results of his hard work have paid dividends with Smith having a huge second half for the second straight season.
Smith is coming off a monster July. In those 26 games, Smith hit .385/.437/.725 with 13 doubles, eight homers, and 26 RBI. The eight homers in a month were the most he has hit in any month, and it has gone a long way towards him setting a career high with 16 homers. Smith has also tied his career high in triples while setting a new career high in doubles and extra-base hits. Overall, for the second straight season, Smith has gone a long way to quiet the concerns he will hit for enough power to be a major league first baseman.
Where there is no question about Smith is his ability in the field. He is nimble in the field with soft hands. What could be the most important of all, Smith knows how to stretch, and he is adept at fielding balls out of the dirt.
Recently, Smith has received accolade after accolade. As Sandy Alderson has said, it is only a matter of time before Smith is called up to the majors. Considering how he is playing right now, and the Mets having traded Lucas Duda, it really is bizarre why he’s still in Las Vegas.
1. SS Amed Rosario
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 170 Level: Las Vegas & MLB
B/T: R/R Age: 11/20/95 (21) Age Dif: -7.1 (MLB)
Acquired: Signed July 2nd, 2012 out of the Dominican Republic for a $1.75 million signing bonus.
Previous Rank: 1
2017 MiLB Stats: 94 G, 425 PA, 393 AB, 66 R, 129 H, 19 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 58 RBI, 19 SB, 6 CS, .328/.367/.466
2017 MLB Stats: 7 G, 25 PA, 25 AB, 2 R, 2 3B, RBI, SB, .160/.160/.320
Profile: Everywhere you look, Rosario is receiving another accolade. He was the starting shortstop for the Triple-A All Star Game and World Team in the Future’s Game. Baseball America named him the best defensive shortstop and best hitter in the Pacific Coast League. Keith Law has named him the top prospect in all of baseball. Between that and the poor shortstop play Mets fans witnessed all season, the fans were clamoring for him to be called-up to the majors.
When Rosario was finally called up, we all saw why the fans were right to clamor for him, and we did see why the Mets were hesitant to rush him to the majors.
Defensively, Rosario has quick hands, superb instinct, and a great arm. We have already seen him make plays at shortstop we haven’t seen a Mets shortstop make since the days of Rey Ordonez. More than the skill is his ability to quickly learn and adjust.
In his first major league game, he took a longer route to a ball hit by Trevor Story and he tapped his glove before throwing. The very next game, there was a similar play. This time, Rosario took a more direct route and threw on the run. This time the bang-bang play went his way. That was the result of him learning and adapting.
With his defense, we have seen an exciting player. He has flashed both speed and athleticism. We have also seen him use those assets offensively. He’s the first Mets player to have two triples in his first three games. He also has a stolen base to his credit. Overall, when Rosario makes contact, he has shown the ability to drive the ball somewhere. However, Rosario has also shown himself to be over aggressive at the plate wit him chasing at pitches out of the zone.
Now, his strike out rates have never been poor. In fact, in the minors, they have often been good. WIth that said, in a very small sample size, we have seen major league pitchers exploit his aggressiveness, and it has resulted in a fairly high strikeout rate.
Fortunately, for Rosario, he’s exactly where he belongs. Kevins Long has shown himself to be a very good hitting coach, who has shown the ability to help batters become more patient at the plate. More than that, he has helped batters identify their pitch and drive it somewhere.
To that end, Rosario is likely going to improve as a player. More than anything else, he could be the very reason to be excited about the Mets in 2018 and beyond.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These rankings have been updated to reflhttp://metsminors.net/mmn-midseason-top-40-10-6-led-by-injured-thomas-szapucki/ect changes that have occurred in the Mets minor league system since the trade deadline.