Recently, MMN released their list of the Top 50 players in the Mets farm system with Andres Gimenez coming out on top. To pull back the fourth wall a bit, these lists are compiled after deliberation among our staff, and much like many of readers don’t agree with our rankings, we, ourselves, did not necessarily agree with where each prospect was ranked.
One of the areas of our biggest debate was over which prospects should make one of the final spots in the Top 50. Considering the debate and strong opinions presented, we asked our staff to present to our readers which prospects left off the list should have been included in the Top 50:
One player I believe should have been ranked in the top 50 is pitching prospect Andrew Church. The two biggest attributes Church has coming into this 2018 season are his age and health. After battling injuries in prior years, Church led all of the Mets minor leagues in innings pitched (156.2). He will also play out the entire 2018 season as a 23 year old. He made in-season adjustments last year to his breaking stuff and finished strong. In his last 10 outings, nine of which he went 6+ innings, he had a 1.19 WHIP. I believe in his talent and feel his success can carry over into the year ahead.
Regnault is someone I feel could very well have made the top 50 because he has a realistic chance of contributing at the Major League level. He’s had a roller-coaster career revolving around injuries, but he has continued to produce positive results with a 2.55 career ERA in the minors. This past season Regnault had a 1.17 ERA in 15.2 innings of Double-A, and then he put up a solid 3.28 ERA in the hitter-friendly haven of Las Vegas, which is hard to do. He went on to dominate in the Arizona Fall League, where he gave up just one earned run in 12.2 innings.
Regnault has a low-90s fastball that he complements with an 82-86 mph slider which is effective against lefties and righties. He also has a mid-70s curveball that he uses as a weapon to retire lefties, and he will occasionally throw a change-up. With the Mets designating Josh Smoker for assignment, Regnault could very well get a chance at some point this year because he’s left-handed, has a deep repertoire of pitches, and has put up great minor league numbers. The Mets could use a second left-handed reliever, and Regnault may very well already be second on the depth chart as the roster stands right now, behind only Jerry Blevins. His ceiling may not be as high as some of the other Mets prospects, but he’s a guy with a skill-set that could translate to the Major Leagues.
Taylor was seen as one of the bigger relief prospects the Mets had last season. After a terrific season as the St. Lucie closer and a good Arizona Fall League stint, Taylor put himself on the map for potential future Major League relievers. After Taylor struggled to start the season in Binghamton, he was outstanding in his final full month, pitching to a 2.70 ERA in August. Overall, Taylor pitched to a 3.61 ERA in 2017. He has flown more under the radar after the great seasons from Uceta, Bashlor and others. With his mid 90’s fastball and a sharp slider, he is one of the relievers who could potentially pitch in the Majors.
Ricky Knapp, who doesn’t throw hard, but has good control and decent breaking pitches, and is a very durable starter.
Sam Lebowitz – Andrew Church
Following a sparkling 2016 campaign, Andrew Church’s 2017 seems like a bit of a disappointment. The right-hander made 25 starts for St. Lucie, where he compiled a lackluster 4.62 ERA. However, Church is an intriguing bounce-back candidate, as he is only a year removed from 2.92 ERA. In 2017, Church set numerous career highs, specifically in innings (156.2) and strikeouts (98). Church isn’t a flashy, blow-you-away kind of pitcher. He works in a solid four-pitch mix that he commands well, as evidenced by a walk rate of 1.8% that was consistent with his career best 1.6% from a season ago. Church’s BABIP also rose significantly from 2016, which is something to be mindful of, as it is liable to even out in the future. Although Church did not crack our countdown, I see him as a guy in a similar mold as Corey Oswalt in that he pitches to contact and has room for a similar boost in effectiveness to what Oswalt saw in 2017.
Matt Mancuso – Kyle Regnault
With Smoker being traded to the Pirates, the Mets now lack of left-handed relievers on their Major League roster. Kyle Regnault is hoping to fill that void. Regnault rose through the Mets system in 2017 posting admirable numbers: a 2.78 ERA and a 43.9% ground-ball rate. Despite the fact that he’s one of the older minor leaguers, Regnault performed well in Binghamton, Las Vegas, and the Arizona Fall League. The 28-year-old isn’t one of the typical relievers that have graduated from the Mets system over the past few years. Unlike pitchers like Jeurys Familia or Hansel Robles, he succeeds by consistently throwing strikes. His fastball tops out at 93 mph, but his main weapon is his slider which is only thrown around in the mid 80’s. Regnault also throws a mediocre curveball and change-up.
Regnault has one of the best stories in the minor league having overcome three seasons in the independent leagues prior to his signing with the Mets upon a chance meeting with Mets minor league pitching coordinator Phil Regan. Regnault has made the most out of his time in the farm system and may be the next reliever to receive a call-up.
Mets Daddy – Ricky Knapp
Many may point to the poor numbers Knapp put up in Vegas as a reason why he does not merit inclusion in the Top 50. However, it should be noted Knapp is the type of pitcher who struggles in the Vegas environment. The same held true for both Matthew Bowman and Seth Lugo, and as we know both of those pitchers have become effective Major League pitchers. Even if you remain skeptical, remember this is a pitcher who went 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts when he was sent to Binghamton to help that team in the postseason. In sum, this is a guy who knows how to pitch, and he should get a chance to contribute in the Majors in the near future.
Considering h0w heated the debate was over the final few spots, it should come as no surprise there was no clear-cut decision among our staff as to which pitcher should have made the Top 50. Overall, Church, Knapp, and Regnault each received two votes a piece with Taylor receiving one. Do you agree with our staff? Do you agree with the players who were ultimately selected at the end of our Top 50 list? We look forward to seeing this debate continue in the comments section.