MMN Top 100 Prospects: #21-25 Smoker Blazes Way to Majors

By Corne Hogeveen

January 30, 2017 1 Comment


#21 LHP Josh Smoker

Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 250 Level: AAA & MLB

B/T: L/L  Age: 11/26/88 (28) Age Dif: 0.3 (AAA) & -0.9 (MLB)

Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent in 2015 (1st round draft pick by the Nats in 2007)

Last year: #27

2016 team:  New York Mets/Las Vegas 51s

2016 MILB Stats: 52 G, 3-2 W/L, 4.11 ERA, 57 IP, 66 H, 26 ER, 18 BB/81 K, 1.47 WHIP

2016 MLB Stats: 20 G, 3-0 W/L, 4.70 ERA, 15.1 IP, 16 H, 8 ER, 4 BB/25 K, 1.30 WHIP

The former first round pick made his Major League debut during the 2016 and showed how dominant his stuff can be. The lefty started the season in Vegas sporting a 12.8 strikeout per nine rate. After his promotion to the big leagues his strikeout per nine was even higher at 14.7. That stat alone tells you the talent there is in the left arm of Smoker.

Smoker, in his big league and minor league career, has better numbers against right-handed hitters than lefties. In his small sample size in the majors, Smoker allowed a .360 batting average against lefties and .200 against righties. A big reason for the reverse splits is his split-changeup that is tougher against righties.

Smoker’s fastball is his best pitch as he sits mostly between the 96-98 mph range. Smoker has been working hard this last year with Dan Warthen to add an effective slider to his repertoire to be tougher on lefties. In the Majors, batters went only 3 for 12 with eight strikeouts off his slider but two of the three hits were home runs.

2017 Outlook –

Smoker will need to improve his breaking stuff to be a weapon against both lefties and righties. Smoker will compete for an opening day bullpen spot this spring and is currently atop the depth chart to replace Jerry Blevins. I have no doubt we will see Smoker in the Mets pen at some point in 2017; in what role is the real question.

#22 OF Ricardo Cespedes

Ht: 6’1″  Wt: 200  B/T: L/L  Age: 8/24/1997 (19)  Age Dif: -2.5

2016 Level: Rookie League Kingsport Mets

Acquired: Signed by the New York Mets as an international free agent on August 2, 2013

Last Year: #57

2016 team: Kingsport Mets

2016 Statistics: 56 G, 227 AB, 30 R, 73 H, 4 2B, 3 3B, HR, 16 RBI, 9 BB/36 K, .322/.356/.379

Cespedes made a big leap since our Top 80 from last year and rightfully so. This year Cespedes showed that he’s not only a great defensive center fielder, but also realizing some of his offensive potential. Cespedes ended the 2016 season sixth in the Appalachian league in batting average; and don’t forget he started the season as an 18-year old.

As Cespedes still has room to grow, he has the potential to hit for a little more power, as he hit just eight extra base hits in 2016. Cespedes made an adjustment to his approach as he proved to be more patient and waited for his pitch more. He has a very fluent swing from the left side with quick hands. The big thing with Cespedes as a prospect is patience. He has a long way to go, but if eventually plays to his full potential it’s worth the wait.

Mike M adds…

The combination of great defense, plus arm, above average speed and developing offensive skills makes Cespedes one of the best outfield prospects in the Mets system.

2017 Outlook –

I hope to see Cespedes play for the Columbia Fireflies so we can see him play on It’s also possible given his age that the Mets send him to the Brooklyn Cyclones to start his 2017 season.

Photo courtesy of Al Rabon

Photo courtesy of Al Rabon

#23 LHP P.J. Conlon

Ht: 5’11″ Wt: 190 Level: Single-A

B/T: L/L  Age: 11/11/93 (23) Age Dif: 0.1 (Columbia) & -1.1 (St. Lucie)

Acquired: Drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 Amateur Draft from University of San Diego

Last year: #71

2016 team: Columbia Fireflies/St. Lucie Mets

2016 MILB Stats:  24 G, 12-2 W/L, 1.65 ERA, 24 GS, 142 IP, 115 H, 29 R, 26 ER, 24 BB/112 K, 0.97 WHIP (between the Columbia Fireflies and St. Lucie Mets)

Conlon has gone from our #71 prospect last season to our #23 this year. His big leap as a prospect didn’t go unnoticed as he won numerous awards after his great 2016 campaign. The numbers speak for themselves how dominant Conlon was in his first season as a starter.

Conlon was born in Belfast in the Northern Island and moved to California in his early years. After the Mets drafted Conlon in 2015 he pitched in the Brooklyn Cyclones bullpen. Conlon allowed just two unearned runs in 17 innings in Brooklyn during his pro debut.

Conlon started the season in Columbia as he went 8-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 78.1 innings pitched. His most memorable start was his 10 inning performance on June 4th, in which he allowed just four hits and one unearned run, a game I was lucky enough to catch on TV.

After his success in Columbia he got promoted to St. Lucie and went 4-1 with an even better ERA at 1.41 over 63.2 innings. Overall in 24 starts he pitched to a 1.65 which was the best ERA for qualified started in all levels off pro baseball. Conlon also led the Mets organization in WHIP and K/BB ratio.

Conlon is a control lefty pitcher who is not overpowering. He has a high 80’s fastball with a great change-up plus an average curve. Conlon uses a deceptive motion to make hitters more uncomfortable in the batters box. Conlon also keeps the ball in the park most of the time as he allowed just five home runs in his career.

Conlon won numerous award including Fans Choice Minor league Best pitcherMLB Pipeline Mets Prospect of the Year, MMN Starting Pitcher of the Year and a Sterling Award.

2017 Outlook –

This week Sandy Alderson told Adam Rubin of ESPN that Conlon will compete for a spot in the MLB bullpen as you can read about here. I still expect Conlon to start the year in the Binghamton Mets rotation.

#24 3B David Thompson

Ht: 6’0″  Wt: 220  B/T: R/R  Age: 8/28/1993 (23)  Age Dif: 0.6 with Columbia/ -0.7 with St. Lucie

2016 Level: Single-A

Acquired: Drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 Amateur Draft from University of Miami

Last Year: #23

2016 team: Columbia Firelfies & St. Lucie Mets

2016 Statistics: 116 G, 432 AB, 74 R, 121 H, 34 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 95 RBI, 29 BB, 90 K, .280/.333/.444

When the Mets drafted David Thompson he was a College star in Florida. Before he was drafted in 2015, Thompson led the college ranks with 19 home runs. After he was drafted Thompson played for the Brooklyn Cyclones, but did not fair well there hitting just .218/.268/.368.

Thompson turned it around this season as the Fireflies third baseman and showed his ability to drive in runs. With Vinny Siena and his .435 on base percentage in front of him, Thompson drove in 58 runs in 61 games for the Fireflies. Thompson was able to hit a whopping .372 with runners in scoring position, slashing .294/.344/.474 overall in Columbia with 22 of his 34 doubles.

Thompson got promoted to the St. Lucie Mets hitting .265/.321/.412 with six home runs and 37 runs driven in. The six home runs where fourth most of all St. Lucie hitters, while playing less than half a season for the St. Lucie Mets. To put in perspective Jhoan Urena lead the St. Lucie Mets with nine.

Mike M adds…

Coming into last season I heard from multiple people that Thompson may not be able to stick third because of lack of arm strength, he had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in his right arm in 2014 and tore his labrum in 2013. From what I saw last year he has enough arm to stay long-term at third, throws on the run well and has good lateral movement.

The biggest question is whether or not he will show the elite power he did in High School (his 55 home runs beat Prince Fielders Florida record). His power comes from strong wrist, but questions still remain whether his bat speed will be enough to put the ball in play at higher levels. I expect him to show plus power in the offensive neutral Eastern League.

2017 Outlook –

I expect Thompson to start in St. Lucie and move quickly to Binghamton if he continues to be productive the way he was in 2016.

#25 RHP Harol Gonzalez

Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 170 Level: Low-A Brooklyn Cyclones

B/T: R/R  Age: 3/2/95 (21) Age Dif: -0.4

Acquired: Signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2013

Last year: #43

2016 team: Brooklyn Cyclones

2016 MILB Stats:  14 G, 7-3 W/L, 2.01 ERA, 13 GS, 85 IP, 69 H, 20 R, 19 ER, 17 BB/88 K, 1.01 WHIP

2016 was a great season for the young righty out of the Dominican Republic. Harol Gonzalez led the New York-Penn League in ERA for qualified starters with 2.01 and strikeouts with 88. He was also third in the league in WHIP and second in innings pitched.

Gonzalez pitched in the DSL after he was signed, making his stateside debut in 2015 with the Kingsport Mets. He struggled in Kingsport pitching to a 4.96 ERA in 65.1 innings, but this year it was a whole different story.

Gonzalez was outstanding in a very talented Cyclones rotation. It included Justin DunnMerandy Gonzalez, and Gabriel Llanes as well as Thomas Szapucki who got promoted during the season. In this talented rotation Gonzalez still made a huge impression on me.

The 21-year old has great baseball instincts and knowledge for his age. He mostly sits around in high 80′s/low 90′s with his fastball, but when he needs it he can dial it up to 94. He mixes speeds very well with two change-ups, solid slider and a developing curveball. He has smooth mechanics. knows how to attack hitters and is comfortable pitching backwards.

2017 Outlook –

I expect Harol to start the season in the Columbia Fireflies rotation and continue to dominate the lower levels with his full arsenal of pitches.


1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS

10. Tomas Nido, C

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

15. T.J. Rivera, INF

16. Luis Carpio, INF

17. Merandy Gonzalez, RHP

18. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

19. Gregory Guerrero, SS

20. Chris Flexen, RHP