#86 RHP Christian James
Ht. 6’3” Wt. 210 Level: GCL Mets (Rookie League)
B/T: R/R Age: 5/24/98 (18) Age Dif: -2.5
Last Year: N/A
Acquired: Drafted in 14th round of the 2016 Draft from East Lake HS (Florida)
2016 Statistics: 14 G, 17.1 IP, 0-1 W-L, 0.52 ERA, 0.923 WHIP, 15/5 K/BB
Profile: Christian James is a projectable righty taken by the Mets in the 14th round of last June’s draft. After signing for the pick value of $100,000, he was assigned to the GCL Mets where he was dominant to start his professional career.
James features a fastball that sits in the low-90s and has touched 94 while he was in high school. While he is fairly filled out for a high school draftee, there may still be room for him to add a couple of extra MPH on his fastball.
James also features a low-80s slider with sharp break, a low-80s change-up, and occasionally mixes in a slow curve in the low-70s. The slider is the best of his secondary pitches, but they are all in need of more development for him to stick as a starter as he progresses through the system. Still, it’s always good to see a young pitcher at least have a feel for several pitches.
James’s delivery is Johnny Cueto-esqe, in the sense that he turns his back to the batter before delivering the pitch. He’s built like a starter and there’s nothing in the delivery that is a red flag in terms of injury. However, the delivery might be difficult to repeat and could impact his consistency.
2017 Outlook: James will likely be in the starting rotation of the Kingsport Mets in 2017. As is the case with most young pitchers, his ability to start will depend on the development of his secondary pitches and improvement in command.
#87 RF Edinson Valdez
Ht. 6’2” Wt. 195 Level: DSL Mets
B/T: R/R Age: 1/22/99 (18) Age Dif: -1.2
Last Year: Unranked
Acquired: Signed as an IFA in 2015 from the Dominican Republic
2016 Statistics: 58 G, 235 PA, 28 R, 34 RBI, 12 2B, 3B, HR, 15/28 BB/K, .307/.357/.385
Profile: At only 17 years old, Edinson Valdez was very impressive in his first professional season. While not as heralded as fellow 2015 IFA signees Andres Gimenez or Gregory Guerrero, Valdez possesses some interesting tools that could help him rise in the Mets prospect rankings over the next few years.
At the plate, Valdez uses his quick swing and good bat control to make plenty of contact. He is expected to grow into impressive power as he fills out and could be a 20+ HR guy in the future. Plate discipline is a bit of a concern, as he didn’t walk much in 2016. However, this is a common problem of many young players early in their career and there is still plenty of time for him to improve in that area.
Valdez is currently an above average runner, but he is likely to slow down a bit as he gets older. As a result, he is only a corner outfielder. He has an excellent arm, so he should profile well in right field.
2017 Outlook: Valdez will likely be in the GCL Mets’ outfield at the start of 2017. It will be interesting to see how much he’ll be able to tap into his raw power over the next few years.
#88 C Juan Uriarte
Ht. 6’3” Wt. 180 Level: GCL Mets (Rookie League)
B/T: R/R Age: 9/17/97 (19) Age Dif: -1.5
Last Year: #78
Acquired: Signed as an IFA in 2014 from Mexico
2016 Statistics: 37 G, 140 PA, 9 R, 13 RBI, 5 2B, HR, 7/29 BB/K, .236/.304/.301
Profile: After a solid 2015 in the DSL, when he hit .267/.374/.395, Juan Uriarte appeared ready to establish himself as one of the better catching prospects in the Mets system in 2016. However, he struggled offensively in his first season in the states.
Uriarte possesses intriguing raw power at the plate. As he fills out, he has the potential to hit 15 HRs annually, which would be impressive for a catcher. He has good bat control, which should allow him to make a good amount of hard contact. He showed good plate discipline in the DSL, but it took a step back in 2016, as he saw a major dip in his walks while also having an increase in strikeouts.
Despite being a bit tall for a catcher, I believe that Uriarte will be able to stick at the position, at least for the near future. While his receiving isn’t as polished as someone like Ali Sanchez, it is decent enough for him to be acceptable behind the plate. He also features a plus arm. If he eventually has to move off of catcher, though, the bat will have to reach it’s potential, as he would likely have to play first base.
2017 Outlook: Uriarte should begin 2017 as the starting catcher for the Kingsport Mets. He will look to improve his plate discipline and bring some of his raw power into games.
#89 IF L.J. Mazzilli
Ht. 6’0” Wt. 200 Level: Binghamton Mets/Las Vegas 51s (Double-A/Triple-A)
B/T: R/R Age: 9/6/90 (26) Age Dif: -1.4 (Triple-A)
Last Year: #30
Acquired: Drafted in 4th round of the 2013 Draft from the University of Connecticut
2016 Statistics: 122 G, 475 PA, 52 R, 43 RBI, 18 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 52/73 BB/K, .239/.320/.348
Profile: As the son of fan favorite Lee Mazzilli, expectations for L.J. Mazzilli were quite high when he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 Draft. Mazzilli did initially live up to some of those expectations with a very good 2014, albeit while being old for each level at which he played. Across three levels, Mazzilli hit .301/.361/.440 and showed some power by hitting 11 home runs.
Mazzilli’s 2015 season got off to a rough start when he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive a second time for a “drug of abuse.” After coming back from suspension, he struggled offensively in Binghamton and continued to struggle while repeating Binghamton in 2016.
Mazzilli makes plenty of contact as a hitter, but, since 2014, he has shown almost no power. After his 11 home runs in 2014, Mazzilli has hit only two home runs the last two years, combined. He’s a slightly below average runner at this point in his career and has limited range at 2nd base. His arm is above average, so he can play 3rd base adequately.
As a player with little power and who provides little value defensively or on the bases, it’s hard to see a major league role for Mazzilli. However, if he learns how to play both corner outfield positions in order to increase his versatility and maybe finds some more power, there’s still a chance for him to find a utility role somewhere, although it’s unlikely that will come with a team that has as much depth as the Mets have.
2017 Outlook: I expect Mazzilli to start the season on the bench with Triple-A Las Vegas. He will probably be used in an utility role there and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him learn some outfield. It is very unlikely that he’ll be called up to the MLB team in 2017.
#90 OF Gene Cone
Ht. 6’0” Wt. 170 Level: Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season-A)
B/T: L/L Age: 9/21/94 (22) Age Dif: -0.1
Last Year: N/A
Acquired: Drafted in 1oth round of the 2016 Draft from University of South Carolina
2016 Statistics: 60 G, 261 PA, 35 R, 17 RBI, 6 2B, 3B, HR, 28/45 BB/K, .227/.312/.275
Profile: In the 10th round of the 2016 Draft, the Mets went with a low upside, high floor pick in Gene Cone. He signed with the Mets for $150,000, which was slightly below the pick value of $156,600.
Cone was coming off of an outstanding year for the University of South Carolina where he hit .356/.468/.489 and set a school record with a 31-game hitting streak. After signing, he went to Brooklyn where, like the majority of college hitters taken by the Mets in the 2016 draft (minus Peter Alonso), he struggled.
Cone features a very advanced approach at the plate. He has a short compact swing, which allows him to spray groundballs and line drives to all fields. He doesn’t have much power and I can’t see him hitting more than 5-8 home runs a year.
Cone is only an average runner and is unlikely to be able to play center field full time in the future. He should still be able to play there from time to time, which makes him perfect for a fourth outfielder role.
2017 MMN TOP 100 PROSPECTS