1. Zack Wheeler, RHP
Weight: 185 LBS
The level of success that Zack Wheeler achieves will likely go a long way in changing the fanbase’s opinion on Sandy Alderson. Wheeler was acquired for Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline in 2011, which essentially sent the team in a downward spiral afterward. But Wheeler looked like an excellent return at the time, purging the Giants farm system of their top pitching prospect. Wheeler has a nice mix of pitches, ranging from his plus fastball and curveball to a changeup that he is still improving, and some scouts have credited him with a cutter. If I had to guess, the variation in his fastball speed might cause some confusion, as I have seen Wheeler drop it down to the high-80s to get a strike over, and he can also ramp it up to 95 when needed. Wheeler has poise and confidence on the mound, as he is consistently the aggressor in at-bats and pitches inside with much success. There are slight concerns with his mechanics, but he did a good job to dispel them with some solid numbers last year that showed some improved command.
His 2012 season spanned across two levels, AA and AAA, and in a combined 25 starts he managed two shutouts, one at each level with a 12-8 record. He pitched 149 innings to the tune of a 3.26 ERA, and allowed only 115 hits, and only four of those went for home runs. He did walk 59 batters, but he struck out 148.
Outlook: Wheeler has come to symbolize the Alderson era thus far. Everything regarding the future success of the franchise has been pinned to Wheeler’s chest, perhaps unfairly. He instantly became the most recognizable name in the system and there isn’t a fan who is not anxiously awaiting his arrival and with high expectations at that. The plan is that he will eventually join Harvey in the rotation by the end of this year to give the Mets a dangerous 1-2 punch for years to come. That is the plan and the dream and hopefully the reality. Wheeler has the best floor of any prospect in the system right now as well as the highest ceiling. He could potentially be future ace and at worst top-shelf, mid-rotation starter who will throw 200 quality innings a season. We at MMN have many reasons to believe that he will be an ace quality pitcher for the Mets in the near future.
2. Travis D’Arnaud, C
Weight: 195 LBS
Age: 23 (24 in February)
There is something to be said about a good catching prospect…and then there is something to be said about one that has been traded for two Cy Young winners. See, D’Arnaud has not only been involved in the more recent Dickey trade, but he was also traded away from his original team, Philadelphia, in the Roy Halladay deal. D’Arnaud is considered a future stud by almost every scout in existence, and his status as a high ranking prospect is helped by the fact that dons the tools of ignorance. I would be lying if I said I was not excited to see if D’Arnaud panned out or not – as sad as I was about losing RA Dickey. However, D’Arnaud has been touted as having good defensive skills and even better offensive skills. Although numbers in Vegas are inflated, he posted a .333/.380/.595 slash with 16 home runs / 21 doubles / 2 triples in just 303 plate appearances.
The one knock against D’Arnaud is the fact that he has been plagued with various injuries and has missed about 1 1/2 seasons worth of games in his pro career. His latest was a season-ending knee injury last season, his second season-ender in three years. Although that does not bode well for his career choice as a backstop, D’Arnaud has been described as mentally and physically tough, so we have to hope for the best in this situation. The Mets and their fanbase are hoping that their catcher of the future exists in D’Arnaud, and while he will not be Mike Piazza, a catcher with a solid bat and 15-20 home runs is something to look forward to.
Outlook: It is almost a given that D’Arnaud will end up on the MLB club at some point in 2013, and his debut is very much anticipated. If all breaks well for D’Arnaud, the Mets found themselves a future star – a player with an improving defensive foundation, a good baseball IQ, and the ability to hit for a great average with some pop…what else could you ask from an MLB regular, let alone a catcher? It is obvious that I am high on D’Arnaud, and rightfully so, and we will find out how right I am sooner rather than later. The future is now for Travis, and hopefully he turns into a great player that helps us stick it to the NL East for years to come.
3. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Weight: 200 LBS
When the Mets traded RA Dickey, they did not just acquire a young man with an awesome last name – they acquired a pretty legitimate pitching prospect and one of the top arms in the Blue Jays system. Syndergaard is raw and young, but he radiates potential and could turn out to be a fixture in the Mets rotation in the future. The 20-year old is coming off a solid season in Single-A Lansing where he struck out a ridiculous 122 in 103 innings pitched. That led to a 10.6 K/9, which was supplemented with a 2.60 ERA and only 81 hits / 31 walks, leading to a 1.080 WHIP. He only allowed three home runs, and for such a high strikeout pitcher, the across the board numbers really jump out at you.
In terms of a scouting report, Syndergaard might have the best pitcher’s frame in the entire system. He already has an impressive fastball that sits in the…you guessed it, mid-90s. His second best pitch is a sharp curveball. It sits in the mid-high 70s and will likely work as a great complement to his fastball. So, in the same mold as Fulmer, Syndergaard has a great fastball and a good breaking pitch to back it up. The difference between the two is that Syndergaard has a changeup that is slightly more advanced than Fulmer’s to this point. It will likely end up being average, but that will go a long way in establishing him as a top of the line starter.
Outlook: Syndergaard is a physical specimen and really looks like he can be a perennial all-star. Although there are some things that come into question – his command at times, his stamina, and as always, furthering the development of his third pitch, there is a lot to love about Noah Syndergaard. He is aggressive on the mound and stays relatively emotionless. He makes the move to AA for the 2013 season at some point and I have faith that he will breeze through it. It is important not to put too much pressure or to rush the young prospect, as he represents a new wave of pitching prospects…or a changing of the Gaard. See what I did there? Good.
4. Rafael Montero, RHP
Weight: 170 LBS
If you go by the numbers, Sterling Award winner Rafael Quezada Montero is a guy that you should be taking note of. He entered the Mets system in 2011, and has already seen work at six different levels, culminating in his work in St.Lucie last year. Montero was stopped short last year because he hit his innings limit, but impressed basically everybody with a 2.36 ERA in 122.0 innings over two levels, while posting a 0.943 WHIP. He kept his walks down, as he did in basically every stop of his MiLB career so far, at a 1.6 BB/9 rate compared to 8.1 K/9. To put it plainly, he walked only 19 while striking out 110, mainly because of the strength of his secondary offerings. In addition, he only allowed six home runs, so there is reason to believe in him.
Montero has an interesting skill set which is accompanied by a frame that most scouts agree needs to bulk up a little before guaranteeing any success. His fastball is not dominant by any means, but it is possible to work with it at the MLB level. Although it sits in the 90-92 MPH range, it has great late movement and Montero commands it impressively. I have seen him work a curve and a change into his pitching arsenal at times, and I have to say, the usage of the curve will intrigue the life out of me. It is something to track for sure, especially if it develops. I also forgot to mention how good his hard slider looks most of the time. Going out on a limb, I think Montero actually has three solid pitches to work with – the fastball, slider, and change up. He varies the speed on his change well and the bottom drops out more often than not.
Outlook: Montero needs a little work mechanically, I would say, but he continues to work on the things he needs to do to make his way up to the majors. He has somewhat of a penchant for fast progress, it seems, or at least the Mets believe so. Usually, I tend to talk about how starters have floors as relievers, but Montero does not strike me as the type of guy who belongs in the bullpen. He has a diverse arsenal and a bulldog mentality on the mound, so I believe he will be starting, point-blank. Although he should start 2013 in AA, the Mets have invited him to Spring Training, so you can see some of Montero for yourself and make your own judgment.
5. Wilmer Flores, INF
Weight: 190 LBS
How many years has it been since we first heard of Wilmer Flores? The Mets signed Flores at 16 years old in 2007 and he vaulted onto their prospect radar right from the start. We were told he could be the next Miguel Cabrera…and while I think that is a pretty big reach, Flores still has the potential to be a solid MLB player, especially offensively. Flores is coming off his best season statistically, where he posted a .300/.349/.479 slash across A+/AA ball in 2012. He slammed 18 home runs, 30 doubles, and 2 triples while driving in 75 runs in 547 PAs. He drew 38 walks while striking out 60 times, both of which are passable.
We have always heard so much about the bat of Wilmer Flores, and it looks like all that advanced scouting is finally starting to make sense. Flores is still only 21 after all the tossing and turning over the years, so time is not exactly against him. Now that he is starting to post some solid across the board offensive numbers, the important thing with Flores is to find him a position. He started off at SS, but has spent time playing at 2B and 3B, while some believe he belongs in a corner OF spot. I will say that his arm is average and can get by at any of those positions, but his range is lacking for someone who once aspired to play SS.
Outlook: As I mentioned before, Flores is just 21, and still has time to bulk up and add a little power to that fluid swing of his. He will likely find his highest value at second base, where the power that he already shows would be superb for the position. He will never win a Gold Glove, nor will he ever be a speed demon – but those were never expected of him in the first place. Flores has demonstrated power to all fields, quick reaction time with the bat, and more recently, a discerning eye. He is the most advanced bat in the Mets system, and will likely see time in AAA in 2013. If his bat advances in the way that it did last year…who knows how soon he will breathe the air in Flushing?
6. Brandon Nimmo, OF
Weight: 185 LBS
Age: 19 (20 in March)
I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it is to profile center fielder Brandon Nimmo after profiling what seemed like 10,000 different righthanded pitching prospects. I’ll be the first one to admit that I did not love the Nimmo pick in 2011, but that’s not a knock on Nimmo as there is a lot to like and I think it’s time we all give this talented prospect his fair due. Right off the bat, it is crucial to remember that Nimmo turns 20 in March and while he still remains a project and a work in progress, he has plenty of time to develop and correct any of the flaws in his game. Remember, this is his first real taste of organized ball.
The one thing we can all agree on regarding Nimmo, and most baseball scouts agree as well, is that he oozes with remarkable potential and if he were to realize that potential we are talking about a five-tool xkillset and perennial all star caliber talent. There is no denying the fact that Nimmo is a natural athlete and he has already developed two of his many tools to a high level; his defense and his plate discipline – two very important skills that are currently in short supply on the Mets. Although he got a few at-bats at the end of the 2011 season, Nimmo didn’t get his first real taste of pro ball until last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones (Low-A) where he posted a .248/.372/.406 slash line and drew 46 walks while striking out 78 times in 321 plate appearances. You may look at his batting average and his high strikeout total and start sounding the alarms, but it’s important to note that Nimmo was one of the two youngest players in the NYPL last season and broke into the pros in one of the most pitching dominant leagues in the minors.
Nimmo flashed some nice power which will only continue to grow and showed a keen ability to use all fields. The lefthanded slugger connected for six home runs, 20 doubles, and two triples while leading his team in extra-base hits, total bases, OPS, Runs Scored and RBI – all while batting mostly from the leadoff spot. Nimmo also rose to the occasion with some timely hits along the way, leading his team to the post season and within one round of the NYPL Championship. He also crushed righthanded pitchers to the tune of .279/.410/.465 in 112 plate appearances. That’s an .875 OPS. There’s a lot to be excited about here.
Outlook: Nimmo may not have set the world on fire in his time in Brooklyn in 2012, but the young outfielder has time to improve and it should work to his advantage. He will likely move ahead to Savannah for 2013. The Mets, and a handful of scouts, believe that Nimmo can turn into a solid player down the line. It is conceivable to say that he could turn into a major league outfielder who plays solid defense and supplies a .280 average with 15-25 home runs and 40 doubles. Right now, he is much too young for me to write him off yet as some others have.
7. Jeurys Familia, RHP
Weight: 230 LBS
There is so much to like about Jeurys Familia. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Familia could be a successful reliever in the MLB right this second because of his electric stuff. I saw some of this kid down the home stretch at Citi Field in 2012 and his fastball is everything scouts say and more. Electric, explosive, and another e adjective that describe how awesome it is would be a good way to explain his fastball. His fastball consistently hits 96 MPH and can touch 99 on a good day, with movement and pinpoint control. He also backs it up with a pretty impressive slider, which I would classify as “plus”, and he has the raw stuff to become a really useful cog in the Mets machine. If he develops his change-up to even average level, Familia could be a successful starter. Jury is still out…
Familia allowed eight earned runs in twelve innings during his cup of coffee with the Mets, and had an uneven campaign in Buffalo behind that. Coming off one of his best years in ’11, he had an ERA of 4.73 in 137 innings where he had a rough WHIP of 1.591. Familia is better than the numbers you saw in his 2012 campaign, however, so I would recommend focusing on his untapped potential. Remember that he is merely 23.
Outlook: As I just stressed, Familia is 23 and likely has many successful years ahead of him. His outlook, however, is really dependent on the Mets. They could decide to let him spend some time in the minors as a starter, but considering their AAA team plays in Vegas, it might be counter productive. He could also go north with the big leaguers as a bullpen arm to begin the season, so keep track of Jeurys during ST 2013. If you are wondering why Familia is ranked so high, part of it is because he, outside of Zach Wheeler, is the closest to immediate impact.
8. Domingo Tapia, RHP
Weight: 186 LBS
If you look up potential in the online Mets dictionary, you would find a link to a video of Domingo Tapia throwing his 100-MPH four-seam fastball. Tapia has as much raw potential as anybody in the Mets system, and perhaps the best fastball in the group as well. When your two-seam fastball sits at 95 MPH, and it actually serves as a change of pace from your four-seam, people take notice. To give a little more perspective on his arsenal, he basically throws a sinker in the high 90’s along with a two-seam in the mid 90’s. The two are actually distinct pitches, and he backs it up with a change-up that comes in at 87-89 MPH, which is a nice drop when you throw as hard as Tapia does. The lack of a legitimate breaking pitch behind him does hurt his future projections, but it is impossible to ignore just how good this kid’s fastball is.
Tapia relatively struggled in comparison to other top Mets right-handed pitching prospects, but he was alright across the board in 2012. He posted a 3.98 ERA over 108.2 innings in 2012, where he pitched in Savannah. He allowed 92 hits, only two of them of the home run variety, and walked 32, which were both a little higher than we could hope for. His strikeout rate improved, however, and he sat down 101 hitters over the ’12 campaign.
Outlook: Look, Tapia has room to improve and needs to improve in order to solidify his status as a future stud. His strikeout rate is a little suspect considering the stuff and command that he has, and it is probably somewhat attributed to the lack of a true breaking pitch. However, his fastball is a rarity in itself, and although he is raw, there is a lot to like about Domingo Tapia. It is St. Lucie time for him in ’13, where we will hope to see some small across the board progression.
9. Michael Fulmer, RHP
Weight: 200 LBS
Age: 19 (20 in March)
If there is one glaringly strong pick from the Sandy Alderson era so far, it has to be Michael Fulmer. Fulmer has the potential to dominate major league teams for years, and already has the frame of a pitcher at just 19 years of age. He is coming off a strong year in Savannah where he made 21 starts that spanned 108 innings. He posted a 2.74 ERA and allowed just 92 hits, six of them going for home runs. He struck out 101 and walked 38, resulting in a 2.66 K/BB rate.
Fulmer throws three defined pitches, and has been known to mix in a fourth every now and then. His fastball is his best pitch, an explosive pitch that sits in the mid-90s and has touched 97 MPH on occasion. His slider is his second best offering, and it comes in at 83-85 with sharp late movement – exactly what you want from a slider. He has been working on a change-up, and it is still in development. Honestly, he did not need one in High School with the dominance of his fastball and slider, so the change is a project. Progress has been made, however, and he mixes in a 12-6 curve at times to keep hitters off balance. It is ridiculous that his pitches and mindset are so mature when you consider young he is.
Outlook: Fulmer’s 2012 line gave a lot of people, including myself, high hopes for the future. Some of the scouts that saw him were most impressed with his aggressiveness and poise. He moves ahead to St.Lucie next year where he will join a rotation packed with some of the best Mets righthanders in the system Fulmer stands to only improve on his position as a prospect in our system when you consider all things. He already has the build of an MLB pitcher, can overpower hitters, command his pitches, and pitches fearlessly. The goal now is to build his stamina and pitch deeper into games while he continues to develop at his own pace. So far, everything we’ve seen of Fulmer points to a fast rise through the minors. All things considered, Fulmer could find himself anchoring the top or middle of our rotation in a few years and not a single soul would be surprised.
10. Luis Mateo, RHP
Weight: 185 LBS
Age: 22 (23 in March)
The solid and relatively spectacular Luis Mateo found his way into our Top 10 with ease, as he has the makings of a pretty nice prospect. Mateo rocks two impressive fastballs already: a two-seamer with good sink that moves away from right-handed hitters and his four-seam fastball that has been described as explosive. His slider is advanced and pretty much a plus pitch, and the Mateo package rounds out with an improving change-up. Mateo signed on with the Mets in 2011 after having a voided contract from the Giants (bone chips in his elbow) and the Padres (age falsification). Mateo had no further issues upon joining the organization and immediately impressed with his overall domination of the Dominican Summer League. He started 13 games, and pitched 63 innings to the tune of a 2.00 ERA and a 0.778 WHIP, striking out 80 and allowing just one home run in his first pro season with the Mets. To put those numbers into perspective, take a look at the Mateo’s nine-inning averages: 0.1 HR/9 , 0.7 BB/9 , and 11.4 K/9.
After posting that wicked stat line in his first year, Mateo made the trip stateside to pitch in Brooklyn for the 2012 season. As expected, he was equally as impressive in the NYPL and showcased the same dominant stuff that he displayed in 2011. The hard throwing right-hander made 12 starts for the Cyclones last season totaling 73.1 innings pitched and allowing only two home runs over the course of the year, with an ERA of 2.45 and 85 strikeouts versus only nine walks. That’s a 9.6 K/BB rate!
Outlook: If I had to point out one thing about Mateo that was an issue, it would be his low release point, and this might be an issue in the future for a pitcher who will no doubt have to rely on his change-up often. However, Mateo has shown a lot of maturity and poise on the mound, and I have to make a point out of the fact that he is consistently aggressive as a pitcher and is not afraid to throw any of his pitches in any given count. It is important to consider the floor as much as the ceiling, and Mateo has the makings of a successful late-inning reliever at the worst right now. That being said, Mateo could find himself as a #1 or #2 starter if all breaks well, including the development of his changeup and adding a little more muscle. As for the future, expect Mateo to dominate Savannah in 2013, which might lead to a late season promotion to St.Lucie.
11. Gavin Cecchini, SS
Weight: 180 LBS
Louisiana native Gavin Cecchini was selected by the Mets with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. The right-handed hitting shortstop batted .246/.311/.330 with 12 extra-base hits, 18 walks and 43 strikeouts for Kingsport last season before a quick promotion to Brooklyn that lasted all of two games. Cecchini flashed some of the skills that drew the Mets to him in the first place, but his bat remains a work in progress. He has a quick and compact line drive swing, but doesn’t generate much power. Defensively, he displayed some solid glove-work, and range, but his arm was mostly average. He should be able to stick at shortstop and become an adequate defender.
Outlook: Cecchini doesn’t have any singular outstanding tools and his game will not be based on power or speed, but he can spray the ball to all fields and get on base while playing at a premium position. He recently turned 19 and will spend most of 2013 honing his skills at extended spring training until the Summer when he’ll likely join the Brooklyn Cyclones. It’s too early to project what we have in Gavin and when he’ll be ready for the majors, but the talent is there and we should know more about him after another year of development. For now, the Mets can remain confident that they have a potentially good shortstop who will hit for a high average and have gap power.
12. Matt den Dekker, CF
Weight: 205 LBS
Age: 25 (26 in August)
Matt den Dekker has only been in the Mets farm system for three years, but his name has been relevant since his drafting as a legitimate centerfield prospect. Den Dekker torched Binghamton upon his arrival in 2012, but struggled after his promotion to Buffalo and saw his strikeout rate increase to nearly 30%. He has a great feel for centerfield and could get by on his spectacular defense as a major leaguer, but his ability to hit advanced pitching will determine how quickly or if he advances to the Mets.
Outlook: Matt den Dekker is the closest MLB prospect the Mets have to man the outfield at Citi Field. The only downside is that he’s another left-handed hitter which means he would have to outperform the glut of other Mets left-handed hitters to earn a promotion. He is likely a superior defender to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but with his inability to consistently make contact and a poor split-performance, den Dekker is likely to begin the season in Las Vegas and won’t make a trip up to Flushing, New York until he can improve some elements to his game. If he can square up more and reduce the strikeouts, he could make an appearance late in the 2013 season and end up playing a significant for role for the 2014 Mets. It’s a big “if” but it’s not out of the question.
13. Cory Vaughn, RF
Weight: 225 LBS
Age: 23 (24 in May)
Cory Vaughn, the son of former big leaguer Greg Vaughn, was selected by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Vaughn spent the entire season in St. Lucie and managed a 23 HR/21 SB campaign. Despite a low batting average which should follow the youngest Vaughn every season, he exhibited two tools that should get him some MLB plate appearances. The high strikeout rate will always be a product, but the ability to draw walks and put up plus-power as the closest Mets farmhand with right-handed power will keep him in the prospect sphere for at least another year
Outlook: Cory Vaughn will go to Binghamton where he will try to translate his power and plate discipline into a skill that can possibly lead to a promotion to Las Vegas in late 2013, and potentially be in play for the Mets’ 2014 outfield. Vaughn is the only true right-handed outfielder who is close to the MLB level and it will be a good test to see his performance in Binghamton against more advanced pitchers. He has all of the tools and his power/speed potential is addicting to say the least. If he can get the barrel on the ball more consistently, we may have something very special here.
14. Phillip Evans, SS
Weight: 185 LBS
Age: 20 (21 in September)
The 2011 15th round pick who received a significant over-slot $660K bonus has been good, but not what has been expected overall. Evans has exclusively played shortstop though he profiles more as a second baseman due to his stocky build. The 2012 season saw Evans get his first full-season of short-season at-bats. The biggest downside in his numbers were the lack of more power, hitting .252 but only slugging .337. While the bat didn’t regress, the progression that should have occurred hasn’t. Evans is still young so the jury isn’t out on him yet.
Outlook: Evans projects as a 10-15 HR player with a solid batting average and a decent glove as well. Hopefully the 2013 season will see Evans get his first real taste of full-season ball in Savannah and that he will continue to progress with his bat, while hopefully getting some reps at second now that the system is well stocked at short. Evans still has the potential to grow as a hitter, but needs to stop pulling the ball so much and start spraying the ball to all fields. He must also become more consistent defensively where he has a knack to make some flashy plays, but sometimes flubs a routine grounder. The Mets have a lot invested in him so he’ll get every chance to succeed.
15. Vicente Lupo, OF
Weight: 180 LBS
Signed as an international free agent in July of 2010, Lupo showed a penchant for extra base power at a young age. While his 2011 season was marred with a dangerous bout with malignant hypothermia that ruined his DSL season, the strongly built slugger came back with a vengeance. 2012 saw Lupo explode in the DSL where he posted a .343/.508/.600 batting line while drawing as many walks as strikeouts (1:1 BB/K ratio) – something seldom seen in power hitters. Of his 70 overall hits, 31 were for extra-bases. While not possessing top-flight athleticism, he has the bat you look for in a corner outfielder. According to what Mets executives said in response to some questions from Joe D., Vicente will be playing stateside in 2013, so look for him at Kingsport or possibly even Brooklyn this Summer.
Outlook: Lupo has promising power and makes good contact as well. The most difficult thing to teach is a solid batting eye, yet Lupo already exhibits a good eye. His .500 on-base percentage last season was off the charts and bodes well for future success. It would probably take some aggressive pushing to see Vicente reaching Triple-A before 2016, but he has the power, the discipline, and the potential, so don’t put it past him.
16. Jack Leathersich, LHP
Weight: 205 LBS
Jack “Leather Rocket” Leathersich is quite the interesting case. He was our 5th round pick in the 2011 draft and went on to dominate Brooklyn in his professional debut as a reliever. In 2012, he started the year in Savannah and was on cruise control before he was promoted to St.Lucie. He ran into his first real trouble there, where he posted an ERA of 4.12 in 48 innings compared to his microscopic 0.75 ERA in Savannah in 24 innings. He also showed a little bit less control once he was promoted, with his BB/9 increasing from 3.0 to 4.5. However, those numbers do not tell the whole story as even in St. Lucie, opposing hitters only hit Leathersich at a .224 clip and he allowed only three home runs all year. Did I forget to mention that he struck out a gaudy 113 hitters in 72 innings?
Outlook: Leathersich will likely be making the jump to AA at some point next season, and most of us at MMN believe his success there will be huge for projecting his future. That being said, the fact that he is a relief pitcher allows him to move through the system a little quicker, and he could potentially be competing for a bullpen spot in 2014 if all goes well. After a long look at his stats and game footage, especially his K/9 (14.2 at St. Lucie, 13.9 at Savannah, 18.5 at Brooklyn in 2011), Leathersich has the makings of a successful future reliever in my eyes. Leather Rocket has the skills to be more than just a LOOGY, and in fact, he just might be the top left-handed pitching prospect the Mets have in the system right now. A southpaw with strikeout rates like this is pretty exciting to say the least.
17. Jacob deGrom, RHP
Weight: 185 LBS
Another solid right handed pitcher in the Mets system? You are correct, sir! I believe Jake deGrom was destined for something special. DeGrom was drafted in the 9th round of the 2010 Draft and immediately had TJ surgery in the Fall of 2010. That sounds pretty bad for a young pitcher, especially when you consider that he missed the entire 2011 season because of said surgery. But like I said, deGrom just might be destined for something special…because he came back topping the radar gun at 97 MPH in 2012. Mets Scouting Director Paul DePodesta raved about him according to Joe D.. He started 2012 in Savannah and was promoted to St.Lucie later in the year, where he actually improved on his numbers. He finished the year with a 2.43 ERA in 111.1 innings and a WHIP of .997. He struck out a solid 96 while walking only 20, and allowed only four home runs all year.
Outlook: Time to get serious. deGrom has definitely got the frame of a pitcher and still has some time to add a little muscle. The downside here is that projecting success for a 9th round pick is a stretch, and one that has already had TJ surgery is pushing it. However, DeGrom has an absolutely electric fastball that sits at 92-96 during all of his starts. He throws a two-seam variation with some sink and a straight four-seam with some more velocity behind it. His success as a starter will be determined, as always, by the development or lack thereof of his secondary offerings (a change-up and a slider), which are average at best right now although his change showed nice improvement at the end of last season. I will say this to sound a little bold, however… DeGrom should be very successful in AA in 2013, and I believe he has a successful major league career ahead of him as a starter, or at the very least as a reliever based on how strong his fastball offerings are and his improving change.
18. Rainy Lara, RHP
Weight: 180 LBS
Age: 21 (22 in March)
I never understood why Rainy Lara received so little attention last season. I mean, his name alone warrants a further look, right? Lara has been consistent and impressive at each level he has pitched at, and showed some real potential while closing and starting games for Brooklyn. He is coming off a strong 2012 campaign in the NYPL where he posted a 2.91 ERA in 68 innings pitched. His BB/9 ratio was a solid 1.6 compared to a scintillating 10.2 K/9. He also managed to keep his WHIP under 1.00 in what turned out to be a solid breakthrough campaign.
Outlook: Lara possesses a fastball that sits in the low 90s, an above average change-up, and an average breaking ball. His ceiling might not be too high as a starter, perhaps a mid or back-end of the rotation starter, but you never know. He was a Brooklyn Cyclone last year, so the same disclaimer added to Hansel Robles has to be applied here – be careful not to make too much of his numbers in the NYPL. That being said, Lara has some experience working out of the pen and projects to be a useful pitcher in one way or another. If I had to give you one reason to rank him slightly above Robles, it would be his height. His frame gives his pitches a little boost, his change-up especially, and it may end up being the difference between him and Robles down the line.
19. Kevin Plawecki, C
Weight: 205 LBS
Age: 21 (22 in February)
The 35th pick in the 2012 draft, Kevin Plawecki, was selected with one of the comp picks we received for losing Jose Reyes. At the time of the draft, I liked him a lot more than I did Cecchini, and I went out of my way to compare him to Paul Lo Duca in terms of an offensive ceiling. The main criticism about the pick was not so much a knock on Plawecki, but rather that the Mets made a big reach taking him with the 35th pick when he could have been around in the third. One of the things that scouts keyed in on was that he had a long swing and it cut some of his power away, but he made strides to fix that in his first pro season since coming out of Purdue. Down in Brooklyn, Plawecki put up a .250 average with a 1:1 BB/K rate (25:24). The NYPL is a pitching dominant league, so try not to get too down on the .250 average, especially when he accompanied it with seven homers and eight doubles in just 216 at-bats.
Outlook: Plawecki is not a defensive wizard, as he gets by with a below average arm, but he is an intelligent baseball player. Intelligence at the catcher position is key, and he was known for calling his own games when he played at Purdue. I believe in Kevin Plawecki more than most, and I actually think he will pan out to be a solid major league regular. (Think AJ Pierzynski) Also, considering the fact that he was drafted as a junior in college, it puts him on somewhat of a fast track to the major leagues. His 2013 season will be key in determining what kind of player he will really turn out to be, as he makes the same jump as Hansel Robles to Savannah and potentially St. Lucie.
20. Hansel Robles, RHP
Weight: 185 LBS
Signed as an international free agent in August of 2008, Robles did everything in his power last season to dispel the idea that he projects to be a reliever. Arguably, Robles had the best season of any arm in the Mets system with an ERA of 1.11 over 72.2 innings, which led the New York Penn League. If you include his final start in the post season, he finished the year with 45 straight shutout innings, a WHIP of .784 (47 H/10 BB) and 0 home runs allowed. His 66 strikeouts were nothing to sneeze at, resulting in an 8.2 K/9 compared to an exceptional 1.2 BB/9 ratio. He can throw a fastball, slider, change-up, and an occasional curve ball.
Outlook: It is hard not to fall in love with what Robles did last year, but one has to remember that it was in his age 21 season, which is a little old for the NYPL. His fastball is a plus pitch, with good movement and good control while his changeup is just average. His slider comes in at around 87/88 MPH, but he struggles to control it and his curveball is scarcely used. His fastball sits at 91-92, and tops out at 94 and the change comes in at 82, which helps his cause. Robles will continue to get innings as a starter until he runs into some trouble, which I agree with completely. I have a bit more hope for Robles than others, but tempering my expectations, I think he projects to be a middle of the rotation starter in a best case scenario. Robles has a good jump ahead of him from Brooklyn to Savannah, but I think we can expect to see him in St.Lucie by the end of 2013.
21. Juan Lagares, OF
Weight: 175 LBS
Lagares had a monster season in 2011 and followed it up with a good season at Binghamton hitting .283 with some improvement in his plate discipline and his continuing ability at playing CF. Lagares’ value at this point is held to which position on the field he will play because despite the high batting average, Lagares doesn’t exhibit the type of power you would expect from a corner outfielder. Expectations would see Lagares going to Las Vegas for the 2013 season to either start in CF if possible, otherwise playing a corner and proving his bat is solid
Outlook: Lagares can hit but the only downside is the tweener label at this point and value that goes to each position. The Mets outfield at this point is so devoid of right-handed bats, if Lagares came up to the Mets for the 2013 season I would not be surprised in the least bit. That being said, I think Lagares gets 400+ AB in Las Vegas, playing all three OF spots and makes the big club by September 2013 for a tryout for 2014.
22. Cesar Puello, OF
2012 marked a season marred with injuries for the toolsy outfield with as much raw talent as any Mets player in the system. However, staying healthy has been a problem for Puello as he only had 252 at bats while repeating a season at St. Lucie. The tools showed when he was healthy, hitting nearly 50% of his hits for extra bases, stealing 19 bases in 21 attempts and still playing enough games in CF to consider him a prospect at that position. Health will dictate where Puello winds up and how much of that raw talent becomes evident statistically.
Outlook: Puello has enough tools that could be plus that will keep his name relevant until he is 25 (which will be in three years as of April 1st) but a full season of at-bats at Double-A could go a long way in determining if Puello has a shot at the 2014 Mets or a shot at Las Vegas. His ability to improve his SB % in one season is astounding, and seems to be a product of being able to learn. Puello with health and some more growth could look like a real good 10 HR/30 SB guy very soon.
23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP
Weight: 190 LBS
Mazzoni spent time in both St. Lucie and Binghamton this season, proving why the Mets spent a second round pick on the hard-throwing starter from NC State. The righthander had a 3.93 ERA across two levels, going 10-6 while striking out 104 in 144.1 innings. Mazzoni has lost some velocity as of recently and works with a three-pitch mix. A fastball that sits low to mid 90’s with some movement, a slider that sometimes flashes some plus but more often than not is inconsistent and a splitter which is effective when used but he keeps it in his back pocket. Mazzoni is a guy who will live or die by his ability to throw strikes without much margin for error.
Outlook: Mazzoni doesn’t have a very high ceiling, but will finish the season at 24 years old and has a shot at pitching in Las Vegas by the end of the 2013 season. If Mazzoni was moved to the bullpen, his three pitch mix could work and he could play up his velocity to possible a legitimate mid-90’s thrower and be pitching for the Mets in the 2014 bullpen. Mazzoni’s ceiling seems to be Mike Pelfrey with less velocity due to pitch quality.
24. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B
Weight: 210 LBS
The 2012 season saw Aderlin split time between Savannah and St. Lucie, displaying the same power that has kept him on prospect lists but showing little improvement defensively which may leave him playing first base. Rodriguez hit .263 across both levels, smashing 24 home runs in 471 at-bats. Rodriguez managed to put up nine more walks and five less strikeouts in 45 less at-bats. Aderlin may never be a patient hitter, but his ability to adapt to breaking balls at the upper levels will determine how he performs, likely going to Double-A.
Outlook: Aderlin Rodriguez has plus power and it is the best power in the system by a long shot. However, Aderlin has not adapted well to third base, making first base his likely defensive home. If he can keep his average above .250 at the higher levels he could be part of a solid platoon. Aderlin will finish the 2013 season as a 21 year old, so their is still some development time. The ETA on Aderlin looks like 2015 at the earliest, with either a repeat of St. Lucie or a full season at Binghamton.
25. Danny Muno, SS
Weight: 175 LBS
After a surprise 2011 campaign and a promotion to St. Lucie, Danny Muno’s 2012 season was halted abruptly when he received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for PED. Due to the suspension, Muno only received 289 AB’s. in which he kept his BB/K almost even for a second season, while showing more speed with 19 stolen bases on the season. Prior to the 2012 season, Muno was looking like a fast mover in the Mets system but at this point, he will be 24 before Opening Day and just getting his first taste of Double-A.
Outlook: Muno has no plus-tools, but is a solid player across the board. Muno has great control of the strike zone, drawing walks while limiting the strikeouts. While playing both SS and 2B, he would slot at 2B in the majors, but with the potential to be a utility guy and play all over the diamond. Muno has some gap power and some speed, and if he continues to succeed at the MiLB level seeing him in 2014 playing for the Mets in some role has some legs to it.