MMN Top Prospects 8-6: Will Desmond Bounce Back?

By Teddy Klein

January 23, 2018 11 Comments

oneminutesports.com

We continue our top prospect list, starting with Lindsay, a toolsy outfielder.

8. OF Desmond Lindsay

B/T R/R HT 5’11”  WT 196 lbs Age 4/16/1993 (24) Drafted 2nd Round, 2015, 53rd Overall

Bonus $1,142,700 Level A Age Dif -1.5

2017 Stats:

A: 65 G, 251 PA, 47 H, 10 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 4 SB, 2 CS, 33 BB, 77 K .220/.327/.388

Grades:

Hit: 50 Power: 50 Run: 60 Field: 45 Arm: 50

When you look in the Baseball Scouting dictionary at Boom or Bust prospects, Desmond Lindsay’s name should be the definition. Selected as the Mets’ top pick in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of Out-Of-Door Academy in Sarasota, FL, Lindsay was shown as a first-round caliber talent who fell due to hamstring injury concerns. He has fit both billings and more.

After being signed to a $1,142,700 deal, Lindsay started his career late in the season at complex-level Rookie Gulf Coast League due to his hammy issues. When Desmond did play, he hit .304/.400/.464 in 21 games with seven extra base hits, while walking 11 times and striking out 21 times. Mets were so thrilled with his play that they sent him to Brooklyn for the last 14 games, where he didn’t do as well, hitting .200/.308/.267, and striking out 19 times while walking seven times.

Mets seemed confident that they were going to send him to Columbia during spring training in 2016 but was hit in the head twice during extended spring and, sustained a concussion (feel your pain, bro) and ended up having to stay back. When he finally played, he returned to Brooklyn and showed why he was the top pick for 2015, mashing to a .297/.418/.450 tune in 32 games, with five doubles and four homers. Desmond held his own against college competition as a 19 year old, showing great patiences (20 BB/26 K), showing that when he’s on the field, he can do great things.

Desmond was poised for a great year, but that didn’t come. In his first two months, he combined for a .150/.299/.260 slash line in 42 games, showing great patience, but not being able to drive the ball. Most scouts sent out there said that the ability was there, but there was just something holding him back from fitting his potential. Then, in his final 23 games, spanning two months, the light switch turned on and he hit .322/.372/.575 with five doubles, a triple, and five home runs. However, he was shut down after July 20th, and had Ulnar Nerve Transposition surgery on July 28th.

I’m going to get a lot of flak from others for saying this, but I believe Lindsay has the highest ceiling in this farm system currently. However, with prospects come caveats, and his injuries are a doozy. Desmond is an absolute athlete, blessed with plus speed and the ability to be versatile. In high school he was a third baseman, but had to play first base due to his hammy issues. In addition, he has an above-average hit tool, showing patience and the ability to get on base, but still has a little trouble with spin thus far. His bat speed is plus, providing the ability for him to tap into his already above-average power, with possibly more if he ever changes from his up-the-middle approach. His body doesn’t have any projection left, but there still is rawness to his game, leaving more speculation about him having dormant plus power. Desmond still has a bit to learn in Center field, being a bit raw out there, but still takes a few nice routes. His arm is fringe-average currently, but it could play up with some more seasoning from the position.

While all of this scouting report is lovely, it doesn’t mean a freaking thing unless he keeps his butt on the field for more than 65 games, which is why he’s still ranked this low. If he can finally play and put up the season we see of him, you will see a player with upside. If he shows he can play well in the back fields, Lindsay will be in St. Lucie. However, there’s an off chance he’ll be in Columbia yet again this year. Thankfully he still has time at 21 years old.

Photo by Ernest Dove

7. RHSP Chris Flexen

B/T R/R HT 6-3 WT 250 lbs Age 7/1/1994 (23) Drafted 14th round, 2012, 440th overall

Bonus $374,400 Level A+/AA/MLB Age Dif -1.1/-2.3/-6.4

2017 Stats: 

A+ 3 GS, 12.2 IP, 2.13 ERA, 12 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 13 K 1.184 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 9.2 K/9

AA 7 GS, 48.2 IP, 1.66 ERA, 2 CG, SHO, 28 H, 9 ER, 7 BB, 50 K 0.719 WHP 1.3 BB/9 9.2 K/9

MLB 14 G, 9 GS, 48 IP, 7.88 ERA, 62 H, 42 ER, 35 BB, 36 K 2.021 WHIP 6.6 BB/9 6.8 K/9

Grades:

Fastball 55 Curve 55 Slider 55 Change 45 Control 45

I know a lot of people are going to groan at this ranking-I really don’t care, Flex deserved it, and would have been higher had he not been rushed to the Majors. Drafted in the 14th round in 2012, Flexen was bought out of an Arizona State commitment for $374,400 and showed some nice potential as a projectable right-hander touching 93 with a nice slider.

Flexen started out in Rookie League Kingsport after being signed and didn’t pitch well, posting a 5.63 ERA in 32 innings. The next year he returned and did much better, which convinced the Mets to send him to Full-Season-A Savannah. He didn’t pitch well in 13 games started, posting a 4.83 ERA before going down with Tommy John Surgery on July 21st, 2014. Flex came back in late June, 2015 and pitched much better in Savannah in five games, warranting the Mets to send him to High-A St. Lucie, where he pitched well, tossing 134 innings of 3.56 ERA ball, but only struck out 94 batters. Word was that he was part of the original Jay Bruce deal with Brandon Nimmo but a knee issue nixed it.

In the offseason, Flexen had bone chips removed from his knee, and came back to play on May 17th, and pitched only three games before being promoted to Binghamton. With the Rumble Ponies, he flat out dominated in seven games started, pitching at least six innings in all seven starts including two complete games and a shutout. With the Mets running out of starters, and Flexen pitching so well, the Mets took a shot, pulling him from Double-A…and it didn’t go well.

Flex just looked lost out there. The great control he had at Double-A disappeared, his breaking balls, both the slider and the curve weren’t working, and he just looked hittable. He was often missing all the spots he was showing to hit, and was just overly shaken and nervous out there. It was sad to see from the guy we just saw dominating Double-A with ease.

The guy we saw before being rattled in the Major League was poised to be a top prospect, probably right below our #1. Flexen showed a nice fastball coming in from 90-95 from a 3/4 delivery from the right side. He has touched 97 a few times, but that doesn’t happen often. His curve showed some nice 12-6 dip and the ability to garner some swing and miss. He even added a hard slider, as many in the system had gained, and it showed some above-average bite. His changeup, didn’t give much to be desired, but there is still time to develop it as a young starter.

Flexen definitely stumbled in his first try as a starter in the Major Leagues, but that shouldn’t deter him from finding success in the future. People may not agree, but I really don’t care, Flexen still has the potential to be a decent starter, or even an above-average relief pitcher. Either way, he’s down in the depth chart, and starting where he should have ended…in Vegas.

6. RHSP Justin Dunn

B/T R/R HT 6-2 WT 195 lbs Age 9/22/1995 (22) Drafted 1st Round, 2016, 19th overall

Bonus $2,378,800 Level A+ Age Dif -2.1

2017 Stats:

A+ 20 G, 16 GS 95.1 IP, 5.00 ERA, 10 SV, 101 H, 53 ER, 5 HR, 48 BB, 75 K, 1.563 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 7.1 K/9

Grades:

Fastball 60 Slider 60 Curve 45 Changeup 50 Control 40

Probably one of the most disappointing seasons of the Mets farm system happened to their top pick from the previous year’s draft. Justin Dunn, the 19th overall pick out of Boston College was not the same guy that the Mets drafted in 2016, leading to a disastrous 2017 season. Dunn, who was drafted previously out of The Gunnery by the Dodgers in the 37th round didn’t take the bonus and instead went to college. In his first two years, he didn’t pitch well as a starter, nor out of the bullpen, but people acknowledged him as a plus athlete who threw hard, and waited for him to come together. Finally, in 2016, he definitely did, touching 99 as BC’s closer, which intrigued scouts enough to ask BC to try him again as a starter. Finally, he thrived, sitting in the mid-90’s and touching 97. This was enough to make the Mets scouts’ mouths  water, and pop him at #19 and sign him for slot at $2,378,800.

After 65.2 innings with Boston College, the Mets wanted to ease him into starting, so they had him join their throwing program, and then start gradually pitching innings at Brooklyn. Dunn looked great against college-age hitters in the Short-Season A New York-Penn League, pitching at first two innings, and then at max 3 innings for his final seven outings. Dunn recorded a 1.50 ERA while striking out 35 in 30 innings in a stunning debut.

However, that didn’t carry over the next year, as Dunn faltered at High-A, posting a 5.00 ERA in 95.1 innings, and recording a 4.5 BB/9 and 7.1 K/9. It looked ugly, as he never pitched past six innings, and averaged 4.75. By all accounts Dunn’s actual velocity held, and his breaking stuff continued to look as good as ever, but his control did not hold up. To make matters worse, he was absolutely destroyed by left handed hitting, as they clubbed .345/.464/.462 against him. After 95.1 innings, he was shut down with shoulder fatigue and rode the rest of the season on the disabled list.

Dunn wields a nice arsenal, starting with a 92-95 mph fastball that can touch 97. The pitch has some decent movement when he keeps it down in the zone. He pairs that with a hard slider that flashes plus with late bite, but is inconsistent due to poor command. His curve is more of the sweeping variety, but he hasn’t gotten it working very well. His change flashes above-average, which could help against lefthanders, with good velocity separation, but needs more reps. Due to his inconsistency with mechanics, Dunn has had trouble with control, and the ability to throw his breaking balls with any type of effectiveness. If this persists, the Mets may have no choice but to put Dunn back into a relief role, where he could thrive in short spurts. However, they likely will keep him starting another half year and then assess him if he can’t handle it. Dunn can get up to 99 as a reliever, and has closer’s potential if he can’t hack it as starter, which is still a good outcome for a first rounder, given the new value of relief pitching.

Justin Dunn will likely return to St. Lucie in his Age-23 year, and we’ll see what becomes of him there. Unfortunately, his age doesn’t allow him the patience of development, so they may transition him early.

Previous Rankings

50-41 Led by Jacob Rhame

40-36 Led by Wagner Lagrange

35-31 Led by Gregory Guerrero

30-26 Led by Juan Uriarte

25-21 Led by Adonis Uceta

20-18 Led by Jordan Humphreys

17-15 Led by Marcos Molina

14-12 Led by Corey Oswalt

11-9 Led by Ronny Mauricio

  • I hope the average fan doesn’t discard how good Flexen might be since he was rushed and no business in the majors last year. He’s really good. That hook is is simply legit.
    I’m also going to keep defending Justin Dunn because I know what I saw. But I can agree this has to be the year for him.
    Lindsay I don’t know what to say. He can’t stay on the field but hes still young.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Exactly right on Flexen. He was more than dominant at AA last year and simply wasn’t ready for the majors when the Mets called him up.
    Regarding Dunn, I’m not worried yet. He’s new, he’s young, and he’s still four years away from free agency. He was two+ years younger than league average last year and its possible that the Mets may have simply been too ambitious in sending him to PSL instead of Columbia. And even if he continues to struggle as a starter, he might still find success in the bullpen.

  • Tommy Brennan

    I like Flexen, and believe he has a solid future, but I cannot personally consider a guy who pitched in 14 games, 9 of them starts, to still be a prospect, even if technically he still barely is eligible for rookie of year status. That’s just me.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Thats a pretty rigid way of looking at it. The fact remains that he is, in fact, still a minor leaguer. He was pressed into major league duty last year because of the rash on injuries, not because it was his time to be called up. He’ll be in AAA this year, not so much because of his performance in the majors, but because AAA is where he was always expected/scheduled to be at this point.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Personally. I’m a lot more concerned with the 16-year old who has not yet played a single game as a pro being ranked at all, let alone in the top 11. And by a guy in rookie ball who plays poor defense and has done nothing at the plate in two years as a pro being rated on a par with a AAA player who has performed quite well in recent years, including his three-week stint in the majors.

  • Michael Kontos

    He wasn’t in the PCL last year ..
    He was in St Lucie .

  • Nessim Toledano

    Re-read/look again: I did not say ‘the PCL’. I said ‘PSL’ – which is short for ‘Port St. Lucie’.

  • Jason Mercado

    Flexen had a great year despite not being ready for MLB. He was meant to be in AAA to end the season and Mets needed a body on the 40 man. Flexen could be a useful rotation piece with more seasoning.
    Dunn i think should be ranked lower, still in top 10. He transitioned from Closer to Starter which takes time. Had some injuries. This yr i hope he breaks out and has a solid statistical year.
    Lindsay’s early slump was surprising and bad. He turned it around and started showing the patience, glove and power he projects to have then he got hurt. This explains why he was a 2nd rounder. If he can put it all together he could be Mets CF of future in a few yrs.

  • Tommy Brennan

    Nessim,we’ll have to agree to disagree there on Flexen. But, if he wins rookie of the year somehow, I’ll be smiling 🙂

  • britton

    I get the impression the team has a habit of rushing players

  • Nessim Toledano

    On the contrary, the team has a habit of going far too slowly with most of its players. They’ve been moving them along a bit more quickly since Ian Levin took over the minor league ops, and there have even been a few highly aggressive moves. But most Mets farmhands still spend more time, sometimes much more time, in short season leagues than players from other organizations.
    The Mets are one of only few (maybe four) organizations that has nine farm teams, and six at low-A or below. And they generally tend to have most players spend time at every or almost every level.