1) – Noah Syndergaard
2) – Travis d’Arnaud
3) – Rafael Montero
4) – Dominic Smith
5) – Kevin Plawecki
6) – Wilmer Flores
7) – Amed Rosario
8) – Brandon Nimmo
9) – Gavin Cecchini
10) – Jacob deGrom
Here’s my recently published, modified split-category, 2014 Top 30 Mets Prospects list.
The first three names on Baseball America’s 2014 list should surprise no one, nor inspire debates.
I feel Kevin Plawecki, 22, a 2012 #1 supplemental draft pick out of college, should rate ahead of Dominic Smith. I understand Smith, 18, drafted as a high school first baseman, combined to hit .301 in 173 trips to the plate, with 17 extra-base hits, 26 RBI, and a .398 OBP in 51 games while playing rookie ball. Generally speaking, pitchers in rookie league and short-season class-A, are still learning how to master a secondary pitch. Therefore, Smith may have benefited from a fastball rich environment. I am in no way trying to minimize what the sweet-swinging high school lefty accomplished in his initial experience as a professional. He is definitely worthy of a high ranking. It’s just that by the very nature of the position, I place an even higher premium on catchers. Top flight backstops are a rarer commodity than first basemen, even left-handed ones. In his second year as a pro, Plawecki split last year between Savannah and St. Lucie, combining to hit .305 in 449 at-bats, with 47 extra-base hits, 80 RBI, and a .390 OBP.
After the fine season Wilmer Flores posted in Triple-A Las Vegas, his #6 ranking is well deserved. He and the Mets, however, are currently a bad fit. The organization still isn’t satisfied with his defensive capabilities. More than that, Flores is an infielder on a crowded diamond. Chances are close to zilch that the Mets opt to move forward with Flores playing shortstop. Third and second base are not open to competition, and the Mets are still juggling Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin at first base.
Amed Rosario is the newest Mets prospect to the conversation, and may be a stretch on Baseball America’s part. A 17-year old, 6’2″, 170 pound international free agent signing out of the Dominican Republic, Rosario completed his first season as a professional playing shortstop for the Kingsport Mets. He had 51 hits in 212 at-bats, for a .241 average. He scored 22 runs, stroked 8 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs, and drove in 23 runs. In the field, Rosario committed 14 errors in 238 total chances, for a .941 fielding percentage. I understand the attraction to rally behind a 17 year old shortstop who had fifteen extra-base hits. I will not offer too much resistance to this intriguing #7 rank.
It is quite obvious Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini still have their major supporters. High school selections enjoy a certain allure over college draft selections, don’t they? While I’m still high on Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini needs to win me over. I watched him play last year in Brooklyn, and was not overwhelmed by his play. At the same time, I was not unimpressed.
Apparently, Baseball America still holds Jacob deGrom in very high regard. He lost the entire 2011 season to Tommy John surgery, and was shut down last season after experiencing shoulder stiffness on August 28th. He started the 2013 season with St. Lucie and graduated all the way up to Las Vegas. In 14 starts for the 51’s, deGrom, 25, pitched 75.2 innings, struck out 63, and posted a 4-2 record with a 4.52 ERA. He allowed 87 hits and walked 24 for a 1.46 WHIP.
Overall, deGrom rarely allows home runs and keeps his bases on balls low. However, his hits allowed usually rises above innings pitched. A thrower of many pitchers, but a master of few, deGrom has averaged 7.5 strikeouts per 9 over three full minor league seasons. After a fastball which registers in the low to mid-90’s, his next best pitch is a heavy sinker. He has also toyed with a changeup, slider and curveball, but has yet to master any of those offerings. This is a curious, if not hopeful selection by Baseball America. I won’t say deGrom should be removed from this list, but arguments can be made that others should be on it.