Where Would You Rank The Mets Top Thirty Prospects?


Back in December of 2012, Baseball America published their pre-2013 Mets top 10 prospects list. Looking back, what a difference a year makes.  Four of seven pitchers listed spent considerable portions or most of the 2013 season on the disabled list.  I’m sure Mets fans took notice catcher Travis d’Arnaud failed to crack Baseball America’s top ten.  Otherwise, Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Wilmer Flores were all clear stand-outs.

May 31, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of Rawlings baseballs before the MLB game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

1) – Zack Wheeler

2) – Gavin Cecchini

3) – Brandon Nimmo

4) – Luis Mateo

5) – Rafael Montero

6) – Wilmer Flores

7) – Michael Fulmer

8) – Jeurys Familia

9) – Domingo Tapia

10) – Cory Mazzoni

With 100 innings pitched for the Mets last season, Zack Wheeler will officially become a sophomore of Flushing, as he no longer qualifies as a rookie.  Shortstop Gavin Cecchini, 19, started making some headway during a largely average full season in Brooklyn.  In Savannah, Brandon Nimmo, 20, posted his best batting average in three seasons and finished last year with a .397 OBP.  In just his second season of pro ball, Luis Mateo, 23, only pitched four games before requiring Tommy John surgery, but pitcher Rafael Montero had a brilliant season.

Wilmer Flores was tearing up the Pacific Coast League before being called up to Queens.  Michael Fulmer‘s season was first derailed by knee surgery, then later by shoulder issues.  Jeurys Familia also required in-season surgery, but recovered and is currently participating in the Arizona Fall League.  With a 4.62 ERA and a 1.480 WHiP in 101.1 innings for PSL, Domingo Tapia, 21, requires more monitoring.  And lastly, Cory Mazzoni last pitched on July 3rd, left the game with a leg injury, and wound up not pitching again in 2013.  Familia’s, Flores’ and Travis d’Arnaud‘s rookie status remain in tact.

One year later, there are new players, a few break out seasons, and several setbacks to both consider, and reconsider.

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo lists the following as his updated top ten Mets prospects:

1) – Noah Syndergaard

2) – Travis d’Arnaud

3) – Rafael Montero

4) – Wilmer Flores

5) – Brandon Nimmo

6) – Cesar Puello

7) – Dominic Smith

8) – Gavin Cecchini

9) – Dilson Herrera

10) – Kevin Plawecki

What follows, is my subjective view of things.  You are most welcome to dissect and debate at will. In drawing my own list, I concluded I needed two.  There are those prospects who have immediate value, which stand to help the Mets either on the field or provide real trade value within the next two years.  While some players are no surprise, my list of ten shares an average age of twenty-four years old.  I feel my list’s combination of age, experience, and ability seem to agree most with the Mets very short term plans – outside of free agency that is.  A second list is then needed for everyone else, or more specifically, the younger prospects in the system.

Here is my list of the Mets top ten near-term (two year) prospects:

1) – Noah Syndergaard, 21

I love his size.  He is listed at 6’6″ and 240 lbs., which is why I rate him above Rafael Montero.  Noah is now up to 293.2 minor league innings pitched, with a 2.64 ERA, and 329 strikeouts.  He reached AA-Binghamton last season, where he made eleven starts, posted a 6-1 record with an even 3.00 ERA.  In 54 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 69 batters.  I’m a big fan of the curveball, and he throws a beauty, which he compliments with heat, and a change-up.  He will likely start the 2014 season pitching for Binghamton, and could conceivably make his way to Flushing by 2015.

2) – Rafael Montero, 23

You may as well make Montero 1-A on the list.  Although Montero is seventy pounds lighter than Syndergaard, he is arguably the more accomplished pitcher.  He throws a four pitch combination of fastballs, curves, sliders and change-ups.  After three seasons, he is up to 348.1 innings pitched, with 326 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA.  He began the 2013 season in Binghamton, and is now on the cusp of  graduating to the majors after making sixteen starts for Las Vegas last season, where he posted a 5-4 record with a 3.05 ERA.  In 88.2 innings, he struck out seventy-eight.  He could very well break camp next Spring, and head north to Flushing as a starter, or begin 2014 in Las Vegas again.  Rafael Montero also represent perhaps the Mets most valuable minor league trade chip.  His name has often been attached to rumors.

3) – Travis d’Arnaud, 24

Unless something changes, Travis is the New York Mets starting catcher for the foreseeable future.  You can never have enough pitching, and that’s why I rate Travis third on my list behind Montero.  Injuries have held him back the last two years, but that’s all behind him now, or so we think.  His arm is rated above average, and he’s been dubbed a good receiver by his pitchers.  He is projected to hit with average and a respectable measure of power.  The Mets hope they now have a core component behind the plate.

4) – Vic Black, 25

At his age, he is major league ready.  Vic has five years of major league experience, with 178.1 total innings pitched, a 3.08 ERA and 217 strikeouts.  He needs work with his control, as he averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings pitched.  He spent most of 2013 playing in the International League for the Indianapolis Indians where he made 38 relief appearances, finished 30 games, pitched 46.2 innings, posted a 5-3 record, a 2.51 ERA and earned 17 saves.  In 15 games for the Mets he pitched 13 innings, allowed 11 hits, and struck out 12, while walking 4 batters and unleashing 3 wild pitches.  Vic posted a 3-0 record, a 3.46 ERA and earned one save.  He seems to have already earned a place in the Mets 2014 bullpen.

5) – Wilmer Flores, 22

He is still an infielder without a position.  We’ve heard the scouts, and they do not speak well of Wilmer’s defense and range.  I didn’t  think he embarrassed himself filling in for David Wright last season, but there in lies Wilmer’s problem.  He is currently an odd fit for the Mets.  His real value may come as a very credible trading ship.  In six minor league seasons and 2,700 at-bats, Flores is a career .290 hitter, a career .430 slugger, with a .331 OBP.  His last two seasons however have been dynamite.  In a split season between PSL and Binghamton in 2012, he had 493 combined at-bats, posted a triple slash of .300/.349/.479, with 30 doubles, 18 home runs, and 75 RBI, while only striking out 60 times.  In 424 at-bats this last season for Las Vegas, Wilmer batted .321, had a .357 OBP, and posted his minor league best .531 slugging average.  He had 36 doubles, 15 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and only struck out 63 times.

6) – Jeurys Familia, 24

After six minor league seasons and 576.2 innings pitched, it is time for Jeurys Familia to take his rightful place in the Mets bullpen.  For a few seasons now, it seemed as if he and Jenrry Mejia were involved in a two man competition for a future spot in the Mets starting rotation.  After five seasons being groomed as a starting pitcher, the Mets ultimately decided to convert Familia into a reliever heading into the 2013 season.  How did he do?  The book is still out.  Familia required elbow surgery.  He only appeared in seventeen combined minor and major league games last season.  He is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

7) – Allan Dykstra, 26

At twenty-six years old, how much of a prospect is he really?  He was San Diego’s #1 pick, and the 23rd overall selection of the 2008 draft.  He has demonstrated consistent power at the AA level for Binghamton.  His 2013 season was particularly hard to ignore.  In 372 official at-bats, he posted a triple slash of .274/.436/.503, with 22 doubles, 21 home runs, and 82 RBI.  He drew 102 walks, but struck out a brutal 123 times.  In his first season playing AA ball in 2011, he clubbed 19 home runs in 390 official at-bats for Binghamton, drove in 77 runs and posted a .389 OBP.

8) – Jeff Walters, 25

Selected by the Mets in the seventh round of the 2010 draft, he spent the 2011 season as a starting pitcher for Brooklyn.  In 2012, Walters was moved to the bullpen.  In a split season for Savannah and Binghamton, he pitched 54.2 innings, posted a 4-5 record and 4 saves, with a 2.30 ERA.  He allowed 47 hits, walked 12, and struck out 49 batters.  As Binghamton’s closer in 2013, Jeff posted a 2.09 ERA in 56 innings, with a 4-3 record, and an Eastern League high 38 saves.  He allowed 46 hits, walked 16, and struck out 60 batters.  In 185.2 career minor league innings, he owns an overall 2.91 ERA, and an 8.0 K/9 average.

9) – Logan Verrett, 23

Selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, Logan Verrett is fast-tracking himself through the Mets system.  In 2013 pitching for Binghamton, he tied for the Eastern League lead with 12 victories.  He now has 249.1 innings of experience, with an overall 3.61 ERA.  He may not be the same caliber of flame thrower like other pitchers in the Mets system, but he averages a very respectable 8.1 K’s per nine innings.  More importantly, he only averages 1.6 walks per nine innings pitched.  He could conceivably start the 2014 season in Las Vegas.

10) – John Church, 26

Cesar Puello, unfortunately, is now a first time violator of MLB’s PED policy.  To his credit, he quietly served his suspension.  I’ll opt for not coming down on him too harshly, and simply say he needs to start working himself back into good graces before he makes my list.  Of course, that’s just idealism speaking, but omitting him also allows me to squeeze someone else on the list.  So, just to be fair, if he can replicate his recent performance minus the chemical enhancement, then the Mets definitely have an exciting player on their hands who should rank highly on many fan’s lists.

Reliever John Church is my wild card, and makes the list in lieu of Cesar Puello.  Besides, I feel the Mets best way of fortifying the bullpen is through very obvious in-house choices.  John made 55 appearances last year; 32 for Binghamton and 23 for Las Vegas.  In 64.2 combined innings he allowed 57 hits, and struck out 68 batters, with a 3.34 ERA.

Juan Lagares, 24, should technically be on this list, but with 392 at-bats last season, he is no longer considered a rookie.  He certainly figures into the Mets immediate plans.  Wilfredo Tovar, 22, missed out, as I think the Mets need to rethink their whole shortstop situation.

Players on the outside looking inMatt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jacob deGrom

The second list is much more harder to assemble.  These are players who mostly have yet to play in AA-Binghamton.  Here’s the way I view them:

1) – Kevin Plawecki

2) – Steven Matz

3) – Jack Leathersich

4) – Brandon Nimmo

5) – Gabriel Ynoa

6) – Rainy Lara

7) – Paul Sewald

8) – Miller Diaz

9) – Dilson Herrera

10) – Dominic Smith

11) – L.J. Mazzilli

12) – Robert Gsellman

13) – Dustin Lawley

14) – Matthew Bowman

15) – Luis Cessa

16) – Gavin Cecchini

17) – Jayce Boyd

18) – T.J. Chism

19) – Darrell Ceciliani

20) – Hamilton Bennett

Worthy, but injured in 2013: Michael Fulmer, Luis Mateo, Cory Mazzoni.

On the outside looking in: Cory Vaughn, Domingo Tapia.

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