Mar 3, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; New Yorks Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard (55) warms up before the spring training exhibition game against the Atlanta Bravesat Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t say Sandy Alderson’s done nothing. The Mets farm system, reinvigorated by several years of trades and smart drafting and international amateur scouting, was listed in ESPN.com’s Keith Law’s latest piece as the fourth best in baseball.
Law, a former high-ranking scout and executive in the Blue Jays organization, notes that while New York has graduated a couple prospects in Travis d’Arnaud and Jacob deGrom, almost all of their top youngsters have improved this year.
He specifically pointed to the strong campaigns of catcher Kevin Plawecki, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, and teenage shortstop Amed Rosario. And for anyone concerned with Noah Syndergaard, who has a 5.74 ERA at Triple-A, Law is of the opinion that the right-hander has actual been exceptional this year, just victimized by the incredibly poor pitcher’s environment of Las Vegas.
Indeed, even as the major league club mires in mediocrity, the Mets have received a lot of press of late for their prospects.
Nimmo, the 13th overall pick from the 2011 draft, is slugging .438 with a .415 on base percentage between High-A Port St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton this year and was subsequently listed as the game’s 40th overall prospect by Baseball America on July 7th. Plawecki was hitting .326/.378/.487 for Binghamton before his recent call up to Triple-A, and was ranked 48th on that list.
Last year’s first round pick, first baseman Dominic Smith is hitting .331 for Class-A Savannah since April 30th, and came in at #49 on Keith Law’s own prospect rankings last week. Outfielder Michael Conforto, this year’s first round pick, came in at #32 on that list.
Second baseman Dilson Herrera, the centerpiece of last year’s Marlon Byrd and John Buck trade with Pittsburgh, has also had an exceptional offensive showing this year. The 20 year old is hitting .318/.372/.444 with 19 stolen bases between High and Double-A. Asked in an online chat about his opinion of the young middle infielder, the generally conservative Law responded simply, “Starter at 2b. And a good one.”
There have been some setbacks – 2012 first rounder Gavin Cecchini has an anemic .516 OPS in Port St. Lucie – but this is a deep farm system that has shown itself to no longer be centered around a couple of top starting pitchers.
Not that there aren’t those too. In addition to Syndergaard, who should be in New York by September, right hander Rafael Montero is close to the majors and has number three starter potential. Left-hander Steven Matz has had a breakout season, pitching to a 2.38 ERA and an 8.3 SO/9 in 17 starts between Port St. Lucie and Binghamton. He didn’t make BA’s top 50 list but JJ Cooper, the site’s managing editor indicated that he fell just shy.
Law named the Mets as the 6th best system in baseball before the season. Prior to 2013, they were ranked 14th, prior to 2012, 22nd, and prior to 2011 (Alderson’s first season as GM), 26th. Alderson’s concentration on prospects and youth has clearly helped in the minors. Now, New York is just hoping that can bleed over into major league success.