Top prospects lists are challenging to get right and this list from 2017 for the New York Mets is an example of why.
Baseball fans often get hung up on top prospects lists and will find themselves dying on a hill just because an arbitrary list says one athlete is better than another. In the case of the New York Mets, many recent top prospects lists have done a poor job at predicting the future.
It’s kind of what prospects lists do. They don’t rank on more than anything other than assumptions. These lists make some major misses as I found when looking at a past list of the top Mets minor leagues after the 2017 season.
This list I want to take a look at, created by Baseball Prospectus, was last updated in early December of 2017. They had the top ten Mets prospects at the time listed as:
1) Andres Gimenez
2) David Peterson
3) Mark Vientos
4) Justin Dunn
5) Thomas Szapucki
6) Tomas Nido
7) Pete “Peter” Alonso
8) Desmond Lindsay
9) Chris Flexen
10) Luis Guillorme
If you’ve followed the Mets over the last few years, you’ll probably jump to some of the same conclusions as me.
For starters, the top three prospects are still among the best minor leaguers in the Mets’ system although each has fallen a few spots. Andres Gimenez has graduated to the show but there’s still no clear path to regular playing time.
We also know the team no longer has Justin Dunn because of a trade and Chris Flexen is pitching over in Korea after his release. Dunn could still have a solid major league career. Flexen, who is surprisingly still young, may find his way back over to the US if he has a successful 2020 in the KBO.
As for the rest, three have already appeared in the big leagues. Tomas Nido has played a few games as the backup catcher with less than favorable results as a hitter. If the number six prospect in your system turns out to become a lifetime backup, it’s not usually a good sign.
Jumping down to the bottom of the list, we find Luis Guillorme. He’s kind of like Nido in a way that nobody really expects him to turn into anything more than a backup player. The positive with him is that he does appear more likely to stick around in a utility role.
Then there’s Pete Alonso. Who would have thought the number seven prospect in the team’s system would jump over everyone else in terms of playing time and talent? It goes to show how hard it is to get lists like these dead-on correct.
Finally, let’s mention Thomas Szapucki and Desmond Lindsay. Each has had their share of injuries which has damaged their path to the big leagues. Injuries are always the one factor nobody can actually predict so getting them wrong in this ranking is nobody’s fault.
Absent from this list is the next great rookie in Mets history after its publication: Jeff McNeil. At the time, I’m not sure McNeil was on a single top prospect list—even those expanding down to 30. Before him, there was probably a similar thought with Seth Lugo although he did take a little longer to become LuGoat.
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The Mets will be fortunate if even one more of these guys becomes a regular solid contributor at the major league level for them. Time is still on their side, however, with several of those players either behind schedule or already slipping behind, this list serves as a reminder of how difficult it really can be to predict which farmhands are destined for greatness.