One of the most signature signs of New York Mets fandom is being excited about a player coming to the Big Apple, only to be severely let down by their play or a devastating injury that limits their playing time. No matter who the Mets trade for or sign, there always seems to be an element of surprise with the outcome, whether it’s good or bad.
Similarly, there is a reason why top prospects are exactly that, unproven “prospects” rather than surefire successes. Not every highly touted minor leaguer comes to the majors and immediately vaults into top-ten lists in their franchise’s history. Though much of the Mets’ current roster is homegrown, they have still had several notable prospect “busts” in recent years.
With that, here are some predictions that I, along with many Mets fans, had for the Amazins, none of which came true. Over the past decade and a half, these takes were among the coldest in all of Flushing.
Rafael Montero would have a better Mets career than Jacob deGrom
In May of 2014, the Mets had a couple of pitching prospects that had a good shot at making it to the major leagues. One of them was expected to be the indisputable ace of the staff for years to come, while the other was only called up to fill in when Dillon Gee got injured. In retrospect, it seems odd that Rafael Montero was considered the “cream of the crop” of Mets prospects in 2014 while Jacob deGrom was mostly an afterthought, but that is exactly what the team and fan discourse were like at the time.
The two debuted one day apart. Montero made his first-ever start on May 14, 2014, against the New York Yankees. Despite a solid effort over six innings, with three runs and five hits allowed, he suffered the loss. deGrom debuted the next day and was spectacular, pitching seven innings and surrendering only one earned run while striking out six. He, too, was saddled with the loss.
Montero’s first two seasons in New York were decent, but a pair of ERAs over 5.50 in 2016 and 2017 helped send him on his way out of town. Meanwhile, deGrom won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2014, made his first All-Star team in 2015, and became one of the best pitchers in baseball. Montero later enjoyed a resurgence as a reliever with the Texas Rangers, but there’s no comparison. Despite early predictions, Jacob deGrom has clearly had a better career than Rafael Montero.