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New York Mets

Original Published Date: November 14, 2014

The Mets have an impressive farm system. From uber prospect Noah Syndergaard to 19-year-old Marcos Molina, the system is stacked with high upside prospects that have impact potential.

At the top of the list is right-hander Noah Syndergaard. Don’t let the 4.60 ERA fool you, Syndergaard is going to be a stud and that should begin to unfold in 2015. Dilson Herrera has already shown that his bat belongs in the major leagues and despite some inconsistencies, Rafael Montero proved that he’s ready to contribute in a meaningful way in Queens. Finally, Kevin Plawecki also broke out in 2014 and while the power might be average at best, he has the defensive chops and hitting ability to be a regular full-time catcher.

The hits keep on coming as 2011 first round draft pick Brandon Nimmo also took a big step forward and looks to be on course for a September call-up next year. A littler further away, Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario both have ceilings of solid regular shortstops if not more and finally 2014 first round draft pick Michael Conforto could have been the most polished bat in the draft class.

We said it last year and will reiterate here again. I’d much rather be a Mets fan than a Yankees fan as the future is extremely bright for team from Queens.

1. Noah Syndergaard (RHP)

2015 Age: 22 Ceiling: #2 starter
Ht: 6-6 Weight: 240 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2015
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2014 AAA 133.0 154 68 11 2.91 9.81 4.60 1.48

Inspiration for articles always pop-up…

I decided to take a quick break from writing and went to grab a slice for lunch. On the radio of course was the MLB Network and the hosts were discussing Noah Syndergaard. One of them said…”It’s a shame that Syndergaard has had a down year…” WOW…tough comment and also wrong.

If you only look at Syndergaard’s inflated ERA of 4.60, you get the impression that he indeed struggled in 2014. However, the Pacific Coast League and Las Vegas specifically is one of the most difficult places to pitch. With the thin air, the ball doesn’t break nearly as well as it does in other parks, resulting in harder hit balls that the rock hard turf turns a ground out into a single, if not more.

Disregarding the environmental conditions, Syndergaard statistically pitched really well. He struck out 9.81 per nine while walking less than three per nine. His home per nine was also safely under one per nine (0.74 hr/9). Finally, he kept the ball on the ground with a 2.00 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio. The end result might have been a 4.60 ERA but it also amounted to a 3.70 FIP. The bottom line is he performed really well in a difficult pitching environment.

The arsenal is very good with a fastball that sits 92-95 that can touch higher and a curve ball and change-up that have taken a step-up. Most importantly, Syndergaard throws quality strikes that are a result of his ultra-smooth delivery.  Not only is he 6-foot-6, he also has a high three-quarters delivery that provides excellent downward plane to his pitches.  His posture is excellent and this is leading to very good balance on his landing and helping him keep his release point consistent.

The only setback that Syndergaard experienced was a forearm strain that caused him to miss a couple of weeks in the middle of the year. However, he came back strong and seems poised to begin the 2015 season in New York with a possible delay until late April to allow the Mets to add another year of team control.

Fantasy Impact: Syndergaard is one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues and is ready for the show. If people are down on him, go get him. He should provide a strikeout an inning almost immediately upon his introduction to the big leagues. While he throws strikes, young pitchers almost always struggle with their command in the early going and the same fate could hit Syndergaard. Long-term, he has a solid number two upside, if not more.

2. Dilson Herrera (2B)

2015 Age: 21 Ceiling: 1st Div
Ht:5-10 Weight: 150 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 A+,AA 524 98 13 71 23 .323 .379 81.7 8.0 .369

In 2013 when the Pirates were chasing their first playoff appearance in 21 years, Pirates GM Neal Huttington said he would do something stupid but not crazy to try and get the team over the finish line.  Trading young Dilson Herrera for 30-days of Marlon Byrd would fall into the mildly stupid category, but for the Mets, it’s turned into a huge win.

Herrera really broke out in 2014 by slashing .323/.379/.479 across High and Double-A. The Mets were impressed enough to promote Herrera on August 28th when Daniel Murphy hit the Disabled List. He performed very well, particularly for a 20-year-old with 241 at-bats above A-Ball and showed that he could be an option if the Mets wanted to move Murphy in the off-season or not re-sign him after the 2015 season (free agent year).

Herrera has the ceiling of a plus hit-tool with great contact and plate discipline. His short compact swing and above-average bat speed also give him average future power potential to go along with average running ability. Putting the package together, he could bat .290 with a .360 OBP and 15 home runs to go along with 20 stolen bases. That’s sounds a lot like Daniel Murphy.

Fantasy Impact: If you’re buying the Daniel Murphy comparison and the stats do suggest there are similarities, then Herrera has the upside of a $25 to $30 fantasy player. That’s a significant player and one that I would be trying to add to my Dynasty League. He is a risky option for a re-draft league in 2015 given the uncertainty of playing time.

3. Brandon Nimmo (OF)

2015 Age: 22 Ceiling: 1st Div
Ht:6-3 Weight: 205 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 A+,AA 467 97 10 51 14 .278 .394 77.5 15.4 .341

It took a while, but the tools that made Brandon Nimmo the 13th overall pick in the 2011 first year player draft are starting to translate to in-game production.

The Mets really took a gamble with Nimmo. They bet on the raw tools of a kid who grew up in Wyoming without exposure to even high school baseball. While you always bet on athletes, his understanding of the strike zone was immature and his swing had a ton of holes. Over the past two years, the Mets have worked on this and the results have been impressive. In 558 plate appearance across High and Double-A, Nimmo had a 77.5% contact rate and a 15.4% walk rate. While he saw a dip in his OBP once he was promoted to Double-A, the skill set is clearly there.

The power also started to show and while part of that was just getting out of Savannah, having a better understanding of the strike zone puts you into better hitting counts and the results are usually very positive. While the swing will likely never yield plus future power, the ability to hit 15 to 20 home runs is definitely in the profile. He’s also an average runner which should translate into 10 to 15 stolen bases at the highest level.

Fantasy Impact: For Dynasty owners who invested in Nimmo, your patience is finally paying off. The upside is a .280, 20 home run, 15 stolen base fantasy asset. While that looked like a pipe dream a year ago, it’s looking more like a real possibility. Nimmo likely starts the 2015 season back in Double-A but could get a cup-of-coffee in the majors in September with a chance to compete for a job in 2016.

4. Kevin Plawecki (C)

2015 Age: 24 Ceiling: 1st Div
Ht:6-2 Weight: 225 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 AA,AAA 376 58 11 54 0 .309 .365 87.2 7.2 .326

I wasn’t on the Kevin Plawecki bang wagon last year, but one thing has become clear to me: the guy can really hit.

Drafted in the first round of the 2012 first year player draft (#35 overall), most believed that Plawecki would move through the minor league system quickly and indeed he has. He covered A-Ball in 2013 and worked his way to Double and Triple-A in 2014 and is now on the doorstep to the majors.

His plus hit-tool is a combination of excellent plate coverage, contactability and a swing that is short and direct to the ball. In his 1041 professional at-bats, he has struck out only 125 times while walking 97. That’s an 89% contact rate that should translate to a nearly .300 batting average in the big leagues. The problem is that his swing path is very level and is more geared for line drives. However, at 6-foot-2 and 225, he has the size and the bat speed that if he decided to change his approach, could give him 10 to 15 home run power.

His defense behind the plate is average with enough athleticism and agility to effectively block pitches and enough arm strength to be an adequate deterrent to would-be base runners (36% caught stealing).

The obvious elephant in the room is the Mets already have one of the better young catchers in the league in Travis d’Arnaud and therefore Plawecki appears to be blocked. However, given the injury history of d’Arnaud, particularly in the number of concussions he’s had, the Mets might be prudent to start moving d’Arnaud to the outfield or first base. He has enough stick to profile there and while he’s a slightly better defensive option than Plawecki, the team will be better with both bats in the lineup.

Fantasy Impact: If you’re in a two catcher league, Plawecki is the perfect fit. He’ll have an above-average hit-tool and could even bat second in a lineup which will drive up his ability to score runs. The power is likely to be below average which will keep him out of your first catcher spot, but he does have the size and therefore some power upside.

5. Michael Conforto (OF)

2015 Age: 22 Ceiling: Solid-Reg
Ht:6-1 Weight: 210 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2017
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 R 163 30 3 19 3 .331 .403 82.2 8.6 .383

The Mets drafted 6-foot-1 Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto with the tenth overall pick in the 2014 first year player draft. Conforto went directly to the Penn League where he posted an .840 OPS over 42 games in an effort to lead the Cyclones to their fourth consecutive playoff berth. While they fell short, Conforto was promoted to Savannah where he went 3 for 9 in two games in their playoffs.

Conforto is a polished hitter and should make quick work of the minors. He has a nice easy, fluid swing that makes hard consistent contact. He posted a 29K/16BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 163 at-bats in rookie ball. While he slugged .442, he also only hit three home runs. In seeing him play multiple times, I question how much ultimate power he’ll have. The bat speed is not elite but in batting practice, he shows solid-raw pull power. However, once he gets to games, he has a more contact-oriented approach.

There isn’t much speed in Conforto’s game and he’ll likely be relegated to left field defensively. His upside is solely based on how much power he develops. He has a chance to be a .280/.350 type of hitter but the question is…will it come with 15 or 25 home runs? We likely won’t learn much in 2015 as he’ll start the year in Savannah, which is a large ballpark that suppresses power. If you don’t believe me, ask Dominic Smith. He managed to hit exactly one home run in 2014 but there is also concern about how much power he’ll ultimately have.

Fantasy Impact: Michael Conforto can hit and that naturally puts him on my fantasy radar. However, he has below average speed and a wide range of a power ceiling so his overall fantasy impact could be light. In a year with a lot of high floor, low ceiling draft options, Conforto is one of the better ones. However, temper your upside projections.

6. Rafael Montero (RHP)

2015 Age: 23 Ceiling: #3 starter
Ht: 6-0 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2014 R,A+,AAA 86.0 74 33 4 3.66 9.10 3.45 1.27

Over the past two seasons, Rafael Montero and Jake deGrom have been working their way through the Mets organization together with Montero always demonstrating the better results. However, once they got to the major leagues, deGrom leapfrogged the 6-foot Dominican as his combination of size, stuff and pitchability was superior. It’s another example of why you can’t always look at the stats and instead need to factor many variables in projecting the success of a player.

While deGrom might be the better pitcher, Montero still has the upside to be a solid mid-rotation starter. He has a nice three pitch mix with his fastball sitting 92-94 MPH. It’s an average offering as he doesn’t get a ton of plane of the pitch and the result is more fly balls than ground balls. With more fly balls comes the risk of being homer prone and that’s what happened in his limited sample size of 44.1 innings in the big leagues, he gave up eight home runs.

His two primary secondary pitches are an 82-84 MPH slider that didn’t show the bite he had last year and a hard change-up that’s probably his best pitch. Both in time will miss bats.

Despite his elevated walk rate in the big leagues, Montero has always thrown strikes and I expect that to continue. He doesn’t have perfect mechanics as he falls off to the first base side on his landing but the posture and momentum is very good as is his ability to maintain his release point.

Fantasy Impact: Montero should challenge for a starting rotation spot out of Spring Training. Whether that will be in the Mets organization or not is the question. It’s an important question as his fly ball tendency will be somewhat mitigated by the large confines of CitiField and help him to reach his mid-rotation ceiling. Regardless, with his arsenal, he should strikeout close to a batter an inning, which could also play nicely in high leverage bullpen opportunities.

7. Amed Rosario (SS)

2015 Age: 19 Ceiling: Solid-Reg
Ht:6-2 Weight: 170 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2017
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 R,A- 296 41 2 27 7 .274 .320 80.4 5.6 .332

Gavin Cecchini was drafted in first round of the 2012 draft, is represented by Scott Boras and is likely the shortstop of the future for the Mets. However, I think Amed Rosario provides a superior overall package and assuming there is meritocracy within the Mets organization, Rosario has a very good chance at coming out on top.

While Cecchini might have the better defensive package, Rosario can hold his own at short with great hands and enough arm strength to make all throws. Despite good speed, his range is only average but even that should improve with repetition.

The offensive package is compelling. While he’s only 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, he has very good bat speed and as he fills out, could have above-average future power. He’s a free swinger but makes excellent contact (81%) with great plate coverage. I’ve seen several long at-bats with Rosario fouling off pitch-after-pitch. Granted, some of those pitches were balls but the hand-eye coordination is excellent.

His foot speed is also plus with the ability to steal 20 plus stolen bases. He also reads pitchers very well and that will help add to his total.

Fantasy Impact: Rosario is an intriguing fantasy prospect with the upside of 20/20 with a .270 batting average. The Mets have moved him very slow to-date but that will pickup in 2015 where Rosario will start the season in Savannah with a good chance to finish in St. Lucie. While Cecchini gets all the props, Rosario is the better options, particularly for fantasy owners.

8. Dominic Smith (1B)

2015 Age: 19 Ceiling: 2nd Div
Ht:6-0 Weight: 185 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2017
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 A- 461 52 1 44 5 .271 .344 83.3 9.8 .321

In our 2014 capsule about Met’s first base prospect, we wrote:”The big question is how much power Smith will develop.” After playing a year in one of worse parks to hit home runs, we still have the same question. “How much power will Smith develop?” It wasn’t only the lack of home runs that was a problem, Smith also slugged .338 across 126 games.

What Smith does well is hit. He posted a .271 batting average and a .344 on-base percentage in 461 at-bats with a 77K/51BB strikeout-to-walk ratio. The approach is advanced with excellent plate coverage but the swing is currently more line drive oriented and lacks the loft for power. He does have good bat speed and raw strength, so there is still hope that at least average power will develop.

Smith will start the 2015 season in St. Lucie of the Florida State League. Once again, home runs will come at a premium as the league plays in large stadiums with many that mimic the dimensions of big league stadiums. However, if you have power, it will play. Just ask Adam Brett Walker, Victor Roache, and Dan Vogelbach.

Fantasy Impact: While we can provide a lot of caveat, ok…excuses why Dominic Smith didn’t show power, it’s nonetheless disconcerting when you see one home run in over 500 plate appearances. For fantasy owners, you need to consider your options carefully. It’s conceivable that Smith could become a Yonder Alonso performer, maybe with a little more power, but you need your first baseman to provide plus power in the 25 plus home run territory. While it’s still possible, at some point we need to see production and not simply dream that the swing will deliver.

9. Steven Matz (LHP)

2015 Age: 22 Ceiling: #2 starter
Ht: 6-2 Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Left ETA: 2015-16
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2014 A+,AA 140.2 132 35 3 2.24 8.38 2.24 1.19

With his second consecutive outstanding year, Steve Matz is finally showing the results that the Mets anticipated when they made him the 72nd overall pick in the 2009 first year player draft. His fastball has a lot of natural sink and sits 92-94 MPH with his secondary pitches all showing above-average potential.  The most important thing is that Matz throws strikes -in 140.2 innings across High and Double-A, Matz walked just over two per inning while striking out 8.4 per nine. That pinpoint control and the ability to miss bats will be tested in Las Vegas, but it should be good enough for Matz to see New York at some point during the year.

Fantasy Impact: Despite the excellent performance put up by Matz in 2014, he’s not yet a household name in Dynasty Leagues. This can be traced back to missing the first two years of his professional career due to Tommy John Surgery. However, it’s time to spend for the talented 23-year-old as the upside is a number three/four starter on your fantasy team with seven to eight strikeouts per nine with better than league average ratios.

10. Gavin Cecchini (SS)

2015 Age: 21 Ceiling: 2nd Div
Ht:6-1 Weight: 180 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2014 A-,A+,AA 465 79 8 56 10 .247 .328 82.4 10.7 .279

Drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft (number 12 overall), Cecchini is showing the glove that will allow him to be an above-average defender at the highest level. He has excellent footwork, great hands and enough arm strength to make every throw. Offensively, he’s a pesky hitter who is able to make excellent contact while working at-bats deep into counts. He does have natural strength but his swing mechanics are built for contact and therefore it’s unlikely he’ll have any more than 40-grade power. He’s also an average runner with the possibility of 10 to 12 annual stolen bases.

Fantasy Impact: While the defense grades out as plus, the offensive package is below average. The upside will be in his ability to make contact and get on base. However, the upside on his power is 10 home runs while the upside on his stolen bases is similar. Overall, it’s a second division starter in a fantasy team and likely an injury fill-in player that will not hurt your team but will also not provide substantial upside.

2015 Emerging Prospect:

Marcos Molina (RHP)

19-year-old Marcos Molina took a huge step up in 2014 by dominating the New York Penn League. He has a plus fastball that sits 92-94 MPH and can touch higher with a plus change-up and slider that can miss bats as well. At 6-foot-3, Molina is very athletic with some physical projection to possibly add a grade to his fastball. He should start the 2015 season in Savannah and is poised to become one of the more talked about prospects in the minor leagues.

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