New York Mets

Original Published Date: Nov. 6, 2012

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started researching the New York Mets organization.  I knew that the promotion of Matt Harvey in July would reduce the overall talent, but I didn’t realize how much until I got deep into the process.

First the good stuff.  Zack Wheeler has a chance to be a very special pitcher.  He has a great fastball/curveball combination with good command and excellent pitching mechanics.  However, his change-up is below average and still needs work.  Wilmer Flores also had a nice bounce back year and it looks like his approach is improving.  After that, it gets very uncertain.

Domingo Tapia and Jeurys Familia have big arms, but the arsenal is far from complete.   Brandon Nimmo has a lot of potential but is still very raw and a long way from New York.  Gavin Cacchini, the Mets 2012 first round draft pick, looks like a defensive-first infielder who could hit for average but with very little power.

Wheeler is a no brainer for my top 100 list with a possible top 25 placement.  After that, I’m not sure any player will make the list, although Flores might start to creep up if he continues to build off his 2012 season.

1. Zack Wheeler (RHP)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Georgia
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2013
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AA-AAA 149.0 115 54 4 3.56 8.93 3.26 1.17

When the season started, there was a debate as to who the number one prospect in the Mets organization was.  However, on July 26, the 11 strikeout performance by Matt Harvey proved that he was ready for the majors, leaving Zack Wheeler to carry the torch.

Wheeler found his way to the Mets via the Carlos Beltran trade at the 2011 trading deadline.  He pitched most of the year in the Eastern League, posting a 3.26 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 116.0 innings.  By primarily using his plus-plus fastball and plus curve, Wheeler was able to strikeout over a batter an inning.  However, his change-up is lagging the other two pitches and still needs development.  I know the war cry for promoting Wheeler to the big leagues has already started in New York, but I believe the Mets need to hold their ground and keep Wheeler in Triple-A for an extended period of time.  That said, Triple-A is now in Las Vegas, so that may be a dicey proposition.

Zack Wheeler’s pitching mechanics are excellent with outstanding posture, balance, and follow through.  The delivery is incredibly easy and it seems almost impossible that he could be throwing in the upper 90’s.  However, when you’re athletic and have all of the physical attributes working together, the delivery will be easy and relaxed so that the ball explodes out of your hand.  Because he throws so hard, he has a tendency to work up in the zone and therefore his ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio is low.  However, he gave up only four home runs the entire year, proving that it’s difficult for minor league hitters to catch-up to his plus-plus velocity.

Fantasy Impact: The long-term projections for Zack Wheeler are very high with a ceiling of a number two starter or more.  I believe Wheeler needs more grooming, but with Triple-A now in Las Vegas, Wheeler could find himself in New York by July.  If I’m drafting in a Dynasty League, I’m investing in Wheeler as a top 10 minor league pitcher with relatively low risk.

2. Wilmer Flores (3B)

2013 Age: 21 BP: Venezuela
Ht:6-3  Weight: 190 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
2012 A-AA 493 68 18 75 3 .300 .349 87.8 7.7 .306

Statistically, Wilmer Flores had a bounce back year in 2012, posting a slash line of .300/.349/.479.  However, while his 2011 performance took Flores off many Top 100 prospect lists, he was one of the youngest players in the Florida State League (FSL) last year and even in 2012, was the fifth youngest player in the FSL.  If you’ve thrown away Wilmer Flores first year baseball card, it’s time to hunt through the trash can, because Flores is back on the map.

The biggest improvement from 2011 to 2012 was in Flores approach and this was statistically reflected in his walk rate moving from 5% to 8%.  He definitely worked counts better and given his elite contactability (88%), this should bode well for a future above-average hit tool.

The biggest question facing the Mets on Flores is where he will play?  He’s slow with poor reaction times, so his current position of third base seems to be a poor fit.  While he has a very strong arm, his lack of speed seems like a poor fit for the outfield.  Ideally, he profiles best as a power hitting designated hitter, but unfortunately, that role is not available.

Fantasy Impact: While Flores has emerged back on the prospect map, his lack of a position limits his upside.   However, there are a lot of power-hitting outfielders who are below average defenders, so I would not ignore Flores on my fantasy team.  If I’m in a Dynasty League with 150-200 minor league slots, I’m buying.

3. Brandon Nimmo (OF)

2013 Age: 20 BP: Wyoming
Ht:6-3  Weight: 185 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2016-17
2012 R 266 41 6 40 1 .248 .372 70.7 17.3 .328

I got a ton of questions from Mets fans after the 2011 draft asking me what I thought about the selection of Wyoming native Brandon Nimmo.  My response went something like this:  great athlete, tons of upside, but not many people have seen him play since they don’t play high school baseball in Wyoming.  A full season later, I think it’s safe to say that he’s athletic with tons of upside, but he has a long way to go before he makes New York.

Nimmo showed very nice plate discipline in his first significant taste of professional ball, walking an impressive 17% of time.  He also struck out a lot with a contact rate of 71%.  In reviewing his at-bats, he clearly takes a lot of pitches, but I’m not sure it’s as much a great approach vs. being overly selective at the plate.  A lot of the pitches I saw him take were not borderline but instead had a large part of the plate.  If I were the Mets, I’d be encouraging Nimmo to be more aggressive.

Nimmo was a track star in high school but tore his ACL during his junior year.  While the injury should be fully healed, he has emerged as an average or slightly above-average runner.  In fact, I clocked several 4.35’s down the line and that couple with only one stolen base has me concerned whether speed will be part of his game.

Fantasy Impact: You have to have a very deep Dynasty League to roster Nimmo.  That said, there is talent and I’m anxious to see what the full season Sally League brings

4. Luis Mateo (RHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: D.R.
Ht: 6-3 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 SS 73.1 57 20 2 1.10 10.43 2.45 0.90

I’d heard about Luis Mateo for years – a young right-handed Dominican with a power-pitcher’s body and an electric fastball that he could throw in the mid 90’s.  And then for several years, I heard nothing; in fact, I forgot about him until he turned up with the Mets.  It turned out that Mateo, like many young Latin players, ran into visa problems due to lying about his age.  The Mets signed him in 2011 at age 21 after Mateo cleared his visa hurdle and subsequent suspension.

In 2012, he pitched in the New York Penn League at the age of 22 and was completely dominating.  In 73.1 innings, he struck out 85 and walked nine.  The mid 90’s fastball showed a lot of life and sink while his slider was nearly unhittable.  Again, it’s the NYP League and he’s 22 year old, but the stuff looked really good.

From a pitching mechanics, Mateo has some work to do.  Similar to Tapia, Mateo has a low three-quarters delivery; it’s not quite as pronounced as Tapia, but he’s definitely slinging the ball to home plate.  While his posture looks good, his balance is inconsistent; looking like he’s going to fall down on some of his pitches.

Mateo is a lottery ticket for the Mets and while he was overpowering in 2012, the Mets will not know what they have until he moves to High-A or even Double-A, which could be in 2013.

Fantasy Impact:  While Mateo is intriguing, he is only rosterable in Dynasty Leagues that have at least 300-400 minor league slots.

5. Domingo Tapia (RHP)

2013 Age: 21 BP: D.R.
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 LowA 108.2 92 48 2 2.66 8.40 3.98 1.14

Signed out of the Dominican in 2009, Domingo Tapia had a really nice year in the South Atlantic League (SALLY).  He throws a plus two-seam fastball with a lot of sink that sits in the mid 90’s and peaks in the upper 90’s while producing a 4.54 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio (G/F).  He pounds the strike zone and produced a nice 8.40 K/9 while only giving up 2.66 BB/9 in 108.2 innings.

Tapia also throws a nice change-up that when combined with his fastball provides a nice 1-2 punch that keeps hitters off-balance.  What’s missing is an effective breaking pitch.  In fact, he just plain doesn’t throw many and without developing a curve or slider, his ceiling may ultimately be limited to the bullpen.

From a pitching mechanics standpoint, he throws from a low three-quarters angle that produces a lot of deception.  The delivery is easy with good posture and balance.  However, in general, you like your starting pitchers to have a more classic high three quarter delivery to ease pressure on the shoulder.

While I like the potential in Tapia, particularly the sinking fastball that he’s able to throw for strikes, the delivery and lack of a breaking pitch will ultimately move him to the bullpen.  However, the move to the bullpen could be in the late inning variety as his stuff is definitely closer worthy.

Fantasy Impact: I have Domingo Tapia on a board in my office to remind me to check in on him frequently.  While I don’t think he’ll make it as a starter, he could be in the mix for saves down the road.  I would ignore Tapia in all Dynasty League formats.

6. Jeurys Familia (RHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: D.R.
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 230 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2012
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AAA 137.0 145 72 8 4.80 8.41 4.80 1.59

A lot of Mets fans seem to be enamored with Jeurys Familia and believe that he has top of the rotation potential.  While it’s hard to pigeon-hole a person when they are 22 years old, Jeurys Familia is a reliever in my book.

Familia has a great pitching body at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds.  He has a plus fastball that averaged 96.63 in his brief stint in the major leagues in 2012.  His slider visually looked average to me and that was supported by this PitchFx data (in a limited sample size of 32 pitches), which showed poor movement.  He also throws a change-up that I would grade out as average.

His pitching mechanics are not smooth; instead his delivery is forced, almost “herky-jerky” in nature that makes it nearly impossible for him to find a consistent release point.  His statistical profile supports the poor mechanics as he walked 4.80 batters per nine in 137.0 innings in Triple-A.

Fantasy Impact: I know I’m out on limb, but I don’t believe Familia is draftable in a Dynasty League.  I think he profiles as a max effort reliever.  While he could see save opportunities down the road, I like Tapia and Mateo as better options.

7. Gavin Cecchini (SS)

2013 Age: 19 BP: Louisiana
Ht:6-2  Weight: 180 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
2012 SS 196 23 1 22 5 .240 .307 77.6 9.2 .301

Gavin Cecchini was the New York Mets first round draft pick in 2012 (pick 12).  His older brother Garin was drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth of the 2010 draft and while Garin has a lot of raw power potential, Gavin is smaller and profiles as a line drive hitter with some gap power.

Cecchini is a plus defender with a good arm that should be able to play shortstop at the highest level.  He is athletic with good speed that should translate to 15-20 stolen bases annually.  His hitting mechanics are not great with a very “arm-ie” swing that is limiting his ability to take advantage of the natural kinetic energy that you get when your lower half is driving the swing.

Fantasy Impact: Gavin Cecchini can be ignored in all Dynasty League formats as he profiles as more of a defensive player.   While there will be some speed and a .280 average, the fantasy upside is limited.

8. Cesar Puello (OF)

Puello had a down year, partially as the result of a broken hamate bone that cost him two months of the season.   His best tool is his plus-plus speed that he demonstrated by stealing 19 bases and only being thrown out twice.  He also has cannon for an arm that many scouts believe that if the hit-tool does not develop, he could move to the bump.  He’s an extremely aggressive hitter and only walked seven times in 227 at-bats in 2012.

9. Michael Fulmer (RHP)

Oklahoma high school pitcher, Michael Fulmer was taken in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft.   His fastball sits 93-94 MPH, but doesn’t have a lot of life.  He keeps it up in the zone and consequently I’m surprised that he only gave up six home runs during the year.  He throws a hard slider that I think can become a plus pitch.  His change-up is still a work in progress, but it looks like it could become at least an average offering.

10. Rafael Montero (RHP)

Rafael Montero is yet another young Dominican right-handed pitcher that the Mets are moving through their system.  Montero’s fastball is above average as it sits 91-92 with a lot late life. As opposed to Familia, he can throw it for strikes, which was reflected in his 1.40 BB/9 rate.  His curve ball is below average and at this juncture, the Mets should consider moving him to exclusively throwing a slider.

8 comments on “New York Mets

  1. You mention in Wheeler’s right up, that AAA is now in Las Vegas, like it is a big negative. What is the reason for that? The gambling? The heat? The pitching environment? Distance from the big club? Please elaborate.

    • The Mets Triple-A affiliate moves to Vegas and it’s an extreme hitters park. The ground is like cement and the ball really carries. Ironically, D’Anaurd played in Vegas with the Blue Jays and destroyed and the same thing will likely happen with the Mets.

      Wheeler could get hit around and you always worry about “the loss of confidence” thing, but the more I see Wheeler pitch, the more I’m convinced that he has monster talent that will do well wherever he pitches. Big fan.

  2. Out of curiosity, where would d’Arnaud and Syndergaard slot now that they’re part of the Mets organization?

    • Great question and I will formally move all the prospects who have moved in the past month to their new teams and then call it a day. Can’t move players forever. However, d’Arnaud is a top 15 overall prospect for me and the best catching prospect in the minors – I like him more than Zunino. However, he comes in second behind Zach Wheeler who I think will be special. I’ve also liked him more than Harvey, who I also like. Guy could be a one!

      I would put Syndergaard at #3, after d’Arnaud. I wrote him up on the Blue Jays page. I like him a lot with a #2 upside.

      • That seems to be the general consensus from what I’m reading online. Everyone keeps Wheeler at #1 but moves everyone else down two spots to squeeze in d’Arnaud and Syndergaard at #’s 2 and 3, respectively. Thanks for replying!

  3. I’m surprised not to see Aderlin Rodriguez on the list. He showed some pretty good power for a 20 year old in A ball this year. he’s certainly on my cut list again this year in my 24 tm dynasty though.

    Funny thing when looking at Cesar Puello’s stats. His overall line isn’t half bad until you realize that his OBP is inflated by his propensity to get hit by pitches.

    • Aderlin Rodriguez is a good call. He’s a classic long swing, highly leveraged, and dead pull hitter. His strikeout rate has been ok, but I think as he progresses, it will climb. Jose Molina slow and makes a ton of errors though, so I’m not sure 3B is for him; probably makes sense for him to move to 1B in the long run. Not a Top 10 guy for me, but I can see why you think so.

      Puello HBP are insane. Third most in the league but he had 200 less at-bats then the two in front of him. Crazy

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