|Original Published Date: Nov. 8, 2013|
Living in the New York area, I’m keenly aware of the disappointment that Mets fans have had over the past 10 years. It’s been highlighted by financial restrictions caused by the fallout from the Bernie Madoff scandal, the Omar Minaya regime that promised championship by bringing in older players such as Johan Santana, and to top it all off, their superstar pitcher tearing his UCL in August and facing the reality of Tommy John Surgery and a lost 2014 season.
But you know, I think I’d rather be a Mets fan than a Yankees fan as the Mets have young talent; particularly pitching talent. In addition to Harvey, Zack Wheeler demonstrated that he has a top-of-the-rotation profile and coming up behind Wheeler is Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. Both should make their major league debut in 2014 with Syndergaard having a ceiling of a number two and Montero a solid number three. Assuming three out of four of those guys develop and head the 2015 Mets starting rotation, that is a core that can eventually win a championship.
While the positional players are a little murkier, leading the list is Travis d’Arnaud, a first division talent that should be the Mets opening day backstop in 2014. 2013 first round pick Dominic Smith could be the Mets first baseman of the future assuming he develops 25 home run power. After that, there are good players in Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello (assuming his performance wasn’t totally PED-based), and Dilson Herrera, but no impact players.
I think the future is getting brighter for the Mets and 2015 could be the start of a very interesting run.
|2014 Age: 21||Ceiling: #2 starter|
|Ht: 6-6 Weight: 240||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014|
The Blue Jays gave up a ton to get R.A. Dickey in hopes of making a run at the post season. However, 88 losses later and with Noah Syndergaard now one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, they can’t be too happy.
It was a very good year for the 6-foot-6 Texan as not only did he dominate both High-A and Double-A, he was rewarded by starting the Futures Game in Citi Field. His fastball sat that hot afternoon at 94-96 MPH with a ton of late movement and an improved slider and curve that were getting swings and misses. He didn’t throw his change-up that afternoon but as with his breaking pitches, his secondary stuff is still in the emerging phase.
While he only pitched an inning that afternoon, it highlighted what has everyone excited – a mid 90’s fastball that can touch higher and most importantly, he can command it. His secondary pitches, while improved from 2012, are still not major league ready.
The delivery is ultra-smooth from Syndergaard. Not only is he 6-foot-6, he also has a high three-quarters delivery that provides even more 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 With his high three-quarters delivery, Syndergaard could be better served to focus on improving his curveball and ditching his slider.
Syndergaard should start the year in Triple-A and will likely be on a Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler mid-season call-up pattern. He could have instant success because of his ability to throw strikes, but to reach his ceiling of a number two, he’ll need to work on both his curve and change-up. It’s all there for the taking, he just needs time.
Fantasy Impact: Syndergaard could provide high strikeout totals with very good ratios. He could provide similar early success that Tony Cingrani provided in 2013. However his long-term success, as with Cingrani, relies on him improving his secondary offerings. If it all comes together, he has a ceiling of a number two.
|2014 Age: 25||Ceiling: Role 5-6
|Ht:6-2 Weight: 195||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2013|
Travis d’Arnaud has the upside to easily be the number one prospect in the Mets organization, but his inability to stay healthy is clearly holding his stock down. After starting the year on the DL, he spent only 32 games in the minor leagues before getting called up in mid-August. While his slash line of .202/.286/.263 in his 99 at-bats in New York is far from impressive, it was a limited sample size and he was held back by a .244 BABIP.
The scouting report on d’Arnaud is still very bullish. He has very good bat speed to accompany a natural lofted swing. While his .263 slugging was poor, there is plus power in the bat. He swing is also compact, which is not always the case with right-handed hitters with power. In fact, his swing mechanics should allow him to hit for both power and batting average.
That said he has a very aggressive approach at the plate that will put pressure on his batting average. He never has walked much across his professional career and unless he improves his approach, expect a .260 batting average.
Provided he stays healthy, he should start the year behind the dish for the Mets and get 400 plus at-bats. 2014 will likely be a transitional year as d’Arnaud gets acclimated to the rigors of catching in the big leagues. While he’s an above-average defender, there is still an awful lot to learn and that could have an impact on his offensive game.
Fantasy Impact: Travis d’Arnaud has the upside of a first division catcher in the major leagues. If it all comes together, he could have a few all-star appearances with the upside of 20 home runs and a .280 batting average while providing above-average defense.
|2014 Age: 23||Ceiling: #2 starter|
|Ht: 6-0 Weight: 170||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014|
Facing off against Noah Syndergaard in the Futures Game was 22-year-old Dominican Rafael Montero. Yeah, it helped that the game was in Citi-Field and to help promote the event, the league wanted two Mets hurlers to start the game. However, Montero had one of the best seasons in the minors for a pitcher and is now a Top 100 prospect.
Montero’s 2013 performance was impressive with a 2.78 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP with 150 strikeouts in 155.1 innings and 35 walks. If you’re keeping track, that’s a 4.29 K/BB rate with 16 of his 27 starts in the unfriendly confines of the PCL. His performance compares favorably to Zack Wheeler, who really struggled with the dry air conditions of Las Vegas.
Montero’s arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 92-93 MPH and a slider that I really liked. It has a sharp two-plane break that is delivered at 86-87 MPH. He also throws a slightly slower slider at 83-84 MPH that doesn’t nearly have the tilt of his harder slider. I would grade out the change-up as average, although he’ll get swings and misses with the pitch as he can throw it for strikes. The arsenal has the profile of a number three or four starter but the plus command allows the entire package to play up and therefore puts his upside as a solid number three or even a two.
The biggest knock on Montero is his size. At 6-foot and 170 pounds, some worry that he doesn’t have the size to handle the rigors of throwing 200 innings in the major leagues. It’s clearly a concern, but he did throw 155.1 innings in the minors in 2013 and finished the year by tossing a three hit shutout over 6.1 innings with eight strikeouts and a walk on August 30th.
While the Mets could play the Super-two game with Montero, there’s a good chance he will compete for a job out of Spring Training, particularly with Matt Harvey now lost for the season.
Fantasy Impact: There’s a lot to like with Montero and a smart fantasy owner should be adding him to their Dynasty roster. While he will not be a fantasy stud, he’s a mid-rotation starter that will get you plenty of strikeouts with better than league average ratios. Of course, wins might be few and far between as the Mets should continue to struggle to score.
|2014 Age: 18||Ceiling: Role 5-6
|Ht:6-0 Weight: 185||Bats: Left Throws: Left||ETA: 2016|
First basemen are generally not drafted out of high school as they are born out of defensive failure or physical limitations that force a move to first. However, one thing is for sure. To be a top rated first base prospect, you’ve got to be able to hit and preferably, hit for power. Enter – Dominic Smith.
Taken as the 11th overall selection in the 2013 draft, Smith has the classic smooth lefty stroke that screams contactability with excellent hand-eye coordination to enable him to control the direction of the batted ball. Even at 18-years-old, Smith is already showing a mature approach at the plate with a 37K/26BB ratio in 173 at-bats across the GCL and Appy League. The hit-tool has plus future potential with a .300 batting average at the highest level.
The big question is how much power Smith will develop. While there is bat speed to enhance his ability to make contact, he’s only 6-foot and 185 pounds. That’s not the physical profile that comes to mind when you think of your first baseman. However, he has broad shoulders and thick wrist that should allow him to fill out and develop power. How much power is the million dollar question and at this juncture, it’s hard to predict.
Smith should start the 2014 season in Low-A and his bat should allow him to move quickly through the system. In fact, I would not be surprised to see him split time between Low-A and High-A and be looking at a potential big league taste in 2016.
Fantasy Impact: It’s all about the power with Smith. If he develops 25 plus home run power, he could be a Joey Votto type of player for the Mets. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a James Loney type of player and only be rosterable in Only Leagues. Where do I stand? I’m buying!
|2014 Age: 23||Ceiling: Role 4-5
|Ht:6-2 Weight: 195||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014-15|
Signed for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Cesar Puello brought exciting tools and the promise of power and speed in a corner outfield position. While he was making steady improvements year over year, including stealing 45 bases in 2010, his aggressiveness was really holding him back as he routinely posted 4-6% walk rates. Plus, his high water mark for slugging was .423 that he posted in 2012.
Turning 22-years-old to begin the 2013 campaign, the Mets promoted him to the Double-A and things really started to come together. His walk rate improved to 8.5% and he posted an impressive .403 OBP while slugging .547 and hitting 16 home runs. Puello was turning into the player that Mets thought when they signed him…well, maybe…
Unfortunately the story came to an abrupt halt as Puello was indicted in the Biogensis scandal and was suspended for 50 games, playing his last game on August 1st. Since the minor league season ended in early September, he’ll likely miss most of April in 2014. Of course the big question is how much of his production was PED-induced? Which leads to the second question…why is he even on this list?
The fact is that Puello has very good bat speed and was always projected to grow into above-average to plus power. His plus speed was evident when he was signed and his ability to steal bases has always been there. This give me hope that there is something there with Puello and that hopefully with the PED suspension behind him, he can repair his game and continue his quest to make it to the big leagues.
Fantasy Impact: I’m going with the scouting report with Puello and I’m going to dismiss the 2013 performance. Therefore, I have Puello upside as a solid Role 5 player capable of 20/20 with a .270 batting average with a .330 OBP.
|2014 Age: 22||Ceiling: Role 4-5
|Ht:6-3 Weight: 190||Bats: Right Throws: Right
As with Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores taste of the Big Leagues was not stellar as he posted a .211/.248/.295 slash line in 95 at-bats before going out with an ankle injury and oh yeah, the return of David Wright. However, hitting in Vegas was a boom as he batted .321 while hitting 15 home runs in 424 at-bats. So, who is the real Wilmer Flores…the slugger we saw in Vegas or the light hitting third baseman we saw in New York? To copout, I’ll say somewhere in between the two.
Flores has always been able to make contact and has the bat speed and size to develop future above-average power. In fact, over 2,755 minor league at-bats, he has an 87% contact rate but also sports a 5.6% walk rate and therein lies the problem. His over aggressiveness and the belief that he can hit everything thrown at him is causing him to make a ton of weak contact. That pattern was repeated in his major league debut as he had a 23K/5BB ratio in 95 at-bats.
The thing that gives me hope is that he’s still only 22-years-old and is also fully aware of the problem. Developing a sound approach at the plate is something that takes repetition and analysis. The Mets have reportedly been working very hard with Flores on this. I’m mildly bullish that he can adapt and start to tap into his future power potential. I don’t see him as a star, but he has the upside of a Role 5 solid major leaguer. If the approach doesn’t improve, he’s probably an extra bat with a short major league career.
Fantasy Impact: Flores has been around for what seems like forever. As a fantasy asset, I’m not totally sold. He has great name recognition playing in New York and is a sell high candidate for me.
|2014 Age: 20||Ceiling: Role 4-5
|Ht:5-10 Weight: 150||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
As the Pirates were chasing their first playoff appearance since seemingly the Truman 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 was a big win.
I’ve long been a fan of the 19-year-old second baseman out of Columbia. He has surprising pop for a guy who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds. He slugged .416 while hitting 11 home runs in 442 at-bats in Low-A. Herrera has a quick compact swing where he does a good job staying inside the ball. He does have trouble picking up right-handed pitching, showing poor splits (.260 vs. RHP/.300 vs. LHP). While it’s a red flag, I think the bat will eventually play well enough for him to have an above-average hit-tool.
Speed is also part of his game as I grade his raw speed at a solid 65. While the 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts are rather pedestrian, I believe this will improve as he learns to read pitchers better.
Expect the Mets to take a slow and grow approach with Herrera. He’ll likely spend the entire 2014 season in High-A. They will want to focus on his right-on-right approach and improving his contactability.
Fantasy Impact: I am treating Herrera as a Top 250 prospect and therefore drafting him in most Dynasty Leagues. While raw, he could provide double digit power/speed with a decent batting average in an up-the-middle position. Not a star, but a chance to be a solid Role 5 contributor.
8. Steven Matz (LHP)
Selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, Steven Matz went under the knife and missed the entire 2010 and 2011 season recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Still suffering from some elbow tenderness, he only logged 29 innings in 2012. However, fully healthy in 2013, he burst back onto the scene and reminded everyone what the Mets had seen in him four years prior. His fastball has a lot of natural sink and sits 92-94 MPH with his secondary pitches all showing above-average potential. While it has been a slow start to his professional career, the Mets might truly have something with Matz.
9. Michael Fulmer (RHP)
After starting the year on the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his knee, Fulmer hit the ground in June and pitched ok with St. Lucie in High-A. He has an above-average arsenal with a fastball that sits 91-93 MPH with a lot of sink and a slider that flashes plus. His pitching mechanics are a problem though as it’s stiff with a cross fire delivery. This might ultimately move him to the pen and if that happens, his fastball should play up a grade.
10. Brandon Nimmo (OF)
Besides the nine prospects listed above, there are a lot of additional intriguing players in the Mets system including catcher Kevin Plawecki and RHP Andrew Church. However, I selected 2011 first round draft pick Brandon Nimmo as my tenth rank Mets prospect.
The best part about Nimmo is that he will only be 21-years-old to start the 2014 season. After that, candidly, there’s not a lot to get excited about. He’s big and athletic but swings and misses way too much and doesn’t have the command of the strike zone yet. As a runner, he’s average and the power that the Mets thought would develop, has not. The Mets will probably move him along in the mode of “no kid left behind”, but there are huge red flags surrounding Nimmo.
2014 Emerging Prospect
Amed Rosario (SS)
After signing the largest international signing bonus in Mets history, Amed Rosario got his first taste of professional ball in 2013 as a 17-year-old and held his own. He has nice bat speed and a projectable body at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds. That combination of bat speed and size should yield future plus power. He is also a plus runner but clearly has work to do as he stole two bases while being thrown out six times. You could see Rosario start to climb the Mets prospect list in 2014 and candidly, is already a better prospect than Brandon Nimmo.