|Original Published Date: November 13, 2015|
We’ve said for the past two years that we would prefer to be a Mets fan than a Yankees fan. We loved the setup!
The Mets minor league system was full of great young arms and even with the loss of Zach Wheeler, they had the depth to not miss a beat. Did we anticipate that Yoenis Cespedes would be acquired and become Babe Ruth? Well no, but when you have great young pitching, you can pick up big league batters for the stretch run or even justify their signing more than a free agent pitcher in the off season.
To go for it, the Mets minor league system took a hit. Steve Matz is still officially in the system and provided he can stay healthy, has the upside of a solid number two starter. Dominic Smith is the next highest ranked guy and after two seasons of not believing, we are on board and believe that the power will indeed come. Brandon Nimmo continues to make steady progress and should be in the mix to help the Mets in 2016. He can really hit but his secondary skills are light.
A little further away are a trio of Latin born players in Amed Rosario, Wuilmer Becerra, and Jhoan Urena. All have the chance to be everyday players with Rosario having a chance to be the shortstop of the future for the Mets. Gavin Cecchini is closer and could actually help the team next year. While he’s a nice all-around player, Rosario has the superior skillset.
While the minor league system is a little down from the last two years, if you look at the organization in it’s entirety, the Mets have some of the best young talent in all of baseball. They arguably have the best young pitching staff in the big leagues. In addition, they have two young impact bats in Conforto and d’Arnaud already in the majors with several more nearly big league ready. They also have Michael Cuddyer…well, everybody makes mistakes…
|2016 Age: 25||Ceiling: #2 starter|
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 200||Bats: Right Throws: Left||ETA: 2015|
Mets fans waited and waited and finally Steven Matz was called up to the major leagues on June 28th and all was right with the world for exactly 7.2 innings. After earning his first major league win, Matz reported to the trainer’s room with what turned out to be a partial tear in his lat muscle. Unfortunately, it’s been a story all too familiar for the talented lefty.
Throughout his career, the only thing that has slowed Matz down is injuries. He had Tommy John reconstructive surgery shortly after being drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft and missed the first two years of his career. He then pitched only 21 innings in 2012 before finally hitting his stride and health in 2013.
Scouting Report: When you miss that much time early in your career, obvious durability questions are raised. However, what nobody has concerns about is Matz stuff and pitchability. He has a three pitch mix that begins with a double-plus fastball that averaged 95.32 MPH in his first exposure to the big leagues. He has excellent control of the pitch and is able to locate it in the bottom of the zone, resulting in a ton of ground balls. With an 18 MPH separation, his curve ball is a real weapon and gets plenty of swings and misses. While the change-up is clearly his third pitch, it’s a terrific pitch in his own right.
If you add it all up, Matz has three above-average pitches (two plus) with plus control and command that continues to improve. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Matz doesn’t really have the body that suggest he can log 200 plus innings annually, the Mets believe he can and will continue to start him every five days.
If he can stay healthy, Matz has a chance to be a number two starter in the big leagues – a top 20 pitcher in the entire league.
Fantasy Impact: It’s scary to think that Matz might be the fourth best pitcher in New York. He’s really good and only going to get better. If you own him in a Dynasty League, congratulations and well done!
|2016 Age: 21||Ceiling: 1st Div
|Ht: 6-0 Weight: 185||Bats: Left Throws: Left||ETA: 2017|
Playing in his second full season of professional ball, Dominic Smith continued to demonstrate both the good and the concerns that evaluators have had since the Mets took him with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft. As he did in Low-A, he showed the ability to control the strike zone by posting an 84% contact rate and walking 35 times in 497 plate appearances. Also similar to last year, he didn’t hit with much power. Granted it was much better than the .338 he slugged in Savannah, a notorious bad place to hit for power, he still only managed to hit six bombs while slugging .417.
Scouting Report: Dominic Smith can really hit with a chance to post a .300 batting average annually. He’s got good size and strength and enough leverage in his swing to suggest he’ll eventually hit for average power. That said, he’s hit seven home runs in almost 1,000 plate appearances over the past two years. However, he’s always been very young for the league and he did hit four of his six home runs in July and August. Hopefully that is the start of a trend.
Defensively, Smith will be restricted to first base. However, he’s more athletic than you would think and is a good defender with excellent foot work. He has below average speed, so stolen bases will not be part of the calculus.
Fantasy Impact: I’ve been on the fence for the past two years with Smith. I couldn’t decide if he was more Joe Mauer or more Freddie Freeman. While I think there’s a 5% chance he duplicates the 2013 season of Freeman, I believe there’s a 50% chance he duplicates his 2014 season and therefore I’m leaning Freeman. The risk of course is that I’m wrong and he’s more Joe Mauer but there’s enough evidence forming that I’m willing to take the risk. The upside is a .290 batting average, a .350 on-base percentage and 20 home runs.
|2016 Age: 20||Ceiling: 1st Div
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 170||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2017|
It’s pretty hard to get excited about a slash line that reads .257/.307/.335 in 103 games in High-A, but that’s what 19-year-old Amed Rosario did and I am indeed excited. Why? The Mets essentially skipped Rosario over Low-A as he only played in seven games at Savannah as they thought he was ready for the challenge of the higher level. Secondly, he was the third youngest player in the Florida State League and despite the stat line, held his own.
He made very good contact at 81% but his youth showed through as he was very aggressive at the plate, walking only 5.5% of the time. He also showed his plus speed by stealing 12 of 16 bases. Finally, his defense, which is ahead of his offensive game, was stellar. He showed great quickness and only had 17 errors in 527 chances.
Scouting Report: Rosario has a chance to be a really good baseball player. He’s has a high baseball-IQ which has helped him meet the challenges the Mets have thrown at him since he signed as a 16-year-old in 2012. The feel for hitting is very good despite an aggressive approach. He’s short to the ball with good bat speed and a swing that suggest more doubles than home run power. However, at 6-foot-2, he should put on weight and add strength, and as he does, he should develop more power. Some sources have told me they see a ceiling of average future power. I’m going to scale that back to 5 to 10 home runs annually.
While Rosario has plus speed he has only stolen 22 bases in 238 games. He looks hesitant on the base paths and just doesn’t get good reads. The Mets will continue to work with Rosario on this aspect of his game with a chance to steal 20 bases annually in the future.
Fantasy Impact: Rosario will likely be a better baseball player than a fantasy option. Offensively, his ceiling is a.280 batting average with 5 to 10 home runs and 15 to 20 stolen bases. That would make him a solid contributor at shortstop but he has a long way to go before that ceiling can realized. He’s hit five home runs and stolen 22 bases so far in his minor league career. Patience is the operative word.
|2016 Age: 23||Ceiling: Solid Reg
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 205||Bats: Left Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
Expectations have been high for Brandon Nimmo since being taken with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the very deep 2011 first year player draft. How deep was that draft? 10 of the 12 players taken before Nimmo have already made it to the big leagues and nine players taken after him have made it. Some of the players include Gerrit Cole, Jose Fernandez, Anthony Rendon, Sonny Gray and Blake Swihart.
Born and raised in Wyoming, Nimmo was a gamble for the Mets. He had the athleticism that teams dream on, but given the late spring in the upper plains, high school baseball is not possible. Therefore, Nimmo had to learn his craft over the summer in American Legion Ball and on the showcase circuit. If you consider the advantages that living in most other parts of the country provide to a young baseball players, it’s impressive that Nimmo got drafted and now sits on the doorstep of the major leagues.
Scouting Report: Nimmo broke out in the Florida State League in 2014 posting a .322 batting average while striking out 51 times and with 50 base-on-balls in 279 plate appearances. He continued to demonstrate the ability to control the strike zone in 2015 by posting a 75K/44BB strikeout-to-walk ratio. While Nimmo’s hit tool is advanced, the power has yet to develop. While he has the bat speed and natural strength to have average over-the-fence power, his swing is more contact-oriented and doubles will drive his slugging percentage instead of home runs.
Nimmo has average speed but is a poor base runner. He speed plays better in the outfield as his long strides allow him to cover a lot of ground. However, it just doesn’t work as well on the base paths and therefore it’s hard to project more than a handful of stolen bases annually.
Fantasy Impact: I’m going to throw out a comp for Nimmo that is going to make fantasy owners cringe – Allen Craig. Nimmo is a better athlete and will provide superior defense but the hit tool and power are similar. I doubt Nimmo has a 22 home run season in him, but he could hit 12 to 15 home runs and steal a handful of bases during his peak year with a .360 plus on-base percentage. That’s a good player but not a star.
|2016 Age: 22||Ceiling: Solid Reg
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 200||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
After four years in the league, we are starting to get a good sense as to the player Gavin Cecchini should become once he makes it to the big leagues. He can hit with a great approach but with below average secondary skills (power and speed).
In 344 games in the minor leagues, Cecchini has done a great job in controlling the strike zone with a contact rate of 84% while walking 9% of the time. He’s pretty much done that at each stop along the way but it was good to see him accomplish this in Double-A; in fact improving his contact rate to 87.5%. He also hit his high watermark in slugging this year but it was fueled more by his 26 doubles.
Scouting Report: Cecchini has a great approach with a very good understanding of strike zone. His swing is short and compact to the ball but it also lacks leverage which is why we don’t see any more than 10 home runs annually. He’s also an average runner with good base running skills that should also add a handful of stolen bases annually.
Defensively, Cecchini is a quality defender and has the chops to stay at the position long-term. While he doesn’t have the offensive upside of Wilmer Flores, he is a better hitter and a far superior defender. While the Mets will likely start him in Triple-A to begin the 2016 season, he could see New York sometime in the second half.
Fantasy Impact: Cecchini will be a better baseball player than a fantasy contributor. There’s just not enough upside in his secondary skills to see him as more than a middle infielder in a deeper league or an injury replacement. The upside is a .280/.350 hitter with 70 runs scored, high single digit home runs and a handful of stolen bases.
|2016 Age: 21||Ceiling: 1st Div
|Ht: 6-4 Weight: 190||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2018|
Wuilmer Becerra was signed by the Blue Jays out of Venezuela in 2011 to a $1.5 million dollar signing bonus and then traded as part of the deal that brought R.A. Dickey to Toronto in 2013. He was actually the extra piece that just adds insult to injury on what is turning out to be a very expensive deal for the Jays.
He had an excellent year in Savannah slashing .290/.342/.423 with nine home runs and 16 stolen bases. To highlight how much Grayson Stadium suppresses power, Becerra nine home runs lead the team. The Mets hope that their new digs in Columbia SC will play a little more neutral so they can better evaluate their players.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Becerra looks the part. He has plus present raw power that is starting to translate into in-game power that will probably not start to show up in box scores until he moves to Double-A. He improved his strikeout rate from 24% in 2014 to 19.7% in 2015. If that continues, it should allow him to tap into his above-average future power. He’s still needs to work on his approach as he can get anxious at the plate and start chasing pitches out of the zone.
Becerra has good speed once he’s underway, but does not have a quick first step. While this should play fine in the outfield, it will limit his base stealing ability. While the 16 bases he stole this year was nice, he doesn’t profile to steal more than high single digits as he continues to progress through the minor leagues.
Fantasy Impact: Becerra is an intriguing prospect in which few Dynasty League owners have on their radar. The upside is 20 home run pop with a .260 batting average and a handful of stolen bases. Plus there could be more power in the tank. He should be owned in all Dynasty Leagues that roster 200 or fewer minor league players.
|2016 Age: 21||Ceiling: Solid Reg
|Ht: 6-1 Weight: 200||Bats: Both Throws: Right||ETA: 2018|
The Mets were so impressed with the Jhoan Urena’s 2014 short season performance, that they decided to skip the 20-year-old Dominican over Low-A and straight to the Florida State League. While Urena has the potential to be a big leaguer one day, the jump to High-A proved to be very difficult and he wound up with a .524 OPS over 64 games. He did miss six weeks of the season due to a wrist injury but didn’t hit before the injury or after the injury. Then again, he did post a .265 BABIP that helped contribute to his .214 batting average.
Scouting Report: Despite his struggles in 2014, there’s a lot to like with Urena. He’s a switch hitter with great hand-eye coordination and the bat speed and strength to barrel the ball with authority. Through his struggles, Urena continued to make good contact (80%) without showing split problems.
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Urena is a big kid with a stocky lower half and while he’s stolen bases in the past, I don’t see this as a big part of his game. He does have plus raw power and with this hit tool, should develop above-average if not plus in-game power down the road.
Fantasy Impact: It’s tough to get excited about a player that hit .214 but that’s not stopping us. He has plus raw power and the bat control to eventually get to it. I would be considering Urena in Dynasty Leagues with 200 to 250 minor league players.
|2016 Age: 22||Ceiling: #4 starter|
|Ht: 6-4 Weight: 200||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016-17|
Robert Gsellman has been flying under-the-radar in the minor leagues despite a 2.86 ERA over 424.1 innings in five seasons. Part of the reason was the lack of hype prior to the 2011 draft which saw him eventually taken in the 13th round. However, he’s been making slow and steady progress through the minors which culminated in 2015 with success across High and Double-A. In 24 starts, he posted a 2.89 ERA, giving up eight hits per nine while only walking 2.3 per nine. He doesn’t have swing and miss stuff and that was reflected in his low strikeout rate of five and half per nine.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds (he might be a little heavier than that), Gsellman has smooth and simply mechanics that allow him to easily repeat his delivery. The fastball sits 90 to 92 (T94) with average at-best secondary pitches. However, they all play up because he’s able to throw strikes and command his fastball well. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t miss many bats and he’ll have to rely on getting weak contact to progress up to the upper minors.
Fantasy Impact: The upside of Gsellman is a number six pitcher on a fantasy team. That’s makes him marginally rosterable. However, his pitching-IQ is high and Dynasty League owners need to keep him on a short list as he could have periods of effectiveness in the big leagues.
|2016 Age: 23||Ceiling: #4 starter|
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 160||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016-17|
Gabriel Ynoa throws strikes at an impressive rate. In 111 games in the minor leagues from the Dominican Summer League through Double-A, he has walked 94. That’s a walk rate of 1.32 and the definition of 80-grade control. Ynoa’s control is also a lesson for every pitcher coming through the minors. When you throw strikes, you have a chance to win games. In his 111 games, he’s won 47 of them.
Scouting Report: While Ynoa has 80-grade control, he lacks a plus secondary pitch and therefore, doesn’t miss many bats. In those same 111 games, he has only 420 strikeouts or less than six per nine. His fastball has good velocity, sitting 92 to 94 MPH but it’s relatively flat and he tries to elevate the pitch to get it by hitters. The result is some swings and misses but a lot of fly balls as well. His best secondary pitch is a slider that needs more repetition, but could eventually grade out as an above-average pitch.
The Mets would be well served to add a two-seamer to Ynoa’s mix. His four seamer is too flat and with more movement on his main pitch, it should help him keep batters off balance and also induce more ground balls. Additionally, he needs to work on improving his secondary pitches.
Fantasy Impact: Ynoa is somebody to watch. Pitches who can pound the strike zone and spot their fastball can become useful big league pitchers. I doubt I would pick him up in a Dynasty League that rosters less than 300 minor league players, but he’s getting Double-A batters out and he’s nearly ready.
|2016 Age: 19||Ceiling: 2nd Div
|Ht: 6-0 Weight: 200||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2019|
After a questionable signing of Michael Cuddyer, the Mets forfeited their 2015 first round pick and took high school outfielder Desmond Lindsay in the second round (pick 53). Desmond played well in his professional debut, slashing .263/.364/.386 in 35 games across the GCL and the NY Penn League.
Scouting Report: Lindsay is a good athlete and has a chance to develop several 50 plus tools. He runs well, has good bat speed with even strength to have average future power. While he doesn’t have a true plus carrying tool, the sum of the parts point to a potential everyday major leaguer.
His swing is compact and short to the ball with plenty of bat speed. His swing mechanics lack loft, so the power is more doubles than over-the-fence power, but as he fills out and adds strength, he could hit 8 to 12 home runs at the highest level.
Fantasy Impact: Lindsay needs to get on Dynasty League owners radar. He’s likely not ownable in leagues that roster 350 or less prospects but the overall skills are intriguing.
2016 Emerging Prospect
While the Blue Jays were the big winner in the Guerrero sweepstakes this past July, signing Vlad Jr. for a $3.9 million dollar signing bonus, the Mets stuck their toe in for his cousin Gregory Guerrero. It was a cheaper option but still cost the Mets $450,000. Guerrero best tool is his ability to hit. He has plenty of bat speed and projects to have above-average power once he matures and fills out. He’s listed as a shortstop and has the athleticism to stay there but some observers see him moving to second bse long term.