|Original Published Date: November 17, 2017|
2017 was a sobering year for the Mets. The pitching fell apart. Matt Harvey is not the same pitcher. Noah Syndergaard missed most of the season with a lat strain, Steven Matz spent more time on the DL than not and Yoenis Cespedes played in only half the games. The result was just a bad year. The good news is that Dom Smith and Amed Rosario got time in the majors and both look like they can help. In Rosario’s case, I think he’ll be a star. The injured pitching staff though is a problem and I worry that 2015 will be their high water mark.
On the farm, it’s also not the same system. Players have graduated and the Mets are left with players that are a number of years away. Their top prospect is 2017 first round pick, David Peterson. While he’s a college pitcher, he will not likely help the parent club until 2020. I love Justin Dunn, but there is concern that he might be hurt. Their three best positional players are young shortstop Andres Gimenez, Tomas Nido and Pete Alonso. While I like Gimenez the best, Nido and Alonso should help sooner. I don’t see any of them as true impact players.
The Mets had their chance and did have a magical year. If their current pitching staff returns to form, they will be good once again. If not, I don’t like the team in the short or long-term.
Highest Level: Short Season, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
The Mets selected left-handed pitcher David Peterson with the 17th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft after an impressive year pitching for Oregon in the PAC-12. In 15 starts, he posted a 2.51 ERA with 140 strikeouts and only 15 walks. His ability to throw strikes earned him a 9:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a three million dollar signing bonus.
Because of his heavy workload in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings in the NY Penn League where he had no problems. In those three starts, he struck out six and walked one. In fact, you can argue his one walk was a “shocker”.
Scouting Report: Peterson doesn’t have overwhelming stuff but his arsenal plays up given his ability to command each pitch. His fastball sits in the low-90’s with some tailing action away from arm-side batters. He also throws a slider and change-up and while neither pitch is considered plus, both play up because he can throw them for strikes.
While the arsenal is just average, what gives Peterson his number two or high number three ceiling is not only his ability to throw strikes. At 6-foot-6 and great extension, his pitches jump on hitters. He also throws from a lower three-quarters delivery, which could make him prone to home runs but will make his pitches very difficult on left-handed batters.
I like the upside of Justin Dunn more than Peterson, but Peterson gets the nod as the top prospect in the organization partially because he’s healthy and partially because Dunn’s stock has taken a hit based on his poor season. That shouldn’t take anything away from Peterson. Young pitchers who can command three pitches usually move through the minor leagues quickly and contribute early and often at the big league level.
Fantasy Impact: I don’t think Peterson is a Top 100 prospect but more of a Top 150 prospect. I think the floor is very high and he’ll profile at worse as a number four/five pitcher in a 15-team mixed league. As his secondary pitches get sharper, the upside is a top 30 to 40 starting pitcher in fantasy.
Highest Level: High-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
The Mets sent Justin Dunn, their top pitching prospect entering the season to High-A to begin the season, skipping him over Low-A. Based on his college pedigree and how easily he handled the New York Penn League, it was a logical assignment. However, things did not go according to plan.
While the fastball was still electric, it wasn’t enough to overcome the quality of competition and he struggled. In 20 games, 16 starts, he posted a 5.00 ERA, striking out 7.1 batters per nine but walking a very concerning 4.5 batters per nine. Then on August 8th while warming up for a start, he felt tightness in his right forearm and did not pitch for the remainder of the year.
Scouting Report: Dunn’s best pitch is his fastball that sits 92 to 95 MPH and can bump higher. His primary secondary pitch is his hard slider that has a tight two-plane break that misses a lot of bats. He struggled to turn-over his change-up and consequently, glove-side batters sat on his fastball and feasted to the tune of a .325 batting average.
His mechanics are very simple and with plenty of athleticism and because of that, he’s able to repeat his delivery. At 6-foot-2, he’s not the size that teams are looking for when they draft a pitcher in the first round, but the stuff, mechanics, and current control are all there to give him a number two starter profile. However, he needs to improve his feel for his change-up or his upside will not be achieved and a move to the bullpen could be back in the cards.
Fantasy Impact: While it was a bad season for Dunn, including a season that ended early due to an arm injury, I still like the upside. Change-ups can be taught and he’s in the right organization for that. If not, he was a closer in college, so a return to that role would be a nice consolation prize for owners.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020-21, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
After signing a $1.2 million dollar signing bonus during the 2015 J2 signing period, Venezuelan Andres Gimenez excelled in the Dominican Summer league the following season. The Mets were so impressed by what he did in 2016 that they aggressively assigned him to Columbia, their Low-A affiliate to begin the 2017 campaign. How significant was that? That was something that they didn’t do with Amed Rosario after they signed him 2012.
As the second youngest positional player in the Sally League, Gimenez held his own. In 92 games, he hit a respectable .265 with a 15% strikeout rate and a 7% walk rate. He also added four home runs and 13 stolen bases but he did get caught eight times.
Scouting Report: There’s a lot to get excited about with Gimenez. He’s a quality shortstop with a good chance to stay at the position long-term. He has above-average foot speed and tons of bat speed. At 6-feet and 160 pounds and a swing that is more doubles-oriented, he lacks current raw power. However, as he fills out, the power should increase but unfortunately, his foot speed could drop a grade. He does need to improve his baserunning as his stolen base success rate is very poor.
What Gimenez can do is hit. He has natural bat-to-ball skills and a very good understanding of the strike zone. While his age says it will take four years to work through the system, he’s already forcing the issue with his hit-tool. He’ll start the 2018 season in High-A as a young 19-year-old and will likely spend the entire season there. Things could accelerate for him in 2019.
Fantasy Impact: I love rostering players that can control the strike zone and despite him only being 18-years-old, all indications are that Gimenez will hit. While he’s not yet a Top 100 prospect, he could force the issue at the beginning of the 2019 campaign. Now is the time to buy-in. The upside is a .300 hitter with 20 stolen bases and 10 to 12 home runs.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 Catcher
Tomas Nido was one of the Mets breakout players in 2016 after hitting .322 with a .822 OPS in High-A. The Mets promoted him to Double-A to begin the 2017 campaign and while the surface stats were not good, there’s still a lot to be excited with the six-foot catcher.
In 101 games he slashed .233/.287/.356 with eight home runs. While not a great stat line, he continued to make great contact (83%) while improving his walk rate to 7.2%. His ISO did drop 20 points, but I still think he hasn’t tapped yet into his plus raw power. The primary reason for the bad batting average was a .255 BABIP and while the .346 BABIP in 2016 was sky high, if we split the difference at .305, his expected batting average is more .270 than .230.
Scouting Report: I’m very bullish on Nido and believe he’s underrated. I’ve seen him in batting practice and there is more power to come. Plus, he’s demonstrated now for two years the ability to control the strike zone. His contact rate is above-average, if not plus and with an improving walk rate, a .270 average with 15 to 18 home runs could be a reasonable baseline.
Defensively, he has a hose for an arm, throwing out 44% of would-be base stealers. He also calls a solid game and pitchers like throwing to him.
Fantasy Impact: Unless you’re an elite catcher like Francisco Mejia, catchers have a tendency to be ignored in prospect circles. I know I do. While Tomas is not an elite catching prospect, he should be owned in all two-catcher Dynasty Leagues, if not deeper one catcher leagues. The upside is a .270 hitter with 15 plus home runs who will play because of his defensive ability. That’s a nice player.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 1B
Pete Alonso graduates from our emerging prospect to the big-boy table.
His year started with a thud when he broke his hand in an early April game and spent six weeks recovering on the DL. When he returned, the power did not and he struggled to find his grove until the calendar rolled over to July. The power started to show and the Mets decided to promote him to Double-A where he finished the year in fine fashion.
Across High and Double-A, he hit .292 and slugged .530 with 18 home runs. There’s more over-the-fence power that will develop, probably as soon as his hand fully heals. When it does, he has the chance to hit 30 plus home runs at the highest level.
Scouting Report: Alonso’s calling card is his double-plus raw power. It’s more born out of strength than bat speed, but he’s far from a lumbering first baseman that just pulls everything. There is power to all fields and it’s easily seen in batting practice. The swing is shorter than I had anticipated and his 18% strikeout rate that he’s shown so far during his professional career indicates he can make good contact. He is aggressive and will expand the strike zone and is prone to making weak contact when he does.
Defensively, he’s a decent infielder with more athleticism than you would think. There is no speed so stolen bases will not be part of his game.
Fantasy Impact: In scouting circles, evaluators discount right-right first baseman and therefore, Alonso will not get a lot of love in non-fantasy sites. However, there is 30 home run pop in his bat and enough plate coverage to get to it.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020-21, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
After a stellar 2016 season, I was excited to see what Thomas Szapucki would accomplish in 2017. In a word…not much. He started the season late due to a shoulder impingement and then during a July 6th start, left with discomfort in his left forearm. A few weeks later he had Tommy John Surgery and will likely miss most if not all of 2018.
It was a blow to him and candidly to a Mets organization that’s farm system has gotten thin in a hurry. Plus, with a major league pitching staff who could not stay healthy last season, they could ill afford to lose an up and coming talent like Szapucki for over a year. Finally, assuming he misses the entire 2018 season, he will return as an old 22-year-old in 2019 (birthday is in June) having only pitched 29 innings above short-season ball.
Scouting Report: Because of his injury, we have re-published our 2016 scouting report with limited updates.
The Mets have worked with Szapucki over the past year to move his arm slot in order for him to throw more upright and results are impressive. He’s now sitting 92 to 94 MPH and can bump higher. His change-up has also improved and that in conjunction with a plus curveball, gives him the tools to get big league batters out one day.
His control is still work-in-progress and would be even better if he moved his arm slot even more. However, that might reduce the spin on his breaking pitch so finding the perfect balance is the objective. He is athletic and I believe he will be able to repeat his delivery and the control has a chance to be solid-average moving forward.
Fantasy Impact: Szapucki’s surgery adds considerable risk to his profile, but assuming he comes back healthy, he still has a chance to be a Top 30 fantasy pitcher. I have lowered his ceiling slightly to account for the increased risk due to TJ surgery, but he has all the ingredients to be a high strikeout pitcher and with improving control, a chance to have solid ratios.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Second catcher
Pat Mazeika started the season in Port St. Lucia but hit his way to Binghamton in August before missing the last week of the season on the DL. While he shared time behind the plate with Tomas Nido, he doesn’t have the defensive chops of Nido, but might be the better hitter.
In 106 games across High and Double-A, he hit .290 and walked almost as much as he struck out (50BB/59K). His contact rate was impressive at 84%. The Mets played him at catcher, first and DH with hitter seemingly his best position.
Scouting Report: Mazeika has excellent bat-to-ball skills and enough size and strength to eventually hit for average power. His understanding of the strike zone is bordering on elite. The bad news is given his size, he’s likely not a catcher. The Mets have played him at first, where he showed some promise, but I’m not sure he’ll have enough power to profile at the position as a first division player. I’ve talked to some evaluators who believe there is more pop in the bat, but I see a line drive stroke and a 12 to 15 home run ceiling. Things can change and given the major league environment where Elvis Andrus is now a power hitter, perhaps Mazeika will indeed develop more power.
Fantasy Impact: I love guys that can hit and Mazeika can definitely put the barrel to the ball. The problem is that I don’t see him as a catcher long-term and I don’t believe he has enough power to play first. If you add it all up, the profile doesn’t work at the moment but as stated earlier, things are changing in the major leagues, so anything seems possible.
Highest Level: High-A, ETA: 2020-21, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
Jordan Humphreys got off to an impressive start to the 2017 season where he dominated Low-A hitters. Over 11 starts, he posted a 1.42 ERA while striking out 80 and walking nine. In mid-June, the Mets promoted him to High-A where he felt arm discomfort after his second outing. Two months later he had Tommy John reconstructive surgery. He’ll be lost for the entire 2018 campaign but should be ready to go to begin the 2019 season.
Scouting Report: Not only does Humphreys lose a year of development, but he’ll also return in his age 23 season, likely back in High-A. That will put him on course, assuming all goes well, to make his major league debut when he turns 25.
Humphreys has a four-pitch mix of mostly average pitches. His low 90’s fastball does have good life but all of his pitches play up because he’s able to throw them for strikes. I wouldn’t characterize him as a command and control pitcher as his stuff is a little better than that, but he’s far from an overpowering pitcher without a true out-pitch.
Fantasy Impact: A lot of people added Humphreys after his great opening to the season. He can pitch but his skill-sets points to more of a major league number four starter or a number six or seven pitcher on a fantasy staff. Add in that he now has to rehab for a year after having TJ surgery, and it might be time to look elsewhere.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020-21, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
Desmond Lindsay looks like he walked out of central casting for ballplayers. He’s an athletic 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds that has that confident gate you like to see in athletes. His problem, since the Mets drafted him in the second round in 2015 MLB Draft is that he’s not been able to stay healthy. 2017 was no exception. He missed time in mid-June due to a hamstring injury; an injury that seems to be chronic in nature. After rehabbing that injury, he lasted two weeks before his season ended on July 20th with an elbow injury that eventually needed surgery. It wasn’t TJ Surgery and therefore he should be back to begin the 2018 season.
Scouting Report: Desmond Lindsay has the most intriguing skills in the Mets minor league system. He has great bat speed with enough size to eventually hit for above-average if not more power. He’s a plus runner that should be able to steal 20 bases while showing a very good understanding of the strike zone. The problem is he’s never been able to translate that talent into the stat line. He did show a little pop before suffering his season-ending injury but he’s never shown the plus speed on the bases. Perhaps his chronic hamstring issues are to blame.
Fantasy Impact: It’s frustrating for Lindsay, the Mets brass and for fantasy owners. The talent is clearly there but injuries are a problem with the most concerning being his recurring hamstring issues. He remains in our Top 10 list because of the upside, but at some point, if he can’t stay healthy, we will have to move on and so will Dynasty League owners.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
I’ve never been all that high on Gavin Cecchini and 2017 was yet another year of solid if unspectacular performance. First, despite a .267 average in 110 games in Triple-A, he can hit. In 453 at-bats, he only struck out 12% of the time while walking 8% of the time. His ability to put the bat on the ball is just impressive. He does roll over too much on the ball which is causing him to have a high ground ball rate, which in turn produces a low BABIP and low home run totals.
Scouting Report: Cecchini has a great approach with a very good understanding of the 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 baserunning 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. In the end, I think he’s a utility infielder in the big leagues and therefore, he holds little value in fantasy baseball leagues.
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. But if he gets full-time at-bats as a fill-in for say Amed Rosario, in deeper leagues, he will not hurt you and might even produce in the difficult runs category.
2018 Emerging Prospect
The Mets signed Ronny Mauricio to a $2.1 million dollar signing bonus last July, $400K more than they signed Amed Rosario in 2012. While Mauricio has six to seven years of development in front of him, the physical tools could be impressive. At the moment, he’s tall and skinny but has a great swing with good raw power and an understanding of the strike zone. The Mets have a history of moving their high-end Latin signees quickly, so don’t be surprised to see Mauricio in the states sometime in 2018.