|Original Published Date: November 15, 2019|
The moves the Mets made in 2019 did not pay off as they missed the playoffs. While it was a gallant effort, in the end, it likely hurt the organization more than it helped. While I know that statement is akin to playing “Monday morning quarterback”, when you trade the talent of Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Richardson-Woods, you gotta win. Those players are all controllable with all but Richardson-Woods in the upper levels of the minors.
Who’s left? While the system is less than it was last season, it’s still pretty good. Either Andres Gimenez or Ronny Mauricio should take over for Amed Rosario in the next year or two at short. Both have the upside of full-time regulars. Matt Allen was a great get in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft. The Mets should be applauded for taking the risk of drafting a difficult player to sign and getting it done. Francisco Alvarez also really played well and could develop into a top-flight catcher.
While I still do like the system, if only they would have kept the players the used to try and improve the Major League team. It could be a Top five system in the league which could have supported and made better a pretty good Major League team. Could it have put them over the top? Not by itself, but that’s why you have the free agency system. With the approach they took, the math gets hard as I’m afraid they are going to be left just a little short.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Andres Gimenez
- Biggest Mover: Francisco Alvarez
- Emerging Prospect: Alexander Ramirez
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1. Andres Gimenez (SS)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: Solid all-around skills with plus speed and enough power to keep pitchers honest. It can be aggressive at the plate. Should be ready for his Major League debut in 2020, or 2021 at the latest.
The Mets have pushed Andres Gimenez hard since signing him in 2015 out of Venezuela. At 20, he spent the entire 2019 season in Double-A which made him the fourth-youngest player in the league. In 117 games, he held his own slashing .250/.309/.387 with nine home runs and 28 stolen bases. Before you get too excited about the stolen bases, I’ve seen him play several times live and he’s far from a burner and did get caught 16 times. That said, I do think he could develop into a 25 to 30 stolen base threat.
His approach is very aggressive and consequently, he rarely walks. He does make decent contact but since he doesn’t have double-plus power, he would have more overall success if he were more patient at the plate. Speaking of power, he has put on weight and when I saw him in the Fall League in September, he was noticeably bigger and stronger. He did hit nine home runs in Double-A which is encouraging.
In 2018, the Mets were playing Gimenez more at second, in part because they believed Amed Rosario was their shortstop of the future. He may in fact be, but given his defensive struggles in 2019, a move to centerfield might be in the cards. It’s interesting to note that Gimenez was back to playing short full-time in 2019 and that could provide the impetus in moving Rosario off the position.
While I don’t see a star with Gimenez, he could be an interesting fantasy player because of his speed. Throw in 5 to 8 home runs and an Elvis Andrus type of player who can produce a .280 batting average with a .330 OBP and 25 plus stolen bases is in the making.
2. Matt Allan (RHP)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
- Tools Summary: Two potential plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. Great size. A lot to work with and the Mets have a history of developing pitchers.
I lived in the New York area for 18 years and the attitude towards the Mets was typically – “…well, they are the Mets. Of course, we expect them to blow it”. I get it, the Yankees are always competitive and when they are not spending their way to winning, they find the Gio Urshela and Mike Ford’s of the world to help. But the one thing the Mets have consistently done over the past few years is draft and develop pitchers. Matthew Allan might be the latest. Taken in the third round primarily due to his asking price and a sense that he wanted to go to college (Florida), the Mets were able to cobble together enough money to sign him. It cost them $2.5 million dollars, but the potential upside makes the investment a good one.
Allan has a great base in which to work. He already has a solid arsenal led by a fastball-curveball combination that should produce a ton of strikeouts. He’s also 6-foot-3 and a solid 225 pounds, which likely means there won’t be any additional velocity in his stuff, but it’s the kind of size that should allow him to remain a starter.
The upside is at least a number three starter but given the Mets history of developing pitchers, I’ve raised that ceiling slightly and could see it going even higher. I don’t view him as a Top 100 prospect yet, but that could change quickly if it comes together like I think it could.
3. Ronny Mauricio (SS)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: Athletic with wiry strength that should grow into power. He was very young for his level and held his own. Believe the scouting report and ignore the results for now.
The Mets were very aggressive with their prized 2017 International signee, Ronny Mauricio and assigned him to the Sally League to begin the 2019 season. As the second youngest full-time player in the league, he held his own quite well. In 117 games, he’s slashed .266/.306/.355 with four home runs and six stolen bases. He faded down the stretch hitting only .207 in August. Throughout his tenure, he’s always played excellent defense.
There is plenty of bat speed but his swing lacks loft, so it’s currently more doubles-power than over-the-fence power. He has very good bat control with a good understanding of the strike zone. The approach is very aggressive but given his age, I think he grows into some plate patience. He’s currently an average runner but not that adept at stealing bases as he was caught in 10 out of 16 attempts in 2019 and 6 of 7 attempts in 2018.
The bottom line is that the scouting report is well ahead of his performance. If it all comes together, I see a .270/.330/.430 with 15 to 20 home runs playing a great shortstop. While there is clearly some utility risk, we thought that about Andrelton Simmons before he started to show his power as he matured.
4. Francisco Alvarez (C)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 C
- Tools Summary: Solid on both sides of the ball with a chance to hit and hit for power.
One of the sexy pickups last summer in Dynasty Leagues was New York Mets catcher, Francisco Alvarez. It was for good reason. The 17-year-old started the year in the GCL and after posting a 1.395 OPS in seven games, the Mets moved him to the Appy League where he continued to play well. It should be noted that he was the youngest player in the league as well as being the only 17-year-old in the league.
There’s a lot to like about Alvarez from both an offensive and defensive perspective. He has a very nice compact swing with excellent bat speed that he gets from great hand and forearm strength. I like players that generate power this way as the power will look like it comes out of nowhere. Alex Bregman has great hand and forearm strength and at 6-feet and 180 pounds, he doesn’t look like he has 35 to 40 home run power, but he does. While I don’t think Alvarez will have that kind of power, I think he hits with a chance for 20 home runs annually.
On the surface, Alvarez has years before he makes his way to the Major Leagues. However, given what he did in 2019, he could easily start Low-A in 2020 and be in Double-A by 2022 with a chance to be a Top 100 player. Therefore, now is the time to invest.
5. Mark Vientos (3B)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
- Tools Summary: Pedestrian season but was very young for the level. There is plus power potential with enough contact to get to it.
Mark Vientos was one of the sexy pickups in 2018 for fantasy owners after showing good power and good plate discipline in the Appy League. However, after he got off to a poor start in Low-A to begin the 2019 season, owners started to flee. He wasn’t showing any power and only walked 13 times in his first 267 plate appearances.
Once the calendar turned to July, Vientos played better but in the end, he put up pedestrian numbers for the year. In 112 games, he slashed .255/.300/.418 with 13 home runs. The approach was very aggressive walking only 4.7% of the time and he struck out too much (24.2% K/9). Before we write him off, remember he played the entire season as a 19-year-old.
I do think there is not only more in the tank from a power standpoint, but I think the swing works and he’ll make the necessary adjustments to improve his approach. If it all comes together, I see him as a full-time regular in the big leagues with a chance for 25 plus home runs batting .260 with a .330 OBP. He’s currently playing third, but at 6-foot-4, a move to a corner outfielder position or even first base might be in the cards long-term.
6. Brett Baty (3B)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 1B
- Tools Summary: Plus raw power but his size should make a move to first base likely.
The Mets drafted Brett Baty in the first round (pick 12) in June’s MLB Draft and quickly signed him to an under slot $3.9 million dollars signing bonus. The Mets took the savings and were able to then select and sign Matthew Allan, a promising right-handed pitcher later in the draft. One of the knocks against Baty at the draft table was he was an older draftee. In fact, he turns 20 in November. Data shows that younger players, particularly high school players have a better rate of success than older drafted players Time with tell if that’s true with Baty.
The Mets moved Baty around in 2019 starting him the GCL while finishing up in the NY Penn League. In 51 games across the three levels, he slashed .234/.368/.452 with seven home runs and 16 doubles.
His carrying tool is his double-plus raw power that already started to show in his debut. Baty is currently a third baseman but given his size, a move to first base may be necessary. Regardless, the power should play at either position but at 6-foot-3, there will be holes in his swing and therefore, there will be pressure on the batting average. But in the modern game, that appears to be acceptable provided the production is there.
7. Thomas Szapucki (LHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
- Tools Summary: It was his first year back from TJ Surgery and he pitched well. Solid stuff from the left side with a lower three-quarter delivery.
Thomas Szapucki was a hot pickup in Dynasty Leagues a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, he blew out his elbow after only six starts in 2017. He spent the rest of 2017 and all last season recovering from Tommy John reconstructive surgery.
Fully healthy, he hit the mound in 2019 with the Mets being very careful with his workload. In fact, he didn’t pitch more than two innings in any outing until late June. The plan worked as the results were impressive. In 21.1 innings in Low-A, he pitched to a 2.02 ERA. He showed good swing and miss stuff, but his control was clearly not all the way back as he walked over four per nine. Next up was High-A and he pitched equally well. Finally, the Mets had him start his final outing in Double-A and again, he pitched well.
Szapucki has good stuff and it’s made even better because it’s coming from the left-side. He has a low three-quarters delivery which makes his stuff even that more difficult on left-handed batters. The delivery does present problems as right-handed batters get a longer look. This ultimately could limit his upside. With the Mets history of developing pitchers, I think his upside is a number three starter.
8. David Peterson (LHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Sinker ball pitcher with huge plane that gets a ton of ground ball. He could have a long career as an innings eater number four starter.
The Mets drafted David Peterson in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft (Pick #21). The hope was that he would develop into a mid-rotation starter or at worse a back-of-the-rotation arm. After three years, he’s developing quite well with a chance to see the Mets rotation at some point in 2020, or 2021 at the latest.
Peterson doesn’t have elite stuff, but it should be good enough to get big league batters out. His fastball is a low-90’s sinking offering that generates a ton of ground balls. Last season, his ground ball ratio was 52%, down from the 60’s in previous years. His home runs were up as well, but I don’t see this as a problem but more a reflection of better competition.
After spending the entire season in the Eastern League, he should start the 2020 campaign in Triple-A which should set him up for a call-up later in the year. The ceiling is a number four starter.
9. Freddy Valdez (OF)
- Highest Level: Rookie ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Big kid with big power potential. Based on early returns, it appears he might have a more advanced hit tool than originally believed.
Freddy Valdez was another big international signee for the Mets in 2018. He got off to a fast start to his professional career this year when he slashed .268/.358/.432 in the DSL. Once the Dominican season was over, he finished his year in the GCL where he played in the final weekend series of the year. He went 4 for 10 with a home run.
The Mets liked his power potential when they signed him and therefore, should be pleased with the .432 SLG he posted. But they should be equally pleased with his ability to control the strike zone. In 57 games, he struck out 18% of the time while walking 11% of the time.
If it all comes together, he profiles as a power-hitting corner outfielder who looks like he can hit a little as well.
10. Alexander Ramirez (OF)
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
- Tools Summary: The Mets big 2019 international free agent signee. He has solid all-around tools.
Alexander Ramirez was one of the premier international free agents available in the 2019-20 signing period. The Mets signed the 6-foot-3 outfielder for $2.1 million dollars and liked the overall skills that he brings to the table. He’s athletic with plus power potential and should be able to run a little, at least early in his career. He’ll start the 2020 season in the DSL and depending on how that goes, could even see some time stateside before the year is over. He’s a long way from the Major Leagues, but the skills are enticing.
11. Franklyn Kilome (RHP)
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff who just has not developed. He had TJ surgery and missed the entire 2019 season.
We ranked Franklyn Kilome very high when he was a member of the Phillies organization (#5 in 2016). He brought size and a double-plus fastball to the table. However, his development regressed as he hit Double-A when his control became a problem and he stopped striking guys out. The Mets saw an opportunity to buy-low and acquired him in a 2018 trade for Asdrubal Cabrera. As happens many times, Kilome felt a twinge in his elbow and missed the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Assuming he returns healthy, there is still a lot to like. Plus, now you’ve got the Mets guiding the development path and given their history, I’m encouraged. Before he got hurt, he was pitching better in Binghamton striking out more and walking fewer hitters.
12. Josh Wolf (RHP)
- Highest Level: Rookie ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
- Tools Summary: Has the makings of a solid arsenal.
The Mets drafted high schooler Josh Wolf in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. They started him in the GCL where he pitched extremely well striking out 11 and walking one in eight innings of work. The 6-foot-2 right-hander is known for his plus curveball but needs a lot of work on refining his fastball and other secondary offerings.
If it all comes together, there is number three starter upside and given where he was drafted, the Mets could aggressively assign him to Columbia to start the 2020 season.
13. Kevin Smith (LHP)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Reliever
- Tools Summary: Outstanding year but his below-average arsenal and delivery gives him a reliever profile.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Kevin Smith pitched extremely well in 2019. In 23 starts across Low and High-A, he pitched to a 3.23 ERA striking out 10 per nine while walking three per nine. He did spend most of the year in Low-A and as a 22-year-old SEC pitcher, the Mets could have been more aggressive. You see, college pitchers, particularly those from established programs should handle Low-A. Perhaps, the Mets were not sure that his stuff would play as well as it did.
Smith doesn’t have premium stuff as his fastball sits 89 to 91 MPH with a slider that is his primary out-pitch. There is a lot of effort in his delivery with significant recoil. He pitches in a lower three-quarters slot that gives his pitches some deception, particularly to arm-side batters (left-handed batters). I think he moves to the bullpen and could eventually be a lefty specialist if those still exist given the recent rule changes.
14. Shervyen Newton (IF)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Elite bat speed that could turn into plus future power. However, he’s striking out a third of the time.
Despite being overwhelmed in his first exposure to full-season competition, Shervyen Newton continues to be an intriguing prospect. At 6-foot-4, he’s a big kid with tremendous bat speed that could translate into future plus power. His problem, as with many kids, he just doesn’t make enough contact. In 109 games in the Sally League, he struck out a third of the time. To the Mets credit, they kept him at the level all year long. At some point, you need to let kids figure it out.
Will he figure it out? Probably not, but the bat speed is not something you see every day. The Mets will continue to work with him in hopes that he figures things out.
15. Adrian Hernandez (OF)
- Highest Level: GCL ETA: 2023+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
- Tools Summary: Showing power and speed but only played in four games in 2019.
The Mets signed Adrian Hernandez in the 2017-18 international free agent period to a $1.5 million dollar signing bonus. He showed plus athleticism in his debut in the GCL in 2018 where he hit five home runs and stole nine bases. He didn’t control the strike zone very well, striking out 18% of the time and walking only 6% of the time. After a strong opening weekend, his 2019 season was cut short after only four games. No word on the extent of his injuries.
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