New York Mets Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
New York Mets Top 20 for 2011
1) Wilmer Flores, SS, Grade B+: He's coming around with the bat. How fast will the new regime push him, and what position will he play long-term?
2) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Grade B: I'm concerned enough about his health to lower his grade a notch, but I still like him. Not a technical rookie due to service time, but under the innings limit and people ask about him.
3) Matt Harvey, RHP, Grade B: Love the power arm, but lingering questions about his command keep him from higher grade at this point.
4) Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B, Grade B-: I am very impressed with his power but concerned about defense and reports of bad work ethic.
5) Fernando Martinez, OF, Grade B-: Stock is starting to slip. Still young, still has potential, but development hampered by injuries and poor handling by previous front office. May need change of scenery.
6) Cory Vaughn, OF, Grade B-: Tools are excellent. If he maintains the improved approach he showed in the NY-P, he'll blossom.
7) Juan Urbina, LHP, Grade B-: Highly projectable but a long way from the majors. Grade is somewhat aggressive but I like what I hear about him.
8) Reese Havens, 2B, Grade C+: Would rank higher with at least a B- or a B if he could stay healthy.
9) Lucas Duda, OF-1B, Grade C+: Older prospect, turned on the power this year, should be a useful bat.
10) Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Grade C+: I think he'll be a useful fourth outfielder but if he can refine his skills further he could be a decent starter. I originally had him at 14 on this list, but looking at it again that was too low. That said, he's got some weaknesses with contact that have to be addressed. But he's younger and more athletic than Lutz and needs to rank ahead of him.
11) Zach Lutz, 3B, Grade C+: A third base version of Duda; lots of power, other skills marginal.
12) Cesar Puello, OF, Grade C+: Others may rank him higher due to speed and tools. Very young, fast, lack of power is a concern, many similar players have failed and something is making me cautious here.
13) Jeurys Familia, RHP, Grade C+: Still like the arm, could bloom if control sharpens up again. He's actually a sleeper again.
14) Armando Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+: Scouting reports point to mediocre stuff, but excellent statistics.
15) Sean Ratliff, OF, Grade C+: Was Double-A breakout genuine or a fluke? Has always had power, but strikeouts held him back.
16) Albert Cordero, C, Grade C+: Sleeper catching prospect features good glove, power, but needs to tighten strike zone.
17) Matt Den Dekker, OF, Grade C+: I think he can be a good fourth outfielder.
18) Darrell Ceciliani, OF, Grade C+: Younger and faster than Den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis, but less polished.
19) Jefry Marte, 3B, Grade C+: Improved slightly and very young.
20) Mark Cohoon, LHP, Grade C+: Finesse lefty could reach majors in '11.
21) Dillon Gee, RHP, Grade C: He can eat up innings but I think his ceiling is limited.
OTHERS: Kyle Allen, RHP; Manuel Alvarez, RHP; Eric Campbell, OF-3B; Robert Carson, LHP; Jose De La Torre, RHP; Ryan Fraser, RHP; James Fuller, LHP; Erik Goeddel, RHP; Kai Gronauer, C; Brian Harrison, 3B; Brad Holt, RHP; Vincente Lupo, OF; Steve Matz, LHP; Elvis Sanchez, 3B; Josh Satin, 2B-1B; Robbie Shields, SS; Justin Turner, 2B; Jordany Valdespin, INF.
The Mets farm system is not bad; they have a large number of Grade C+ prospects, some of them potential role players and others possible regulars who have question-marks. The exact order of the Grade C+ players is difficult to determine. If you are looking for long-term potential then you should move the younger guys ahead of Duda and Lutz.
I am impressed with the depth in C+ guys. What the Mets lack are surefire elite types; even their best prospects (Flores, Mejia, Harvey, Aderlin, F-Mart, etc) have some sort of problem or doubt that prevents a higher grade at this point.
There is great potential for improvement here. Aderlin-R, Vaughn, Urbina, Puello, Familia, Armando-R, Cordero and Ceciliani are all capable of having breakouts leading to higher grades next year. Recent Latin American signees Lupo and Sanchez could be excellent but I am cautious until we see them in North America. Robbie Shields strikes me as someone to watch closely the further he gets from Tommy John. Havens could be really good if he just stays healthy.
The Mets are aggressive in Latin America but fairly passive in the draft. Will the new front office change that? Overall, this organization will be fascinating to watch in 2011.