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New York Mets Top 20 2014 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Travis d'Arnaud
Travis d'Arnaud
Jason O. Watson

We continue our reviews of the pre-season prospect lists today with the New York Mets. Remember, this is the pre-season list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season grades.

This list was originally published January 13, 2014

1) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline A. 25 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, 4.67 ERA, 3.69 FIP with 144/42 K/BB in 131 innings, 153 hits. He’s had some outstanding outings and a few rough ones, which happens in the PCL, but has pitched more effectively in recent weeks. Not expected to make his MLB debut this year but should be ready for a full trial in ’15.

2) Travis D’Arnaud, C, Grade B+: Borderline A-. I expect he’ll be a solid major league starting catcher with power and good defense, although batting average/OBP may be erratic. Hitting .229/.292/.397 in 340 PA in the majors, wRC+93, fWAR 0.9. Has scuffled at times but the power is here and I think the other numbers will improve as long as he remains healthy.

3) Rafael Montero, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline A-. 15 starts at Vegas, 3.28 ERA, 3.71 FIP in 74 innings, 75/32 K/BB. 33 innings in the majors, 28/16 K/BB, 5.23 ERA, 6.07 FIP. Doesn’t have much left to prove in Triple-A, just needs more innings to adapt to the majors.

4) Dominic Smith, 1B, Grade B: Borderline B-. Hitting .272/.343/.338 in 506 PA in Low-A, wRC+94. Just one home run, which is not going to get it done as a first baseman. He makes contact, which helps, but has actually hit better in his hitting-difficult home park than he has on the road.

5) Kevin Plawecki, C, Grade B:
Borderline B-. Hit .326/.378/.487 in 249 PA in Double-A, .304/.366/.457 in 155 PA in Triple-A. Solid performance at both levels, on course for a trial sometime next year, very helpful to have two quality young catchers in the system.

6) Wilmer Flores, INF, Grade B: Borderline B-. Hit .323/.367/.568, wRC+138 in 241 PA in Triple-A, but just .224/.258/.301 in 164 PA in the majors, wRC+56. Obviously unacceptable offensively, but there’s nothing more he can learn in the minors and I think they just need to let him play awhile and see what happens.

7) Brandon Nimmo, OF, Grade B-: Hit .322/.448/.458 in 279 PA in High-A, wRC+165, then .255/.362/.427 in 259 PA in Double-A, wRC+122. Maintaining his eye for the strike zone while boosting his power production. Should be viewed as one of the top outfield prospects in baseball and a Grade B+ at this point.

8) Amed Rosario, SS, Grade B-: .282/.331/.367 in 268 PA in the New York-Penn League, wRC+107. Just 18 years old, reports are positive at this point, still learning to tap his strength and control the strike zone, also needs defensive polish, all issues to be expected given youth.

9) Gavin Cecchini, SS, Grade B-: Hit .259/.333/.408, wRC+108 in 259 PA in Low-A, then .234/.325/.349 in 255 PA in High-A, 95 wRC+. Has hit better recently. Always had the defensive rep and has shown a little more with the bat this year.

10) Cesar Puello, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .237/.345/.362 in 356 PA in Triple-A, wRC+89. That’s terrible for Las Vegas and the PCL. Enigmatic prospect, tools are still here but performance record is all over the map and the fact that he hasn’t hit well since returning from PED suspension fuels understandable skepticism.

11) Dilson Herrera, 2B, Grade B-: Hit .307/.355/.410 in 309 PA in High-A, 120 wRC+, then .333/.401/.544 in 274 PA in Double-A, wRC+160. Looks like a legitimate breakout season to me at age 20. Stock up, at least a Grade B and most likely a B+.

12) Jake DeGrom, RHP, Grade B-: 3.13 ERA in 17 major league starts, 3.10 FIP, 101/35 K/BB in 106 innings. Only glitch here is some shoulder trouble, but I think his performance is legitimate and not a fluke, assuming that he can avoid further injury problems.

Photo by Otto Greule, Jr., Getty Images

13) Vic Black, RHP, Grade B-: 33 big league innings with a 2.20 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 31/18 K/BB. Should be a solid middle reliever going forward, with a chance to close eventually if he can lower the walks.

14) Steven Matz, LHP, Grade C+: Strong season, 2.21 ERA in 69 innings in High-A with 62/21 K/BB, then a 2.17 ERA in 66 innings in Double-A with a 59/14 K/BB. Has always had the stuff when healthy and now he’s healthy. Should be ready for a trial next year sometime, and a potential mid-rotation starter if all goes well.

15) Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Grade C+: Hampered by a lat strain, has pitched at four levels with a combined 4.69 ERA, 65/20 K/BB in 71 innings. This includes 4.70 ERA with 39/12 K/BB in 46 innings in Vegas, which isn’t that bad for the level. Another guy who could be trialed next year.

16) Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Grade C+: 14 starts in High-A resulted in 3.95 ERA, 64/13 K/BB in 82 innings, 95 hits. Moved up to Double-A, for a 4.70 ERA, 36/11 K/BB in 59 innings, 71 hits. Throws strikes but hittable, reports indicate good fastball/change-up combination but questionable breaking stuff.

17) Luis Cessa, RHP, Grade C+: 19 starts in High-A, 4.25 ERA in 108 innings, 78/26 K/BB, 105 hits. Like Ynoa, reports indicate good fastball and change-up but questionable breaking stuff, which fits the numbers. Control best attribute at this point.

18) Robert Whalen, RHP, Grade C+: Has pitched well in Low-A, 2.18 ERA in 58 innings, 52/19 K/BB, 42 hits, 3.50 FIP. Next step is holding up to a larger workload.

19) Chris Flexen, RHP, Grade C+: I thought he was a breakthrough candidate but that was wrong, 4.83 ERA in 69 innings in Low-A, 46/37 K/BB, 75 hits, Tommy John surgery in late July.

20) Michael Fulmer, RHP, Grade C+: 19 starts in High-A, 3.97 ERA in 95 innings, 86/31 K/BB, 112 hits. Made one start in Double-A then went on the disabled list with a bone spur in his elbow. Status unclear.

Not a great season for the major league team at 62-71, but there is good news where young talent is concerned. D’Arnaud hasn’t hit for average and is erratic defensively but the power is there. If he stumbles, Plawecki will be ready for a shot next year. DeGrom has been excellent, and Syndergaard and Montero provide more youth pitching options for 2015. Jeurys Familia has adapted well to relief, with Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia providing young, lively arms. There are several potential young closers and southpaw strikeout artist Jack Leathersich will also get a trial soon.

Brandon Nimmo is developing quickly. Dominic Smith’s lack of power is disturbing, but the booming bat of 2014 first-rounder Michael Conforto from the 2014 draft has adapted quickly to pro ball. Herrera, Rosario, and Cecchini provide up-the-middle depth that any team would want. Infielder Matthew Reynolds, drafted in the second round in 2012, is hitting .346/.409/.459 between Double-A and Triple-A, which will push his name up the lists for 2015.

Unavoidable injury attrition has struck some young arms, but more are on the way with New York-Penn League star Marcos Molina (1.56 ERA, 81/17 K/BB in 69 innings, 41 hits) notably throwing bullets for Brooklyn. Lefty Blake Taylor, acquired from the Pirates in the Ike David deal, has more potential in his arm than his 5.16 ERA and 20/22 K/BB in 30 innings in the Appy League indicate. I’m a big fan of Steven Matz at this point, who has fought his way back from missing two seasons to injury.