If you didn't get a chance to read my primer on the series, click here to get the recipe to my "secret sauce" and how I go about ranking prospects. Here is a quick review on how the grading system works.
The Grading System
My grading system will be familiar to those who keep up with college football recruiting or played the MLB2K video game series as I use a star rating system from one to five stars with half grades in between. An outline of what each level would represent looks like this, but remember these are examples and not definite.
The cream of the crop. A five star rating is reserved for the elite talents of the minor leagues. These players do not have a glaring weakness and if there is a blemish on their record, it is miniscule. Don't expect to see many of these, as this is reserved for players with the best chance to become super stars or top of the rotation stalwarts. Call this a 75-80 or A rating.
The rest of the elite. A 4.5 star rating encompasses players that are still elite, but not the potential mega stars a five star player would have. Receiving a 4.5 star rating means the player has all-star caliber potential with a good chance of being in a contending team's starting line up and have a long career. A 4.5 star pitcher could be generalized as a future #2 or 3 starter. Equal to 65-70 or A-/B+ type.
Garnering a four star rating means the player has the potential to be a productive major leaguer with an all-star season or two in his career. Four star players should develop into regulars in the lineup, dominant relief arms or a mid-rotation starters. This kind of player may have a true talent level higher but injuries may hold him back from reaching their full potential. Similar to a B/B+ or 55-60 rated player.
A player receiving 3.5 stars projects to see time as starters in the majors, but more than likely on a team out of the playoff picture where a below-average season once in awhile won't kill them. Innings eating strike throwers would fall into this category, as would set up men and defensive-oriented starters. This would be a 50 or B-/C+ type of player.
Three star players are your back end starting pitchers and 4th outfielders. Relievers with live arms and control problems would fall into this category as would hitters who may lack enough tools to hold down a starting gig. Futures as a platoon player and swing men type capable of spot starting would be three star players. Recent IFA's with little or no track record usually are included here. A 45 grade or C+/C type player would fall here.
Not every one gets to collect MLB paychecks, but some get them every once in awhile. 2.5 star players are your up and down guys who shuttle between the big leagues and AAA. September cups of coffee cielings fall here, as are the injury replacements and players riding the waiver wire. These players aren't expected to make any serious impact. 40 grade players and C type or lower organizational filler.
Anything below 2.5 stars is someone who doesn't project to be a major league player, therefore they are not mentioned.
On to the Top 20 Prospects in the New York Mets organization, sorted by star rating. All ages are for the upcoming season and the affiliates mentioned are where I expect them to begin the upcoming season.
New York Mets
1. RHSP Noah Syndergaard - 22 years old, AAA Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of Paul Hadsall
2014 Stats -
The one they call "Thor" ran into his first rough patch in his career in 2014, posting career worst numbers in ERA, WHIP, K/9, BB/9, H/9, BABIP, and K/BB ratio. Despite all that, Syndergaard is still one of the top right handed pitching prospects in the game. A .378 BABIP is brutal no matter what league it's in, and with Syndergaard having to deal with the launching pads of the Pacific Coast League all year, with three of four teams in the PCL Pacific Southern division posting hitter friendly park factors. Syndergaard has three plus pitches headlined by a high octane, high 90's fastball to go with a curve and change up. He's shown good control and command throughout his minor league career and projects to have average to above average command at maturity. His 6'6, 240 pound frame, like fellow Texan Tyler Kolek's, is built to handle innings.
2015 Outlook -
2. LHSP Steven Matz - 24 years old, AAA Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire
2014 Stats -
The breakout prospect of the year for the Mets, Steven Matz split the 2014 season between A+ St. Lucie and AA Binghamton. The highlight of his year was a start in April where he threw seven shut out innings with just two hits and no runs allowed while striking out six with one walk. A 2009 draft pick that didn't make his pro debut until three years later, Matz has quickly made up for lost time. Entering his age 24 season, he looks to stay on the fast track since he's demolish any competition he's faced so far. A premium athlete listed at 6'2, 200 pounds, Matz has a mid 90's fastball he can put anywhere along with a plus change and good curve. He still struggles to spot the soft stuff, but looks like a solid #3 to me.
2015 Outlook -
The sheer domination Matz showed at the end of last year in AA makes me think he's on his way to Vegas to start the season. The PCL will be a challenge for him as will the more experienced hitters who can lay of breaking balls and change ups out of the zone. Depending how the season plays out for the parent club, Matz could spend the whole year in AAA or maybe get a last season call to Queens.
3. 2B Dilson Herrera - 21 years old, AAA Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports
2014 MiLB (A+ and AA) Stats -
2014 MLB Stats -
After coming over from the Pirates in a 2013 trade, Dilson Herrera broke out in a big way this past season. He started the year in the Florida State League and made his way all the way to the Big Apple by the end of the year. Herrera has all the makings for a starting second baseman, combining solid speed with excellent bat control, good defense, and surprising pop for a guy his size (5'10, 180 pounds). He's a guy that gets at least average grades across the board, but he's done very well in previous years despite being two to five years younger than league average. The Colombian native's hitting may be the only above average tool in his shed, but that's a pretty important one, and he fits the mold of a guy that plays above his tools.
2015 Outlook -
Unless the Mets decide to trade Daniel Murphy or he suffers an injury, Herrera is blocked for the time being. Look for him to go to AAA Las Vegas to get more high level reps as he only has just 278 plate appearances at the AA level, however impressive they were. In addition to allowing Herrera to face AAA pitching to begin the year, the Mets front office can also delay his arbitration clock a full year by waiting until mid June to bring him back up to New York.
4. CF Brandon Nimmo - 21 years old, AAA Las Vegas
5. RHSP Marcos Molina - 20 years old, Low A Savannah
6. LF Michael Conforto - 22 years old, Low A Savannah
7. C Kevin Plawecki - 24 years old, MLB
8. SS Amed Rosario - 19 years old, Low A Savannah
9. RHSP Matthew Bowman - 24 years old, AAA Las Vegas
10. SS Matt Reynolds - 24 years old, MLB
11. 3B Jhoan Urena - 20 years old, Low A Savannah
12. RHSP Rob Gsellman - 21 years old, A+ St. Lucie
13. RHP Akeel Morris - 22 years old, AA Binghamton
14. 2B LJ Mazzilli - 24 years old, AA Binghamton
15. LF Vicente Lupo - 21 years old, Low A Savannah
16. 1B Dominic Smith - 20 years old, A+ St. Lucie
17. LHP Dario Alvarez - 26 years old, MLB
18. RF Wuilmer Becerra - 20 years old, A- Brooklyn
19. RHSP Gabriel Ynoa - 22 years old, AAA Las Vegas
20. C Ali Sanchez - 18 years old, GCL Mets
Honorable Mentions (other 3 star players) - RHSP Michael Fulmer, LHP Kevin Canelon, LHP Jack Leathersich, RHSP Casey Meisner, 1B Jayce Boyd, SS Garin Cecchini, LF Cesar Puello, CF Champ Stuart
|New York Mets||Age||Pos||Team||Stars|
Team codes: AAA - Las Vegas 51's, AA - Binghamton Mets, A+ - St. Lucie Mets, A - Savannah Sand Gnats, A- - Brooklyn Cyclones, R+ - Kingsport Mets, R - Gulf Coast League Mets, DSL - Dominican Summer League Mets