New York Mets Top 20 Prospects for 2018
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. All of these grades are subject to change as the winter progresses.
The final grades will be finished sometime in February when all 30 teams are complete.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least 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.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. 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.
1) Andres Gimenez, SS, Grade B/B+: Age 19, hit .265/.346/.349 against older competition in Low-A, with 14 steals, 28 walks, 61 strikeouts in 347 at-bats; huge jump from Dominican Summer League and he held his own very well; best offensive tool is speed, not much power at this point but his OBP skills look solid so far and he could be a top-of-the-lineup mainstay as he develops physically; more reliable than most shortstops his age and has the arm, hands, and range to stay there; makeup also a significant positive; ETA 2021.
2) David Peterson, LHP, Grade B/B+: Age 22, first round pick in 2017 from University of Oregon; short leash in pro ball with just 3.2 innings but in NCAA play he went 11-4, 2.51, with an excellent 140/15 K/BB ratio in 100 innings; fastball anywhere from 88 to 94 but plays up due to excellent slider and workable change-up; given 6-6, 240 pound frame it is possible his fastball velocity may improve further with pro coaching; even if it doesn’t, his ability to throw quality strikes with solid stuff will get him to the majors quickly; ETA 2020.
3) Peter Alonso, 1B, Grade B-/B: Age 23, second round pick in 2016 from University of Florida; hit .289/.359/.524 with 18 homers, 27 walks, 71 strikeouts in 353 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; showed very good power despite feeling the effects of a hand injury much of the season; doesn’t strike out much for a home run bat but can be somewhat aggressive and a few more walks would be nice; or not, right now there’s not much reason to change his approach since it works; bigger concern is defense, with a career .980 fielding percentage at first base, an unacceptable ratio at that position; past defensive rep was positive so glove will hopefully improve; ETA 2019.
4) Mark Vientos, 3B, Grade B-: Age 18, second round pick in 2017 from high school in Plantation, Florida; hit .262/.318/.398 in rookie ball with 14 doubles, four homers, 15 walks, 46 strikeouts in 191 at-bats; while the numbers don’t stand out on the surface, he was just 17 during the regular season; scouting reports are enthusiastic about his bat speed and general feel for hitting; he could hit for both power and average down the line; originally a shortstop, but his range fits best at third base; will need some time but a high-upside bat; ETA 2022.
5) Luis Guillorme, SS-2B, Grade B-: Age 23, 10th round pick in 2013 from high school in Coral Springs, Florida; hit .283/.376/.331 with 72 walks, 55 strikeouts in 481 at-bats in Double-A; has no power at all with a career SLG of .328, however he makes contact readily and has a terrific eye for the strike zone; it is possible he may show more pop eventually, but even if he doesn’t his defense will get him to the majors; a very good defensive shortstop but has been truly outstanding when used at second base; ETA late 2018.
ANALYST NOTE: The top five seem clear to me but after that it gets very mushy: most of the following players have definite positives but all of them have some kind of question-mark that makes them difficult to rank.
6) Thomas Szapucki, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 21, fourth round pick from high school in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; posted 2.79 ERA in 29 innings in Low-A, 27/10 K/BB before blowing out elbow and needing Tommy John surgery; likely the best overall pitching prospect in the system before he got hurt, featuring fastball up to 97 MPH and an excellent curveball; at this point we need to see how he responds to surgery; ETA 2021. QUESTION MARK: health
7) Chris Flexen, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, 14th round pick in 2012 from high school in Newark, California; excellent season in the minors, 1.76 ERA in 61 innings between High-A and Double-A with 63/10 K/BB; promoted to majors ahead of schedule and was blasted, 7.88 ERA in 48 innings, 36/35 K/BB, but still retains rookie eligibility for ’18; in the minors he looked like a solid Grade B prospect with above-average to excellent command of low-90s fastball, curve, and change; I think that’s all still in there but he’s going to have to learn from adversity; ETA 2018. QUESTION MARK: getting crushed in the majors.
8) Marcos Molina, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; missed all of 2016 with Tommy John, came back to post 3.21 ERA in 107 innings in High-A and Double-A with 86/26 K/BB; numbers were pretty solid actually, particularly his control, but scouting reports were oddly muted; hit 97 MPH before injury but was more in the low-90s last year; mixes in slider and change-up; reports indicate that these pitches weren’t as good as they were pre-injury, but again, he held his own in Double-A even if the stuff was down a bit; ETA: 2019; QUESTION MARK: disconnect between surface numbers and scouting reports.
9) Desmond Lindsay, OF, Grade C+/B-: Age 21, second round pick in 2015 from high school in Sarasota, Florida; not a good year, hitting .220/.327/.388 in 214 at-bats in Low-A; had hit .297/.418/.450 the year before in short-season ball; jealous of the injured pitchers, he went down in July with “ulnar transposition surgery” to correct numbness in his hand; the injury may have been responsible for his poor performance; shows solid-average power at his best with decent strike zone judgment and above-average speed but has a long injury resume dating back to high school; ETA 2021; QUESTION MARK: health.
10) Tomas Nido, C, Grade C+: Age 23, born in Puerto Rico but went to high school in Florida, drafted in eighth round in 2012; hit .232/.287/.354 with eight homers, 30 walks, 63 strikeouts in 367 at-bats in Double-A, then went 3-for-10 in the majors; excellent defender who approaches 50% of runners caught with very low passed ball and error rates; has some pop and controls zone well, had some issues adapting to Double-A pitching but has hit better in the past and the Mets will be patient considering his defense; ETA 2018; QUESTION MARK: will he hit enough to play regularly?
11) Corey Oswalt, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, seventh round pick in 2012 from high school in San Diego, California; posted 2.28 ERA with 119/40 K/BB in 134 innings in Double-A, 118 hits; soft-tosser when drafted, which has probably hampered his reputation to this point; fastball is now in the “good enough” range at 90-95, which works due to his ability to locate; has a complete arsenal of secondaries with curve, slider, change; all pitches generally considered average, nothing terrific but he knows how to use them; likely a fourth starter but could max out along Collin McHugh lines; ETA late 2018; QUESTION MARK: see Chris Flexen.
12) David Thompson, 3B, Grade C+: Age 24, fourth round pick in 2015 from University of Miami Hurricanes; at the time was considered a strong hitter with a questionable glove; his defense has turned out to be pretty good at third base and he can stay there, but bat has been merely solid rather than excellent; hit .263/.325/.429 with 16 homers, 40 walks, 92 strikeouts in 476 at-bats in Double-A; I like him more than many other people do and he could put up big numbers in Las Vegas; ETA late 2018; QUESTION MARK: will he fully tap his raw power?
13) Jamie Callahan, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, second round pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2012 from high school in South Carolina; traded to Mets in Addison Reed deal; posted 2.94 ERA in 66/17 K/BB in 52 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; also put up 5/1 K/BB in seven major league innings; nice fastball at 92-96, has made good progress with his slider and overall command, looks ready for a full major league trial; ETA 2018; QUESTION MARK: grading relievers is problematic.
14) Tyler Bashlor, RHP, Grade C+:Age 24, drafted in 11th round in 2013 from South Georgia State University; posted 3.44 ERA in 50 innings between High-A and Double-A, 84/25 K/BB, 40 hits allowed; note exceptionally good strikeout rate; missed all of 2014 and 2015 after blowing elbow; Tommy John survivor has all of his fastball back, 94-98 MPH; breaking ball is OK; needs to lower walks but it wouldn’t take much for him to be a fine short/middle reliever; ETA late 2018; QUESTION MARK: grading relievers is problematic.
15) Gerson Bautista, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, signed by Red Sox out of Dominican Republic in 2013, over with Callahan in Addison Reed trade; 4.22 ERA with 73/31 K/BB in 60 innings between Low-A and High-A; best pure arm of this group of relievers, fastball can hit 100; good slider, too; command needs work and he’s not as close to the majors as Callahan and Bashlor; ETA 2020; QUESTION MARK: grading relievers is problematic.
16) Ronny Mauricio, SS, Grade C+: Age 16, signed out of Dominican Republic for $2,100,000 in 2017; hasn’t played yet so this is all July 2nd scouting reports; I’m putting him here to change the palate after the batch of relievers; switch-hitter with projectable frame, reportedly has arm and range to stay at shortstop as well as good potential as a pure hitter; ETA: ??? QUESTION MARK: all projection with no data.
17) Jhoan Urena, 1B-3B, Grade C+: Age 23, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; switch-hitter with .277/.358/.440 line in High-A/Triple-A, 14 homers, 18 steals, 64 walks, 130 strikeouts; real pop from both sides of the plate showed well in power-difficult Florida State League; good batting eye, strikes out some but looks recovered from injury seasons in ’15 and ’16; problem here is atrocious defense, .891 career fielding percentage at third is unacceptable, .987 at first base isn’t much better; I think he can hit but where do you play him? ETA late 2018; QUESTION MARK: stone glove.
18) Anthony Kay, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, first round pick in 2016 from University of Connecticut; missed all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery; went 9-2, 2.65 ERA in 119 innings in 2016 NCAA play, 111/37 K/BB; can hit 95 although more commonly works at 90-93; mixing in impressive change-up and inconsistent but promising slider; looks like a solid number three starter when all is right, at least pre-surgery. ETA 2021; QUESTION MARK: health.
19) Jordan Humphreys, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, 18th round pick in 2015 from high school in Crystal River, Florida; in the middle of a superb season (1.79 ERA 83/12 K/BB in 81 innings between Low-A and High-A) when he blew his elbow and needed Tommy John; fastball anywhere between 88 and 94 MPH depending on the day; mixing in average curveball, slider, and change-up; stuff isn’t terrific but feel for pitching is truly outstanding and hitters just can’t seem to pick him up; ETA 2022; QUESTION MARK: health.
20) Justin Dunn, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, first round pick in 2016 from Boston College; very disappointing 2017 season, 5.00 ERA in 95 innings in High-A, 75/48 K/BB in High-A, 100 hits; the numbers were obviously horrid but scouting reports remain positive enough for him to rate a C+; 92-96 fastball, slider, curve, and change-up all flash plus but he had a lot of problems with inning-to-inning consistency in the starting role; could improve rapidly if moved to bullpen; ETA 2021; QUESTION MARK: disparity between stats and scouting.
OTHER GRADE C+: Quinn Brodey, OF; Luis Carpio, INF; Gavin Cecchini, INF; P.J. Conlon, LHP; Nabil Crismatt, RHP; Tony Dibrell, RHP; Phil Evans, INF; Harol Gonzalez, RHP; Mickey Jannis, RHP; Adrian Hernandez, OF; Wagner Lagrange, OF; Patrick Mazeika, C; Austin McGeorge, RHP; Jeff McNeil, 2B; Stephen Nogosek, RHP; Michael Paez, 2B; Matt Pobereyko, RHP; Jacob Rhame, RHP; Drew Smith, RHP; Adonis Uceta, RHP; Juan Uriarte, C; Daniel Zamora, LHP
OTHERS OF NOTE: Wuilmer Becerra, OF; Matt Blackham, RHP; Trey Cobb, RHP; Anthony Dimino, C; Gregory Guerrero, SS; Colin Holderman, RHP; Bryce Hutchinson, RHP; Christian James, RHP; Kevin Kaczmarski, OF; Hansel Moreno, INF; Shervyn Newton, OF; Cameron Planck, RHP; Miguel Ramirez, RHP; Walter Rasquin, 2B; Marcel Renteria, RHP; David Roseboom, LHP; Ryder Ryan, RHP; Johander Saez, OF; Ali Sanchez, C; Luis Santana, 2B; Jeremy Vasquez, 1B; Stephen Villines, RHP
I have been tinkering with the C+ rankings for two days without being completely satisfied, but at some point you have to press “publish,” so here it is. I will be around in the comments section to answer questions.