A quick review of the Mets’ farm system would paint the New York Mets as the clear winners of last offseason, R.A. Dickey trade. While the knuckleballer regressed after moving to the AL East, the two main prospects that the Mets acquired from Toronto, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud now sit at the very top of the Mets’ system and look to make an impact in Queens this year. With Syndergaard leading the way and Montero right behind him, the strength of this organization – as it’s been for the past couple years – is pitching. Finding talent at the plate has always been the larger problem for GM Sandy Alderson, but while D’arnaud and Wilmer Flores are the only hitting prospects with a chance to make an impact this season, recent drafts have given New York a wealth of young, high-upside hitters in the low minors.
Triple-A: Las Vegas 51′s (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Binghamton Mets (Eastern League)
High-A: Port St. Lucie Mets (Florida State League)
Class-A: Savannah Sand Gnats (South Atlantic League)
Short-Season A: Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Advanced Rookie: Kingsport Mets (Applachian League)
Complex-Rookie: GCL Mets (Gulf Coast League), DSL Mets1 (Dominican Summer League), DSL Mets2 (Dominican Summer League)
Analysis: There’s no better place to start a prospect list for a team so renowned for their young hurlers than with the bottom of that talented pitching pipeline: 20 year old starter Gabriel Ynoa. Pitching in full season ball for the first time, Ynoa broke out last season, posting a 2.72 ERA and 2.88 FIP over 135.2 single-a seasons. With a 1.1 BB/9, his control was impeccable for a pitcher his age and should be one of his best weapons going forward. On the mound, Ynoa works primarily off of a low 90′s fastball that should only get faster as he fills out and a decent change up. His slider is still a work in progress, although it could be a major league quality pitch in the end.
2014 Prognosis: Having sufficiently dominated Class-A Savannah, Ynoa will move up to High-A St. Lucie next season.
Analysis: With incumbent closer Bobby Parnell still nursing a back injury and his return questionable, the ninth inning role may fall to Black, a hard throwing right hander brought over from Pittsburgh last August. Black certainly has the arsenal to close and actually mirrors Parnell in that regard, throwing a fastball that can scrape 100 and sits at 95, and mixing in a hard curve as his primary off-speed pitch. Like most young, live arms, Black has dealt with control problems in the past, but with an improved 4.0 BB/9 in Triple-A last year and a 2.8 BB/9 in a brief Metropolitan stint, those concerns carry less weight than they once did. He’s got closer stuff but should the command troubles flare up again, he could at least be a should be a hard throwing set up man.
2014 Prognosis: Black will join the New York bullpen next year, where he could dominate out of the back end.
Analysis: After being selected in the second round and briefly steamrolling through the New York Penn League in 2011, striking out well over a batter per inning, Mazzoni’s inability to miss bats came as a disappointment in 2012. But the North Carolina standout returned strong in 2013, striking out 10.1 batters per nine, while walking just 2.6, despite a misleading 4.36 ERA. His FIP was an exceedingly better 2.70. Mazzoni’s fastball is his best pitch, running up into the mid-90′s with movement, and he mixes in an average slider and splitter. The development of those secondary pitches will determine whether he ends up in the back of the rotation or the bullpen.
2014 Prognosis: Mazzioni will repeat Double-A to start 2014, but should reach Triple-A by the summer. A September call up is not out of the question.
|2013||20||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-Rk||NYM||3||3||.500||3.33||9||9||0||0||0||0||46.0||33||17||17||1||19||0||42||5||0||1||193||1.130||6.5||0.2||3.7||8.2||2.21|
Analysis: A supplementary round pick in 2011, Fulmer tore through the Sally league as a 19 year old in 2012, but a knee injury sidelined him for the first three months of last season. He returned strong, however, pitching to a 3.44 era in his first taste of high-A although his control was a bit of an issue. With a good fastball, an above average slider and a durable pitchers frame, he could be a middle of the rotation workhorse – granted his changeup comes along.
2014 Prognosis: Fulmer will start the season in St. Lucie, but could move up to Binghamton before the end of the season.
|2013||19||2 Teams||1 Lg||A||PIT,NYM||116||503||442||75||118||27||3||11||60||14||6||40||116||.267||.334||.416||.750||184||6||8||6||7||1|
Analysis: The latest example of Sandy Alderson holding out for the highest amount of young talent, Herrera was acquired last August in the trade that sent veterans Marlon Byrd and Jason buck to Pittsburgh. An athletic teenager, Herrera has the pop, speed, and range to be an above average major league second baseman, but he absolutely needs to make better contact; a 26% strikeout rate like he had last year will kill his average in the upper levels.
2014 Prognosis: Having hit well in Class-A, Herrera should move up to High-A St. Lucie next season, although he is unlikely to go any higher as of yet.
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A+||NYM||125||521||449||60||137||38||1||8||80||1||0||42||53||.305||.390||.448||.838||201||15||24||1||5||2|
Analysis: Known for their patience with position prospects, the Mets’ front office may have been too cautious with first round pick Kevin Plawecki, assigning him to the Class A Sally league for the first half of 2013. With a 1.122 ops in April and an .884 ops early on, Plawecki thrashed largely younger and less experienced pitchers before being called up in June. As evidenced by his 38 doubles and .390 OBP, he draws most of his offensive value from gap power and on base ability. A capable but unspectacular defender behind the plate, he could have a future as a big league regular.
2014 Prognosis: Plawecki’s numbers took a small step back in St. Lucie last year, so he will repeat High-A in 2014. He’s fairly polished however, and should reach Double-A by August.
Analysis: Three years ago, a 19 year old Puello was ranked as the 77th best prospect in all of baseball, but 2011 and 2012 were not kind to the young outfielder. He broke out again in 2013, however, hitting for power (16 HRs, .547 SLG), getting on base (.403 OBP) and stealing 24 bases. This could all be the recipe for a future starting right fielder, but there are concerns that his stats were just drug induced aberrations; Puello was implicated in the biogenesis scandal and suspended for the last 50 games of the season.
2014 Prognosis: If Puello carries his success into Triple-A, he could see significant major league time in 2014
Analysis: Like they did with Brandon Nimmo before him, the Mets took things slow with Cecchini, sending the first round prep pick to the half-season New York-Penn League for his first full professional season in 2013. His stats are deflated by the league’s poor hitting environment, but they still reflect his future to some degree. A contact hitter, his above MLB average 15% strikeout rate is encouraging, and while he will eventually hit more than zero home runs in a season, 8-10 long balls is probably his ceiling. Considering his relative, although not particularly concerning, lack of plate discipline (mediocre 6.6% walk rate), most of his offensive value will come from a high average and the occasional stolen base. Cecchini’s bat will play up primarily because of his glove. He is a capable defender with an above average arm, good instincts, and enough speed to maintain a decent range. Long term, he should stick at short, and could actually be an above average fielder there.
2014 Prognosis: Cecchini will report to Savannah for his first tour of full season ball in 2014.
Analysis: Prospects often unfairly lose their sheen when they’ve been in the national spotlight for long enough. Such is the case with Flores, who first made Baseball America’s top 100 in 2009, when he just a seventeen year old shortstop in rookie ball, but whom scouts have soured on of late. The young hitter has since moved on from that position, but he is still a force at the plate, with the ability to hit for a high average and 20 homer power. The problem for Flores, though, and the reason he has lost elite prospect status is that he lacks a position. Having been deemed far too slow for shortstop, the Mets moved Flores to second, but his range is still poor there, and while third may be a better spot, he is obviously blocked at the major league level by the presence of David Wright and he may lack the athleticism to play well there anyway. His defense profiles well at first, but his bat doesn’t. If he can’t find a spot on the diamond, his future may be relegated to the bench.
2014 Prognosis: Major league ready, but with no open spot in the New York lineup, the Mets could either give Flores a bench spot or send him to Triple-A until an injury occurs in the Metropolitan infield.
Analysis: The stats are of little importance for the 18 year old shortstop, who played last year as a 17 year old in his first tour of rookie ball. Although he is probably at least four years away from the majors, Rosario excites scouts with his tools. At the plate, he has the potential to get on base and hit for power, as evidenced by his 4.9% walk rate, 19% strikeout rate, and .118 ISO, all of which are superficially unimpressive but solid for a teenage shortstop in the Applachian League. In the field, he has the chance to stick as an above average defender, thanks to his arm and raw athleticism. At 18, though, there is still plenty of time for things to go awry.
2014 Prognosis: Rosario does not appear to be ready for a full season league, and will therefore probably spend the first half of next year in extended spring training and the second half in the New York Penn League
Analysis: Since they drafted him out of high school in 2011, the Mets knew Nimmo would have a need more time and have a longer development path than most other prospects. In this regard, Nimmo has not disappointed, struggling to make contact or hit for power in his first two full professional seasons. That being said,there are some positives to his season and legitimate reasons for his struggles. The young centerfielder started out the year on a tear, hitting .424/.513/.576 before a hand injury derailed his season, sending him to the disabled lost and preventing him from turning on the ball when he returned the field. In addition, his power rates have been artificially deflated because he played in poor hitting environments; there’s much more pop on that frame. His 15% walk rate is very advanced for a player his age and his plate discipline should be a boon of long term success, but if he doesn’t cut down on his 33% strikeout rate, he will never be a productive major leaguer.
2014 Prognosis: Nimmo will head back to Savannah to start 2014, but if he can make more consistent contact and hit like he did at the start of last season, he should be in Port St. Lucie before long.
|2013||18||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk||NYM||51||206||173||25||52||13||1||3||26||2||4||26||37||.301||.398||.439||.837||76||4||4||0||3||6|
Analysis: In 2013, for the third consecutive season, the Mets took a high school position player with their first overall pick in the draft, and Smith is the best hitter a yet. A natural with the bat, Smith can hit for both average and power, and get on base, walking in 13% of his plate appearances in his professional debut. Although he will be relegated to first base, he is a quality defender there and should wind up adding value on both sides of the ball.
2014 Prognosis: If the recent history of Cecchini and Nimmo is any indication, the Mets will start Smith in extended spring training next year, before sending him to Brooklyn for the second half.
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AAA-AA||NYM||12||7||.632||2.78||27||27||0||0||0||0||155.1||136||56||48||6||35||0||150||0||3||1||624||1.101||7.9||0.3||2.0||8.7||4.29|
Analysis: Montero does one thing very well: pound the strike zone. His stuff, while major league quality – low 90′s fastball, late fading changeup, and a slider that lags behind the other two offerings, is not particularly impressive, but he can spot his pitches perfectly in the zone. The results have been tremendous, as Montero pitched to a 2.78 ERA and a 2.45 FIP with a 2.0 BB/9 and 8.7 K/9, despite playing half the year in Las Vegas, one of the worst pitching in all of minor league baseball. He has a very good chance of becoming a mid-rotation starter, although his relatively uninspiring stuff will limit his ceiling at that.
2014 Prognosis: Montero should go into spring training with the chance to compete for the fifth starter spot. Although he is unlikely to actually win that, an injury or poor performance should open up a spot for him at some point during the season.
|2013||24||3 Teams||3 Lgs||AAA-AA-Rk||NYM||32||131||105||25||30||13||1||3||20||0||0||25||23||.286||.420||.514||.934||54||3||0||0||1||2|
Analysis: D’Arnaud can rake, having posted an OPS over .900 in each of his last three minor league seasons. He can field, too, with a great arm and glove behind the plate. The problem, though, is that D’Arnaud his missed time with injury in each of those three seasons, actually getting sidelined for half of 2012 and almost the entirety of 2013. He was the centerpiece of last offseason’s R.A. Dickey trade, and having already locked up starting catching job for next season, he should have the chance to prove why. If he can’t stay healthy, however, and history indicates he won’t, his future as a dependable everyday catcher could be put in doubt.
2014 Prognosis: D’Arnaud will be the starting catcher in New York next season, and if healthy, he could contend for the Rookie of the Year Award.
|2013||20||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||NYM||9||4||.692||3.06||23||23||0||0||0||0||117.2||107||48||40||11||28||0||133||1||1||6||472||1.147||8.2||0.8||2.1||10.2||4.75|
Analysis: Syndergaard was the secondary prospect in that Dickey trade, but he moves ahead of his former Toronto teammate because of his stellar 2013 campaign. “Thor” steamrolled through High-A and Double-A last season, racking up whiffs (10.2 K/9) and rarely walking batters (2.1 BB/9). He works primarily off of a powerful 96 MPH fastball, which he has great control over, while also mixing in a hard fading changeup that could be plus, and a power curve that has the chance to be average. If Syndergaard can develop his changeup to the point where its a plus pitch and his curve to the point where its at least consistently decent, he could be an ace caliber starter. If not, his tremendous fastball and command should still render him a fair shot at becoming a number two. Unlike his fellow former Blue Jay, D’Arnaud, health is not a major concern, as Syndergaard was referred to by ESPN’s Keith Law as having “as low a risk for an arm injury as any major starter prospect in baseball.”
2014 Prognosis: Syndergaard will probably follow the path of Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler before him, spending the first couple months of the season in Triple-A before getting a major league call up in June.