Mets Minors: Drawing comparisons for Matthew Allan

Much was made of the Mets’ decision to draft Matthew Allan, the top rated high school pitcher in the 2019 draft, in the third round. The risk was that Allan would skip out on signing with the Mets in order to go to college and attempt for an even higher draft position in two years. Instead, the Mets loaded up on easily signed college seniors and nabbed him. Now that he’s here, what kind of future do we see for Allan as he develops in the farm system?

While each pitcher is a microcosm into themselves, I’ve delved into the minor league careers of eight of the most recent “Top Rated High School Pitchers Drafted” from the 2018-2011 drafts. In this article, we’ll explore how these prospects have fared and what their successes (or failures) might mean for Allan as he moves forward.

2018 – Matthew Liberatore – Tampa Bay Rays

The 6’5” lefty was selected by the Rays in the first round of the 2018 draft and he was assigned to the rookie level Gulf Coast League. There, he pitched a robust 27.2 innings (a lot considering he was drafted and signed that year) before cutting his teeth with a 5.0 inning start in the Rays’ APP affiliate. His second season with Tampa Bay was also solid as he was aggressively advanced to Full Season Low-A ball to find more success. The only concern hanging over Liberatore is that his power numbers are hovering right around a 9.0 K/9 and would ideally be a little higher for a “Future Ace”. A 78.1 inning debut in Low A with few hiccups suggests that he could be MLB ready by the time he’s twenty two years old.

2017- Hunter Greene – Minnesota Twins

When Greene was drafted there was doubt as to whether he’d wind up as a pitcher or an infielder but the Twins have their eyes on Greene becoming a starter. The 6’4” righty only pitched 4.1 innings over three games in 2017. The 12.46 ERA and 8 hits aren’t super meaningful in that small a sample but what is more telling is that the Twins had him move from the Pioneer League right into the Midwest League for 2018. This past year was very much better for the pitcher who turned 20 in August. His ERA was 4.48 but his K/9 held safely above 9.0 while pitching against players who were typically 2-3 years older than himself. He also wound up losing some time to injury and may have his 2018 go down as a cautionary tale. We’ll need to wait and see.

2016 – Jay Groome – Boston Red Sox

Boston selected the 6’6” lefty out of Barnegat, NJ with their first round pick and assigned him to start the 2016 season in the Gulf Coast League. Like Allan, he only had a handful of innings but inspired the team to give him a shot at the New York Penn League to finish the year. With only 6.2 innings under his belt the Red Sox held Groome in Short Season ball for 2017 but quickly promoted him after 3 strong outings for Lowell. His 11 starts after the promotion were less good as opponents batted .257 against him which lead to a 6.70 ERA. Then, to make matters worse, he missed all of 2018 with an injury and only managed a handful of rehab innings this past season. After losing a season the Red Sox will be looking for Groome to make up for lost time in a hurry and might be forced to promote him to Advanced A.

2015 – Ashe Russell – Kansas City Royals

Nothing about Russell’s early minor league career should inspire confidence in “Top High School Pitchers”. He last pitched in 2016 and has a grand total of 38.1 innings pitched since a draft four years ago. A pitcher who should be nearing the majors (Pitching in AA or at least Advanced A) was recently assigned to the Advanced Rookie level, Burlington Royals. At 23 years of age the Royals have to have dwindling hopes for this former top draft pick.

2014 – Tyler Kolek – Miami Marlins

While Aiken was the highest rated high school pitcher in the draft, it was Kolek who took the honors of being the highest rated high school pitcher who signed out of the 2014 draft. The stats on Kolek are hardly shining examples of success. He managed a solid, if a bit mediocre, debut in the GCL in 2014 and the aggressive Marlins promoted him directly to the SAL. He continued to perform adequately (108.2 IP, 4.56 ERA) but missed most of his 2016 season due to injury. Since then, it’s been a perpetual tale of injuries for Kolek. In 2017 he pitched only 3.2 innings, in 2018 he managed 15.2 and in 2019 he just tossed 13.2. At 23 years of age he hasn’t pitched a single inning above Low-A ball.

2013 – Kohl Stewart – Minnesota Twins

The first “Top High School Pitcher” who has gotten to the majors on my list. Stewart pitched fairly well in his “Cup of Coffee” outings of 2018 but less well this year. Despite the prospect pedigree, nothing about Stewart’s numbers in his minor league career suggest he will be an “Ace” caliber pitcher. He has a sub 9.0 K/9 and a WHIP that hovers in the 1.40 range. You can dissect his year by year numbers all you like but unless those two statistics change drastically, he’s not a very good first overall pick. It could be worse, since he does appear to at least belong in the majors.

2012 – Max Fried – San Diego Padres

Drafted by the Padres, the Braves traded Justin Upton over to San Diego and appear to have seriously won on the deal. While Fried’s numbers don’t suggest he’s quite an “Ace” caliber pitcher, he certainly looks like a quality major league level arm. Garnering 17 wins for the 2019 NL East Champion Braves, Fried has an ERA just north of 4.00 with a K/9 safeling in the 9.0 realm. Part of Fried’s success is going to always be based on the defense behind him as he draws a lot of ground balls. While Fried doesn’t come off as a superstar, he’s a quality starter at the major league level.

2011 – Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles

Now 26 years old, Bundy has been an MLB regular since 2016. While he was drafted with a ton of acclaim and promising scouting the majors have not been kind to him. As a major leaguer, Bundy sports a 4.67 ERA, though he does have an 8.8 K/9 and a WHIP of 1.33. It suggests that Bundy might look like much more of an “Ace” if he escaped the confines of Baltimore. Adding more credence to this, his minor league numbers are really quite good. He has a sparkling 1.05 WHIP and a K/9 well over 9.0 in his 167 minor league innings. He may have been rushed to the majors, he may have been saddled with a bad franchise but Bundy is a mixed success at best.

What Does This Mean for the Mets and Allan?

The easiest comparison is to Liberatore who, only one season ahead of Allan, had a very similar debut in 2018. This also suggests that Allan would be promoted to Columbia for the start of the 2020 season, which my previous articles have already suggested. The large majority of the other comparisons are pretty distressing. Injuries creep up in most and many of the high school arms fail to develop into the arms that the scouts predicted. If Allan, can stay healthy and develops with the power and precision that scouts projected, the Mets look very good but the sad truth that this exercise proves is the odds are against him.

Mets Minors 2019 top 50 prospects (Top 10)

Many sports pages and blogs only list a Top 10 prospects. That is fine and dandy but many more than a team’s Top 10 wind up making an impact on the roster eventually. Just ask Jeff McNeil who may have never sniffed the Top 10 before emerging as an MLB star. When you list a Top 50, you really drill down into the depth of a team and get a clear picture of what the franchise does and doesn’t have.

The Mets Top 10 I have for you, below, is surprisingly well balanced. You have four pitchers, four infielders, a catcher and an outfielder. It also has, perhaps surprisingly, three players in the upper reaches of the minor leagues. Considering how much bashing the Met farm system endured in 2019 for not having anyone serviceable in the upper levels of the minors you are looking at a Top 10 with two players slated for AAA, one for AA, two for Advanced A and at least one more to begin the year in Full Season A. The talent is there and thanks to some aggressive player management, it’s not as far away as you might think.

It will be interesting to see how Brodie Van Wagenen handles his 2020 draft after the sneaky success of his 2019 gambit. Some years I feel like ranking recent draft picks in the Top 10 can be a bit premature but I do not feel that way in 2019. It would be quite the thing if he were able to add three first round talents each year the Met system would rapidly become one of the best around.

The Top Two:

Most people who rank players will not have the same players ranked 1 and 2 on their lists. While both will undoubtedly rank in the Top 10 I would bet that this ranking will be somewhat unique in where these players are listed. One player was a surprise addition to the stateside rookie leagues, a catcher with plus ratings in hitting and power with no red flags on defense. The other is a third baseman whose bat appears to have great potential to find its way into the middle of a major league lineup some day.

1. Mark Vientos, 3B (SAL) – A year older than Mauricio and manning the same position as the Top Draft Pick of 2019 few Top Prospect Lists will rank Mark Vientos as the #1 Met Prospect. Here is why I do. While Mauricio succeeded in Columbia, Vientos seemed to take a few months to get going before surpassing the overall stats of his shortstop. If you look at his overall batting line, .255/.300/.411 it’s all pretty good (especially in the SAL) but it doesn’t feel like Top Prospect material. When you look at his second half batting line, it looks even better. In the second half of the season, he managed a .271/.315/.462 batting line. He currently is manning third base and that might be a position he is able to stick with long term. Since the Mets have fewer options for the outfield depth charts, it’s possible that they shift him there, but based on what he’s done so far it looks like the Mets plan on him being the third baseman of the future. In 2020 he’ll be in Port St. Lucie and should be batting 3rd or 4th in the lineup alongside Mauricio. If he is able to get a boost in his numbers by leaving the difficult confines of the SAL he might even be on track to reach AA before the end of the year. There will be stiff competition for the Mets’ Top Prospect honors after next season but for me, Vientos is the man of the 2019 season. Most pundits will rank Mauricio or Gimenez higher but I truly think that Vientos earned the spot this year.

2. Francisco Alvarez, C (GCL/APP) – There are few prospects I’ve been as excited about in my time covering the Met system. Alvarez is a true hitting prospect. His debut at age seventeen saw him tear through the GCL and prove more than a match for the pitching in Kingsport. In 42 games between the two leagues he hit seventeen extra base hits and seven were home runs. His plate discipline is not perfect but for a player who has this much power he shows the ability to avoid falling victim to the strikeout blues and occasionally take a walk. Both of those skills can be coached and should improve over time but it is the hitting tool that will drive his way to the majors. The 5’11” catcher managed a.916 OPS for the year playing against competition 2-4 years his senior. The question really remains how aggressively the Mets will be with his assignments. Should he follow Mauricio’s path the Mets will have Alvarez play in Columbia and act as the primary catcher and designated hitter for the Fireflies but, because of the length of time catchers typically take in development it would be easy to see the Mets holding him in Brooklyn or even Kingsport. If he managed the type of numbers he did in 2019 in any of the full season leagues in 2019 he’d immediately jump to the Top Prospect spot on my list.

The Top Four:

The Mets Top Prospect going into 2019 and the player who seemed best poised to step into the role of Top Prospect beyond. This is a tale of two young shortstops who are both young for their respective levels. Both of whom didn’t exactly scream off the pages in 2019 but who should still have excellent major league careers if things continue to work out. One is a lot closer to the majors having had a mostly successful year in AA and the other is looking at his first test in Advanced A ball. I expect one to graduate off of this list in 2020 and the other to continue vying for the top spot.

3. Andres Gimenez, SS (EAS) – A twenty one year old shortstop managing almost a full year of a .695 OPS with solid defense is nothing to sneeze at and there is still hope that the numbers will improve. When Gimenez began the year with AA Binghamton I thought he would quickly earn his way onto the AAA roster and start knocking on Amed Rosario‘s door. Instead he languished with an okay but disappointing year in AA. Nothing about Gimenez’s year was “Bad” it just wasn’t “Good” and we Met fans expect more out of our Top Prospects, especially when they are rated ahead of Pete Alonso. Thanks to fan expectations and the Mets having a hot new shortstop prospect in the wings some of us (mostly me) may have jumped the gun on criticism. While his season could have been better he’s proven up to the task of swimming with the fish at the AA level and should find his way onto the Syracuse roster to start his 2020 season. With nothing in the depth charts between he and Rosario he’s only an injury or some continued defensive struggles (for Rosario) away from his own major league debut. Regardless, expect to see Gimenez in the majors before the end of the 2020 season.

4. Ronny Mauricio, SS (SAL) – I had ranked Mauricio as the #1 prospect for almost the entire season before going through the stats and reevaluating the numbers. Mauricio is great, don’t get me wrong, he could be a superstar shortstop and has a higher ceiling than Gimenez on offense but his 2019 didn’t support ranking him where I had him. What you have is a player who your gut tells you will be a star and your brain coaches caution on. His numbers in Columbia were good, especially given his age, but they were not exponentially more impressive than his older and more advanced counterpart in Binghamton. Compared to prospects like Shervyen Newton, he looks like he’s already a superstar but we are comparing apples to apples and it seems like our cart and horse were a bit reversed. The 2020 season will see Mauricio in Port St. Lucie and he should be a little bit more able to show his offensive stuff. Because of his size you might see the Mets eventually move him to a new position but that will not happen in 2020.

The Back-End of the Top Tier:

It’s misleading to call anyone in the Top 7 prospects “”Back End”” but each tier is ranked and these three players fall to the lower end of those rankings. Here we have a talented lefty pitcher who came back from injury to pitch well and into AA ball, a top draft pick who earned two promotions in his debut year and the third round pick nobody thought the Mets would be able to sign with the cap money they had left. Any of these players could have found their way into the Top 4 in another year but the 2019 farm system finished with a lot more high end talent than most people want to acknowledge.

5. Thomas Szapucki, LHP (SAL/FSL/EAS) – One of the most talked about prospects here on Mets360, Szapucki had a successful return to action in 2019. Pitching, a career high, 61.2 innings between Columbia, Port St. Lucie and Binghamton he did his best to make up for the two years of lost development time. The left-handed pitcher represents the best mix of ceiling and floor in the system. Projecting as a front-end starter he could reach the majors by the end of the 2020 season though he has lingering questions about health and longevity thanks to his injury plagued development. When he returned to the rotation I listed areas to watch during his rehab and season. The K/9 stayed well above 9.0 and the WHIP hovered around 1.22 which was a bit of a mixed bag. His control seemed to suffer while his stuff was maintained. In 2020 he will begin the season with Binghamton but he could quickly move beyond that with positive developments of any kind.

6. Brett Baty, 3B (GCL/APP/NYP) – The Met’s top draft pick from the 2019 draft was a third baseman with lots and lots of power potential. Baty was assigned to the GCL and did not disappoint. The nineteen year old was able to earn a promotion to Kingsport after only five games hitting an OPS above one thousand in that time. After that promotion his batting average took a major hit. Baty had hit .350 in his short time with the GCL but saw his BA drop in the APP to .222 and the NYP to .200, after his second promotion. Despite the low average, his power production kept his SLG and OPS very healthy. He also managed a .333 batting average for Brooklyn as he supported the team in their championship run. While the pitchers selected behind him in 2019 could use some time to stretch out to a major league workload it would be very hard for the Mets to not put “Brett the Met” into Columbia to give him a chance for a full season of game action.

7. Matthew Allan, RHP (GCL/NYP) – It is extremely unusual for a team to promote a top draft pick pitcher the year they draft him, with only 8.1 innings under his belt. Not only did the Mets do that with Allan but they skipped him past the Advanced Rookie level and had the eighteen year old pitcher face off against college batters on his way to a short season Championship. Allan’s numbers in the GCL were only slightly better than his counterpart, Wolf’s, but the Mets chose to aggressively move Allan up on his own. His one regular season outing in Brooklyn was not great but he followed that up with 5.0 scoreless innings in the playoffs in which he did not issue a single baserunner. Having pitched, successfully, in Brooklyn in 2019 would suggest that the Mets could have Allan pitch for Columbia in 2020 but that might be a little ambitious for a player who only has 20.1 innings of minor league baseball under his belt.

The Second Tier/First Tier Fringe:

Any one of these players could be looked at as a “First Tier” player but as we’ve discussed before, the tier system has to do with trades more than skill level. Players at the back end of your team’s Top 10 prospects are more tradeable than those in the Top 7 or the “”untouchable”” Top 4. The trio of fringe players here are an intriguing mix. We have a high power pitcher who might wind up a closer or setup pitcher in the majors, an international prospect who had a brief stateside audition and a second round pick who is ranked lower than the third round pick of the same year. These are all really good players and players who bring a quality level to the Top 10 that has not always been present in my time covering the Mets.

8. Josh Wolf, RHP (GCL) – Ignoring one very bad outing, Wolf’s 2019 debut in the GCL was just as impressive as Allan’s which is why they are still ranked so closely. The righty pitcher had 12 strikeouts in his 8 innings of work which is not a wide enough sample to get too excited but gives the team plenty of reason to hope they have three “First Round” talents on their hands coming out of the 2019 draft. Wolf’s scouting was a tick below Allan’s (despite the fact the Mets selected him in the 2nd round) but still placed his overall scouting as a fringe first rounder. The Mets could have Wolf pitch in Kingsport or Brooklyn in 2020 but they’ve been extremely aggressive of late and I could see the Mets throwing him to the much older sharks in Columbia. My personal preference is to have both he and Allan pitch for Kingsport and get their arms stretched out more slowly.

9. Franklyn Kilome, RHP (EAS – Injured List) – The Mets traded for Franklyn Kilome back in 2018 but a late season injury put him on the shelf for the 2019 season. Justin Dunn was a slightly better prospect with a higher likelihood of starting in the majors but the power of Kilome’s arm is very real. We will need to see how long he needs to get back into the groove after he comes back but I could see him slotting into the relief corp for the Mets before the end of the 2020 season. Plus, there is still potential for Kilome to start. Even if he becomes a reliever to finish his 2020 there is plenty of potential left for him to transition back into starting for 2021 and beyond.

10. Freddy Valdez, OF (DSL/GCL) – The Mets signed Valdez the same year as Alvarez and the outfielder was scouted as having plus power and poor speed/defense,which led some to question his long term viability in the outfield. He was assigned to the DSL and played 57 games there before getting a three game callup to the GCL. Overall you have to like the power which looked more than readily apparent in his time both with the DSL and GCL. While it doesn’t come screaming off the page there is plenty to suggest that he can develop into a 30+ home run player as he progresses through the system. What came as a surprise was his 3 triples and 6 stolen bases which suggest that his speed may, in fact, be better than some of the scouting provided. In 2020 I have Valdez playing for Kingsport but if he performs well in the APP there is no reason he couldn’t finish the year with Brooklyn.

Top 50 Prospects:

1. Mark Vientos, 3B (2020 – FSL)
2. Francisco Alvarez, C (2020 – SAL)
3. Andres Gimenez, SS (2020 – INT)
4. Ronny Mauricio, SS (2020 – FSL)
5. Thomas Szapucki, LHP (2020 – EAS)
6. Brett Baty, 3B (2020 – SAL)
7. Matthew Allan, RHP (2020 – NYP)
8. Josh Wolf, RHP (2020 – NYP)
9. Franklyn Kilome, RHP (2020 – EAS *Rehab)
10. Freddy Valdez, OF (2020 – APP)
11. Luis Carpio, IF (2020 – EAS)
12. Kevin Smith, LHP (2020 – INT)
13. Adrian Hernandez, OF (2020 – APP)
14. David Peterson, LHP (2020 – INT)
15. Tommy Wilson , RHP (2020 – INT)
16. Harol Gonzalez, RHP (2020 – INT)
17. Shervyen Newton, SS (2020 – SAL)
18. Wagner Lagrange, OF (2020 – EAS)
19. Ali Sanchez, C (2020 – INT)
20. Junior Santos, RHP (2020 – NYP)
21. Tony Dibrell, RHP (2020 – EAS)
22. Gregory Guerrero, 2B (2020 – NYP)
23. Jordan Humphreys, RHP (2020 – SAL *Rehab)
24. Jaylen Palmer, 3B (2020 – NYP)
25. Patrick Mazeika, C (2020 – INT)
26. Jeremy Vasquez, 1B (2020 – EAS)
27. Hansel Moreno, OF/SS (2020 – EAS)
28. Stephen Villines, RHP (2020 – INT)
29. Quinn Brodey, OF (2020 – EAS)
30. Ryley Gilliam, RHP (2020 – EAS)
31. Carlos Dominguez, OF (2020 – APP)
32. Willy Taveras, RHP (2020 – FSL)
33. Ryder Ryan, RHP (2020 – INT)
34. Carlos Cortes, 2B (2020 – EAS)
35. Luke Ritter, 2B (2020 – FSL)
36. Stephen Nogosek, RHP (2020- INT)
37. Wilmer Reyes, SS (2020 – SAL)
38. Jake Mangum, OF (2020 – FSL)
39. Scott Ota, OF (2020 – FSL)
40. Nathan Jones, RHP (2020 – SAL)
41. Federico Polanco, SS (2020 – APP)
42. Sebastian Espino, 2B/SS (2020 – NYP)
43. Ronny Rincones, RHP (2020 – APP)
44. Adonis Uceta, RHP (2020 – INT)
45. Will Toffey, 3B (2020 – INT)
46. Yoel Romero, Util (2020 – FSL)
47. Andres Regnault, C (2020 – NYP)
48. Matt Blackham, RHP (2020 – INT)
49. Jefferson Eschorcha, RHP (2020 – NYP)
50. Desmond Lindsay, OF (2020 – FSL)

Mets Minors 2019 top 50 prospects (11-21)

We’ve talked about tiers and we’ve talked about floors and ceilings, but what separates a Tier 2 player from the elite names in the first tier of prospects? Often times it isn’t their overall talent, often times it is, but the concerns one has over one or more elements of their game. I refer to these concerns as “warts” as they are unsightly blemishes that make it harder to see the prize beneath. Sometimes these “warts” clear up and a player becomes a consistent major league contributor and sometimes they only get more pronounced as a player develops.

What types of things do we talk about as warts? A player who shines at one level before looking overmatched at a higher one is the most common but often times they are more subtle than that. If you are talking up a prospect and find yourself adding a “but” at the end of your praise, you know you’ve hit one. Peterson was a first round pick and his numbers in AA were a lot better than a lot of people give him credit for but… or Newton has the type of speed and power that scouts salivate over but in 2019… You get the idea.

The Heart of the Second Tier

An infielder who screamed back into relevance with a fantastically resurgent year, an outfielder who made a solid debut stateside before falling victim to injury and three pitchers who seem like less than a sure thing make up this talented group of players. More than a few of them would be acceptable options in a Top 10 prospect list, particularly a few years ago when the Met system was so bereft of talent, but 2019 sees a better crop of players than the pundits will give the Mets credit for having.

11. Luis Carpio, 2B (FSL/EAS) – Carpio looked like a possible prospect once upon a time but 2017 and 2018 were extremely disapointing seasons and he fell off most lists entirely. Then, something happened in 2019 and the 22 year old infielder showed up in Port St. Lucie ready to play. He earned a promotion to AA after only 31 games thanks to a .822 OPS and performed admirably in AA after his promotion with a .709 OPS to finish out the year. None of his performance in 2019 suggests that Carpio is destined for stardom but the versatile infielder looks like he could have a future in the majors and might even be a serviceable starter if he can keep his batting average up. It will not be an easy road, but once Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie have moved on from the Mets the team will eventually need players to cover second base once more.

12. Kevin Smith, LHP (FSL/EAS) – Like Wilson, few people can legitimately say they expected big things from Smith. The 7th round pick from the 2017 draft was good for Brooklyn in his debut and even managed to start a few games but he seemed like more of a left-handed depth arm for the Mets to hold in their stables. A 10.7 K/9 in Port St. Lucie began to turn some heads and would eventually earn Smith a promotion to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Facing hitters with a stronger sense of the strikezone may have led Smith to a few more surrendered walks but the 6’5″ lefty was able to lower his opponent batting average by 32 points after his promotion. If one looks for a flaw it’s that Smith allows more balls to be hit in the air which could lead to him having issues with the long ball but his home run numbers are not bad thus far. In 2020 he’ll be amongst a few promising starters who the Mets will have to sort between AA, AAA and the big leagues.

13. Adrian Hernandez, OF (GCL) – The other international player the Mets acquired in 2017, alongside Ronny Mauricio, Hernandez spent 2018 in the DSL much as Valdez did for the Mets this year. Hernandez is something of a “five-tool” player and one of only a handful of Met prospects who ranks at having much in the way of base stealing potential. The unfortunate fact is that Hernandez only played 4 games in 2019 and we don’t know how much of his 1.018 OPS is legitimate and how much can be attributed to a “strong start”. The three extra base hits and two stolen bases in those games are extremely enticing and it’s hard to rank a prospect with that kind of potential much lower but it’s important to actually see Hernandez play something of a full season.

14. David Peterson, LHP (EAS) – His 2019 season could have gone better. Peterson first saw Anthony Kay, the other promising lefty on the club surpass him before Kay wound up being traded to Toronto for Marcus Stroman. Then, he suffered through a season full of ups and downs leaving people wondering if he really seemed like much of a first round talent at all. The 6’6″ lefty finished the 2019 season with an underwhelming 4.13 ERA and a pedestrian 1.34 WHIP. He did punch his strikeout rate above the 9.0 K/9 mark but there were more blemishes than one likes to see. Still, nothing about his 2019 season suggests that he’s a complete washout and his numbers are a darn sight better than those Justin Dunn had when he struggled for the Mets in Port St. Lucie. I’ve ranked Peterson 14th overall with hope still burning that the lefty pitcher can round himself into a major league regular who can become a fixture of the Met rotation, perhaps by the end of the 2020 season.

15. Tommy Wilson, RHP (FSL/EAS) – The Mets drafted Wilson in the 19th round of the 2018 draft and sent him to Brooklyn for his minor league debut. The college pitcher turned out 22 innings of immaculate relief work but if anyone claims that they knew he was destined for greatness, they are most assuredly lying to you. When he was assigned to Port St. Lucie as a starter in 2019 it seemed more a statement concerning the Mets lack of meaningful prospects than a nod of confidence in a college pitcher. In his 8 starts at the level he averaged 5.2 innings an outing and produced a WHIP of 1.05 which certainly turned some heads. His promotion to AA seemed completely logical and there he continued success. Though his WHIP jumped to 1.20 his K/9 began to reach towards the 9.0 that people look for in a pitching prospect. Thanks to his breakout season he looks to begin 2020 at the front end of a AA rotation with quite a lot of talent on it.

The Rest of Tier 2

A pitcher who lacks “Ace” potential but appears to be ready to contribute on the major league level, a shortstop who needs a new home and who badly needs a rebound performance in 2020, an outfielder who broke out in Columbia at the age of 24, a 22 year old defensive catcher who never seems to hit enough for us to take him seriously, and a giant pitcher who looks like a power pitcher but has yet to make his stats match his physical potential. The players in this group all have some serious potential value but come with some serious warts. Some are too old, some don’t hit enough and some no longer have positions to call their own. It’s a complicated group full of complicated people.

Harol Gonzalez, RHP (EAS/INT) – What do you make of a starting pitcher who, at 24, manages a 3.14 ERA in 17 AA games and then a 2.68 ERA in 8 AAA ones? Gonzalez is the best non-Ace pitcher in the Met system and the steady workhorse of the minor leagues. His K/9 for the year was a respectable 7.32 and his WHIP was 1.08 and steady between the two levels he pitched. Of all the options that the Mets have to replace Zack Wheeler in 2020, he’s probably the only one I’d bank on pitching a full season of solid innings. Perhaps, we as Met fans are just too spoiled by the “Ace” caliber pitching that our farm system has produced over the past five years. Perhaps, we need to show more respect for a pitcher who shows every sign of being a major league quality 4th or 5th starter.

Shervyen Newton, IF (SAL) – A switch hitting 6 ‘4” tall shortstop from the Netherlands is not your typical player or prospect. Newton has never quite been conventional but he exploded onto the Met depth charts thanks to an .877 OPS in 2017 and a .857 OPS in 2018. His 2019 was not fated to be nearly as promising. The young player began the year hurt and lost his position to a more promising and younger player before returning in one of the worst slumps I have ever witnessed. There was very little good that happened for Newton in 2019 but the worst thing was likely the emergence of Ronny Mauricio. Thanks to that, a younger player is likely ahead of him on the depth charts for development. If Newton is going to keep pace he won’t be doing it at shortstop. It’s likely that he’ll see himself shifted to centerfield or second base because Mark Vientos has a lock on third.

Wagner Lagrange, OF (SAL/FSL) – We first noticed Lagrange in 2017 when he was part of a very good offensive team in the APP. Of the players who shined for Kingsport in 2017 only Lagrange, now 24, looked to maintain the success beyond that level. After an acceptable, if uninspiring, year in Brooklyn in 2018 he began this year with the Columbia Fireflies. He was a solid performer through April and May before slumping badly in June and breaking out, like a shot, in July. His .957 OPS in July was enough for the Mets to promote him out of Low A and into Port St. Lucie. He finished July with a flourish having his debut 11 games in Advanced A marked with a 1.083 OPS before coming back to earth in August. Even with the ups and downs it was a mostly up year for the Met outfielder who I project to either begin or finish the 2020 season with AA Binghamton.

Ali Sanchez, C (EAS/INT) – A player who I have been mostly cold on through the years Sanchez is a defensive catcher who seemed to enjoy a sizable breakout in 2019. He began the year with AA and while he finished the year with a .674 OPS, his Junes saw an unprecedented .888 level of production. All this being said, it will never be his bat that makes Sanchez a major league catcher. He scores good marks for game calling, defense behind the plate and his ability to keep runners in check. Should Sanchez, only 22 years old, manage to become a .700 OPS catcher his defense will be more than enough for him to earn regular playing time at the major league level. He will be returning to AAA (where he finished 2019) in 2020 and should be on the short list of players to come up if Tomas Nido is hurt.

Junior Santos, RHP (APP) – At a whopping 6’8″ in height and only 18 years of age, Junior Santos stands out. His size suggests a physical capacity for power pitching and he’s got tons of time to develop in that way. The prospect showed us something different in 2018 where he showed us pinpoint control. Over 50 innings in the DSL and GCL he only amassed 6 walks, an incredible feat, but he also only amassed 39 strikeouts. In 2019 he pitched 40.2 innings for the Advanced Rookie Level Mets but things took a turn for the worse. While his K/9 improved it did not jump off the board and he walked 25 batters (and saw his Opp BA rise 50 points) in the year. There is still plenty of reason to hope but it may be that we have been ascribing wishful thinking to Santos’ large frame.

Mets Minors: 2019 top 50 prospects (21-30)

On Friday we reached the third tier prospects in the Met’s system and today we will list out the ten remaining players who fall within this grouping.  It occured to me that a basic understanding of how my tiered system would be helpful to the readers.

 

Tier 1 – The Elite Prospects: To be traded only if the team is in dire need of improvement and you are trading for a young player who has some years left on the contract.  In this case I only rank the Top 7 prospects with the Mets as “Tier 1” though the whole Top 10 seem to have the right talent level.

 

Tier 2 – The Core Prospects: These are prospects that the team has some faith in.  The players that the scouts project as being impact players with the Mets in the next 1-5 years.  These are players who the team doesn’t trade easily but will if it will get them into the post season or beyond.

 

Tier 3 – Legitimate Prospects: The players who seem to have proven they can make it to the majors but who, for one reason or another, don’t have the ceilings to propel them into any sort of “Star” power.

 

Tier 4 – The Fringe Prospects: This group hasn’t proven themselves or they have ceilings that seem a bit too low or unlikely.  Plenty of younger players graduate up from this list and plenty more fall completely off of it into the tier of player that we don’t list in a Top 50 prospect list.

 

The Best of Tier 3

 

In this group of five players we see a pair of promising starting pitchers who seem to have hit bumps in the road, a young infielder who is going to be bumped from his position, a “hitting” catcher who never seems to quite hit enough and an international prospect who seems to only ever show glimpses of potential.

 

  1. Tony Dibrell, RHP (FSL/EAS) – Being ranked 21st in an organization is not and should not be viewed as a bad thing but Dibrell was on track to be ranked much higher before he flamed out in AA. The Mets shifted him from relief to starting in 2018 and Dibrell looked very good in Columbia. Port St. Lucie is a much bigger challenge and if we were to lose faith in what he could be this would be where it would happen.  Instead, he managed  2.39 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.  The negative from the first half of his year was the fall in his power numbers.  Dibrell had been a 9+ K/9 pitcher in Columbia, which seemed to suggest that he had “Ace” potential but his K/9 fell to 7.5 when he made the jump to Advanced A.  Then, he got a mid-season promotion to AA and it all seemed like it was too much for him.  From his second start in AA on his hits and walks against piled up and his ERA ballooned to a 9.31 in nine games.  Being that it came after a mid-season promotion we’ll give him a pass but he looks like he’ll need to repeat AA in 2020 for sure.

 

  1. Gregory Guerrero, 2B (APP) – Once upon a time, the Mets spent a fairly decent amount of their international pool on signing Guerrero out of the Dominican Republic. After three lackluster seasons with the Mets it’s fair to wonder if we can firmly affix the “Bust” label to his forehead and move on. In these three years the second baseman has proven to be a low batting average hitter who shows brief glimpses of more.  In 2019 he seemed to break out, starting the year with a torrid .911 OPS in June.  Then he fell back to earth and finished the season below .700 and looking overmatched once more.  At 20 the time for Guerrero to prove himself is now and another year like this will only see him fall into the fourth prospect tier or below.

 

  1. Jordan Humphreys, RHP (GCL/FSL) – The Mets made us believe that Jordan Humphreys would be back in the 2019 season but when the smoke cleared, he had only played in two games and pitched two innings for the GCL Mets. Thanks to another lost injury year, we see Humphreys pay the price as the timeline for him reaching the majors becomes further condensed. It is everyone’s hope that in 2020 the pitcher who broke out in 2017 will be back on the mound and showing us he was no fluke.  The odds, sadly, continue to mount against this happening.

 

  1. Jaylen Palmer, 3B/SS (APP) – Most of the Tier 3 players have been older but Palmer breaks this mold as being too good for Tier 4 and not secure enough to rank within the Top 20. He joined the Mets in 2018 and played 25 successful games in the GCL where he managed a .808 OPS. The Mets moved Palmer onto the APP in 2019 and the 19 year old 3rd baseman seemed poised to move up the depth charts.  That was until the Mets first draft pick earned his own promotion from the GCL and ate into his playing time.  Thanks to this, the Mets wound up having Palmer play the majority of his games at shortstop, a position the 6’3″ young man is ill-suited to, at least long term.  In 2020 he has the talent to move directly to Columbia but is more likely trapped in Brooklyn by the depth charts.

 

  1. Patrick Mazeika, C (EAS) – A catcher who hits 16 home runs in 116 games of AA is nothing to sneer at but the question of how much of a catcher Mazeika actually is, is a matter of contention. The 25 year old catcher has been coming up the Mets system for a few years and hit a major snag in 2018 when his offensive production took a nose dive in AA. His OPS for 2019 recovered by 48 points but people rightfully want more from Mazeika, who isn’t a guarantee by any stretch.  With defensive options like Ali Sanchez (who is rated higher on this prospect list) above him, Mazeika needs to show that his bat can be a difference maker in the majors.  He will likely get to play alongside Sanchez again in 2020 and try to prove just that for the Syracuse Mets.

 

The Rest of Tier 3

 

The middle five of this group holds two relievers who could be pitching in the major leagues soon, a shortstop who is now an outfielder, a first baseman without enough power and an outfielder who projects as a bench player.  People get down on the Met’s farm system but the fact that three players ranked 26-30 could be in the majors in 2020 is actually a testament to how much talent is still to come.

 

  1. Jeremy Vasquez, 1B (FSL/EAS) – If you read Mets360 you’ll have heard the name Jeremy Vasquez. The first baseman was one of the few consistent hitters for a terrible hitting Port St. Lucie ball club. It seemed there was nothing that he could do to earn his way up to Binghamton, though… if he had more power that would have helped.  After 125 games in Advanced A and a .737 OPS for the year he was able to play his final 12 games with Binghamton.  What Vasquez should be is a solid contact hitting first baseman who is good at recognizing pitches and who avoids striking out too much.  He didn’t do that in his 12 games in Binghamton but he will assuredly get much more time to show us that in 2020.

 

  1. Hansel Moreno, OF (SAL/FSL) – With the high number of shortstops in the lower levels of the Met system, the writing was on the wall for Moreno, who made the transition to the outfield in 2019. The former infielder played only three games in the infield in 2019 and those were all at second base. Now in Advanced A, it seems the Mets view Moreno as a center fielder who will also see some time in both left and right fields.  We also saw Moreno earn a promotion in the middle of the year to Port St. Lucie but we did not see the same level of hitting success once that happened.  The switch hitter still has physical gifts that give him something of a chance to reach the majors but the window for him to prove that physicality will translate into hits is closing.

 

  1. Stephen Villines, RHP (EAS/INT) – One of the best reliever prospects in the organization, Villines played games for both Binghamton and Syracuse in 2019. The Mets demoted back to AA in June as it seemed that he might not have been ready to make the jump. One thing that seems to shine in his history through the minors is an ability to keep opposing hitters of the basepaths and that makes his AAA numbers seem to make a bit less sense.  Back in AA he maintained a WHIP right around 1.00 which is much more in line with the player we’ve seen him be since 2017.  In 2020 he’ll get another shot at AAA but may even get a good long look through Spring Training to see if he could be of some immediate help to the major league team.

 

  1. Quinn Brodey, OF (FSL/EAS) – The outfielder was likely not a third tier player on anyone’s radar before the season but thanks to a successful mid-season promotion to Bingmhamton his future in the major leagues seems to be crystalizing into a legitimate possibility. Brodey played 53 games for Port St. Lucie and in that time managed a robust .770 OPS thanks to strong power and solid plate discipline. His Binghamton numbers took a hit but he still managed to knock a .690 OPS that was hurt by a difficult first month after his promotion.  Brodey might return to AA in 2020 but he seems to have found his footing there and could be knocking on the door as a 4th or 5th outfielder in Flushing before long.

 

  1. Ryley Gilliam, RHP (FSL/EAS/INT) – The Met relief prospect rose through Advanced A and AA to finish the year with Syracuse. It was a nice accomplishment but Gilliam seemed a bit rushed based on his performances. In 10.2 innings with Port St. Lucie he put up the stats of a star reliever.  His K/9 was well above 9.0 and his WHIP was below 1.00 which is great for anyone’s first taste of Advanced A.  After his promotion to Binghamton the numbers stayed pretty good. In 18.2 innings he still struck out a lot of people but his ERA and WHIP both began to creep upwards.  Then his 9.1 innings in Syracuse just look plain bad.  Nobody should expect the AAA numbers to be the end of the road, though.  Gilliam will hope to bounce back in 2020 as he could start the year with either AA or AAA.

Mets Minors: 2019 top 50 prospects (31-40)

Prospects cannot help but be ranked and grouped into like tiers.  First Tier prospects are the elite players towards the Top of one’s Top 10 or, on a very good farm, beyond that.  Second tier players look to have major league futures but are not in the same class regarding needing to protect them. Going lower you reach a third tier where players either lack the ceilings of a major league star or remain too far out to properly judge.  The further tier are the prospects that a team tracks but doesn’t necessarily expect big things from.

 

As the Top 50 list continues from there we hit the best of what I’d call the fourth tier prospects.  These are the players that get tossed in blindly on deals.  Not necessarily those that a team “wants” to trade away but players who, if the target is in their sights, a team can pull the trigger on without thinking twice.  Here we see quite a few of the Mets later draft picks from the 2019 draft.  Those College Seniors who lacked the leverage needed to derail Brodie Van Wagenen’s dreams of three first round picks.

 

The Worst of Tier 3:

 

A DSL player who exceeded expectations, a Low A starter who didn’t live up to them, a AA reliever from an infamous crop of prospects and two second basemen who don’t see powerful or fast enough to have legitimate MLB futures.  The Mets do not start their 3rd tier with a bang and some might question why some of these players appear here instead of some more promising players from the fourth tier.  Based upon the stats, scouting and draft history these players remain a bit more valuable to the Mets than those I’ve ranked lower.  Whether that’s based upon their performance in 2019 or that of previous year.

 

Carlos Dominguez, OF (DSL) – Playing alongside a top prospect like Freddy Valdez it says something that Dominguez was able to distinguish himself well in 2019.  Sporting a .847 OPS between his time for the two DSL Met teams, Dominguez suffers from the Vicente Lupo effect.  That being said I have to admire an outfielder who steals 15 bases and knocks 24 extra base hits in a 59 game season.  Numbers made all the better from his ability to draw walks and not strike out and unseemly amount.  He would seem to have earned his way into stateside baseball and would be a likely candidate to play with Valdez and Adrian Hernandez for Kingsport in 2020.

 

Willy Taveras, RHP (SAL) – He began the year as one of the strongest pitchers for the Columbia Fireflies but his success began to taper out and eventually he had a few injury hiccups as well.  He ended the year pitching out of the bullpen and finished with an unsightly 5.14 ERA.  Much of this is fueled by a disastrous month of June where the pitcher suffered to the tune of 25 earned runs in 24 innings.  That being said, the Dominican pitcher had been good in his three previous seasons and there is plenty of hope he can right the ship with a solid season in Port St. Lucie.  Taveras has potential to swing into the second tier with a good year or out of the Top 50 with a bad one.  We’ll need to wait and see.

 

Ryder Ryan, RHP (EAS) – Part of the Jay Bruce trade, Ryan has been a bit behind most of the Met relievers acquired in the 2017 trade deadline.  One can hope that his additional development will lead to more success.  Ryan spent the entire season pitching out of the bullpen for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies where he struck out 40 in 44.1 innings and held his WHIP to 1.26 for the year.  The .210 opponent batting average is a promising sign but his WHIP is a little high considering.  Ryan will need to learn more control to be a success as a middle reliever in the majors.  2020 will see him as one of the many possible call-up arms pitching for AAA Syracuse.

 

Carlos Cortes, 2B (FSL) – The 3rd round pick from the 2018 draft shows the difference in drafting between the Alderson and Van Wagenen eras.  Cortes was a solid positional pick whom the Mets thought might be a candidate to advance quickly, despite his size.  He was fairly easy to sign and the Mets were panned for selecting someone who likely profiled as a backup infielder.  Despite being only 5’7″, Cortes has power.  The 26 doubles, 3 trilples and 11 home runs seem incongruous with his smaller build but should give people hope that Cortes might have a bit more to his future than the major league bench.  He’ll need to prove that in Binghamton in 2020.

 

Luke Ritter, 2B (NYP) – Another of the many college seniors the Mets drafted in the 4th-10th rounds of the 2019 draft.  Ritter stands out and reigns as the top ranked draftee from that group.  The Wichita State infielder was assigned to Brooklyn and became a fixture of the Cyclone lineup.  During 2019 he started 60 of his 68 games batting in the heart of the lineup (3rd, 4th or 5th) and managed a solid .722 OPS for the season.  He does a little bit of everything and is unlikely to stand out for power or speed as he progresses but he could still prove to be a valuable role player in the years to come.  I have him starting  2020 with the St. Lucie Mets as their starting second baseman and hitting 2nd.

 

The Bottom 15:

 

Besides the bevy of College Seniors we see a player who made his MLB debut in 2019.  The player who is missing from this list is the Mets 14th round pick who shows signs he may be on future iterations of this same list.  Kennie Taylor and Nogosek aside we see that the Mets did restock some viable talent with their College senior approach.  It remains to be seen if anyone drafted in rounds 4-10 will actually make an impact or even play at the major league level.  Deepest apologies to Mr. Taylor who wound up as #51 on this year’s list.

 

Stephen Nogosek, RHP (EAS/INT) – The Mets got Nogosek alongside Gerson Bautista and Jamie Calahan from the Boston Redsox for Addison Reed during the 2018 firesale.  While he did not look great in his MLB debut, Nogosek’s numbers in AAA are good enough to suggest that the 24 year old deserves another shot at the major league bullpen.  In 30.1 innings in AAA he managed a phenomenal 0.73 WHIP while striking out 30 in 30.1 innings.  Nothing about his minor league performance in 2019 suggests he will not make future appearances at the major league level.

 

Wilmer Reyes, SS (NYP) – There is a lot to like about Reyes’ 2019 season.  The 21 year old shortstop (who also plays 3B, 2B, 1B and LF) managed a .791 OPS in Brooklyn which is not a hitter friendly league.  If there was a problem with Reyes’ future it would best be described as roadblocks.  Reyes is among a crowded group of infield prospects breaking into full season ball.  With Mauricio, Newton, Vientos, Ritter, Romero and others looking for jobs in Columbia or Port St. Lucie it’s going to be a tight field.  There was also a sense that Reyes is more of a “Swinger” than a “Hitter” but his results in 2019 were too good to be completely discounted.

 

Jake Mangum, OF (NYP) – New York really wanted Mangum.  He was drafted by the Yankees and Mets unsuccessfully in previous years and was the last prospect to sign of the Mets Top 10.  To be fair, Mangum doesn’t seem to be much more than a future 4th or 5th outfielder but a center fielder who can play good defense and steal bases isn’t something to sneer at.  While a higher OPS in his debut would have been ideal, his 17 stolen bases in 53 games safely show his value.

 

Scott Ota, OF (APP) – If it seems that Mets360 hasn’t spent enough time talking about a lefty outfielder who managed a .875 OPS in his baseball debut, that’s my fault.  It is hard to get overly excited by any 22 year old’s success in a level of baseball meant for players under 21 years of age.  Had Ota had the same success in Brooklyn he’d be ranked in the third or even second tiers of this list.  He’s shown great power and discipline in Kingsport but it will matter far more if the 5’11” outfielder can do that when he’s up against age appropriate competition.  Let’s see this success in Port St. Lucie in 2020 and call me back.

 

Nathan Jones, RHP (NYP) – The Mets 5th round pick only threw 13.2 innings for Brooklyn and his 6.59 ERA must make his inclusion look unseemly but the right handed starter’s numbers were greatly hurt by a disastrous 0.2 inning outing on 8/29.  If not for this we’d be talking about Jones looking ready to begin his 2020 season in either Columbia or Port St. Lucie and how he has the chance to prove himself a diamond in the rough.  Without 8/29 he’d have a WHIP under 1.00 and a K/9 of 9.0, so we should all try and keep an open mind.

Mets Minors: 2019 top 50 prospects (41-50)

Each year I write up a Top 50 list but in most years I’m spending a few weeks scrambling to put my thoughts in order to make sure I am listing everyone who deserves to be listed and not listing anyone (cough cough… Tim Tebow) that shouldn’t be.  In 2019 I did something different.  I kept a Top 50 list actively updated throughout the season and it wound up helping me to begin posting the list right away.  I hope everyone enjoys this year’s list.

 

Every Met pundit has a style and looks for different things in their evaluations.  Working on the Top 50 in 2018 with Chris F and Gus taught me that some people put almost no value on the lower minors and others put too much.  It also taught me a lot about my own ranking style.  I do not weigh floor and ceiling equally.  My floor rating tends to have a lower impact on my overall numbers than the ceiling as I ultimately care more about a player’s absolute potential than their immediacy to impact.  You’ll, no doubt, see that as we go on.

 

The Bottom 10:

 

While I clearly value ceiling above floor you still see a healthy mix of players who are in the upper and lower minors but in this case you start to see some names that might not appear on any other Met Prospect List.  The younger players, those who come out of the DSL often flame out but there is, in some cases, enough reason to hope.  I’d take more pride in finding a future star than in successfully predicting the next backup corner infielder.

 

  1. Federico Polanco, 2B (DSL/GCL) Starting in the DSL and earning a promotion to the GCL during the year is not that common. The second baseman who also spent some time at 3B and SS in 2019 managed 18 extra base hits and 10 stolen bases in 41 games for the DSL. Most impressively, his plate discipline is top notch and suggests that he will be able to get on base with some consistency.  I have him starting the year in Kingsport but the Mets might have him play as high as Columbia depending on what positions that they need players for.

 

  1. Sebastian Espino, SS (APP) – MiLB.com lists Espino as a second baseman but the infielder played almost three times the innings at shortstop for the Kingsport Mets. He started off the season very well and cooled off greatly as the season went on. He seems likely headed to Brooklyn in 2020 where he will be challenged to hit in a league that eats power.  It would be good for the fleet footed player to learn to use his natural speed to steal some bases, something he has yet to figure out.

 

  1. Ronny Rincones, RHP (DSL) – Starting pitchers under 6’0″ don’t happen too often. It’s what made Pedro Martinez so special. Of the pitchers in the DSL in 2019, Rincones clearly stood out as the top of his class with a low WHIP and K/9 above 9.0 for the year.  At 17, the Venezuelan starting pitcher is likely headed for his stateside debut in 2020 and should be seen in the GCL.  Since he is only 17 you might even see him get a few outings in the DSL (which starts earlier) to help stretch him out.

 

  1. Adonis Uceta, RHP (EAS/INT) – Like Blackham (listed below) Uceta is an upper minors reliever who should become part of the Mets sometime in the 2020 season. Uceta’s numbers in AA were very good but his few outings in AAA were God awful. Uceta looks to have the makings of a high-leverage reliever and could prove his way into that role but his time to do that will be 2020.  I can’t see the Mets giving him too many chances before looking elsewhere.

 

  1. Will Toffey, 3B (EAS) – When the Mets traded their closer (Jeurys Familia) in 2018 they got back a relief pitcher (Bobby Wahl) and a B-Rated third base prospect in Will Toffey. Toffey did well with the Mets in 2018 but saw a 130 point drop in OPS production in his second year of AA. Nothing about his 2019 should please Met fans as he now looks like someone who the Mets should no longer protect in the Rule V draft.

 

 

The Bottom 5:

 

A versatile infielder, an overshadowed catcher, two relievers and a former Top Prospect who is being threatened with expulsion from the Top 50.  The bottom five is a list has a few names that could move up this list for next year and two that have a strong likelihood of falling off the list entirely.  For a team like the Mets, whose farm system is rated poorly, I find that these prospects have some surprising prospect value to them.  While none of them have the best chance of a major league impact they have better chances than some players ranked in these positions in recent years.

 

  1. Yoel Romero, Util (NYP/SAL/FSL) – A true utility player, Romero saw time in Advanced A, Low A and Short Season ball in 2019. During that time he played 3B, 2B, 1B, SS, LF and RF. The versatile fielder spent most of his year with Brooklyn where he hit in the middle of the order.  At 21 years of age he has some time to develop and should likely find himself playing a starting role for either Port St. Lucie or Columbia to start his 2020 season.  The fact he can play so many positions makes him an intriguing prospect as a future bench option.

 

  1. Andres Regnault, C (APP) – With all the Francisco Alvarez hype, it’s easy to forget a solid offensive performance from another catching prospect. The 20 year old catcher had a great year in Kingsport where he finished with an .817 OPS. He’d be a far better prospect if only he would learn to take more walks.  He has power and hits for contact but having an OBP only 36 points higher than his batting average will always make his numbers suffer.  Still plenty of time to work on it as he progresses.

 

  1. Matt Blackham, RHP (INT) – The under-the-radar reliever who has, for no discernable reason, not been to the majors in 2019. Blackham has been one of the best relievers for the Mets upper minors, pitching 55.1 innings between AA and AAA. His K/9 and WHIP are both strong and it seems like he’s ready to get his shot at the majors any second.  At 26 it’ll be hard to ever call him a “prospect” again.

 

  1. Jefferson Escorcha, LHP (APP) – It’s rare to rank a relief pitcher in the Top 50 and rarer still to do so with a 19 year old lefty in Kingsport. Eschorcha stood out as a possible prospect in 2018 with a dazzling WHIP and K/9 between both of the DSL teams. His numbers were less crisp in the APP but still showed a good ability for the lefty to avoid giving free bases and/or hits.  He also threw quite a few multi-inning outings leading me to believe the Mets may switch him into the rotation for 2020 in Brooklyn.

 

  1. Desmond Lindsay, OF (FSL) – Another year, another injury and another wasted season. I considered keeping Lindsay off of the Top 50 list entirely. The once promising outfielder can’t seem to stay healthy or hit with any consistency during the brief stretches where he manages to actually play.  Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft he’ll be 22 and will have never played above Advanced A in 2020.  I’ve left him on the list, mostly, to make people aware of how far his star has fallen.  I can’t even bring myself to opine what a turnaround might look like.

Mets Minors: Matthew Allan and other late-season promotions

The Minor League season is winding down and I’ve started work on my Top 50 Met prospect list for the offseason but the Mets are keeping things interesting with some late season promotions.  Typically you’ll see teams trying to give minor leaguers a taste of the playoffs by tossing them into a higher level for the last few games but the Mets seem inclined on getting previews of what some of their top prospects are capable of against a higher level of competition.  This is making for a few very exciting late season storylines.

 

Matthew Allan: GCL – NYP

 

Only 8.1 innings in Rookie ball is enough for the Mets to push Allan into the deep end.  The Met’s 3rd round pick was the highest ranked prospect selected by the team in the 2019 draft.  It’s a coup by Brodie Van Wagenen that he was able to get him to sign at all.  In his few innings he’s managed eleven strikeouts with four walks and only one earned run.  It’s worth noting that three of his walks and the earned run all came in his second outing and that he’s spread out only five hits as well.

 

This two level promotion is extremely aggressive for a prospect who is only 18 years old.  We’ll need to see how much exposure the Mets are willing to give him in Brooklyn but it would seem likely that Allan is destined to pitch in Columbia next season and be playing full season baseball as a 19 year old.

 

Thomas Szapucki: FSL – EAS

 

Having pitched 36.0 innings over nine starts in Advanced A the Mets have decided that the time to accelerate Szapucki’s timeline has come.  At the age of 23 the left-handed starter has a pair of lost seasons to make up for but is now pitching in the league most appropriate to his age.  Since coming back from injury his control seems to have taken a hit but his “Ace” potential remains very real.  There isn’t enough time in AA left for him to make much of a bid to start 2020 in AAA but he’s got the potential to make his MLB debut next year with a strong showing in Spring Training and Binghamton.

 

Brett Baty: APP – NYP

 

Baty began the year in the GCL where a 1.130 OPS in five games was enough for the Mets to promote him to the more advanced Kingsport team.  He managed 42 games in Kingsport splitting between DH and 3B duties.  While his batting average suffered (dropping to .222) his OPS was a solid .775 buoyed by a .437 SLG.  The power is very real and the Mets want to put it on display.  The only problem for Baty is that Brooklyn and Columbia are not known for helping power hitters.  We’ll see how he does when he gets some game time action.  Expect Baty to suit up for Columbia in 2020.

 

Freddy Valdez: DSL – GCL

 

A big international signee from 2018, Valdez was held in the DSL while Francisco Alvarez was challenged in the GCL.  Through 57 games in the Dominican Republic, the 17 year old outfielder sported a .268/.358/.432 batting line.  He showed power, some solid plate discipline (for his age) and even some unexpected speed (six stolen bases).  The big corner outfielder has already hit the GCL and is off to a strong start begging the question of where the Mets will start him in 2020 but good money still has him in the APP and Kingsport instead of the SAL and Columbia.

 

Jeremy Vasquez: FSL – EAS

 

Steady hitting through 125 games in 2019 has finally earned the first baseman the promotion to AA he’s been waiting for.  Vasquez’s ceiling is low because he doesn’t have the power that most first baseman do but his advancement is overdue.  It’s worth noting that he’s steadily and slowly cooled off from a very strong start to the season

*****

None of you probably know this but I’m a tabletop game designer and do work for the company Nerdy City. Our company specializes in nostalgic gaming experiences and we are finishing up a kickstarter for our latest game, Commandroids. For anyone who likes transforming robots and/or tabletop roleplaying games set in the late 80s this might be a project you’d like to back.

Mets Minors: What to make of Andres Gimenez’ 2019

A 20-year-old shortstop playing in AA-Binghamton and managing an OPS around .700 is nothing to sneeze at.  Though top prospects should not be hammering out paltry .241/.305/.378 batting lines either.  When we began the year, people had Andres Gimenez and Pete Alonso as the top two prospects in the Met system.  Most, in fact, labeled Gimenez as the better of the two.  Most of a season later and it seems that Alonso was the far wiser bet.

 

Gimenez had played 109 games in the 2019 season, all of them at the shortstop position.  A player that should have been fighting to move Amed Rosario into centerfield seems to have taken a step back with production below his typical minor league levels.  While his defensive numbers have been steady, everyone wants to know why he just isn’t hitting like we expected.

 

We may never know why.  Outside of the DSL Gimenez has never looked like a superstar slugger or the next Jose Reyes.  He has been steady in producing a near .700 OPS in most of the levels he’s played.  With a .683 OPS, what makes his 2019 production seem so bad?

 

The answer is partially the fault of the fans, who expect players labeled “Top Prospect” to never stumble and partially because Gimenez has never been great at taking walks and he’s only gotten worse in this capacity.  Not only has he hit for a lower average but the difference in his OBP is marked but I actually think it’s more of the former than the latter.

 

Hope at the End of the Tunnel

 

In the past week things have been looking up for Gimenez, who has two home runs and has hit .316 over the last 10 games.  More importantly, his numbers indicate that he still looks like a 15 homerun, 30 stolen base shortstop who should be bringing a Plus glove with him to the major league level.

 

I won’t deny that he’s been supplanted by the likes of Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos and Francisco Alvarez at the top of the prospect rankings but it’s good to take a moment and remember that Gimenez still looks like a bonafide major league shortstop and will only be twenty one years old in 2020.

 

AAA:

Syracuse Mets

 

Ali Sanchez succeeding without being noticed – The defensive catcher has not appeared to hit that well since his promotion to AAA, hitting only .257 without any home runs, but his OPS is .737 which is plenty good to get Sanchez into the conversation for 2020.

 

Harol Gonzalez shrugs off promotion – Most players get a bit knocked around when they go up a level nut through his first 30.1 innings in AAA he’s got a 2.67 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.

 

AA:

Binghamton Rumble Ponies

 

Patrick Mazeika needs to catch – His bat has been good in 2019 and the .445 SLG is a great sign but it’s far less special from a 1B/DH than it is from a catcher.

 

Stephen Villines goes long – For a relief pitcher going 3.0 innings is not a common sight but Villines did just that, scattering three hits and striking out 4 in scoreless work.

 

A+:

St. Lucie Mets

 

Thomas Szapucki pitches six – This marks the longest outing since coming back from injury and should only make fans more optimistic about his future.

 

A:

Columbia Fireflies

 

Mark Vientos is back from injury – He had been looking like he was about to catch fire before getting hurt.  Let’s hope he can bounce back.

 

SS:

Brooklyn Cyclones

 

Garrison Bryant looks like he’s Top of the Class – Entering into 2020 he’ll likely be the top pitcher in the Columbia Fireflies’ rotation.

 

R+:

Kingsport Mets

 

Scott Ota is ready for more – At 22 he’s doing well in Kingsport but is too much older than the other players for it to matter.

 

Francisco Alvarez adds two – He launched two home runs on Saturday continuing a great Met prospect debut season.

Mets Minors: Matthew Allan, Josh Wolf and a brighter future

A lot has been written about the Mets draft.  The Mets were able to manipulate their money so as to sign three (3) first round talents in their first three rounds of the 2019 draft.  While much has been written about Brett Baty, Josh Wolf and Matthew Allan it’s equally important for the Met fans reading this to realize what this draft will mean down the road.

 

Currently the AAA roster is without any marquee talent.  Ali Sanchez is a quality depth catcher with good defense but he does not and will not project as a future MLB star.  The likes of Dilson Herrera, Corey Oswalt and Chris Flexen don’t scream success either.  This leads many to view the Met’s farm system as being subpar.  I tend to be far less bleak about things.

 

The Mets lower minor league squads are filled to brimming with high-quality prospects that have strong MLB futures in their sights.  While much time for mischief and poor performance remains to derail their futures the Mets will be enjoying their improvement on a year to year basis.

 

Building From the Ground Up

 

Blogs like to talk about marquee players, elite prospects and rank prospects every which way.  When it comes down to it.  A prospect’s value is based upon his impact to a major league squad and his proximity to making that impact felt.  For this article I’ll be referring to where I perceive a prospect’s ceiling to be on a five star scale.

 

No MLB Future = ✩

Cup of Coffee = ✩✩

MLB Bench Player = ✩✩✩

MLB Starter = ✩✩✩✩

MLB Star = ✩✩✩✩✩

 

Obviously the player’s ETA is a much more concrete term.  This represents the season at which point one believes they will reach the majors.  Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

 

DSL:

Mets 1 & 2

 

Freddy Valdez – OF, 17 (ETA 2024): ✩✩✩✩.5

 

Valdez came into the Mets system with some strong scouting that suggested that he could be a very powerful outfielder.  At 6’3” he looked capable and through his debut in the DSL he’s been as strong as advertised.  Both his SLG .441 and OBP .361 are impressive and his 6 stolen bases come as a pleasant surprise.  The Mets are likely to allow him to skip the GCL in 2019 or quickly earn a mid-year promotion to the APP.

 

Carlos Dominguez – OF, 19 (ETA 2024): ✩✩✩.5

 

While Dominguez has outperformed Valdez on several fronts, it’s rare that an unheralded prospect makes a strong transition from the DSL to the stateside rookie levels.  For that reason, Dominguez suffers from the Vicente Lupo effect.

 

GCL:

Mets

 

Matthew Allan – RHP, 18 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩✩✩

 

Matthew Allan was the third Met selected in the 2019 amateur draft but he was also ranked higher than Wolf or Baty when the draft kicked off.  He was supposed to be a signing risk, but the Mets were able to save a ton of money by selecting college seniors with their 4th-10th round picks and signed him.  Allan has pitched scant innings in the GCL and looks set to make his way upward when they 2020 season begins.  He should begin the season with Kingsport or Brooklyn and seems a longshot for Columbia. 

 

Josh Wolf – RHP, 18 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩✩.5

 

While Allan likely has a touch more upside, both of these young pitchers project to be in the front-end of a rotation.  Wolf has tossed a few more innings thus far but it would seem sensible to keep both of the young pitchers together as they make their way up through the system.  That 2023 ETA assumes a fair amount of things going right and a lack of injury setbacks.  2020 would see Wolf/Allan in the NYP or APP, 2021 would see them finish the year in Advanced A and 2022 would have them pitching in Binghamton before they make their MLB debuts in 2023.

 

Adrian Hernandez – OF, 18 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩✩

 

Hernandez is a “5-Tool” prospect and I’ve been more afraid of that classification than any other since watching the likes of Lastings Milledge and Alex Escobar come through the Met farm system.  What matters is that he looked good before his injury and should be back to compete in a short season level again in 2020.

 

Federico Polanco – SS, 18 (ETA 2024): ✩✩✩.5

 

Polanco was good enough in the DSL to be promoted to the GCL this year.  That is a very good sign but the transition has not gone smoothly.  There is still reason to hope that Polanco can show some of his DSL-like performance before the year is out.

 

APP:

Kingsport Mets

 

Francisco Alvarez – C, 17 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩✩✩

 

Alvarez has quickly become one of my favorite prospects in the Met system.  At the age of 17 he’s already played his way out of the GCL and done well enough in the APP to possible break with the Full Season SAL for 2020.  Either way, if his bat can continue to translate at either of these more advanced levels he will quickly rocket up both the Mets Top 30 prospect list and make his way onto Baseball America’s Top 100.

 

Brett Baty – 3B, 19 (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩✩✩

 

The Mets top draft pick in the 2019 draft wasted no time in showing his value clubbing a 1.130 OPS in his five game debut at the GCL.  He’s seen his batting average plummet in the APP but one has to look at OBP and SLG before giving up on him.  His OBP is 120 points higher than his batting average and his SLG of .405 would be obscenely good if he got more balls to drop in play.  It seems likely that he’ll be tied to Alvarez with either he or Palmer earning a trip to full season ball.

 

Junior Santos – RHP, 18 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩✩

 

Santos has begun to see his raw power translate into strikeouts in 2019.  The 6’8” righty has 32 Ks in 31.1 innings but he’s got 29 Ks through his last 27.  Santos showed impecable control in the DSL but has been far more wild stateside.  The Mets consider Santos more of a long term project and he seems likely headed to Brooklyn in 2020.

 

Jaylen Palmer – 3B, 19 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩.5

 

Palmer is currently splitting time with Baty and will hope to start his 2020 season in a different level than the Brett the Met.  I would bet on Baty playing in Columbia with Palmer manning the hot corner for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

 

Gregory Guerrero – 2B, (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩

 

We seem to forever be waiting for Guerrero to make good on his scouting profile.  He showed signs of it towards the beginning of 2019 but seems to have regressed steeply.  It seems like the prospect star might be quickly fading here.

 

NYP:

Brooklyn Cyclones

 

Garrison Bryant – RHP, 20 (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩✩

 

Before the season it would have been hard to rank this Met 36th round pick as a potential MLB arm but Bryant has been leading the Cyclones and looking like the team’s “Ace” at times.  In 64 innings he has 61 Ks and a 0.83 WHIP.  In 2020 he’ll get his second chance of impressing in Columbia.

 

Wilmer Reyes – SS, (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩.5

 

Seeing Reyes play reminds me a lot of Newton.  The shortstop seems to swing for the fences in each at bat and seems a little over-excited in the field.  With Mauricio and Newton wedged ahead of him, he’ll have plenty of time to develop and has an outside chance of reaching the majors as a starter.

 

Luke Ritter – 2B, 22 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩

 

One of the many college senior prospects the Mets drafted in 2019, Ritter looks like an adult playing with kids at times.  His fielding at second is sharp and he has a professional approach at the plate but his future seems relegated to the bench.

 

A:

Columbia Fireflies

 

Ronny Mauricio – SS, 18 (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩✩✩

 

Mauricio has gone from a Top Prospect to the #1 Met Prospect in about half a year.  Considering his age, his numbers in Low A Columbia are extraordinary and he seems poised to proceed to Advanced A as one of the youngest players at that level.  The shortstop has struggled to show power and patience in his second year but the former may have been hindered by the SAL and the latter should hopefully get better with time. 

 

Mark Vientos – 3B, 19 (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩✩✩

 

The Mets other Top Overall Prospect candidate shares the left side of the infield with Mauricio.  Vientos was a solid second round selection in the 2018 draft who has rewarded the Mets by producing solid hitting and power at both Kinsport and Columbia.  Some might even argue about his being a better prospect than Mauricio but that’s a good problem to have.  The quartet of Mauricio, Vientos, Alvarez and Baty are a larger core of top flight position players than the Mets have had in recent memory.  With an oversized shortstop and two third basemen it’s likely that the Mets will be shifting one or more of these players to the outfield before long.

 

Shervyen Newton – IF, 20 (ETA 2023): ✩✩✩✩

 

Some people rank Newton in the Mets Top 10 but I’m no longer one of them.  The physically gifted infielder strikes out a ton and has had major problems getting on base.  Should he ever get his head on straight he has the skills to be a star but his ceiling is hurt by the glaring flaws present in his game. 

 

A+:

St. Lucie Mets

 

Thomas Szapucki – LHP, 23 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩✩.5

 

Szapucki missed all of 2018 and most of 2017 thanks to injury but is quickly making up for lost time in 2019 with a successful debut in Advanced A.  The lefty hasn’t pitched a full season in his time with the Mets but seems to be a shoe-in candidate for AA in 2020 where a successful debut could see him skipping AAA entirely.

 

Jordan Humphreys – RHP, 23 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩✩

 

Also coming off an injury, Humphreys has only managed two innings in the GCL as he works to rehab.  The pitcher who shined so brightly in 2017 will need to do a lot to follow Szapucki to AA in 2020 but should hope to finish this year back with St. Lucie. The Mets would do well to begin his 2020 campaign in Advanced A as well.

 

Wagner Lagrange – OF, 23 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩✩

 

One of the best stories from the 2019 Mets minor leagues, Lagrange has improved his game by mighty leaps this season, emerging as the best outfield prospect in the system.  That could change if Vientos or Mauricio switches position but for now it seems he’s  more than capable of playing up to the level of a major leaguer.  If he continues at his 2019 pace his ceiling could even go higher.

 

Jeremy Vasquez – 1B, 23 (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩.5

 

The contact oriented first baseman plays the wrong position to have much of a future in the MLB with the Mets.  Vasquez has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Met organization all season but would need to show more power to be considered an option as a starting MLB player.

 

Carlos Cortes – 2B, 22 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩.5

 

Despite his size, Cortes has shown good power in the Florida State League.  The third round pick from the 2018 draft has handled Advanced A well, especially now that he is able to play full time.  He’s likely to stick by Vasquez and make his way to AA in 2020.

 

Desmond Lindsay – OF, 22 (ETA Never):

 

I am likely trolling Lindsay a bit with this ranking but with his perpetual injuries and lack of performance it seems entirely unlikely that he will ever have a future in the majors.

 

AA:

Binghamton Rumble Ponies

 

Andres Gimenez – SS, 20 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩✩.5

 

The star has dimmed and this five star prospect has lost half a star already.  His ceiling is likely that of an MLB regular but his age keeps his ceiling a bit higher for now.  There will be little, if anything, keeping Gimenez from reaching the majors in 2020, especially if the Mets remain intent on moving Amed Rosario into center field.  His 2019 has been poor and his 2020 could begin, again, in AA depending on if the Mets are planning to hold him back another year for development.

 

David Peterson – LHP, 23 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩✩

 

I’m less doom and gloom on Peterson than others but I certainly don’t see him as a front end starter in the majors.  I think he could eventually be a very serviceable lefty starter.  Look for Peterson’s ceiling to land him at a #3 pitcher with him being far more likely at a #4 or #5.

 

Luis Carpio – 2B/SS, 22 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩.5

 

It’s like Luis Guillorme jr.  Carpio profiles as a bench player who could be a starter if things break right.  His numbers in Advanced A suggest far more of a starter than those since his promotion.  With quality prospects waiting for promotion it seems that there is no where for Carpio to go but AAA.

 

Kevin Smith – RHP, 22 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩.5

 

There may be some who project Smith above Peterson but I think he looks like more of a longshot to the majors at the moment.  His stuff in Advanced A was exceptional and he’s only taken a little bruising since earning his promotion to AA but it seems far more likely that he’s a backup starter than a back-end rotation option.

 

Tommy Wilson – RHP, 23 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩.5

 

Wilson has a higher capacity for stirkeouts but is a year older than Smith which will make him suffer from comparison.  That said, the former 19th round pick seems to be a polished diamond in the rough type pitcher and already seems to be on track for more of an MLB career than a 19th rounder typically sees.

 

Tony Dibrell – RHP, 23 (ETA 2022): ✩✩✩.5

 

His stats from Advanced A were very promising but the 6 game experiment in Binghamton has been an abject failure.  Dibrell will need to repeat this level and has taken a serious hit in the value department.

 

Ryder Ryan – RHP, 24 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩.5

 

The relief pitcher seems to have a major league future but it remains to be seen if he’s actually a high-leverage reliever or not.  The Mets will likely test him out with some high leverage outings in AAA in 2020.

 

Patrick Mazeika – C/1B, 25 (ETA 2021): ✩✩✩

 

A hitting catcher who seems destined to only see part time work in the majors, Mazeika has gotten some of the mystique to his hit tool back with a successful second showing at AA.  The Mets will not need his services while Wilson Ramos is on the team but should the Mets be looking at a starting catcher who is known more for defense, Mazeika becomes a strong offensive change of pace.

 

David Thompson – 1B/3B, 25 (ETA 2021): ✩✩

 

A .711 OPS in a power position does not cut it at this age.  Thompson needed to show us far more, especially after his demotion from AAA.

 

AAA:

Syracuse Mets

 

Franklyn Kilome – RHP, 24 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩✩

 

Having spent all of 2019 injured it’s hard to project Kilome into the 2020 plans but it seems that most scouts see him as a reliever and I could see the Mets looking to add his live arm to the bullpen at some point next season.

 

Harol Gonzalez – RHP, 24 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩.5

 

Gonzalez has been the very model of dependability and should be an option to be the #5 or #6 starting pitcher option in 2020 out of camp.  He doesn’t have anything that makes him stand out as a star but he seems like a quality innings eater.

 

Ali Sanchez – C, 22 (ETA 2020): ✩✩✩.5

 

Sanchez isn’t a starter in most people’s books.  He flashed a great bat for about a month this year but has fallen off sharply since that point.  The defensive catcher will be a major league starter if he can get his OPS closer to the .700 mark or a bench catcher if it remains where it is.

 

All and all, the farm for 2020 will look better thanks to the majority of the Met talent residing in the lower levels of the farm system.  By 2021 the Mets should have a lot of talent waiting in the wings and by 2022 the face of the team could be completely changed.

Mets Minors: Franklyn Kilome and prospects who could impact 2020

Barring the fielding goofs, people should be fairly pleased with the season they’ve gotten from Pete Alonso in 2019. He came up to the majors and seems intent on winning a Rookie of the Year award amidst a field of tough competition. Looking at the upper levels of the Mets minor leagues you don’t see anyone of Alonso’s caliber but there are still a few names who could play impact roles in a 2020 season.

Franklyn Kilome, RHP – The tall (6’6”) Dominican born player has spent the entirety of the 2019 season injured but is expected to return to the mount in 2020. After being traded to the Mets for Asdrubal Cabrera in 2018, Kilome tossed 38 solid innings for Binghamton before suffering injury. Long noted for his powerful arm, the consensus opinion of the baseball pundits suggests that he is destined for a role in a major league bullpen. Based upon the Mets roster construction the presence of a young (will be 24 through June 25th) right handed fireballer could be more useful than the left-handed innings eater that they traded away in Anthony Kay.

Andres Gimenez, SS – The 2019 season has not gone well for the Mets “Top Rated” Prospect. His numbers on offense have failed to impress in his first full season in AA and instead of him forcing Amed Rosario into centerfield, he still has a lot to prove to become a major leaguer at all. The lefty hitting shortstop has been scouted as being a Plus Defensive shortstop with Plus Speed and solid contact abilities. He was ranked in the Top 30 by Baseball America and would still be the first long term solution if Rosario were hurt.

Ali Sanchez, C – He enjoyed quite the hot streak in AA and earned a promotion to AAA. While never consistently known for his bat he has shown the ability to get hits and even has a little power. The important thing that Sanchez offers is defense. With Tomas Nido proving the value of defense, Sanchez provides an important depth piece should he get hurt.

David Peterson, LHP – People aren’t jumping up and down with excitement for David Peterson. The former first round pick does not look or feel like the Left-Handed Ace that Met fans were hoping for. That being said, he’s been slowly lowering his ERA in Binghamton and looks like he is still capable of offering quality outings. He’s a work in progress but it’s possible that Peterson could be a vital part of a 2020 campaign should one of the Met pitchers get injured.

AA:
Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Patrick Mazeika refuses to leave the Top 50 – The Met’s Catcher/First Baseman/DH has had a solid year with the bat for Binghamton and is still intriguing as a bench player thanks to his left-handed bat.

Quinn Brodey has quietly done well – He doesn’t look like a star but the versatile outfielder has done well after his mid-season promotion to AA.

A+:
St. Lucie Mets

Wagner Lagrange still rising in the rankings – His OPS in Advanced A is .963 and he’s showing a bit of everything. He’s got some extra base hits, some stolen bases and has walked almost as often as he’s struck out.

Jeremy Vasquez still hitting – Sure he’s a first baseman who only has a .749 OPS but he’s also one of the most consistent hitters in the minors.

Carlos Cortes heating up again – The second baseman is likely to be part of the Binghamton lineup in 2020.

A:
Columbia Fireflies

Mark Vientos putting on a late season show – The third base prospect has hit .359 over his last 10 games and is starting to bring his OPS from the “quality” range into the “elite” one.

Ronny Mauricio and walks – If there is one thing to say Mauricio definitely needs to work on, it’s his patience. He’s hitting .286 on the year and his OBP is only .324 which should tell you how infrequently he takes a free base.

Mets Minors: Wagner Lagrange on the rise

We started talking about Wagner Lagrange in 2017 when he was part of an offensive juggernaut in Kingsport. The outfielder who had succeeded in the DSL in 2015 had struggled through a GCL debut in 2016 before breaking out. In 2017, in 58 games between Kingsport and Brooklyn, he managed a .330/.379/.460 batting line. Of the Kingsport Mets, that season, he wasn’t even the strongest outfield hitter. Since then, he’s the one who stand out as having a major league future.

 

In 2018, at the age of 22, Lagrange repeated in Brooklyn for a full short season but seemed to take a step back as his OPS fell to .713 in the 62 games he played. It was by no means a bad season but being a year older than almost all his common players he seemed to have lost whatever traction his 2017 season had earned him.

 

This led to the Mets only promoting the 23 year old outfielder to Columbia rather than moving him directly to St. Lucie. In his first 46 games it appeared that Lagrange wasn’t going to be anything special. His OPS of .675 was greatly hurt by a bad month of June but towards the end of June he turned things around.

 

In his final 25 games in Columbia he saw his OPS rise to .864 aided by a .957 OPS in the month of July. All of these things combined to earn the outfielder a promotion to Port St. Lucie where he was finally playing with the right age group of players again.

 

Thus far, in 14 games at Advanced A, he has an OPS of .998 with 8 extra base hits and 2 stolen bases. In his last 10 games he has 5 games with multiple hits and 4 games with 3 hits. All of this combined with a reasonably good rate of walks to strikeouts makes Lagrange a likely name in the Mets Top 20 prospect list.

 

AA:

Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Andres Gimenez has lost this season – I don’t think an August surge can save this season and it looks more and more likely that he’s destined for the Top 10 and not the Top 5 on prospect lists.

 

Kevin Smith looks great – He’s got 3 outings in AA under his belt and thus far has pitched like an Ace in two of them. Smith doesn’t profile as an Ace but looks like a quality mid-rotation arm right now.

 

A+:

St. Lucie Mets

Thomas Szapucki looks a bit more wild – He’s pitching really well, considering this is somewhat a rehab situation, but he’s walking more batters than he’s known for. His K/9 and WHIP are doing well so you should feel good about him anyway.

 

A:

Columbia Fireflies

Mark Vientos heats up again – Hopefully this is the beginning of another surge of strong hitting. I wonder if the Mets might promote him to play in the Advanced A playoffs.

 

Ronny Mauricio has a great week – He’s hitting .342 over his last 10 games. If he could show a little more power or patience he’d be perfect.

 

SS:

Brooklyn Cyclones

Wilmer Reyes is a swinger – Seeing him in person left me with the impression that while he’s physically gifted he is much more a swinger than a hitter.

 

Joe Genord’s Gold Glove – He may not win one but his glovework was phenomenal when I saw him last week. He’s one of the best defensive first baseman I’ve seen.

 

R+:

Kingsport Mets

 

Francisco Alvarez might be gunning for Top Prospect – He’s been great since his promotion and has enjoyed another solid week. He has a multi-hit game in each of his outings this August.

 

Jaylen Palmer needs patience – He’s a good swinger but he struck out almost twice a game in this short season rookie level. He needs to be better.

 

Brett Baty has his OPS on the rise – His batting average doesn’t look great but his OPS creeps closer to .700 thanks to more walks and solid power numbers.

Mets Minors: Andres Gimenez and the top five prospects of 2020

About a month ago the Mets360 podcast host asked me for a “Crazy Prediction.” My “Crazy Prediction” was that Andres Gimenez would fall out of the Top 5 Met prospects by the start of the 2020 season. This was, in part, because of my frustrations with Gimenez’s performance but also because the Mets success at the lower minors with some very high ceiling candidates.

How The Mighty Have Fallen

Why am I so down on Gimenez? He had only managed a .673 OPS, last year, in AA when the world was still so high on him. He’s even shown more isolated power in 2019 than he did in 2018. What is wrong with a Plus defensive shortstop sporting a .244/.305/.367 batting line? Well, for starters, nothing. The problem is having your team’s “Top Prospect” take major steps back in the two most vital areas of his offensive game.

For Gimenez to achieve that “Top Prospect” value in the majors he does not need to be the next Jose Reyes or Derek Jeter. He doesn’t need to sniff 20 home runs in a season or hit .350 like Jeff McNeil. What the Mets need and want from him is a player who can get on base and do some damage on the basepaths. The problem is, he’s proving to not be great at taking the walk and his stolen base success rate, and frequency, has taken a major dip.

In 2018 he stole 38 bases and was caught a total of 14 times between St. Lucie and Binghamton. The numbers across 122 games aren’t earth shatteringly good but on the present roster he’d be the best base stealer, instantly. In 2019 he’s played 77 games and stolen 17 with 10 caught stealings rung up against him. He has lost almost 10% off of his 2018 stolen base numbers and has seen a marked (albeit small) increase in his times being caught.

Does Andres Gimenez still feel like a Top 5 prospect to you?

2020 Top Prospect Contenders

Ronny Mauricio, SS (A) – The eighteen year old shortstop is in the midst of a successful season at Low A Columbia seeing only a small dip in his promising GCL power numbers. The SAL is known as a “Pitchers League” and you expect hitters to struggle, particularly when they are typically 3 years younger than their average competition. He still doesn’t walk much and his speed is only so-so but he looks like his switch hitting bat will earn him a place in the majors someday and that he will be an impact player when he gets there. It’s worth noting that over the last 10 games he’s hit .342 and walked 4 times. It would be good to see him finish the year with an OPS above .750 but he’s likely the number one prospect on my list either way.

Mark Vientos, 3B (A) – Older than Mauricio by a year, Vientos is a tall and powerful third baseman with big power potential. At 6’4” and only 185 pounds there is quite a lot of muscle that Vientos can still add to his frame. The power has translated, as Vientos skipped Brooklyn for Columbia but his On Base Percentage has suffered. Considering his playing in the SAL it’s quite impressive to see a .411 SLG but his walk rate needs to recover. There is plenty of time for that to happen as he and Mauricio begin their 2020 seasons in Port St. Lucie. He seems to be coming off of his recent hot streak presently which could see him fall below this next player in the rankings.

Francisco Alvarez, C (R+) – At the age of 17 most international players are still playing their innings with the DSL but Alvarez has already clubbed his way through the GCL (.462/.548/.846) and is raking his way into the limelight of the APP (.327/.421/.469). The 5’11” catcher has quickly proven that his power scouting was on the money. Based upon his performance it would be easy to see the Mets giving him a shot in Columbia next year (skipping Brooklyn) which would put him on a ridiculous MLB pace for a catching prospect. Over his past 10 games he has hit .429 with the power that has become typical of his production. It is possible for him to overtake Vientos in the rankings but he’s likely a lock for the Top 3 regardless of how the year ends.

In my mind all three (3) of these players have already got a good chance of sliding up ahead of Gimenez in the rankings, unless the shortstop starts hitting. Let’s move on to those who haven’t yet, but might.

Surging Towards the Top 5

Thomas Szapucki, LHP (A+) – We featured Szapucki last week and he followed that up with a 5.0 IP and 9 strikeouts and a 4.0 IP outing with only 2 hits a 6 strikeouts. If you are looking for someone who has the best chance of surging ahead of Gimenez (who hasn’t yet) it’s him. Szapucki shows every sign of making up for lost time and could, with a few more solid starts move from this list into the list above. Last week we talked about him lowering his WHIP and raising his K/9 to climb back into the elite prospect rankings and over his last two games his WHIP comes out as 1.00 and his K/9 has been a crisp 15.0 which is dang impressive.

Brett Baty, 3B (R+) – The first round pick for the Mets in 2019, Baty is assured a spot in the Top 10 but isn’t a lock to break the Top 5. In his favor is that he already earned a mid-season promotion from the GCL to the APP but unlike Alvarez he’s looked less impressive since that promotion. Should he bounce back and finish the APP with an OPS above .700 he could be the player to push Gimenez out of the Top 5. Last night he was the team’s DH and managed a 2 for 3 night with a double and a homerun.

Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (A) – (Traded) This deal has not cleared yet and it appears that Marcus Stroman may soon be a Met. All that said, I’m not sure it’s a bad deal for the Mets with Woods Richardson being 2-4 years from major league service. If one looks at his last three outings and ignores the month of May they should be plenty excited about Woods Richardson. The pitcher, who stumbled badly for a month (10.89 ERA) but looked good in April (1.23), June (2.38) and so far in July (1.77). The 97 strikeouts in 78.1 innings also helps his case. It’s all a matter of making the memories of May disappear. If he ends the year with his ERA below 4.00, he’s a legit contender for the Top 5.

Josh Wolf/Matthew Allan, RHP (R) – It’s a lot to put a players scouting at the forefront of their value and it would take an unusual number of rookie innings pitched to earn either Wolf or Allan into the Top 5. Both have “Ace Caliber” potential but that is entirely tied to their ceilings. Both will likely feature in or around the Top 10 but they could earn Top 5 with gaudy GCL stats. Both have tossed 1.0 innings, with 1 hit, 0 walks and 2 strikeouts. There isn’t much apparent yet but it isn’t a bad sign.

Now, I’m not saying that I want Gimenez to drop out of the Top 5 or that it is “likely” to happen but I have to say that my “Crazy” prediction is looking less and less crazy by the day.

AAA:
Syracuse Mets

Anthony Kay appears to be traded – He is officially now on the Buffalo Bisons but before anyone bemoans this deal, please remember that he only had 26 strikeouts in 31.1 innings pitched and a 1.63 WHIP in AAA since his promotion.

AA:
Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Quinn Brodey figuring AA out – The outfielder is likely nothing more than a future 4th or 5th option but his bat is finding a groove in AA. He’s hitting .300 over his last 10 games.

Don’t sleep on Harol Gonzalez – He’s not an “Ace” but he’s looking like he could be a quality innings eater. The 1.10 WHIP and .232 Opp Avg should both give you reason to expect an MLB future.

Tommy Wilson has a heck of an outing – He pitches 7 innings, gives up only 4 hits, and 1 earned run while striking out nine.

A+:
St. Lucie Mets

Wagner Lagrange doing well – He’s hitting .350 over his last 10 games and is managing a .333/.368/.583 batting line in the 9 games since being promoted.

SS:
Brooklyn Cyclones

Wilmer Reyes having a nice offensive season – An OPS of .875 is a great little trait to have for a middle infielder.

Brandon Fryman looks like he has value – He’s a shortstop who can get on base and seems to have some speed.

R+:
Kingsport Mets

Jaylen Palmer is making the most of competition – He’s splitting time at third with Baty and at shortstop as well. He’s showing the ability to hit and showing power enough to be a relevant prospect in 2020.

Andres Regnault should get more notice – It’s hard being the second catcher on a team with Francisco Alvarez. If you look at Regnault’s stats there is plenty to like.