Mets Minors: Top 20 then and now

1.  Travis d’Arnaud, C (AAA)

Then: d’Arnaud was the jewel of the R.A. Dickey trade and the expectations were that he’d be knocking on the door to replace John Buck before long.  He profiled as a hitting catcher (albeit not of the caliber of Mike Piazza) and he was supposed to be the long term solution at the position.

Now: Not much has changed.  SURE, he got hurt and has spent most of the season on the shelf but at the same time he should still profile the same way.  His debut is simply being pushed back because he broke something.  Though, some Met fans are more eager to jump off the bandwagon and have already done so.  In their minds, d’Arnaud is an injury risk who will never be healthy enough for the impact we had hoped for.  Those people COULD be right but right now I think they sound a tad paranoid.  He should be up once he finishes rehabbing and hopefully won’t have to ever go back down.

Future: Unless d’Arnaud doesn’t come up this season because of that injury, he’s graduating to the MLB.

2.    2.  Zack Wheeler, SP (AAA)

Then: People were torn on Wheeler.  They felt that he could be a better pitcher than Harvey but feared his control issues were a greater concern.  Wheeler was thought of no lower than as a #2 pitcher and had the upside of becoming an Ace to throw side-by-side with Matt Harvey.  He was to be sent to AAA where we expected struggles in the Las Vegas setting, but we hoped we’d see enough to encourage a promotion to the majors.

Now: Right on course.  He hasn’t been Harvey… but nobody should be able to do what Harvey has done.  Wheeler has come up and shown us glimpses of what he might one day be, but he’s still finding himself. 

Future: Graduated!

3.  Noah Syndergaard, SP (A+)

Then: People saw him as better than Wheeler and the possible STAR of the Dickey trade.  He was starting the year in Port St. Lucie at the age of 20 and was expected to be a consideration for the Mets in late 2014 or early 2015.  His combination of pitches suggested to most people that he could be an Ace.

Now: Syndergaard earned his way up from Port St. Lucie and is now in AA.  He will pitch in Binghamton for the rest of the season with an MLB call-up completely out of the question.  He’s going to start 2014 in the minors but I wonder if the Mets could be looking at the third head of their pitching hydra in late June or Early July of that year.

Future: Syndergaard will be in the majors in 2014 (barring injury) but the question will be when.  Better money is on later in the season but there is a significant chance of seeing him sooner than that.

4.  Wilmer Flores, 2B/3B (AAA)

Then: Pegged as a man without a position 2012 showed people that the bat was there.  He hit well in A+ and AA and seemed to be on the verge of becoming a star prospect again… but Baseball America disagreed.  They didn’t see Flores finding his glove at second or third… they still pegged him as a 1B/DH who wouldn’t have enough power to justify the lack of defense.

Now: Some people got off the bus way too early this season as we’ve seen Flores become the Doubles King of the PCL.  He’s also holding his own at second base but most agree it’s a work in progress.  The question that the Mets face currently is who will be their second baseman moving forward?  Murphy has more than earned a starting job and has emerged as one of the better second baseman in the league, while Flores represents probably a bigger bat and more questionable defensive performance.

Future: Flores will be in the majors this season but the question is with who.  The Mets have options should they wish to trade… I feel like the better option for New York is to trade Murphy and promote Flores… but my opinion has changed on this pretty regularly.

5.  Michael Fulmer, SP (A+)

Then: Fulmer was thought of as the #4 option behind the big three of Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard.  He had power and decent mechanics and seemed like he could be in AA ahead of Syndergaard if he played his cards right.

Now: Injuries happen and Fulmer is only now coming back into the fold.  He will probably finish the year in Port St. Lucie proving he’s healthy and capable.  I haven’t seen enough to know what the injury has done to his career path, but I can tell you that injuries are never good.

Future: 2014 should see him start in AA and that is a test that I have my doubts about.  Assuming he does well he could be an option for the rotation in 2015.

6.  Jeurys Familia, SP (AAA)

Then: Familia was once considered a top-flite option for the rotation but by the beginning of 2013 most people agreed (even me) that he was destined for the bullpen.

Now: Frankly, the bullpen is a good fit and I think the Mets liked what they saw before Familia was hurt.  He has the stuff to be a thought in the later innings and should be a key cog in the 2014 pen… assuming he comes back healthy.

Future: Graduated… but injured.

7.  Luis Mateo, SP (A+)

Then: There was a ton of buzz about Mateo before the 2013 season.  He obliterated the NYP league and was living up to the hype of his first (pre-age issues) signing.  People thought that Mateo had a shot to be as good as a #2 pitcher if he didn’t have setbacks.

Now: He started strong in Port St. Lucie… strong enough to get an early “Spot Start” call for Binghamton.  Sadly in that start he was injured.

Future: Another lost year will be hard to come back from, but I wouldn’t say he’s done.  He’ll be back in Binghamton for the majority of 2014 and we’ll see where he goes from there.

8.     8.  Brandon Nimmo, OF (A)

Then: Nimmo had been good but not great in his time with Brooklyn and some people (namely me) suggested he skip over Savannah.  He still didn’t profile directly as a power hitter or a speed guy but the raw tools were something to drool over.

Now: Things started great for Nimmo who was part of his own three headed beast with Plawecki and Boyd, but again… injury.  Nimmo is back now but he’s not clubbing the ball like he was early in the year.

Future: 2014 will see him in Port St. Lucie but his game is a long way from the majors right now.

9.  Gavin Cecchini, SS (A-) 

Then: Cecchini was a safe pick in 2012 and he didn’t have a strong debut in Kingsport.  Met fans were sour on him and he appeared as high as 9th purely because of his high pick.  He had the defensive chops to stick at short but the question would remain his bat.

Now: I saw Cecchini play and I can tell you that I like his defensive ability and think his offense… reminds me too much of Wilfredo Tovar and Ruben Tejada to get me excited.

Future: He’ll play in Savannah in 2014 and probably progress a level each year from there.  I don’t see anything from his bat to suggest ever getting a mid-season promotion.

10.  Rafael Montero, SP (AA)

Then: Montero blew through two levels in 2012 and people wondered if this control pitcher could be the “Real Deal”.  The expectation was that he’d play most of a season in Binghamton and go up to Vegas to finish the year, with a brief glimpse of the majors possible.

Now: Frankly, he’s an injury away from the rotation.  Montero OBLITERATED Binghamton to the point is was boring to right about his 0 Run, 6 hit, 9 K outings.  He’s in Las Vegas now which is not easy for any pitcher, especially one who relies on movement and placement.

Future: He might be traded… but then again… he might be in the rotation.  Time will tell, I don’t expect him to be on this list next season.

11.  Domingo Tapia, SP (A+)

Then: Tapia ranked high because he has life to his arm and a ceiling a mile high.  He seemed to be the sole survivor of the secondary trio of Akeel Morris, Juan Urbina and himself.

Now: Meh… I’d bet he stays in the Top 20 but falls way to the bottom of it.

Future: His future is in relief.

12.  Cory Mazzoni, SP (AA)

Then: I was down on Mazzoni… before he lit things up in Spring Training.  He reestablished his prospect status with that showing and looked to earn a mid-season promotion to AAA.

Now: An injury and less impressive stats are making me sour again.  I know he’s capable of being very good but I don’t know if I can see him maintaining it.

Future: Will be part of the 2014 AAA rotation but I’m betting he comes up for the Mets in relief.

13.  Jacob deGrom, SP (A+)

Then: He was a bit of a novelty in 2012 and I didn’t want to get onto the bandwagon for a guy without the prospect status history behind him.  His stuff seemed legit though… so I thought he was worthy of being in the Top 20.

Now: Promoted through AA to AAA, he’s now on the cusp of being a full-blown Top Prospect.  He should be in the Top 10 and might sneak into the Top 5 if he continues to pitch the way he has been.  A 97 MPH heavy sinking fastball will do that for a guy.

Future: Either he or Montero will be traded befor the 2014 season and either he or Montero will be in the 2014 rotation.  My bet is that deGrom is on the Mets and Montero is traded.

14.  Kevin Plawecki, C (A)

Then: I was higher on Plawecki than most.  He seemed like a second “Safe” pick from Alderson and more of a guy who fit a need then the best player we could have gotten.

Now: Plawecki and his buddy Jayce Boyd have made names for themselves and fickle Met fans are thinking of Plawecki as the future at catcher and not d’Arnaud.

Future: Plawecki will finish 2013 in Port St. Lucie and start 2014 in AA.  He is still more likely trade bait.

15.  Matt Den Dekker, CF (AAA)

Then: We liked the power and loved the defense but his swing and miss rate was astronomically high.

Now: Guess what?  Since the injury recovery… he appears to have the same talents and flaws.

Future: Loses his prospect status in 2014.

16.  Cory Vaughn, OF (AA)

Then: He had come off a very good, albeit streaky, year in Port St. Lucie and he’d have to prove that he could hit the pitching in AA or he’d start to fade from our minds.

Now: He’s done just enough to basically stay where he is in the rankings.  He has a shot at becoming an impact player still but his window is closing.

Future: 2014 is the “Make or Break” year for Vaughn, no question about it.

17.  Logan Verrett, SP (AA)

Then: Purely a control pitcher I had my doubts as to how well Verrett would do against higher levels of the minors.

Now: He’s pitched pretty darned well and I would say he’s on my radar for becoming a back-end started by 2015.   He’ll be in the reserves of AAA for the Mets to use him in 2014 too.

Future: I can 100% see him winning the 5th starter job in 2015.

18.  Jack Leathersich, RP (AA)

Then: The guy simply struck people out.  He was sick about it.  He stumbled a bit as he encountered better hitters but prior to the season I think I would have considered Leathersich a future closer/setup man.

Now: After doing very well for himself in AA he’s scuffling in AAA but he’s likely to taste the big leagues and has a good chance of becoming a fixture of the bullpen.

Future: I see him joining Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia as the young core of the Met bullpen.

19.  Danny Muno, 2B (AA)

Then: Even after his PED suspension you had to like a smooth fielding middle infielder with the ability to hit.

Now: He’s hit but not to the same levels he did in 2012.  My bet is that he’s going to top out as a utility player.  If this is true he needs to be able to play a little short stop too.

Future: He won’t be on this list in 2014.

20.  Phillip Evans, SS (A)

Then: Evans looked like he was a draft steal and could have been a hitting short stop if things broke right.  Things needed to break very right.

Now: Things have not broken AT ALL right.

Future: He won’t be on this list in 2014.

11 comments for “Mets Minors: Top 20 then and now

  1. July 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Where is this top 20 list coming from? Before being overwhelmed with other projects, you were working on a “Building from the bottom up” series. On that list #20 was Matz and working upwards it was JDG, Vaughn, Leathersich, Aderlin Rodriguez, Ynoa, Robles, Plawecki, Mazzoni, Tapia and Lupo.

    I’m guessing this list came from somewhere else because I don’t think you would have had Cecchini ranked that high…

  2. Michael von Graevenitz
    July 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    I’m starting to get excited about the Mets future. This reminds me of 1983 and the minors the Mets were presenting to Keith Hernandez to get him to stay. Among them was someone named Dwight Gooden. Fast forward to today and the presentation to David Wright. Matt Harvey was in place but this team this year is equivalent to ’83. Watch what happens the next 3 years. There will be 1 or 2 free agents but the rest will be homegrown. Being in Philly country, I will be able to have bragging rights for a while.

    • July 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      Having the pitchers we do will go a long way but nothing is certain with owners who don’t support the team.

      • Name
        July 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

        I’m going to call you out because i think that comment was an unneeded and unwarranated swipe at the owners.
        An analogy to the Wilpons-Mets relationship is sort of like a family who is living in poverty. The child isn’t getting enough to eat and would probably be better off if the parents gave them up for adoption, but just because the parents can’t feed them very well doesn’t mean that they don’t still love the child.

        • July 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

          Wanna go down that road?

          The Wilpons did not give birth to the Mets. They spent money to buy them.

          So if the Mets are a baby, they were just purchased by wealthy Americans as a… status symbol?

          Now those wealthy people fall on hard times and cause the baby they PURCHASED to suffer.

          Name… that analogy is too easy to twist.

        • Jerry Grote
          July 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm

          Very good turn of phrase Name. I’m with you on the support of the Wilpons.

          re: Mike … the main difference between 83 and today is that Frank Cashen needed only one good trade to really complete the team. He packaged a good starting SS, a hot shot pitcher, a CF ready to break into the major leagues and a ML catcher to get Carter. He basically got lucky with the Hojo and Knight trades.

          Your gonna have to eliminate names like Montero, Plawecki, Boyd, Leathersich in order to get that middle of the order bat. And Carter was the third middle of the order bat. Today the Mets have one.

  3. Metsense
    July 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    For the Now I would add: Cesar Puello,OF, (AA): Jeff Walters, RP, (AA) : Allan Dykstra, 1B (AA) Darin Gorski, SP, (AAA) : Rainy Lara, SP (A+): Matthew Bowman, SP (AA) : Gabriel Ynoa, SP (A)
    Wheeler and Familia are promoted and Fulmer, Mateo, Muno, Cecchini and Evans are dropped to bring it to 20.
    Dykstra and Walters are old for the league but their numbers need to be acknowledged and they both may contribute on the major league level if given the chance. If for the purists they don’t qualify as prospects then add Steven Matz, SP (A) and either Fumer or Mateo.
    One things is for certain, there is plenty of pitching on the farm.

    • The Closer
      July 20, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Yea, where’s Peullo on this list? At the very minimum, drop off Evans and add Peullo in the top 5 area to make this respectable.

      • David Groveman
        July 20, 2013 at 7:39 am

        This list is players who started the year on the top 20. Puello had fallen under the top 20 before 2013.

  4. Michael von Graevenitz
    July 18, 2013 at 12:19 am

    That is why once the Mets climb out from the Madoff debacle, I sense, even though I can’t put my finger on the free agent to be that comes their way, I feel something will come the Mets way that will blow us away. I have faith in the Wilpons. This is not “Major League” coming to fruition. No art imitates life here.

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