Mets top prospects: Numbers 15-11

This is the eighth installment in our countdown series. If you missed earlier entries, you can see them here:

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII

#15: Akeel Morris

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 170 Lbs.
  • Born: 11/14/92, VI

Scouting – Here is a report before the 2011 season:

He gets every ounce of torque and arm speed he can out of a small frame, but pays for it with an arm that drags way behind his lower half, forcing him to lean back towards first and land quite stiffly. He has a lot of trouble repeating this delivery and misses armside and up (high and tight to right-handed batters) frequently. Overcorrection can lead to a late release point and his pulling the fastball gloveside and down. Fastball is 90-93, touched 94, well-below-average command. Curveball is primary secondary offering (75-77). He maintains his armspeed well and the pitch has some tilt to it, but not enough depth to consistently miss barrels. I’m also not entrely sure he knows where it’s going. He also threw a handful of mid-80s change-ups that were too firm and would cut at higher velocities.

History – Morris debuted for the Mets with 24.0 back in 2010.  He was only 17 and he was pitching in the GCL.  The results were very promising.  He struck out 28, had an ERA of 2.19… he also walked 6.2 per 9 innings.  In 2011 he progressed to Kingsport with similar results and in 2012 he repeated at the level and was a near disaster with a 7.98 ERA.

2013 – The Mets realized that the amazing talent of Morris is not best suited to starting where his inability to hit the corners leads to high walk rates that his high strike out rate cannot contain.  His conversion to relief was a major success.  His ERA on the year was only 1.00 and his BB/9 of 4.6 is a full point lower than his career average.  He also set a new high mark for K/9, 12.0 which probably indicates the Mets might have a future closer on their hands.

2014 – Some people are in favor of Morris starting but I can no long be in their camp.  Sure… he’s more valuable as a starter, but he’s also over-exposed and bad in that role.  The Mets could keep him in relief and place him in either Port St. Lucie or Savannah as the closer/setup man.  His ETA is 2016 so don’t get too excited just yet.

#14: Rainy Lara

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 180 Lbs.
  • Born: 3/14/91, DO

Scouting – Here’s something from before the 2013 season:

The right-hander worked off an 89-91 mph fastball with sink. With a low 3/4 arm slot, Lara is deceptive. However, he short arms the ball in the back of his delivery and then releases the ball with effort. The violence in Lara’s delivery leaves me thinking the bullpen will be his final home. Lara’s primary breaking pitch is a Frisbee slider at 79-81 mph. The below average pitch is thrown often, but won’t fool more advanced hitters. The lack of movement is due to his releasing the pitch with his palm facing up. If Lara can learn to throw the slider like a fastball and snap his wrist at the point of release, the pitch would sharpen. At 80-82 mph, Lara’s changeup shows promise. His release mimics the fastball well and late sink caused opposing hitters to swing over the pitch. In game situations, Lara should use it more instead of forcing the slider.

History – Began his Met career in 2010 for the DSL Mets.  He blew that league away but so many players do that we have to overlook that.  In 2011 he moved up to the GCL and I believe showed what he will eventually become, a mid-back rotation arm with a large amount of reliability.  In 2012 he joined the epic Brooklyn rotation where he put up a K/9 that I don’t think he can duplicate.  If his 2012 was the true height of his potential he’s more of a #2 pitcher, but we’ll need to wait and see.

2013 – He began the year with Savannah and picked up where 2012 left off.  In 8 starts he had a WHIP of 0.888 and a K/9 of 9.1 and a lot of people were getting excited.  Then, he was promoted to Port St. Lucie and reality set in.  Nothing terrible, but his 1.241 WHIP and 6.2 K/9 were probably more in line with where he will someday sit in the majors.

2014 – He should join the AA rotation having pitched well enough in A+ to graduate and being forced out of Port St. Lucie by the graduating crop of arms from Savannah.  He’s one of the safest bets to pitch for Binghamton in 2014.  He could make his major league debut as early as 2015 but a lot will depend on his season in AA and the needs of the Mets.  If every pitching prospect panned out, the Matt Harvey’s of this world wouldn’t be nearly as special.

Michael Fulmer#13: Michael Fulmer

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 200 Lbs.
  • Born: 3/15/93, US

Scouting – Here’s the book on Fulmer, remember things are ranked on a scale to 80.

Body (6-3, 200): Physical. Mature body. Could stand to tighten things up with an improved conditioning program. Thick lower half with plenty of power. Broad shoulders and room to add strength. Not a ton of projection but has the makings of a quality frame.

Delivery/Mechanics: Not max effort but close. Lots of arm in the delivery and he needs to use his lower body more to drive down the plane of the mound to the plate. Finish can get wild at times, including a hard fall to first base. Inconsistent arm slot as a result of effort and high reliance on arm to generate velocity. Needs to gain consistency to take the next step.

Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 98, Low – 89, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/60

Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 89, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/60

Fastball (FB) Movement:  Will show solid sink when he keeps his arm slot up. Ball flattens as he dips his arm angle. Below-average overall movement now with chance to be average as more consistency is gained.  Grade – 40/50

Overall Fastball: Quality pitch with some deception because of delivery. Ball can jump on hitters, particularly up in the zone. Improved strength in body could lead to increased average velocity, but I don’t see a ton more in the arm. Good, solid pitch that flashes better than plus long term, but doesn’t sit in that range. Mechanical tweaks/improvements could change this projection. Grade – 50/60

Slider (SL): Potential plus offering. Consistency improved throughout first full season. Throws for strikes with regularity and is slowly learning how to get the pitch out of the zone as a chase pitch. At best SL shows tight spin and good depth with more vertical movement than horizontal. Present average pitch most of the time. Plus potential.  Grade – 50/60

Change-up (CH): Shows improved feel and makes tweaks nearly every time he pitches. Works diligently to develop the pitch. More of a straight CH that has inconsistent movement. Flashes some sink and fade at various times, neither of which is presently reliable or significant. Still well below average but should continue improving. I don’t see the true feel for the pitch and struggle to see an average offering. Grade – 30/40

Control:  Struggles with the strike zone at times, largely because of delivery issues and mechanical inconsistencies. Smoothing out the arm action and softening the finish to his delivery would help a ton. Leap of faith for control projection right now but he has enough aptitude for his craft that I think he’ll get there. Plus control is possible down the line, but shouldn’t be considered a lock.  Grade – 40/60

Command:  If control projection is a leap of faith, command projection is something more than that. Nothing in current mechanics/delivery suggests command is imminent or even projectable. Conservative analysis now leads toward slightly below-average command projection long term but that could change with an improved delivery. Grade – 30/40

History – Drafted by the Mets as the 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft Fulmer has fairly high expectations.  Remember that is only 6 picks later than where the Jays once drafted Noah Syndergaard.  Fulmer made his true debut in 2012 where he was impressive in 21 starts for the Savannah Sand Gnats.  He hurled 108.1 innings and racked up 101 Ks along with solid peripheral numbers.

2013 – He might be up in the top 10 were it not for an injury.  He only managed 9 starts in 2012 and most of those need to be chalked up to rehab starts.  He did manage 7 starts for Port St. Lucie and considering his late start managed a fair amount of success.

2014 – I’d start Fulmer in Port St. Lucie but highlight him as being ready for AA at the first opportunity.  He’s got the stuff to be a #2 or #3 pitcher and he’s definitely on the Met radar as a rotation contributor starting in 2016.  Fulmer’s name may turn up in trade rumors this summer but I think he’ll stick around as the injury would mean the Mets are selling low on Fulmer’s talent.

#12: Gabriel Ynoa

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 158 Lbs.
  • Born: 5/26/93, DO

Scouting – Similar to the Fulmer report…

Body (6-2, 190): Lean, lengthy body. Good strength in lower half. Needs to add strength in upper body and has room to do so. High waist with long legs. Projectable frame.

Delivery/Mechanics: Low 3/4 slot. Sort of a slinger delivery. Easy delivery and arm works well out of both stretch and windup. Gets a little quick in lower half at times. Showed 1.38 to 1.41 to plate from stretch with pronounced leg kick.

Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 92, Low – 89, Average 90-91, Grade – 50/60

Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 92, Low 90, Average 90-91, Grade – 50/60

Fastball (FB) Movement:  Has some deceptive life. Shows movement to the arm side with frequency. Average movement that could be above average with a little more consistent/desired manipulation. Grade – 50/50

Overall Fastball: Average pitch with above-average to plus potential as he fills out frame. Could sit 92-93 and touch 94 with physical maturity. Movement is solid but unspectacular.. Grade – 50/60

Slider (SL): Ranged from 76-83. Tried to vary speeds but softer 76-78 breakers showed more overhand break but lacked bite and didn’t miss bats. Arm also slowed on slower ones. Harder, tighter breakers had two-plane SL break. Mixed in some filthy ones that can miss bats. Much better arm speed when thrown harder. Potential plus pitch with more consistency, but needs a lot of work to get there.  Grade – 40/60

Change-up (CH): Consistently 89-90. Has arm-side fade similar to FB. Great arm speed and deception. Showed several plus CH in recent outings. Swing-and-miss pitch. Was “go-to” pitch when he wanted to stay away from FB. Filthy against LHH and was willing to throw to RHH in pressure counts.  Grade – 50/60

Control:  Pounds zone with FB and CH. Easy delivery with good athleticism and should throw tons of strikes throughout career. Will struggle finding zone with SL at times but is around zone enough for control projection with pitch. Easy plus-plus strike-thrower down the line. Grade – 50/70

Command:  Located FB well from windup throughout start. Did struggle to locate to glove side from stretch but showed enough aptitude to project at least average command in stretch. Overall plus command profile with good arm action, clean delivery and solid athleticism. Grade – 40/60

History – If there were awards for lowest BB/9 in baseball he’d win it.  He’s pitched in 5 levels of the Met minors and never had a BB/9 over 1.2 for the year.  He’s also topped out a 7.5 K/9 which is pretty pedestrian but should he be able to continue to provide the Mets solid innings of control he’ll continue to rise through the system.  He has an outside chance of being as good as Rafael Montero, but Montero simply gets more players to swing and miss which is the major flaw with Ynoa.

2013 – He may have only managed a 7.0 K/9 for the year, but a WHIP of 1.025, an ERA of 2.72 and over 6.1 innings per start and you start to see the budding of a major league contributor.  Some people rank high on this list because they could be great, Ynoa is here because he will almost definitely be pretty good.

2014 – He is assured of a role in the Port St. Lucie rotation and I see no reason why he wouldn’t continue to succeed at that level.  Should he pitch well I don’t think the Mets would promote him mid-year unless injuries necessitated the move.  MLB ETA 2017.

#11: Jack Leathersich

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Left
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 205 Lbs.
  • Born: 7/14/90, US

Scouting – Some post draft scouting:

A short lefty who put up some crazy numbers in Division II. Leathersich has been known to bring 95-mile-per-hour heat in short outings. As a starter, his velocity drops down to about 88-91. His mechanics are on the ugly side, however—kind of a high elbow in back, lots of recoil, doesn’t land consistently with his striding foot and occasionally throws across his body—but they don’t seem to hinder his ability to throw strikes too much. I haven’t seen too much of Leathersich, however—just his MLB Scouting video—but what I’ve seen jibes with the reports. The breaking stuff is very fringy. You can see the awkwardness in his throwing arm when he’s about to spin a curve, like he’s gearing up to throw it. According to Baseball America, he throws two breaking balls, a curve and a slurve, but if that’s true—sometimes a misthrown breaking ball gets labelled as a separate pitch—he should dump the slurve. It’s an ugly pitch that doesn’t serve him well at all. If he can learn to throw the curve at the slurve’s velocity, he’d have something. Chad MacDonald has suggested that Leathersich may start, but considering his lack of secondary offerings, rough mechanics, size, and reduced velocity in longer outings, I’d say that’s crazy talk.

History – The K/9 tells the story:

  • 2011 – 18.5 (A-)
  • 2012 – 14.1 (A, A+)
  • 2013 – 15.7 (AA, AAA)

If the guy is going to strike out almost two batters an inning I can look past his size and mechanics.  I can even look beyond a lack of “Stuff” Leathersich is an anomaly who simply gets hitters out.  Is he the future closer?  Maybe.

2013 – His ERA was an unfortunate 4.63 helped by a 7.76 ERA in AAA.  Let us say that Las Vegas does not help pitchers who survive on deception.  The major flaw in Leathersich’s game was revealed in 2013 where he had a BB/9 of 6.9 which ballooned greatly between AA and AAA.  He did pitch well enough to stay on most people’s radar and only fell down a small tick in my book.

2014 – Leathersich could join the Mets out of Spring Training but he isn’t a lock like Vic Black.  He could probably see himself returning to Vegas to work on his control… at least until Josh Edgin or Tim Byrdak need a rest.

6 comments for “Mets top prospects: Numbers 15-11

  1. October 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I think Fulmer’s a better prospect than Ynoa.

    And don’t even joke about Byrdak being back on the 2014 squad.

    • October 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      With Collins comes Byrdak… sorry.

      Fulmer has a higher ceiling for sure but the floor got lower this year.

  2. Sean Flattery
    October 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    I don’t wanna see Leatherisch near the Opening Day roster until he gets those walks down. Hope he improves this year. Fullmer looks promising!!

  3. October 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I think that Byrdak should return on some kind of managerial job to help the bullpen, or be very funny in the clubhouse. Fulmer looks to be a great starter in the future, especially considering he should be able to put the knee injury behind him.

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