Five Mets pitching prospects to watch in 2014

Chris FlexenWith the dawn of the 2014 season on the horizon, many are buzzing about the pending graduation of top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero to the major leagues.

Not to be outdone, there is another crop of young players who have less recognizable names poised to launch themselves into the upper echelon of the Mets farm system.

We’ve all heard the names of Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Jack Leathersich, Michael Fulmer and perhaps even Gabriel Ynoa, but there are some lesser-known arms in the system who are worth keeping an eye on.

I stress that this list is in no specific order.

1. Casey Meisner (6-7, 190 pounds, 19 years old, Rookie)

Meisner oozes projectability.  His large physical stature gives his pitches a steep downward plane to the plate.  The Mets 3rd round pick in 2013 reportedly works his fastball consistently from 90-94 MPH, and he is expected to pick up velocity as he matures.  Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus says that he is impressed with the way that he is able to repeat his delivery consistently despite his length.  Meisner may have a future as yet another in a long line of power righties in the Mets’ system.

2013 Stats with GCL Mets: 1-3, 3.06 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9

2. Robert Whalen (6-2, 200 pounds, 20 years old, Rookie)

Whalen appears to be a late round gem, being picked in the 12th round of the 2012 draft.  As he has already physically filled out, he is not as projectable as Meisner, but there is still reason to be excited about Whalen.  When he was drafted, it was said that he had a decent fastball, but lacked an outpitch to complement it.  Well, when Baseball America released its Top 10 prospects in the Mets system in 2014, it ranked Whalen’s curveball as the best in the system.

2013 Stats with Kingsport: 3-2, 1.87 ERA, 0.926 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9

3. Robert Gsellman (6-4, 210 pounds, 21 years old, A+)

Gsellman was another late-round pick by Paul DePodesta and crew, going in the 13th round of the 2011 draft.  His fastball sits in the low-90s, but can touch 95 when he wants to turn it on.  He also has a decent curveball and changeup to play off of the fastball, both of which should be average to slightly above average offerings.  Ultimately, Gsellman doesn’t have a remarkably high ceiling, perhaps that of a Dillon Gee with more velocity.

2013 Stats with Brooklyn, Savannah & St. Lucie: 6-6, 2.58 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 1.9 BB/9

4. Chris Flexen (6-3, 215 pounds, 20 years old, Rookie)

Another late round pick, this time the 14th round of 2012, Flexen teamed with Whalen to provide an electric 1-2 punch at the top of the Kingsport rotation.  He has a similar build to Whalen, albeit a bit taller and 15 pounds heavier.  When he was drafted, Flexen threw in the low-90s, touching 94, with good command of his slider, curve and changeup.  He fell down to the 14th because he was viewed as a 4th or 5th round talent who wanted 2nd round money.  Flexen was selected as the Appalachian League Player of the Year by Topps/MiLB in 2013.

2013 Stats with Kingsport: 8-1, 2.09 ERA, 0.942 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9

5. Marcos Molina (6-3, 188 pounds, 19 years old, Rookie)

Molina was a Dominican signee by the Mets in January 2012.  Parks (whose recent series of tweets inspired this article) describes Molina as an “explosive athlete” who is “ready to step forward” this year.  He has a fastball that ranges from 91-96 MPH, but he is still very raw and requires more polish before he can truly step forward, but he is definitely a name to watch.

2013 Stats with Gulf Coast Mets: 4-3, 4.39 ERA, 1.312 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9

Obviously, as with all pitching prospects, there is high volatility and there are no guarantees that these guys will develop into anything special.  That being said, these five names are worth keeping an eye on as the 2014 season develops.

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs.  Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.

9 comments for “Five Mets pitching prospects to watch in 2014

  1. February 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Just by what I’m reading here, Flexen sounds the most intriguing. 90s fastball and good command of off-speed in Rookie ball? Can we get him to GCL, or even Brooklyn, to start 2014?

  2. Beamer691
    February 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Joe, thanks for the article. Even though I follow the prospects pretty well I hadn’t seen a good breakdown of the lower level guys.

  3. Jim OMalley
    February 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Flexen is beginning to get a lot of attention.

  4. February 17, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    My personal pick would have been Michael Fulmer, and I realize that you mentioned him as a “commonly heard” name- but I disagree with that. Fulmer is probably the most underrated prospect in the system and I am going to expect an enormous breakout season from him.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 17, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      The reason for my excluding Fulmer is because he has made the top 10 lists before last year, so the cat is out of the bag with him, although his injury last year tempered some of the excitement surrounding him. I do agree with you that I really like his stuff, and think he has a great future.

      • Stephen Guilbert
        February 24, 2014 at 1:27 am

        I love Fulmer and I agree he’s insanely underrated, especially after the injury. He was moving quickly through the system. Let’s hope he continues on that path this year.

        The depth of high-ceiling, talented, or otherwise solid right-handed starting pitching in this system is getting ridiculous.

  5. Metsense
    February 18, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Of the group, who do you project starting in Savannah this year? (Minus Gsellman of course)

  6. Patrick Albanesius
    February 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Sooner or later SA is going to have to start trading some of these guys for position players. Let’s hope he keeps that successful trade record alive.

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