Many inside and outside of the Mets organization can agree that the Metropolitans carry a ton of high-upside prospects up and down their farm system. The Mets minor league system is a very successful one and while some players regressed a bit, there were many who took enormous leaps forward which ultimately led to an overall great season. Of course a few young studs cannot carry a whole team (the majors show us that), but there seems to an steady flow of talent: Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo, Marcos Molina, and Dominic Smith to highlight a few. The Mets minor league teams dominated; none of their minor league teams finished under .500.
AAA Las Vegas
This is a place where minor leaguers desire to be and major leaguers hate to be exiled, but at least this team made the postseason. They had an electric offense with the hitter-friendly park of Las Vegas and a pitching staff which included high-profile arms that performed only average considering the situation.
Let’s begin with the offense. One would expect that with a team batting average of .283 there would be big prospects flooding up the scene, but possibly the biggest name still on the roster is Bobby Abreu. There were some big performances from AAAA players such as Allan Dykstra with a .930 OPS and Josh Satin with a .825 OPS. Of course there were a couple of high-profile offense prospects such as Kevin Plawecki (.766 OPS in AAA) and Matt Reynolds (.864 OPS in AAA). There were old names that, at one point or another, were on the team: Andrew Brown (.892 OPS), Omar Quintinilla (.652 OPS), and Anthony Seratelli (.799 OPS). From a positional standpoint, Juan Centeno was actually out-performed by Taylor Teagarden in CS% but still looks to be the back-up catcher in the future. The Wilmer Flores experiment actually occurred down here and it wasn’t too bad with only eight errors. The outfield was legendary with Cesar Puello (whose bat is heating up), Matt Den Dekker, and Andrew Brown surveying left to right.
Unlike the majors, the pitching was probably hard to watch at times. The season started with a dominant rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Logan Verrett. While three of them have all been in the majors at some point, Syndergaard and Verrett have remained here. Syndergaard regressed terribly and has looked uncomfortably bad while still having great ratios in virtually everything but his hits and ERA. Verrett regressed as well but maintained his excellent walk rate, kept a reasonable WHIP for Las Vegas and lowered his homerun rate. Verrett won’t be a front-line pitcher, but a great 5th starter for a good team. The relievers were not exactly sharp with Gonzalez Germen (2.38 ERA), Chase Bradford (3.52 ERA), and Miguel Socolovich (3.64 ERA) being the best on the team. Highly-rated Jack Leathersich came back for a ten-appearance audition and Jeff Walters struggled until dropping to Tommy John Surgery. Some of the pitchers who came up from lower levels include: Tyler Pill (one start), Greg Peavey (a dreadful six starts), Darin Gorski (4.56 ERA), and Matt Bowman (2.25 ERA). Beloved Cory Mazzoni struggled after arriving and lowered his chances of becoming a major league starter, but let’s hope his talent reaches the majors.
Regressed Player(s): Erik Goeddel and Cesar Puello
Breakout Player: Allan Dykstra (Again)
Player(s) to watch Next Year: Danny Muno and Cory Mazzoni
After being one of the greatest teams in Binghamton Team history, this team had extremely high expectations. While they did not win the division, they still grabbed a wild-card spot with a great rotation that included fiery prospects and an offense with great pieces.
The offense, unlike Las Vegas, is in a more moderate environment with a plethora of names that have been on the fan-base spotlight at some point. Jayce Boyd started off the season with terrible numbers but bounced back to post great overall numbers: .293/.382/.414. Wilfredo Tovar posted a very solid season at the plate with a .282 overall batting average, but in the field as he only posted 3 errors in 194 chances this season. Dustin Lawley regressed this season by his OPS dropping in over 100 points, striking out more often in less at-bat, and simply hit for less extra-base hits. Darrell Ceceliani will never produce the .351 he did in 2010, but he sure did well this season with a .292 batting average and a cut strikeout rate. At this point, all Mets have heard of Dilson Herrera and his numbers. Some of the lesser known prospects did well this season as well. Travis Taijeron regressed a little bit, but reduced his strikeout numbers and upped his walks. Kyle Johnson is still improving since his arrival, but stole considerably less bases. TJ Rivera (AKA the man who shouldn’t be there) posted a .370 batting average upon arrival and deserves a shot at the big leagues someday. Now let’s talk about the big name prospects: Nimmo and Reynolds. Reynolds completely raked once the season started with a .355 batting average and .430 OBP. The only factor going against him in AA was the slugging. Nimmo started out overpowered when he got to Binghamton (.679 OPS over his first 31 games), but bounced back over his last 32 games with a .828 OPS. Also worth a shout out: Brian Burgamy, who at 33 is still believing and posting great numbers in AA (.875 OPS). This offense was very well-rounded and there is no question they can make an impact in the postseason
The pitching was a very talented staff most of which would come mid-season or leave at the end of the season and come back. At the end of the day, the notable starters on this team were Matthew Bowman, Rainy Lara, Steven Matz, Greg Peavey, Tyler Pill, Hansel Robles, and Gabriel Ynoa. Matz continued his journey from Tommy John to the majors with a dominant 12 starts including a 2.27 ERA and an impeccable 1.8 BB/9 — my goodness, he’s going to be a star. Ynoa came up a little after Matz and struggled with a high homerun rate and a lowered strikeout rate. He should bounce back next season. Peavey was arguably the ace of the staff and this was pretty much out of nowhere, because after two lost seasons, he figured out a great 2.90 ERA in AA (ignore his 11.62 ERA in Las Vegas). Bowman was very good this season with his 3.11 ERA and his 8.3 K/9 and he got even better in AAA. Pill had another good season and basically the reincarnate of Verrett with his walk and strikeout rate. Expect great things next season. Robles has unfortunately continued to show he won’t be what he was in 2012, but middle relief suited him well with a 1.99 ERA during his new beginning. Many would look at Lara’s 4.31 and say he really regressed, but the main reason that he thrived in the past was due to his higher strikeout rate. This season he wanted to pitch to contact which didn’t work as well. If Lara just pitches farther down in the zone, he will bounce back and be a ripe prospect at 24. Darin Gorski made eight incredible starts and left for AAA (2.22 ERA) while Cory Mazzoni made two starts and left (4.45 ERA). The bullpen included big- name Leathersich who once again struck everyone out, but lowered his walk rate to 4.1 from 4.9 in AA last year. Cody Satterwhite and Bradford racked up most of the saves and both posted sub-2.50 ERA’s.
Regressed Player(s): Dustin Lawley and Adam Kolerek
Breakout Player: Matt Reynolds
Player(s) to watch Next Year: Tyler Pill and Brandon Nimmo
A+ St. Lucie
The St. Lucie Mets are commonly known as the place where players on rehab go to revamp themselves and eventually return. But what about the players’ spots they take for a week? What about the rest of that team? They have had winning seasons over the course of the last few years and fortunately this season was no different.
The offense was electrifying at the beginning of the season when Nimmo and Rivera were duking it out for the top hitter in the league, but once both were promoted we saw some new faces – L.J. Mazzilli and Jeff McNeil were called up to replace some of the production. Mazzilli had no problem adjusting and finished with a .312/.363/.456 slash line while the other infielder McNeil struggled a bit to the tune of a .648 OPS. In addition, former first-rounder Gavin Cecchini got the call to St. Lucie and struggled in the beginning, but picked it up over his last 26 games to a .826 OPS. I feel like I’m the only one with any hope for this guy. The outfield shaped up to be pretty solid with Maikis De La Cruz, Gilbert Gomez, and Eudy Pina surveying the outfield left to right. While De La Cruz might never reproduce his impressive .789 in 2011, he produced a solid batting average at .267 and a .324 batting average over his final 55 games. Gomez spent yet another season in what now seems to be purgatory, but he did improve drastically to what was a lost season last year. Pina is climbing the organizational ladder one level at a time and has improved his overall numbers at the plate while displaying his cannon of an arm. 2013 draftee Jared King put up solid numbers in his A+ showing with a .343 OBP and a .736 OPS. Aderlin Rodriguez spent another season here and it seems that his power displayed in 2010-2012 is not going to return. But perhaps the most disappointing player was Phillip Evans, who was drafted with a signing bonus of over $1million failed again with an underwhelming .633 OPS.
The Pitching side of this team was fully stocked with loads of potential that simply had down years across the board. Let’s start with the right-hander Luis Cessa. After becoming a pitcher he dominated hitters through his first four levels. This season he finished with an even ERA of 4.00 at AA, but he finished with a 3.40 ERA over his final eight starts. Former first round pick Michael Fulmer, of whom I am a big fan, actually was dominant over his final 16 starts in A+ with a 2.84 ERA (rather than his 3.97 ERA overall). Expect big things in 2015 from Fulmer. Matt Koch had a strange season, as he dominated over his first nine starts (2.70 ERA), hit a wall for seven starts (9.20 ERA) and finished well over his last six starts (3.68 ERA). Overall this is a 4.64 ERA which is not sharp, so he is a toss-up. Ynoa and Matz both did pretty well to get promoted mid-season — Matz outperformed Ynoa. Domingo Tapia remains one of the most interesting pitchers in the system. He has a fastball close to 100 MPH and only strikes out half the batters he faces, but don’t worry as his walks were about the same rate. He easily has the potential to be a great 5th starter or a dominant middle-reliever. He just needs to get his strikeouts to where they were in 2012. Relievers on this team were fascinating as some were dominant: Randy Fontanez and Paul Sewald, while some were atrocious: Robert Coles, Julian Hilario, and Tim Peterson. One reliever that had high expectations failed miserably —Beck Wheeler. After being the primary closer for a postseason run last year, he more than doubled his ERA.
Regressed Player(s): Aderlin Rodriguez and Beck Wheeler
Breakout Player: Cam Maron
Player(s) to watch Next Year: Domingo Tapia and L.J. Mazzilli
Now we are getting really deep into this minor league system with more players that not many have heard of. Overall, this team was a great one that won the division in the first half and has a great shot at the postseason for the second half. They boast excellent pitching with below average hitting – much to the fault of the home park.
Left-handed hitters are already at a disadvantage the second they walk into the home ballpark of the Savannah Gnats, with high-profile bats coming and going through that ballpark with little power. The only high-profile offensive left-hander on the team that was not recently promoted was golden-boy Dominic Smith. He struggled — a lot. His numbers are not fun to look at to the tune of a .271/.344/.338 slash line. That being said there were numerous positives including his solid double rate, reasonable walk rate, low strikeout rate, and most important, his .311 batting average vs lefties. No person should be discouraged by his performance this season but instead should be looking forward to him visiting a new home ballpark. Cecchini spent a bit of time in Savannah and got off to a wonderful start and finished with solid numbers (.741 OPS). Speedy Champ Stuart had a solid season at the plate and on the base paths with a .341 OBP and 29 steals in 33 tries (87.9%). The rest of the outfield consisted of the extremely reliable Victor Cruzado (.774 OPS) and the underwhelming Stefan Sabol. The other shortstop on this team, Yeixon Ruiz, had a good season consisting of a .255 batting average. The offense was nothing to brag about, but it led them to the playoffs (and now they have reinforcements).
Pitching was the name of the game here in Savannah as the rotation dominated while the bullpen shut almost every game down. The rotation included two big names in deep Mets minor leagues: John Gant and Robert Gsellman. The two pitchers had nearly identical ERA’s over the course of the season- finishing at 2.56 (Gant) and 2.55 (Gsellman). They both ate a ton of innings for their age, though it baffles me why neither of them got bumped up to a higher level, but look for big things from both over the next 2-3 years. The next tier of pitching in this league included Miller Diaz, Kevin McGowan, and Robert Whalen. The problem is that the two of them are around 22 years old. Nevertheless, each made about ten starts, averaged about six innings per start, and posted ERA’s at or under 2.25. Those five in the rotation should be enough for a postseason run. The bullpen was simply clean-up and with Akeel Morris allowing only four earned runs in 57 innings (three in a winning outing), there was not much error here. Beyond him, Tim Peterson (2.05 ERA), Darwin Frias (2.98 ERA), and Bret Mitchell (2.57 ERA) would shut the door. Expect a deep run this postseason once again from the Sand Gnats with this pitching.
Regressed Player(s): Chris Flexen and Yeixon Ruiz
Breakout Player: Akeel Morris
Player(s) to watch Next Year: Champ Stuart and Robert Gsellman
A- Brooklyn Cyclones
Ah, the team that has never finished with a record below .500 since the Mets took over meaning that this team probably has a load of players to look forward to. While that statement isn’t exactly the most accurate, there were a few shining stars that, for the most part, had underwhelming performances.
The main two, or future stars, that resided on this team were the dynamic duo of Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto; two players that could not be more different from each other, from gameplay to position to background, and even performance level. Rosario was actually very good for an 18-year old and held his own in every aspect of the game except slugging. He had a .289/.337/.380 slash line and had a fairly low strikeout rate all in Brooklyn. Expect many more advancements come time in two years on this date. Conforto was the everyday leftfielder once he was assigned to that level a mere a few weeks after being drafted 10th overall. He did nothing short of rake while he resided in Brooklyn with a .331/.403/.448 slash line and only 29 strikeouts in 186 PA. Most see him in the majors a year from yesterday. Other than those two, there were a few good players: Jhoan Urena, who was recently called up to A Savannah and who hit extremely well for a 19-year old for a .787 OPS; Rosario’s best friend Adrian Abreu had a bounce back year of sorts with an improvement everywhere but the OBP; Anthony Chavez, Tucker Tharp, and Michael Bernal all had underwhelming seasons. Maybe some of these current no-names will turn around and become known-names.
This team, always known for its pitching boasted a great front three this season that led them to a ton of victories: Marcos Molina, Corey Oswalt, and Casey Meisner. What to be said on Molina? That’s the funny thing — there isn’t much. Before Baseball Prospectus came out with Molina seemingly clogging a spot with some no-name that not even a die-hard Mets’ fan knew, he burst onto the scene over his first eight starts with a ridiculous 1.27 ERA and then put together a 2.70 ERA over his last four starts. This guy could be the definition of a, “diamond in the rough” and he might end up making baseball prospectus looking genius someday. Oswalt is looking to build upon a season in which he allowed one homerun in nearly 70 innings and only walked 2 per nine innings- looking good. Meisner was drafted in the third round of 2013 and has had two pretty solid seasons so far, compiling 95 strikeouts in 97.2 innings. His WHIP looks to be a concern, but he could have a nice little future. The talented Luis Mateo made his return to the mound for five innings and looks to bounce back from Tommy John surgery. Shane Bay racked up the saves in Brooklyn with 15 and as a lefty it remains important to keep tabs on a guy with a 1.59 ERA and a .971 WHIP.
Regressed Player(s): Michael Bernal and Brandon Welch
Breakout Player: Marcos Molina
Player(s) to watch Next Year: Michael Katz and Corey Oswalt
**DISCLAIMER**: First, this only a recap of the notable prospects in the Mets minor leagues and nowhere near all of the players that roam the system. If you would like to talk about anyone that I might have missed, please let me know in the comment section so we can have a discussion. Next, I did not review any teams below low-A simply because there are simply too many players and teams to review. Finally, it is not my intention with this list to deliberately miss anyone, so if you (maybe players read this) or your favorite prospect was left off, please don’t be offended.