The Top 10 shouldn’t have surprises and, while you can likely debate the order, it’s tough to debate their inclusion in the Top 10 itself. At this point, you are looking at players that you should be very excited about and players that if you aren’t yet acquainted with, you should endeavor to become acquainted with.
#10 Wuilmer Becerra, RF: Look at Becerra’s numbers quickly and you’ll be fooled. His .312/.341/.393 isn’t a bad batting line but it also isn’t what we had been hoping for last year when we ranked him 6th overall. Look at his stats under a microscope, ignoring the 15 or so games he played injured and you may have more reason for optimism. Becerra was well on his way to a mid-season promotion when a nagging injury derailed his 2016 season. Note that the Mets are well known for discouraging their hitters in Port St. Lucie from swinging for power and note that the patience at the plate is still lacking and you see the Mets still have a potential star in the making. I would not be surprised if Becerra ranks #1 in next years Top 50.
Look for him to begin the season playing for Port St. Lucie once again but I’d fully expect him to get promoted to AA as soon as he shows that he’s once more healthy and hitting. I also would expect the power numbers to improve significantly once he progresses past the Met contact oriented Advanced A coaching staff. (ETA: 2019 Ceiling: Starting Rightfielder)
#9 Peter Alonso, 1B: One of the theme’s you see in following the Met minor leagues is that certain levels favor certain players. AAA, Las Vegas and the PCL favors hitters and obliterates control pitchers and the SAL is known to be a difficult league for power hitters. We also note, year after year, Brooklyn seems to be a terrible place for Met hitting prospects. Alonso didn’t get that memo. In 2016 he managed a .321/.382/.587 and powered the Brooklyn offense on his own. The big right handed first baseman wasn’t a popular draft pick, being that Dominic Smith seems poised to ascend to the position and Alonso has no other potential landing spot (unless the NL adds a DH). Sandy Alderson picked Alonso noting that he was the best hitter left in the draft, and it looks like he was right.
Because he was a college player and because he dominated the NYPL Alonso should start the year with Port St. Lucie where he will be joined by Patrick Mazeika and Becerra to provide quite an intimidating heart of the order. I’m not sure how Alonso and Dominic Smith both fit on the same team but that is a good problem to have come 2019. (ETA: 2019 Ceiling: Starting First Baseman)
#8 Marcos Molina, SP: It’s odd to rank a player who didn’t pitch at all in the regular season of 2016 #8. Mets 360 ranked him 8th last year and he didn’t play. How can we justify keeping his ranking this high? It comes down to potential and proximity to the majors. Even with a year on the shelf, Molina is young enough and talented enough to emerge as a “Ace” pitcher. It’s more likely that he projects as a #2 type player but even then, he belongs in the Top 10. His fastball is Major League average but his movement makes it much more successful and Molina comes equipped with an arsenal of major league level breaking pitches. 2017 is a big year for Molina, who will either wind up a Top 5 prospect or fall to the bottom 25 of the list.
It’s hard to project Molina to start above Brooklyn but I believe the Mets will want to be a little aggressive and have Molina pitch in Columbia for the Fireflies. This is made more likely by the fact that they had him pitch in the AFL (where he managed a respectable 3.78 ERA over his 16.2 innings pitched. (ETA: 2019 Ceiling: 2nd Starter)
#7 P.J. Conlon, SP: Fan favorite, Conlon ranks 7th overall because of confidence in his path to the majors. His ceiling is not as high as players like Molina, Dunn, Szapucki or even Kay but his floor is also relatively high as well. Conlon emerged in 2015 with a spectacular run of relief appearances for Brooklyn. Converted into a starter, his strikeouts took a dip but his overall numbers remained outstanding through two levels. If Conlon can keep his WHIP under 1.000 then his future as a starting pitcher is pretty well assured.
Expect Conlon to play for Binghamton to begin the year and don’t necessarily expect him to ever pitch for Las Vegas. Binghamton is a challenging league and control pitchers do not do well in Las Vegas. If the Mets catch an injury bug again you can expect him to factor in for some starts in the majors. (ETA: 2018 Ceiling: 3rd Starter)
#6 Desmond Lindsay, OF: While Lindsay’s numbers in Brooklyn were outshone by Alonso’s there is no mistaking the talent he brings to the table. Still projected to be able to play at any position in the outfield, Lindsay isn’t quite fast enough to be a “Five Tool Player”. Counter that with the fact that he does appear to have big league power and a refined eye at the plate and there’s an awful lot to be excited about. The biggest negative in his book has been his health. Lindsay was only able to play in 37 games during the 2016 season and that will likely delay his timeline slightly. As he’s only turning 20 on January 15th there is plenty of time for him to develop and reasonable hope that he could be a factor as early as 2019.
Expect him to begin the year for Columbia and don’t be surprised if the Mets promote him when they promote Becerra. Columbia isn’t a great place for hitters but I expect Lindsay to find a way to produce some healthy numbers in the SAL and continue to climb this list for next season. (ETA: 2019 Ceiling: Starting Center fielder/Left felder)