The Top 5 prospects, the best of the best and a land of few surprises. These should be nothing but players you know and expect to see within the Top 5. Expect to hear a lot about these players through Spring Training and throughout 2017. While the Mets do not have a Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz to hold their breath for this season there are a few names here who you can expect to factor into the Met’s season.
#5 Justin Dunn, SP: The Mets selected Dunn with their first pick in the 2016 draft and intended fully to put him on the “Fast Track” to the majors. His debut for Brooklyn was a good start as he performed admirably in his first taste of professional baseball. Dunn managed a 1.167 WHIP and a 10.5 K/9 in his first 30.0 innings pitched. Both of those numbers suggest “Ace” potential. His fastball sits comfortably in the mid-low 90s and can flash the upper 90s and he has three useful breaking pitches that should translate to the majors eventually.
Expect Dunn to get stretched out early in 2017 with Port St. Lucie the most likely destination for the former Boston College pitcher. Regardless of where he starts, the most telling level for him in 2017 will be Advanced A. Should his numbers not fall off their mark we can start getting very excited about his blossoming potential. (ETA: 2019 Ceiling: “Ace”)
#4 Gavin Cecchini, SS/2B: It’s hard to say what we really think will happen with Cecchini. Rosario appears entrenched as the shortstop of the future and Cecchini’s struggling defensive numbers suggest that he is heading towards a defensive shift. Should he be able to handle second base, which seems likely, then his offensive numbers still suggest that he is starting everyday player material. In 2016 Cecchini managed a .838 OPS in AAA and had a very successful 4 game audition in the majors (where he had a crazy 1.095 OPS). While his offensive numbers should take a hit when he leaves the confines of Las Vegas, his plate discipline is a plus tool and cannot be discounted for weather conditions. He’s not a base stealer, but his ability to get on base and make contact make him a fantastic option for a #2 hitter and a very good option to lead off.
Expect him to repeat AAA Las Vegas with a strong possibility of changing positions. If and when injuries happen, Cecchini will get a call. In the meantime I’m hoping to see him play second base in AAA and work on the double-play chemistry with Rosario. (ETA: 2017 Ceiling: Starting Second Baseman)
#3 Thomas Szapucki, SP: It’s easy to forget how rare players like Steven Matz are when a player like Szapucki comes along shortly after. A lefty with a lot of movement on his breaking pitches, he fell to the 5th round of the 2015 draft because scouts questioned his velocity. In 2016 Szapucki touched 97 MPH on the radar gun and sat between 91-95 MPH. Scouts believe his velocity will eventually match Matz’s and that his breaking pitches might be even better. His 2016 will certainly elevate Szapucki in the eyes of the baseball world and, by next offseason, he may be on quite a number of Top Prospect lists.
There is a significant possibility that Szapucki will skip over Columbia and wind up in Port St. Lucie. The Mets are not desperate to rush him to the majors but at the same time, may worry about needlessly delaying him after his phenomenal success in 2016. I don’t see Szapucki reaching AA in 2017 unless he somehow continues to be an utterly staggering success. (ETA: 2020 Ceiling: “Ace”)
#2 Dominic Smith, 1B: For those who claim the Mets lack Top Prospects likely to make a major league impact in 2017, I present Smith. You’ve heard of the Mets 11th overall selection from the 2013 amateur draft. You’ve heard the good, a .294 Batting Average in his four seasons as a Met. You’ve heard the less good, Only 25 home runs in that same span. Some look at the latter and question if Smith will ultimately have enough bat to make him stick as a major league first baseman. It’s hard to say if the power will develop and I would wager it unlikely to look for 30 home runs per year from his bat, but there is plenty of reason to expect big things.
While Smith is almost definitely not going to beat out Lucas Duda/Wilmer Flores for the starting job this Spring (it’s possible but unlikely), it’s not terrible for him to play in AAA. An infield that will include Smith, Cecchini, Rosario and Oberste will be quite a thing to watch. (ETA: 2017 Ceiling: Starting First Baseman)
#1 Amed Rosario, SS: Back in 2013, Rosario first suited up for the Mets. To say the least, his ascendance to the top of this list is a long time coming. Through his first three seasons, he played well but not well enough to justify the hefty signing bonus and hype the Mets had given him. Back in 2014 I saw Rosario play in Brooklyn and nearly swing himself out of his shoes. Prior to 2016 I wrote about it being time for him to put up or shut up if he wanted to stay in the Top 10 prospects moving forward. Boy, did he ever respond!
He began the year for Port St. Lucie and got off to a blistering start. Through 66 games he managed a .309/.359/.442 batting line with 21 extra base hits and 13 stolen bases. He then was promoted to AA where he inconceivably hit a .341/.392/.481 with 21 extra base hits and 6 stolen bases over 54 games.
In 2017 it’s possible that the Mets leave Rosario in AA to start the year but that wouldn’t truly be best for his development. He should be working on his chemistry with the players he’s likely to play with in the majors. Should Asdrubal Cabrera fall victim to a lasting injury you can expect Rosario to be ready for the challenge. (ETA: 2017 Ceiling: Starting Shortstop)