The Mets’ farm system was ranked in the bottom third of all systems in the majors last year, and rightly so. Two of the top five prospects had dismal down years and two other top prospects were elevated to the majors. The 2017 season was bad at both the major and minor league levels and there is no way around that.
2018 is shaping up little differently in the majors but the minors are shaping up nicely and it’s not because of one or two players magically working out. The Mets farm is kicking on all cylinders with prospects seeing success from multiple avenues.
A Top 5 To Hang One’s Hat On:
1. Andres Gimenez, SS (A+): The Mets have gotten a solid year from Gimenez after they challenged him to play with older competition in Advanced A. The 19 year old shortstop is playing with players who average being 2-3 years older than him with far more collegiate and minor league experience and he’s been one of the best hitters in the Port St. Lucie lineup. His strikeouts have gotten under control, he’s stealing bases and has shown some solid power and solidified his placement as the #1 prospect in the Met system.
2. Peter Alonso, 1B (AAA): If the Mets had a DH position, Alonso would be in the majors tomorrow. He’s been great with the bat, obliterating the numbers of, former top prospect, Dominic Smith. One could even argue that he chased Smith out of AAA and back into the majors by hitting his way out of AA. The one obvious blemish is that his defense is not major league ready and the Mets can ill afford any worse defense than their defensively challenged squad already has. The good news is, players can improve their defense when well coached.
3. David Peterson, LHP (A+): The Mets may have been too cautious when they assigned Peterson to Low A Columbia but the full season assignment let the pitcher wet his feet and show off the talent the Mets had drafted in 2017. Peterson is now pitching in Advanced A and working to get himself into a “Fast Track” to the majors. If he can finish out the year strong there is potential for Peterson to begin his 2019 campaign with Justin Dunn in AA Binghamton.
4. Justin Dunn, RHP (AA): A year removed from whatever happened in 2017 and we are no longer bemoaning our top 2016 draft pick. Dunn earned his promotion to Binghamton and has shown signs of taking the promotion in stride. We will admit concerns about his control will be haunting him for a while, but he’s re-established his prospect value with a strong rebound campaign in 2018.
5. Jarred Kelenic, OF (R1): Not too many people were “Ecstatic” with the Mets first round pick in 2018. Kelenic was a Top 10 hitter and had a high ceiling but appeared to be a long term project for whatever team drafted him. Thankfully, the Mets wasted no time signing him and assigning him to their Gulf Coast affiliate. This has allowed the outfielder to showcase his hitting ability and prove to fans that he might not be as far from the majors as many feared. At his current rate, he could earn a promotion to Kingsport or Brooklyn to finish the year and is almost guaranteed a spot on a Full Season team for the 2019 season.
International House of Prospects:
● Andres Gimenez, SS (A+): (See Above)
● Ronny Mauricio, SS (R1): The big ticket item from the Mets 2018 class of international signees missed out on my unofficial Top 5 by a hair. The 17 year old shortstop skipped over the DSL leagues and was given a shot at starting his minor league career stateside. The early returns are promising with Mauricio showing a good line drive swing and solid speed. His patience and batting eye leave something to be desired but the Mets can develop that as he progresses through the system. That being said, he could find himself starting his 2019 season in the South Atlantic League at only 18 years old.
● Nabil Crismatt, RHP (AA): Crismatt isn’t going to suddenly become the next Juan Marichal but he’s certainly proving to be a workhorse starter with a track record of success. The latest league he’s managed to conquer is AA and he’ll be heading onto AAA in 2019. Thankfully, for him, he’s going to be going to Syracuse and not Las Vegas.
● Shervyen Newton, OF (R2): The prospect from the Netherlands is not a household name but the prospect acquired in 2015 had a good year in 2017 back in the DSL. He’s followed that up with a strong showing in Kingsport in 2018. The strikeouts aren’t going to be sustainable but the Mets will likely be working to get those under control in short order.
● Ali Sanchez, C (A): I haven’t said much, nice, about Sanchez in recent years. That’s largely because I’ve had little nice to say. The highly touted catching prospect hasn’t managed much in the way of offense in his first three seasons of stateside baseball but 2018 seems to be a breakout for Sanchez who has finally achieved a .700+ OPS in the second half of his season.
● Jaison Vilera, RHP (R1): The Ace of the 2017 Gulf Coast Mets has looked like the Ace of the 2018 Brooklyn Cyclones. That gives him every likelihood of being called to lead the 2019 Columbia Fireflies and might even earn him consideration for the Port St. Lucie squad.
● Adrian Hernandez, OF (DSL): The small outfielder has been solid in his first DSL season but hasn’t quite “Wowed” anyone. It’s possible that the Mets allow him a second season in the Dominican to get his feet under him before promoting him stateside. There are still plenty of things to like about his 2018 performance as a 17 year old.
Organizational Guys Stepping Out:
● Jeff McNeil, 2B (AAA): No single player has had as eye-opening a season as McNeil. Now, how much you are willing to believe in the veracity of that season is up to you. McNeil had spent the better parts of 2017 and 2016 on the shelf with injuries and showed up to Binghamton ready to hit. He was arguably even better than Mr. Alonso was. Always a contact oriented player, McNeil could be a short term solution to third or second base or second base should the Mets deal Todd Frazier and/or Asdrubal Cabrera.
● Jhoan Urena, OF/3B (AA): Urena has more or less moved on to being a full time outfielder but the switch hitter has continued to swing a solid bat through the 2018 season. His results aren’t amazing but I’m more than happy with what we’ve seen from him as he looks towards 2019 and AAA Syracuse.
● Corey Oswalt, RHP (AAA/MLB): Say what you will but I think that Oswalt’s 2018 has been a net positive. Oswalt looks to be a useful #4/#5 pitcher for most major league teams and if the Mets could stay healthy they’d be looking at him as a reserve for the 2019 season. Unfortunately, Oswalt has been called into service multiple times in 2018 which has made his overall numbers look less good.
● Jeremy Vasquez, 1B (A): The hitting star of Columbia, Vasquez was talked about once or twice in 2017 as a diamond in the rough. Thanks to a successful 2018 campaign the Mets need to start looking at him as a potential Top Prospect moving forward.
The Walking Wounded:
● Thomas Szapucki, LHP (IR): Let us not forget that at some point a certain Szapucki is likely to return to the ranks of the team and lock down his spot in the Top 10 prospects. The injuries have slowed his progression to the majors and hurt the Mets (who would love to have him sitting in the wings in Binghamton right now) but we should have every reason to expect him to return and pitch well.
● Jordan Humphreys, RHP (IR): The breakout star from early 2017 was injured in Port St. Lucie after his promotion. The kid should be back from his injury and pitching in Florida before long. His ceiling likely isn’t as high as Szapucki’s but it’s another Top 20 prospect of legitimate stock value.
Maybe I’m wrong but the depth of this post should illustrate just how improved the Met’s farm system is. Last offseason, when I performed my Top Prospect list I would have been hard-pressed to accomplish a Top 50. This offseason, I think that will once again be possible and that is a very good thing.
Chins up Met fans! There are better things to come!