We are at the point where we are discussing some of the elite of Met prospects. In this trio we have two first round picks and one second round pick and it is interesting that the second rounder is ranked higher, despite being far lower within his development than the others.
There are reasons for this. One is purely psychological. As Met fans, we’ve had a slew of successful pitching prospects come through the ranks and is lessens the impact of two more. The other is more logical, in that the Mark Vientos has had less of an opportunity to disappoint as Justin Dunn and David Peterson have both had their share of struggles.
Regardless there are nearly no bad feelings to be had with the prospects ranked this highly as all would appear to have futures in the majors on their individual horizons.
Of course… then the Mets trade two of the Top 10 prospects and throw your list into disarray.
5. Mark Vientos, 3B (APP) – When Mark Vientos was drafted, I remember talking to Brian Joura about it and Brian exclaimed how excited he was that the Mets went with this pick. Vientos had high offensive potential and while he wasn’t likely to hold onto the shortstop position as he developed, most seemed to think that third base would be a natural fit.
He debuted with roughly 50 games (mostly in the GCL) where, as a 17 year old, he held his own against older competition. Then in 2018, the Mets cautiously returned him to the Kingsport squad where he raised his OPS by over 100 points. The question now is if the Mets will skip him over Brooklyn to Columbia or if they will continue with their “Slow and Steady” approach.
Gus: Power hitting third baseman with improving averages and that was the center of his lineup despite being two years younger than the competition. Vientos shows a good eye with a 14% walk rate and a 16% strikeout rate. As an 18 year old playing in high rookie ball, Vientos’ .878 OPS shows his ability to slug and take a walk. Now the bad news: 13 errors in 54 games is a 39 error pace over 162. His range is not very good, but he has a good arm. As a classic thumper without much speed, Vientos at 6’4″ must keep his athleticism inorder to stick at third base.
Chris: Lanky left side of the infield that I think was a bit of a surprise in the draft for where he went. Did not have a great run in the GCL, but really turned it on in 2018 in Kingsport with big improvements in offensive stats (avg, on base, OPS), playing at 2 years younger than peers. He came to the Mets at SS, but reality is that he is heading to 3B. Although lean, he’s slow, a bit like Flores. If the bat continues to play and the defense comes along, then there is a lot to like for this present 18 yo, will play all of next season at age 19.
6. Justin Dunn, RHP (EAS) – (Post Trade Update) My review of Dunn below doesn’t change because he is now with the Seattle Mariners. I saw him being a potential front-end starter or closer in 2-3 seasons and felt that he’d gotten past the worst of his bumps.
After 2017 I was pretty dismal on the future of Justin Dunn. His season had gone from bad to worse as he’d suffered through poor control and performance throughout. The Mets even demoted him into relief, in desperation, and nothing seemed to work. 2018 became, for Dunn, a make or break season where he’d either establish his value or fall from the radar entirely.
Thankfully for Dunn, and the Mets, 2018 proved to be a tremendous bounce-back for Dunn. His walks went down (albeit not as much as we’d like them to) and his strikeouts came back up. He rapidly proved that 2017 was behind him and wound up tossing a sizable 89.2 innings in AA after his promotion. Proving successful at this level, as well, the Mets are likely to start Dunn in Syracuse but give him a nice long look in Spring Training.
Gus: Dials it up to 97 with plus movement, but like all plus movement, control can be an issue. Dunn throws across his body in an easy repeatable motion to keep him a starter with four pitches, including a plus slider and a potentially plus change of pace. When Dunn met Trevor Hoffman this offseason, he asked him how to hold the change and Hoffman told him deeper in his palm. If it becomes a third plus offering, then when Dunn find control, he may be lethal.
Chris: Probably doesn’t matter much on evaluating Dunn, given the trade. Here is a guy in the upper echelons of the farm system that was a first round draft pick. Hard throwing righty carrying some late movement. If Dunn can get control of his offerings, could be a dangerous starter. The WHIP has never been great, so while ranked high in the system, I think the loss can be absorbed by pitching depth.
7. David Peterson, LHP (FSL) – The Mets began David Peterson’s 2018 season as cautiously as they had Vientos. Perhaps fearing another 1st round pick would suffer from a rapid promotion to Advanced A, as Dunn had, the Mets sent Peterson to Columbia to get some innings under his belt.
There, he was dazzling, looking every inch the “Ace” the Mets had hoped they drafted in 2017. They promoted him to Port St. Lucie and Met fans grimaced as he fell back to earth. The numbers weren’t nearly as bad as Dunn’s from 2017 but they certainly didn’t suggest he was ready to ascend to AA in 2019. Instead Peterson looks likely to repeat Advanced A as a member of a very deep rotation that should feature an assortment of Thomas Szapucki, Anthony Kay, Jordan Humphreys and Tony Dibrell. The Mets, being so overstocked, might be forced to promote quickly to AA.