Mets 2019 Top 50 prospects

The Mets have five terrific prospects and it would have been six if they hadn’t dealt Jarred Kelenic in the offseason. In addition to the loss of their 2018 first-round pick, the Mets also shipped out two other guys who would have been in the top 10 – Justin Dunn and Luis Santana – as well as three other guys who would have made this top 50 list.

Baseball America ranks the farm system 19th overall in the majors, while Keith Law has it ranked as the 14th-best. It’s deep in middle infielders and righty relievers who throw gas. The strength of the starters will have a lot to do with how the TJ survivors bounce back. With Kelenic gone, the best OF prospect is either currently in the infield or has yet to play in the U.S. The Mets spent a lot of money on a catcher in the international market, have a couple of promising backstops in the lower minors but the state of the position in the upper levels made brining back Devin Mesoraco a real good idea.

The Mets will pick 12th overall in the 2019 Draft. They likely won’t get anyone there with the total package of Kelenic but it still will be Brodie Van Wagenen’s chance to make a statement. With his first draft pick as Mets GM, Sandy Alderson selected Brandon Nimmo with the 13th overall pick of the 2011 Draft. It took a while, but Nimmo’s 150 OPS+ season in 2018 firmly justified the selection. May Van Wagenen deliver a player that good in his first crack, too.

Prospect lists are subjective and no list looks really good in hindsight. No doubt there will be choices here that will produce a chuckle, if not today then certainly three years from now. But that’s okay. If you can’t handle that notion, you shouldn’t create a list in the first place. There are two numbers following the brief write-up, with the first one being where they ranked last year on my list and the second being their ranking on David Groveman’s list. The number for David’s list will be hyperlinked to his write up on the player, which will have more detailed information. It’s important to note that David’s list includes guys who were ultimately traded

*****

50. Bryce Montes de Oca – The big question is can he stay healthy as he’s already had two elbow injuries as an amateur. But he’s 6’7 and 265 pounds and hits 100 mph. He worked as both a starter and reliever as a collegian but will likely be used out of the pen as a professional. (NR, NR)

49. Gregory Guerrero – Big international signing from 2015, Guerrero missed the 2018 season with a shoulder injury. Did not hit well previously and will have to make up ground to avoid being buried. (47, 28)

48. Kevin Smith – A 6’5 LHP who can dial it up to the mid 90s. Smith fanned 28 batters in 23.2 IP for Brooklyn. He was the team’s seventh-round pick in 2018 out of Georgia. (NR, NR)

47. Cesar Loaiza – LHP from Venezuela dominated in the DSL last year and earned a late-season promotion to the GULF, where he had 8 Ks in 8.1 IP. (NR, NR)

46. Stanley Consuegra – Everyone loves his upside and he played in the GULF last year as a 17 year old. Converted from SS to the OF and is a potential defensive star. (NR, 33)

45. Adonis Uceta – A hamstring injury flared up during Spring Training and Uceta made just two rehab appearances after an undisclosed injury suffered in early June. Uceta was dominating when moved to the pen in 2017. (21, NR)

44. Matt Blackham – The Mets were aggressive with Blackham, giving him an early promotion to Double-A after he overpowered hitters early in Hi-A. He held his own in BNG and has a shot to make it as a hard-throwing reliever. (37, NR)

43. Ryder Ryan – Converted infielder has a big arm and had 59 Ks in 53 IP last year. But he struggled in Double-A after a lights out 16 games in the FSL. (NR, NR)

42. Raul Beracierta – Not just a guy with a fun name to say, Beracierta put up a solid .805 OPS as a 19 year old at KPT. Had a strong 13.7 BB%. (NR, NR)

41. Yoel Romero – Versatile athlete who played all over the field, Romero hit better as the season progressed, with his monthly OPS totals going from .499 to .744 to .838. Had a 13.6 BB% compared to a 16.9 K%. (NR, NR)

40. Willy Taveras – Made his U.S. debut last year and put up a 2.35 ERA and a 1.015 WHIP with a 4.07 K/BB ratio in 65 IP. A short righty, his curveball is his best pitch. (NR, NR)

39. Matt Winaker – A fifth-round pick in 2017 out of Stanford, Winaker has a good eye and developing power. In his last 169 PA in 2018, he had 22 XBH, including 9 HR. (NR, NR)

38. Jaylen Palmer – A prepster from Flushing and 18th-round draft pick of the Mets in 2018, Palmer put up an .808 OPS in the GULF as a 17 year old. Played SS in high school and also saw time at 3B in the minors. (NR, NR)

37. Patrick Mazeika – There was no “Binghamton Bump” for Mazeika, who saw his OPS drop 104 points as he made the jump to Double-A. Remains relevant as a lefty-hitting catcher. (28, 22)

36. Anthony Dirocie – Dominated in his second stint at KPT before a promotion to BRK, where his K% nearly doubled to a 27.0 mark. A CF with some pop – 21 XBH in 233 PA – it will be interesting to see if the Mets send him to Columbia or have him start a fourth year in short-season ball. (NR, NR)

35. Eric Hanhold – Another in a long line of hard-throwing righty relievers, Hanhold was solid in Double-A but not impressive in short stints in Las Vegas and Queens. (NR, 35)

34. Ranfy Adon – Overshadowed by his more-heralded teammates at Kingsport, Adon put up an .858 OPS last year, despite having his power numbers hurt by his home park. He hit .292 at home and .297 on the road but his SLG numbers were 177 points higher in road parks. (NR, NR)

33. Steve Villines – Sidearmer saw action at three levels last year and put up a 3.11 ERA and a 0.885 WHIP. He had 96 Ks and 13 BB in 66.2 IP out of the pen. Does well against lefties, as LHB had just a .549 OPS against him despite a .319 BABIP. (48, 34)

32. Chris Viall – Shoulder and triceps injuries helped derail his 2018 season. But when he took the mound, the 6’9 Viall had 94 Ks in 66.1 IP. (40, 50)

31. Kyle Dowdy – A Rule 5 pick by the Mets, Dowdy has been a starter in the minors but looks to get a shot to make the club out of Spring Training as a reliever. Allegedly, Dowdy saw a huge velocity increase last year and now touches the upper 90s with his fastball. (NR, NR)

30. Jose Butto – Venezuelan native was very strong over his first nine starts – 2.57 ERA, 1.163 WHIP – and awful over his final three, when he allowed 12 ER in 11.2 IP. (NR, NR)

29. Daniel Zamora – Was great for the Mets in limited action last year but the acquisition of Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan puts his 2019 role in doubt. (NR, NR)

28. Carlos Cortes – Mets drafted him on the 20th-round in 2016 but he went to South Carolina, instead. Mets took him on the third round in 2018 and he was solid in his debut season for Brooklyn. Will go as far as his bat will take him. (NR, 49)

27. Ali Sanchez – A top-notch defensive backstop, Sanchez had his best year at the plate, posting a .681 OPS at both Lo-A Columbia and Hi-A St. Lucie. He was considered a two-way star when he was signed so perhaps there’s more offensive growth to come. (49, 25)

26. Jaison Vilera – After winning the Sterling Award as the best player on the 2017 GCL Mets, Vilera followed up with an outstanding campaign for Brooklyn, posting a 1.83 ERA and a 0.977 WHIP. He’s not overpowering but succeeds with a full mix of pitches. (45, 18)

25. Hansel Moreno – Got a surprise full-season assignment once Walter Rasquin hit the suspended list. After struggling initially, Moreno fanned in 36 of his first 79 ABs, he posted a .758 OPS over his final 263 PA, with 23 XBH. A SS, Moreno also saw time at 2B, 3B, LF and CF last year. (33, 36)

24. Juan Uriarte – One of the top surprises of 2017, Uriarte injured his leg while batting in the first game of 2018 and missed the rest of the season. If healthy, he has two-way star potential as a catcher. (20, 44)

23. Jeremy Vasquez – It looks like Vasquez took a big step back when he was promoted from Lo-A to Hi-A, as he lost 85 points of OPS. But the average hitter for SLU put up a .645 OPS and Vasquez’ .735 mark was comfortably above that. Look for a power boost when he escapes the pitcher-friendly FSL. (32, 30)

22. Luis Carpio – Looks to be finally back after 2016’s leg injury. In his final 51 games for SLU, he put up a .737 OPS despite a .262 BABIP. That’s nice hitting for a SS/middle infielder in a pitcher-friendly league. (36, NR)

21. Adrian Hernandez – After years of concentrating on shortstops with their high dollar international signings, the Mets signed the CF Hernandez to a $1.5 million deal in 2017. He’s yet to play in the U.S. but he’s a power/speed guy who has drawn comparisons to Yoenis Cespedes. (18, 11)

20. Ryley Gilliam – One of the top collegiate closers at Clemson, the Mets took Gilliam in the fifth round last year. Assigned to Brooklyn, he notched 31 Ks in 17.1 IP. A 5’10 righty, Gilliam will face doubts every step of the way because of the bias against short RHP. But he was great last year. (NR, 42)

19. Christian James – The ERA (1.90) and WHIP (1.066) look great for James but it has to be discounted by the 54 Ks in 80.2 IP. (43, 24)

18. Jordan Humphreys – The breakout star of 2017, Humphreys missed all of last year after TJ surgery. (14, 16)

17. Walker Lockett – Acquired from the Indians in the Kevin Plawecki deal, Lockett gives the Mets rotation depth. In his last seven games in the PCL last year, he had a 3.46 ERA and a 1.128 WHIP in 41.2 IP. With an option remaining, he can pitch as a starter in Syracuse and be ready if/when an injury hits a starting pitcher in Queens. (NR, NR)

16. Will Toffey – Acquired from the A’s in the Jeurys Familia deal, Toffey is a lefty-hitting 3B with strong strike zone discipline. In 41 games with BNG last year, he had a .394 OBP. Not a great AVG hitter, he’ll have to add power to his game. His .179 ISO in BNG was a step in the right direction. (NR, 15)

15. Desmond Lindsay – A .998 OPS in the AFL is a nice reminder of what a healthy Lindsay is capable of doing. It remains to be seen if he can stay healthy for a full season. (11, 19)

14. Franklyn Kilome – Acquired from the Phillies in the Asdrubal Cabrera deal, the 6’6 Kilome will miss the season after undergoing TJ surgery. He had 42 Ks in 38 IP for BNG after the trade. (NR, 8)

13. Tony Dibrell – Led the SAL with 147 Ks last year. Got lit up his third start of the year but in his final 20 games had a 3.01 ERA and a 1.209 WHIP. (50, 17)

12. Freddy Valdez – International signing from the Dominican, Valdez got $1.5 million last year. He’s a corner outfield with power. (NR, 23)

11. Thomas Szapucki – Missed most of 2017 and all of 2018 due to TJ surgery. When healthy he showed a dominating fastball/curveball combination that produced 116 Ks in 83.1 IP. (8, 9)

10. Francisco Alvarez – One of the most sought-after players in the most recent international signing period, Alvarez inked a $2.7 million deal. He’s a power hitter with the skills necessary to remain a catcher. (NR, 12)

9. Junior Santos – Made his U.S. debut two weeks before his 17th birthday. He’s already 6’8 and throws in the mid 90s. Between the DSL and the GULF, he had 39 Ks and 6 BBs in 50 IP. You might be disappointed with the Ks but those walk numbers are outstanding. (NR, NR)

8. Simeon Woods Richardson – Mets were criticized for over-drafting him when they took him in the second round last year but he flashed great stuff while amassing 26 Ks and 4 BB in 17.1 IP. (NR, 21)

7. Anthony Kay – Another guy the Mets drafted as both a prepster (29th round, 2013) and collegian (first round, 2016) but a heavy workload at Connecticut led to arm problems and a missed 2017 due to TJ surgery. His 2018 season wasn’t overly impressive with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.410 WHIP. But it was 122.2 innings after surgery and he also delivered 123 Ks in 122.2 IP, showing a better fastball than what he had previously. (17, 10)

6. David Peterson – He was great at Lo-A and then got knocked around quite a bit in Hi-A. But in his last five games for SLU, Peterson had a 0.62 ERA with a 0.724 WHIP, with 32 Ks in 29 IP. Other guys have a higher ceiling but Peterson likely has the highest floor of any pitcher on this list. (5, 7)

5. Shervyen Newton – Switch-hitting shortstops with power don’t grow on trees. Newton may outgrow SS but his bat will play at either 3B or the OF. (NR, 13)

4. Peter Alonso – No one doubts the raw power. The questions are if he can consistently hit MLB pitching and if his fielding will be adequate. (7, 2)

3. Mark Vientos – The Mets moved him off SS, which was expected although maybe not quite this soon. He has the best power outside of Alonso in the system and excellent strike zone skills with 37 BB and 43 Ks in 262 PA. This ranking assumes he’ll be able to stay at 3B. (2, 5)

2. Ronny Mauricio – Made his U.S. debut at 17 and passed with flying colors. Has a better chance to stick at SS than Newton. Mauricio may not have the power that Newton does but has a great all-around game and if everything breaks right, has the best chance of anyone in the system to become a top five prospect in all of MLB. (9, 4)

1. Andres Gimenez – Last year Gimenez got the top spot on this list mostly due to his age and position, rather than his production. Then the 19 year old hit very well in the FSL and held his own after a promotion to Double-A. He has the lowest ceiling but the highest floor of the Mets’ big five prospects. (1, 1)

*****

It’s probably a half-decent bet that Tim Tebow makes the majors for a few PA, which is more than some listed here will get. But it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he has any impact between the white lines with either a bat or glove in his hands. Unlike others, there’s no problem on my end with Tebow trying to make it. He’s a definite attendance draw, a positive influence on those he interacts with and a hard worker. He’s just not really an MLB player.

On the flip side, it was hard for me not to throw Mickey Jannis on this list. Hey, he won’t have to pitch in Las Vegas this year. I may be the only one on the planet who still believes but it wouldn’t be unheard of for him to still have a career in the majors. Jannis is 31 this year. For a comparison, R.A. Dickey was 35 when he first pitched for the Mets.

11 comments for “Mets 2019 Top 50 prospects

  1. TexasGusCC
    February 17, 2019 at 3:08 am

    It would be nice if Guerrero can start showing something, anything, of interest. He seems to be too stiff for the infield, so sending him to the grass may be a win-win. More than his physical abilities, his mental makeup must be questioned. After being drafted in 2015, he stayed behind in his home country of Dominican Republic. In 2016, with stories of his homesickness being shared, he played some but not very well. In 2017, he got hurt in mid-season, but the numbers were concerningly bad. In 2018, he got hurt while still in preseason and missed the year. His level of relevancy is lower than Lindsey, and just staying healthy won’t be enough for Guerrero, at 19, the clock is ticking and head going into his Fourth Year of control. To understand how little this kid has done, he will be eligible for Rule 5 after next year and he still hasn’t played much rookie ball.

  2. February 17, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Villines is one of my fav prospects he’s a sidearmer that doesn’t throw hard yet he strikes out the world, it should be interesting how he does as he climbs the ladder.

    • February 17, 2019 at 11:53 am

      I saw a game where Cavallaro started and Villines came on in relief. The scoreboard radar gun had them throwing the same velocity. But Villines’ ball made the catcher’s mitt “pop,” while Cavallaro’s did not.

      • TexasGusCC
        February 17, 2019 at 1:15 pm

        Unrelated, some pitchers ask catchers to use stiffer gloves or not broken in as much, so the leather is harder and the pop is louder. Seems to be a mind trick or something.

  3. John Fox
    February 17, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    No Luis Guillorme in the top 50? I know he’s played a bit in the Majors, but so has Daniel Zamora, and he made the list

    • February 17, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      The standard is to use rookie eligibility for these lists. Here are the requirements:

      To qualify as a rookie in Major League Baseball, a player must not have exceeded 130 at bats or fifty innings pitched in the majors, and also fewer than 45 days on the active rosters of major league clubs (excluding time on the disabled list or any time after rosters are expanded on September 1) in their previous seasons

      Guillorme was on the roster from May 11 to June 25 and from July 29 to August 8 – so he exceeded the 45 day clause. Zamora played half the month of August and only had 9 IP so he didn’t exceed either.

  4. TexasGusCC
    February 18, 2019 at 12:45 am

    Nice job on the list Brian. I may debate with some, like Santos being that high, a nice job overall. Originally I forgot Cecchini on my list but then put him in. I didn’t see him on your list and think he has more upside as a middle infielder than a few names on your list. Why did you leave him off?

    • February 18, 2019 at 1:25 am

      I just don’t see how he gets any PT unless a lot of bad things happen. He’s really a 2B – he doesn’t have the arm to play on the left side of the infield. And with Cano, Lowrie, McNeil and TJ Rivera all ahead of him as 2B options, he faces an extreme uphill climb. On top of that, he just doesn’t seem to be a favorite of the organization. Here’s what I said about him in last year’s prospect piece:

      I think he’ll hit if given a shot but it doesn’t seem like the Mets share that point of view.

      He seemed to be trying the launch angle approach last year before he got hurt. But it wasn’t a huge sample and it was LVG, so there’s nothing yet to get too excited about. Maybe he goes to SYR and puts up numbers and forces his way to the majors. But he’d have a better shot if he could play short and I just don’t see that happening except on an emergency basis. Only 10 of his 31 games last year in the minors were at short.

  5. February 18, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Is Jhoan Urena off everyone’s lists? It’s tough to like a guy who did a Back Peddle from AAA to AA, but He ran an 853 OPS in the second half of last year.

    When I saw film on him 3 years ago, he looked like such a talented hitter. I know he’s had some issues, including general conditioning. I’ve never seen him play—I need to get to Trenton and Reading a few times.

    • TexasGusCC
      February 18, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      He had the right to become a minor league free agent and took advantage of it. Still hasn’t committed to another organization, however.

    • February 18, 2019 at 12:38 pm

      If Urena was still in the system, he’d be very low on the list or more likely off completely. To me, the two bigger losses to minor league free agency were Nabil Crismatt and Levi Michael. Crismatt is now with the Mariners and Michael is with the Giants.

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