My top 50 list last year broke down players by levels, rather than looking to make an ordered list. The more time considering things, the more it seems to me that this is the way to go. Don’t worry if you prefer the ordered-list method, as David Groveman will likely publish a list like that in the near future.
This year’s prospects article will start with a discussion on age. There’s no way to get around the fact that age matters when discussing prospects. It’s much, much better to be holding your own at Double-A at age 21 than it is to be dominating A-ball at age 24. We need to get away from thinking about those too-old-for-the-level guys as real prospects. For everyone who battles back from injury to make it as an older prospect like Jeff McNeil, you can name 50 guys who don’t. With that in mind, here is my preferred age chart by level:
Now, things aren’t always going to be that cut-and-dried. So, we’ll build in a two-year allowance for late starts or injuries. But if you’re more than two years away from the preferred age, you cannot be considered here as one of the club’s top prospects. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t get recognized. Instead, it means you’re in the “old guys” level. These are guys that you should know their names but not necessarily go out and buy their rookie cards, thinking that you can make some money when they develop into future stars.
Our first group, the honorable mention guys, is the Stephen Nogosek level. This time last year, Nogosek still had rookie status as he prepared to enter his age-27 season. Nogosek rode the shuttle between Syracuse and Queens, which might be the upside for this group. Because of that upside, we’ll just list the names.
Carlos Cortes, Omar De Los Santos, Zach Greene (Rule 5 pick), Brandon McIlwain, Brian Metoyer, Bryce Montes de Oca, Dedniel Nunez, Eric Orze, Oscar Rojas, Hayden Senger, Locke St. John, Josh Walker and Joe Zanghi.
Our first real group is the Tylor Megill level. These are guys who played within two years of the preferred age level last season, like Megill did when he pitched at Triple-A in 2021. Odds aren’t stacked against these guys but they can’t really afford any more setbacks, either. All players in this and future levels are listed in alphabetical order.
Jose Butto – Changeup artist had a 3.33 K/BB ratio in Triple-A last year
Jeffrey Colon – Has split time at two levels the past two seasons. Will be interesting to see if they challenge Colon with assignment to Double-A or if they’ll send him back to Brooklyn. Also remains to be seen if he’s used as SP or closer.
Felipe De La Cruz – Lefty spent the majority of last year in the FCL and then had 9 Ks in 4 IP with a save in two appearances in A-ball.
Carlos Dominguez – Had 20 HR and 22 SB at age 22 in Lo-A
Dominic Hamel – Frequently listed as one of the club’s top prospects, Hamel split time between two A-ball clubs last year at age 23, although he was better at the higher level. Walks are a concern.
Grant Hartwig – 6’5 righty rocketed through the farm system, going from Lo-A to Triple-A. Slider is a plus pitch.
Nathan Lavender – Lefty reliever appeared in 26 games between two A-ball teams last year and had 67 Ks in 47.2 IP.
Khalil Lee – Has 265 Ks in 841 PA for a 31.5 K% the past two years in the minor leagues.
Blaine McIntosh – Raw player made strides last year in repeat season at FCL.
Jose Peroza – 2B/3B got off to a poor start but in his final 60 games had a .346/.429/.539 line in 254 PA.
JT Schwartz – Generally not a fan of no-power 1B but Schwartz essentially had the same OPS at the same level as Peroza and had his hot streak cut short due to a nasty HBP to his knee area.
Christian Scott – A fifth-round pick in 2021 from a major college in the University of Florida, Scott began the year in Lo-A and did not dominate. Pitched better after late promotion to Hi-A.
D’Andre Smith – The Mets’ fifth-round draft pick out of USC is a middle infielder with pop.
Mike Vasil – Like Scott, he came from a major college in Virginia only to start the season in Lo-A. But he dominated there before getting the promotion to Hi-A. It was a struggle at Brooklyn but he had a good showing with the top prospects in the AFL, going 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 IP.
Our next group is the Luis Guillorme level, guys on the correct age path (or better) who show some promising signs without having a great pedigree.
Javier Atencio – Lefty has a three-pitch arsenal and could move quickly if he can sharpen his command. It’s difficult to succeed with the 5.2 BB/9 he had last year.
Jesus Baez – It’s tough to get excited about guys in the DSL. But an infielder who more than held his own at both DSL clubs at age 17 is someone to watch. Should be in FCL at age 18 this season.
Raimon Gomez – Venezuelan native signed as older prospect, had a fine pro debut in the DSL at age 19 and made the jump to Lo-A last year at 20, skipping the FCL. Had 54 Ks in 47.2 IP. An org sleeper.
Daniel Juarez – A late promotion got him to age level. The 5’11 lefty fanned 59 in 43.1 IP with a 1.131 WHIP.
Andriel Lantigua – Dominican native skipped DSL to play in FCL at age 18. The young catcher didn’t hit and struck out a bunch but they still sent him to Lo-A in September.
Layonel Ovalles – In his first season in the U.S., Ovalles had a 2.76 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP in the FCL before a late promotion to Lo-A.
Vincent Perozo – Venezuelan native played mostly C and put up an .862 OPS in the FCL at age 19. Also saw time at Lo-A but struggled in limited playing time.
Jawilme Ramirez – Dominated in the FCL before a promotion to Lo-A to get him to age level. Had a 4.3 K/BB ratio and allowed just 1 HR in 46.1 IP.
Luis Rodriguez – Dominican righty had a 10.4 K/9 and a 1.41 ERA in 32 IP at the FCL.
Luis Rodriguez – Unlike the previous player with the same name, this pitcher is a lefty. He fanned 11 of the 24 batters he faced in the FCL in ’21 at age 18. He missed all of last year after undergoing TJ surgery. But a LHP who hits 97 is always worth keeping tabs on.
Junior Santos – He’s been around forever but is still a year ahead of the preferred age for his level. But the results remain underwhelming.
Junior Tilien – A year younger than preferred age level, Tilien got off to a hot start in Lo-A before tailing off at the end of the season. Seemed to hit better as 2B than SS.
Jordany Ventura – We’ve been hearing about Ventura for a long time but haven’t seen much of him, as he missed ’21 with TJ surgery. He pitched in four games last year, as he was also shelved with a pec strain. The scouting reports have always been glowing. Now it’s time for him to show results in games.
Wyatt Young – Lefty-hitting second baseman has some major platoon splits but finished the year strong, with an .878 OPS in his final 215 PA in Double-A.
Our next group is the young guys with a pedigree, who haven’t quite shown enough to be in the top group yet. Sort of like 2009-era cement boots. It’s the Wilmer Flores level. The hope is that a few of these graduate to the top level but the majority will likely fall backwards on this list.
Matt Allan – A world of potential but injuries have kept him to 10.1 IP since being drafted in 2019.
Anthony Baptist – Speedy CF was ranked as the 29th-best IFA prospect in the 2023 class.
Stanley Consuegra – Injuries and the pandemic cost Consuegra two seasons of development. He was really good in the FCL in ’21 and not as impressive – although he played at both A-levels – in ’22. Serious boom or bust potential here.
Joel Diaz – After a great DSL season in ’21, Mets challenged Diaz with an assignment to Lo-A at age 18. The ERA and walks weren’t good but he showed a fastball with life. Two years ahead of our preferred age, the underwhelming numbers are not a concern at all, especially in his first season in the U.S.
Robert Dominguez – Missed all of last year with TJ surgery. Has just 12 IP since signing in late 2019, which makes him the Dominican Allan.
Willy Fanas – Committed to the Angels as an underage prospect back when Billy Eppler was running the show, the new regime in Anaheim did not honor the commitment. Eppler made him one of the club’s top IFA signings in ’22. Had an underwhelming year in the DSL at age 18.
Daiverson Gutierrez – The top IFA signed by the Mets in ’23, Gutierrez is a power-hitting catcher.
Simon Juan – The Mets’ biggest signing from the ’22 IFA class, Juan is a potential 5-tool CF. He had a solid, if unspectacular, debut in the DSL last year at age 16. He’s likely ticketed for another DSL campaign.
Cristopher Larez – The third of the Mets’ big three ’23 IFA signings, Larez is a tools-heavy SS prospect.
William Lugo – A 3B/SS with some pop, Lugo had 41 XBH in 478 PA split between two A-ball levels. He was the right age for Lo-A and early for Hi-A. Lugo had a .795 OPS in 121 PA at Hi-A Brooklyn.
Nick Morabito – The Mets’ second-round pick last year, Morabito fanned 14 times in 24 PA in the FCL.
Jacob Reimer – While Morabito had a rough pro debut, Reimer, the club’s fourth-round pick, fanned just three times in 29 PA and had an .892 OPS. A prep SS, Reimer will play 3B as a pro.
Dangelo Sarmiento – Venezuelan SS was the third of the big three IFA signings for the Mets in ’22 but he had the best results in the DSL of them all, as he put up a .767 OPS at age 17.
Blade Tidwell – Shoulder issues limited Tidwell in college, which made a first-round talent drop to the second round. When healthy, Tidwell has a full repertoire and he’s hit 97 with his fastball. He made four appearances in Lo-A and had 9 Ks in 8.1 IP.
Calvin Ziegler – The Mets’ second-round pick in ’21, Ziegler made his pro debut last year at age 19 in Lo-A. The results weren’t good, as Ziegler had a 4.44 ERA thanks to a dreadful 6.8 BB/9. But just about everything else was positive, including a 13.5 K/9, as well as limiting opposing hitters to a .602 OPS. He features a plus fastball and a plus curve that acts as his strikeout pitch, thanks to great spin rates. Command and the development of the change will determine how far Ziegler can go.
Our final group is the Pete Alonso level, the ones who seem on track for a productive MLB career. Although no one should expect the equivalent of 53 homers, injuries aside, it would be a disappointment if these players didn’t make it in New York or serve as valuable trade chits at some point in the future.
Francisco Alvarez – Unequivocally one of the best prospects in the game, the bat is ready. The only question is how much the Mets will slow-play him due to perceived defensive issues.
Brett Baty – A potential offensive star, the biggest question is he’ll be able to remain at 3B. With Carlos Correa signing elsewhere, it looks like we’ll get the chance to see if he can stick in the infield.
Ronny Mauricio – Hit 26 HR in Double-A at age 21 and followed up by winning the MVP in the DWL this offseason. Future defensive home is in doubt but if he winds up in the OF, it’s because that’s where the opportunity is, not that he can’t hack it on the dirt.
Kevin Parada – A potential top-five pick fell to the Mets at 11. Has all the tools to succeed both offensively and defensively at catcher.
Alex Ramirez – It was an overly-aggressive move to list Ramirez in this level last year. Now, it seems where he belongs after he put up a .757 OPS (64 points above team average) at Hi-A at age 19, playing primarily CF.
Mark Vientos – Hit 24 HR in 527 PA at Triple-A at age 22. There’s real power in the bat but no obvious defensive position.
Jett Williams – The 14th-overall pick in the ’22 Draft, scouts love Williams despite his 5’8 frame.
There are a lot of names on here that the average fan hasn’t heard of before. And there’s a good chance that many of those guys won’t make the majors. And that’s okay. But these lists are a snapshot in time and at this moment, they all have something going for them. There are 50 players in the four main tiers and 11 more in the old guy level. But if that’s not enough for you, here are some more that are worth mentioning.
Yohairo Cuevas, Manuel Guance, Carlos Oviedo and Francisco Toledo are all players who performed well in the DSL last year and have a shot to make this list in 2024. And a guy who I’ll be keeping tabs on in 2023 is Paul Gervase, a 6’10 RHP who fanned 16 in 11.1 IP last season. A 12th-round pick of the Mets last year, Gervase started his career at Division III Pfeiffer.