Numbered prospect lists aren’t really my thing anymore, as the past two years my preseason top 50 has been in tiers. But with all of the activity that has gone on with the club trading MLB players for prospects, and my belief about those prospects, it seemed like a good time to journey to the past and put out a numbered list. Apologies to David Groveman, who might be doing one of these in the near future. If nothing else, you’ll have two lists to compare and contrast. In David Letterman style, here’s the Top 10:

10. Tyler Stuart – There are a lot of guys who could go in this slot. Originally, my thought was Christian Scott, who is having a really nice year and holding his own in nine starts in Double-A. Instead, the choice here is Stuart, who is a year younger than Scott and has also advanced to Binghamton, albeit with only four starts under his belt. But in those four outings, Stuart has 25 IP with a 2.16 ERA.

The knock on Stuart coming into the season was that despite his size – 6’9 – he didn’t really have a put-away pitch. Well, he had a 10.0 K/9 at Hi-A Brooklyn before the promotion, so he’s doing all right in that department. The numbers haven’t been nearly as good at Double-A (5.4) but he’s still succeeding anyway. We’ll have to see how he does the rest of the year at Binghamton but it looks like Stuart has put himself into consideration for a depth starter role for the Mets in 2024.

9. Ryan Clifford – He may not be an outfielder by the time he gets to the majors and even if he is one, he’s not going to be a plus defensively out there. But, if you can hit enough, teams will live with whatever defense you can give. Clifford looks like he’s got the bat to do just that, as he began 2023 in Lo-A and posted a .944 OPS in 121 PA, which was enough for the Astros to promote him to Hi-A.

At the more-advanced level, Clifford displayed very little drop off, as he had a .903 OPS in over twice the playing time. But, it needs to be said, that Asheville is a pretty good spot for hitters. How much of the production is the player’s bat, compared to the player’s park? Baseball-Reference gives home and away splits for minor league players but combines all stops. For the season, Clifford has played in three different home parks. He has a 1.020 OPS in his home parks, compared to a .758 OPS in the various road parks he’s played.

8. Colin Houck – The Mets’ first pick in the 2023 Draft, Houck was considered a mid-first-round talent who fell to the Mets at pick 32. A two-sport star in high school, Houck gave up football to pursue a baseball career. A prep shortstop, few think he’ll play that position if he reaches the majors. Best guesses now are that he winds up at third base. The bat is supposed to be his calling card and we’ll see if he can be a power-hitting infielder.

7. Drew Gilbert – The other prospect acquired from the Astros along with Clifford, Gilbert also experienced a mid-year promotion. Unlike Clifford, Gilbert began the year at Hi-A Asheville and was bumped up to Double-A. In 95 PA for Asheville, Gilbert posted a 1.107 OPS. In 264 PA in the hitter-friendly Texas League, Gilbert had a .713 OPS. For the season, he has a .932 home OPS and a .696 road mark.

Gilbert currently is a center fielder, although there’s mixed feelings if he’ll be able to play there much in the majors. But even if he has to go to a corner, there’s enough here still to like. It’s interesting to see how the Astros were aggressive with their in-season promotions, especially compared to the Mets, who are just now promoting their top prospects to new levels.

6. Alex Ramirez – Last year, Ramirez got bumped up from Lo-A to Hi-A and more than held his own in a pitcher-friendly park in Brooklyn. The Mets sent him back to Hi-A to start 2023, a defensible move but one you can see being a tad frustrating for Ramirez. He started off the year strong and after 200 PA had nearly identical results to what he did in his first go-round in Brooklyn. But the Mets did not promote him.

In his next 158 PA, Ramirez hit a major speed bump, posting just a .555 OPS. Glass-half-empty outlook says this proves he wasn’t ready for a promotion. Last 13 games, he’s back on an up note, with a .793 OPS in 57 PA. The team OPS for Brooklyn is .659 – it’s a tough park. The tools are there and he likely has a better chance to stick in CF than Gilbert. And while Gilbert is now at the higher level due to the aggressive promotions of his former club, Ramirez is two years younger.

5. Luisangel Acuna – In his age-21 season, Acuna began the year in Double-A, which is a very nice thing. He also has great speed and will be a major headache for teams once he’s on base. Yet everything else is at least a little subjective. It seems to me that everyone goes crazy about him because of his older brother. And not that we should ignore bloodlines completely. But if his name was Luisangel Sanchez, people wouldn’t be as high on him as they are currently.

Acuna had a .381 BABIP before the trade. And while minor league BABIPs are not directly comparable to MLB ones, a .381 is still an elevated number. His .138 ISO in the hitter-friendly Texas League is not a great mark. Sure, it’s fine for a speed guy. But if you’re hoping for a five-tool talent, it’s more than a little short. Ultimately, we come back to age. Acuna has more than held his own at Double-A at age 21. That’s a good thing.

4. Kevin Parada – Many rank Parada as the Mets’ top prospect. It’s not a bad placement but he doesn’t reach that level for me just quite yet. The profile is very good for a starting catcher. But is Parada a starting catcher, at least one for 130 or so games a season? Maybe it’s not fair to ding him in this department. But if his ultimate role is some hybrid C/1B/DH then it’s my opinion he needs to produce more offensively than if he was just a catcher.

One thing that we need to keep in mind is that catchers rarely develop in linear fashion. They typically have stops and starts and it’s not unusual to even see a step backwards offensively. Parada has done just fine offensively in his first full season in the minors. The people who told us that Francisco Alvarez wasn’t ready to play defensively in the majors say that Parada’s defense is behind his offense. We shall see. Parada is currently on the IL with a high ankle sprain, one suffered while running the bases.

3. Jett Williams – it’s going to be a real interesting battle to see who wins out between Acuna and Williams for the club’s second baseman of the future. Acuna has a leg up, already being at Double-A for a full year, while Williams just got bumped up to Hi-A. But it’s my belief that Williams has a broader range of tools. And while Acuna is young for his level, Williams is even younger. He’s now at Hi-A at age 19. While the Mets will likely start him back at this level in 2024 – like Ramirez – another in-season promotion puts him at Double-A at age 20.

Meanwhile, Williams didn’t hit for a great AVG at Lo-A but did everything else well. The Florida State League is more of a pitcher’s loop than the Texas League and Williams put up a .161 ISO. He also had a .422 OBP. And while Acuna has great speed, Williams is no slouch in that department, with 32 SB at St. Lucie and four more in eight games with Brooklyn. I was not a big fan of the Williams pick when drafted by the Mets in 2022. But it’s hard to be anything but impressed by what he’s done in pro ball.

2. Blade Tidwell – The Mets got a first-round talent in the second round of the 2022 Draft, as Tidwell fell due to a shoulder injury. Yet he was rotten in his first five games at Hi-A to begin 2023, as he recorded an 8.35 ERA in 18.1 IP. But in his next 12 starts, Tidwell was 8-0 with a 1.56 ERA and he limited opposing batters to a .558 OPS. That’s, um, dominating. Even the Mets agreed, as they promoted him to Double-A.

Tidwell got knocked around in his first start at the higher level. But if he can bounce back from his first five starts of 2023, he can recover from anything. And he made his second start for Binghamton Wednesday night, going 7.2 IP and allowing 2 ER with 0 BB and 7 Ks. The big question right now is if the Mets will cut his season short due to innings. Tidwell threw just 39 innings in college and 9.1 more last year in pro ball. This year he already has 93.1 IP. Even if they do, we’ve seen enough to be excited by his potential.

1. Ronny Mauricio – Things have been rocky after a great start. But, much like with Ramirez, you have to wonder if not being promoted has had an effect on Mauricio. Ramirez didn’t have to watch a bunch of guys on his team get promoted early, either. Mauricio had to witness three of his teammates get the call to the majors while he had to cool his heels in Syracuse. It’s not a leap to see that having an impact on him.

If Acuna playing all year at age 21 in Double-A is a good thing, we have to say the same thing about Mauricio at 22 in Triple-A. And Mauricio comes with a .196 ISO. We all wish he was moved to the outfield earlier. But he’s there now – also seeing time at 2B and 3B – and hopefully we see him in Citi Field before too much longer. When he was first signed, I made the comparison to Alfonso Soriano. Five-plus years later, that still holds.

Soriano played just 31 games in the majors before age 25 yet went on to post six seasons with at least a 3.2 fWAR, including four with at least a 5.0 mark. Mauricio will likely be at least a year ahead of that pace and possibly two years. He may not have the defensive peak of Soriano but that peak was very short lived – just two years – and for the great majority of his career Soriano was a below-average defensive presence. But he hit 412 HR and had 289 SB. May Mauricio approach those numbers in his MLB career.

23 comments on “A different midseason top 10 list for the Mets

  • TexasGusCC

    Brian, you forgot Vargas!!!! Everyone and their mom are drooling over him! BP wants to put him in the top 101, Pasterino even said the top 50, others have him a sure fire stud…

    • Brian Joura

      Like I said, there were several people who could have gotten that spot at #10 and Vargas is one of them. I went for the pitcher at Double-A. It wouldn’t shock me if Vargas ended up better but as of today, that’s not how I see it.

      Not that it’s very meaningful but Vargas has dropped 55 points of OPS in his overall season line with his eight games since the trade to the Mets. He was .899 with the Marlins and now he’s .844

      We need a phrase for players like Vargas. He’s better than a lottery ticket but still a bit away from a sure-fire MLB player. They do a thing at high school football games here called a 50-50 raffle. You buy a ticket for a $1 and at the end of the night they do a drawing and 50% goes to the person with the winning number and 50% goes to the school.

      So, if Jeremy Rodriguez is a lottery ticket, Vargas is a 50/50 raffle ticket.

  • David Klein

    Mauricio isn’t in my top five and I’ve yet to see where the Mets are throwing the towel in on 2024.

    • Brian Joura

      From Steve Cohen:

      “It’s a moment in time when other clubs were thinking very short term and I was thinking more intermediate, long term. And so, I was able to take advantage of that.”


      “You’ve got to remember, Max and Justin, they’re at a different point in their career,” he said. “Max asked me straight: ‘Are you going to be all-in at free agency next year?’ And I couldn’t give him that promise. I couldn’t give him that assurance, and he wants to win now. If he felt like our odds were smaller than he originally thought, then he made his decision, and Justin did, too. And I respect that. They’re good guys and they’re at a different point in their career.”

      We know that a $350 million payroll at a 15% chance of the playoffs in 2023 wasn’t good enough for Cohen. Given the payroll now for 2024 plus the money he’s sending to other teams to cover salary plus arbitration raises, the 2024 payroll is in the $260 million ballpark. And what do they need to add to that to get to a playoff-caliber team? They need at the very least 2 SP, 3 RP and a hitter. Probably more than that. How much is that going to cost? That would easily push the payroll past $300 million with hardly a guarantee that the club makes the playoffs. Is Cohen signing up for that?

      Or, given the new-found religion of hoarding prospects, is he going to try to get under $277 million and not suffer the draft pick penalty? Maybe that’s just a pipe dream. But so is the idea that he’s going to give Eppler a blank check in free agency this year. We’re likely in the middle, back to aiming for “meaningful games in September.” We know they bent over backwards not to use the word “rebuilding” during the sell off. I have no doubt they’d use the same type of effort with the phrase “throwing the towel in on 2024,” too.

      Ownership owes us nothing when it comes to broadcasting intentions for next year. And we’ll know soon enough, anyway. If Cohen/Eppler signs Giolito and Yamamoto for the rotation, we’ll know he’s serious about a playoff shot. And if it’s Jake Odorizzi and Luke Weaver – well, we’ll know something else.

      • IDRAFT

        It’s one thing to change gears and devalue the present when there are 60 games left and chances are slim. An enormously high amount of tickets that will be sold have already sold (very little extra attendance is brought in post Labor Day whether contending or not). The term sunk costs in this case can also be attributed to the fans. Not so for 2024.

        When the dust settles I do think the 2024 roster will be potentially playoff caliber, considering expanded playoffs. There is still talent here and Alvarez alone provides a big upgrade that now can be counted on.

        Injuries and luck aside I don’t see them becoming a threat to the Braves next year but I will be surprised and disappointed if they are selling again at the deadline.

        • Brian Joura

          Meaningful games in September!

          And, shoot, I was looking forward to a rebound from Starling Marte and then a trade where they picked up the rest of his 2024 salary and half of his 2025 salary for a guy in the DSL.

  • Metsense

    Mauricio deserves the #1 ranking.
    Parada shouldn’t be traded because of Alvarez. Instead Alvarez and him should share the catching and DH. Catching is a defensive grueling position and usually isn’t a offense position. The Mets could have two offense catchers. That would be an advantage.
    Cohen’s goal was to enhance their minor league system. This Summer’s Purge has achieved that goal.

    • Metsense

      Four out of 10 on your list are listed as shortstops. At least they are athletic and could change position. They could be trade bait for good major league players that they need. Having a good minor league system is the hidden reason. They will trade minor league players for major league players in the future do enhance than major league team. Many teams can’t afford their rising stars and will want cheaper players on their roster. Cohen said he will act when the opportunity arises.

  • JimO

    Just to throw another pitcher in there who would fall somewhere in the top 15 or so: Mike Vasil.

    • Brian Joura


      I think the jury is still out if Vasil can be an MLB starting pitcher. But even if he can’t, perhaps he can be a system product who flames out as a starter but who gives the club a solid bullpen piece. That’s really been missing from the farm system, which is kind of surprising given the number of pitchers they draft year after year after year.

  • NYM6986

    Nice analysis. Have been waiting for Mauricio to get the call and there’s been a lot just written about the decline in his hitting. He’s probably bummed as you related. Hoping a few of the new acquisitions turn out to be the real deal. Why can’t we have a 21-22 year old breakout player every so often?

    • Brian Joura

      One of the keys to having super young guys make it to the majors – your 21-22 year old breakout player – is being more aggressive with promotions. Drew Gilbert gets a promotion after 95 PA with the Astros. When’s the last time a hitter in the Mets’ system gets promoted that quickly? Jett Williams has 346 PA before he’s promoted.

      But it’s also what happens after the promotion. Alex Ramirez gets sent back to Brooklyn. Will Jett Williams suffer the same fate? He’s going to get in the neighborhood of 175 PA in Hi-A this year. He performs well – do they send him to Double-A?

      The Mets need to be grooming Acuna, Williams and Houck to play the positions they’ll play in the majors. And they also need to allow them to progress at a faster pace if their play says they’re up for a promotion.

      • TexasGusCC

        Didn’t Kelenic get promoted after like 30 at bats?

        • Brian Joura

          You are right – in 2018 Kelenic went from one short-season league to another after 51 PA. The Mets definitely had a hierarchy among their three short-season clubs, even if I thought that was a little crazy. They don’t seem to have a hierarchy between their two DSL squads…

          So, let me rephrase: When’s the last time the Mets promoted someone – involving at least one full-season club – after 95 PA?

  • T.J.

    Nice list Brian. Of this group, Tidwell may be the most important with respect to the path and timeline management takes. Projectable starting pitching from within is a game changer, even if it’s just one guy.

    I am not sold on Cohen’s direction as it relates to a long term strategy. I can’t even sense which direction he goes in 2024. He could even go in both directions…signing quality players and dealing Pete.

    • Brian Joura

      Thanks to you and 6986 for the kind words!

      It’s too bad Ziegler got hurt. But the step forwards for Tidwell, Stuart, Scott and Vasil has been an under-reported story this year among Mets prospects.

    • Metsense

      If they don’t extend Alonso and they trade him they will probably get Major League players for him. I don’t think they’re going to trade him exclusively for minor league players.

      • TexasGusCC

        Pete is a game changer, a playmaker, to use Jimmy Johnson’s words. You don’t trade him.

        • Metsense

          I’m not advocating trading Alonso but there is a price point and years of service that would be foolish to partake for the Mets. If that point is reached then they should trade him for Major League players.

        • Steve_S.

          Would you offer him 8 years/$200m? I would.

          • Metsense

            The starting point would be Matt Olson’s contract 8/$168m end up 8/$200m. After that I would have to think long hard to increase the years or the money.

            • Brian Joura

              That could be a starting point.

              Or, we could look at it that Alonso will be in his age-29 season in 2024 and how many years is he going to be productive and worthwhile? The Mets are already going to be on the hook for expensive decline years for Lindor and Nimmo. Do they want to be in the same boat with Alonso, too?

      • T.J.

        To be clear I am not advocating a Pete trade. I am mentioning it in relation to the Prospect list, and repeatedly, because it is highly probable due to all the money Cohen has overspent. I should mention Diaz as well, which I have neglected. If they pitch him in September that could be an audition to gauge market value in the winter.

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