The Mets began the year with four players on the cusp of the majors ready to make an impact. What they did not begin the year with was doubt about who was the Top Prospect in the organization. Francisco Alvarez had the highest ceiling and has proven up to the task of making the next step into being a major league catcher. For 2024 the title of Top Prospect is harder to put your finger on.
Kevin Parada, C (AA): The most obvious choice for Top Prospect is the internal option. A player whom some fans felt made Alvarez expendable. Parada’s offensive chops seem to be legitimate but the likeliness of the Mets holding onto both Parada and Alvarez is pretty low. For fans who think Parada will simply shift to another position, you may want to re-think as Parada’s lack of footspeed won’t do him favors in left field and he isn’t likely to be a power replacement on the level of Pete Alonso at first.
In His Favor: Parada has draft pedigree being a high draft pick and ranked even higher than where the Mets once drafted him. Scouts are often wrong but they would not have their positions if they weren’t occasionally right. Additionally, the offense that Parada is capable of will more than play at his position and will likely make him an appetizing trade chip.
Against Him: Defense is not Parada’s strength and while he seems to be a capable catcher he’s going to be a bat-first catcher. This means that he needs to continue to hit and hit a lot in order to provide the Mets or another team with elite value and he will need to stay at the catching position for his offense to play as elite. The next issue is his age, as he’s actually slightly older than Alvarez who is already in the majors.
Luisangel Acuna, SS/2B (AA): The Mets traded Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers in exchange for the talented shortstop prospect and younger brother of Ronald Acuna Jr. The speedy infielder has a background and makeup to be an elite leadoff hitter and runner but his power and on base credentials are in question.
In His Favor: Acuna has stolen 55 bases this season and could be the Mets first big-time base stealing threat since Jose Reyes. His defense is thought of as strong and would only be rated as higher if the Mets shifted him to second base (since Francisco Lindor isn’t going anywhere) in the future.
Against Him: In the power department, Acuna likely only tops out at around 15 home runs. There is always a chance that he evolves through his career and shifts from speed to power but that is the distant future. Ultimately, unless Acuna becomes a better contact hitter or develops better discipline his ceiling isn’t as high as a Top Prospect’s should be.
Drew Gilbert, OF (AA): The Mets traded their other aging Ace for Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. While the Mets should have likely looked to get a little pitching talent in these deals, most scouts agreed that the Mets were getting solid value back. Gilbert has power, some speed and pretty good contact and is a solid overall outfielder.
In His Favor: Since joining the Mets organization, Gilbert has actually had an uptick in production. While the Binghamton Mets play in a division noted as being slightly harder offensively he’s actually produced an OPS over 200 points higher. The Mets have been playing Gilbert primarily in Center Field and if that is the position he can stick to, his offensive numbers would make him an elite player at that position.
Against Him: Typically, players who are able to stick in Center are a little faster on the basepaths than Gilbert is. With Starling Marte entering the final year of his contract and with Brandon Nimmo regressing in Center it will be of extreme importance that Gilbert prove capable defensively.
Jett Williams, SS (AA): As a writer, I will take ownership that I have not been overly high on Williams in the past. Williams, only 19 years old, is a smaller player and he began the season in Low A St. Lucie. The Mets likely waited too long to promote Williams to Brooklyn but has reportedly changed courses by aggressively giving him a look in AA to end the year.
In His Favor: Despite being of a shorter build, Williams shows solid speed and power. He’s a step or two behind Acuna in stolen bases but somehow generates more consistent power. Most importantly, his ability to get on base seems to be the biggest feather in his cap. Williams is more than capable of taking a walk and avoiding unnecessary strikeouts.
Against Him: Williams is only 5’6” tall and players like Jose Altuve are not amongst the most common. He’s proving doubters wrong daily on this account and is certainly a prospect on the rise.
Ultimately the stocks are up on Gilbert and Williams and slightly down on Parada and Acuna for the year. Scouting and pedigree still make up part of a player’s overall evaluation and it’s hard to drastically change from previous rankings. Based upon all that we’ve discussed above, the Mets top prospect rankings might shake out as follows.
1. Drew Gilbert, OF
2. Kevin Parada, C
3. Jett Williams, SS
4. Luisangel Acuna, SS/2B