Because of last year’s deadline deals to restock the farm system, there’s been a lot more talk about prospects now than there’s been in many years. It’s really nice to see all of the attention being given to prospects. It’s even better to hear David Stearns talk about youngsters from the farm system needing to have a legitimate shot. The hope is that with higher-quality prospects and a better opportunity, that we’ll soon see more homegrown players on the field.

But, in my opinion, some have taken it just a hair too far. Elsewhere you can find people talking about how this is the best shape the farm system has ever been. Perhaps you can excuse that from people who still get asked for their ID when they go out. But even those youngsters should have an idea what the farm system was cranking out in the mid-to-late 1960s or the early-to-mid 1980s.

Yet they should also know of a time frame much closer to the present. Perhaps it wasn’t up to the level of the two periods mentioned above. But what the farm system was producing in the early-to-mid 2010s gets overlooked, for whatever reason. Most likely because it didn’t produce a World Series winner like the other two spans. But even given that, we shouldn’t overlook that period in team history.

The prospect lists that we see now, the 2024 top prospects, are based on the most part on what the players did in the 2023 season. And they include people like Jose Butto and Ronny Mauricio who played in the majors last year but still retain their rookie eligibility. These lists for the Mets are strong and give us plenty of players upon which to dream. My top 50 list had writeups on 64 players this year and easily could have included more. And that’s a great thing.

But inherent in these top 50 lists is the knowledge that many will fall short and that some unspecified numbers won’t make the majors at all. And just as important – if not quite as obvious – is that there are players who don’t make the cut who will end up making the majors and make more of an impact than many on the list.

So, let’s do a review of what was in the farm system in that early-to-mid 2010s. My specific focus here is on what would be the 2014 prospect list. Now, we only did top 10 lists at the time. My list that year had nine players to make the majors. The one that didn’t – my pal Darin Gorski, who really should have gotten a shot, one that went to retreads like Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka, instead.

Regardless, do you have any idea how many rookie-eligible players in the Mets farm system at that time actually ended up playing in the majors? That’s okay – nobody does. But going thru the rosters, there were at least 63 players who would have been eligible for a top prospect list that ended up being able to call themselves an MLB player.

To me, it’s amazing there were that many players. And without a doubt, there were quite a few who had just a cup of coffee in the bigs and made a minimal impact. But here are the ones who still played in MLB in 2023:

Luis Cessa
Nabil Crismatt
Travis d’Arnaud
Jacob deGrom
Jeurys Familia
Chris Flexen
Wilmer Flores
Michael Fulmer
Adam Kolarek
Seth Lugo
Steven Matz
Jeff McNeil
Rafael Montero
Tomas Nido
Brandon Nimmo
Matt Reynolds
Amed Rosario
Paul Sewald
Dominic Smith
Noah Syndergaard

My 2014 top 10 list had six players on it who were still active in 2023. But notorious by his absence was deGrom. But that’s okay. My guess is that he was on few top 10 lists before the year started. Amazin’ Avenue had him 15th. They broke out individual lists for four writers and the highest he was on anyone’s individual list was 13th.

If I did a top 50 list in tiers like I do now, deGrom would have been a fourth-tier prospect, as he was better than team average for Triple-A Las Vegas and he was within two years of the target age. One level higher but in the same boat as Christian Scott – who topped out at Double-A in 2023 – on this year’s list. May Scott be half as productive in his MLB career as deGrom…

Without doing the same exercise with multiple other MLB clubs, it’s hard to know if 63 prospects or 20 prospects still in the majors nine years later are good totals. My guess is that it’s good, likely very good for the time period. And we have to put that caveat in – especially for the former number. That’s because it’s somewhat easier to make the majors for a cup of coffee now than it was a decade ago.

The 2014 Mets used 45 players; the 2023 Mets used 59. And while it may feel like last year was an exception with the option-reliever strategy, the 2022 Mets used 61 players and in 2021, it was 64. Maybe with Billy Eppler gone they won’t manipulate the IL quite so much and won’t cycle thru as many rotten relievers. A boy can dream.

A fan should be encouraged by the Mets’ minor league system right now. But they should be aware that the club has had some really productive farm systems in the past. And that past includes a time period that often gets overlooked. May the current crop of minor leaguers include multiple Rookie of the Year Award winners, multiple All-Stars and a CY Award winner, too, like what was in the Mets’ farm system back in 2013.

5 comments on “This year’s farm system will try to match what the Mets had in 2013

  • TexasGusCC

    One night, watching the Cardinals’ John Gant pitching, the tv crew told us that there are more Mets farmhands playing in the majors on various teams, than any other system. Hmmmmmm….. so, one can ask:
    1. Why did the Mets lose so many MLB players?
    2. Are they merely just back roster filler?

    But still, it’s a compliment.

    The prospects nowadays get much more love. MLB hypes them; BA, BP, Fangraphs, Prospects1500, ProspectsLive, 20/80, ESPN, The Athletic, Down on the Farm, The Dynasty Dugout, Scouting the Minors, etc. (who am I forgetting?) all are getting their plugs from the blogs around the country and we don’t stop hearing about the top names. MLB likes it that way because now even prospects can have their jersey sold…. More money, no?

    Honestly, I’m tired of hearing the name Jett Williams. Wish the kid well, but can the season start already?

  • NYM6986

    What we have learned is that many players are considered prospects but very few make it to the big show. I think of the kids we dealt away and while many play in other organizations, I can’t think of many who we wished we had back. Even your extensive list of those who were still active in 2023 contains very few stars. Now, as the Mets play catch up to the better organizations, if they stay on the right path and invest more in their farm systems, they will reap the benefit of creating a pipeline of players who can rise up and not cost $30 million a year unless they really are star players, versus these guys who have 2-3 seasons and they think they are on an auto path to the HOF. And I’d love for some of these kids to jump some levels and get here sooner.

  • Brian Joura

    Thanks to Gus and Steven for the comments.

    Last year I was hoping Dom Smith would be picked up by the Rays, as that’s where 1B go to get good. Instead, he went to the Nationals and stunk up the joint again. And he’s a free agent looking at an NRI, at best. That’s probably the fate for Syndergaard, too. I wonder if a trip to Driveline would help Noah.

  • John From Albany

    FanGraphs had a post the other day entitled – “Names to know – 100 more relevant prospects”

    Ex-minor league Met Keyshawn: “Askew was acquired from the Mets for Brooks Raley last offseason. He has a low slot, low-90s/slider reliever look, but was being developed as a starter until last June. After moving to the bullpen, where Askew pitched two or three innings at a time, he struck out 75 and had a 1.25 WHIP in 51 innings. He’s probably a reliever.”

  • John From Albany

    BTW – comments section seems to be working better now.

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