This is my third year ranking Mets prospects for the Prospect Handbook, and the system definitely has more depth than at any point previously, and that's after losing five players from last year's Top 30: Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin and Josh Edgin. Thanks for stopping by to chat.
Matt, if Harvey had remained eligible, would you have ranked him above Wheeler? Why or why not? Thanks for the chat.
Selfishly, I had hoped RHP Matt Harvey would not exceed 50 big league innings in 2012 so I could put that question to evaluators. He did exceed 50, though, and often appeared dominating in so doing, so all we can do is wonder. I'm not sure what the Mets' opinion is on the matter, but I know some other organizations view Harvey as a power No. 3 type starter (because his fastball control sometimes wavers) and Wheeler as No. 2 type arm, so I probably would have preserved last year's order. That's no slight against Harvey, who has obvious big league stuff. I'm still buzzing from some of those 90 mph sliders he threw to the backfoot of lefty hitters.
Ben (Leland Grove):
In Wheeler's scouting report, you profile him as a future #2, but in your 2016 lineup card, he's shown as their #1, above Harvey. Which is it?
Barring a super extended peak by R.A. Dickey, Wheeler in four years projects to be the best starting pitcher currently in the Mets system. Therefore, he moves to the top of the rotation, with Harvey, Dickey and Jon Niese slotting in behind. The idea behind the No. 2 ceiling found in the scouting report is that Wheeler has two plus pitches, at least an average third and at least average command. That's the sort of profile a championship club would try to acquire for the second starter in its rotation.
Benny (Las Vegas, NV):
I'm looking forward to watching the new AAA Mets team here. Who should I be looking for most, in terms of ceiling?
You'll probably get to see Wheeler for at least a month, and 3B Wilmer Flores ought to be ready for the next step, especially in light of the fact that he'll be on his second optional assignment. Projected relievers like RHP Jeurys Familia, LHP Robert Carson and RHP Gonzalez Germen might get some work with Vegas, and SS Wilfredo Tovar and RHP Cory Mazzoni may be up in the second half. LHP Darin Gorski has potential as a left-on-left reliever, according to manager Terry Collins, while RF Juan Lagares has some tools that might one day earn him a look in the big leagues.
Besides power, what else do Aderlin Rodriguez and Cory Vaughn bring to the table? Who are you higher on between the two, and did they both make your 30?
Both 3B/1B Aderlin Rodriguez and RF Cory Vaughn rank in the Top 30, based on their having the most power in the system. I prefer Vaughn because he brings more to the table — a good glove in RF, a strong arm and solid power (especially versus lefties). Rodriguez's raw power may be better, but he struggles to get to it with his ultra-aggressive hitting approach. He also appears destined for first base after taking up the position in instructional league. The Mets left Rodriguez unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and no other team took a chance.
Abby (Bronx, NY):
Matt den Dekker - prospect or suspect?
Definitely a prospect, but one with a low ceiling. Den Dekker plays 60-grade defense in center and throws well; he also has above-average power, though his low contact raw means he doesn't get to it as much as other big league players. The Mets won't carve out playing time for den Dekker, but if he plays well when called upon, then he could develop into an outfield extra.
Any projectable LHP in Mets system?
The Mets are swimming in righthanders, as their Top 10 shows, but I was surprised to learn when I put together the org depth chart that Steve Matz, the 2009 top pick who finally made his debut in 2012, ranked as the top lefty starter prospect. Of course, he has six career starts to his name, so he's a long, long way away. Some starters the org harbored hope for now seem better suited to the bullpen — Darin Gorski, Robert Carson, possibly Juan Urbina if he gets back on track. Low-A LHP Alex Panteliodis shows feel for four 45-ish pitches and repeats his delivery, so if he gets to Triple-A, he could end up making a spot start at some point down the line.
Is Cecchini over Nimmo based mostly off of positional value?
Yes, I think that's the biggest reason that SS Gavin Cecchini ranks ahead of CF Brandon Nimmo. No one doubts whether Cecchini can stay up the middle (eihter at SS or 2B), but the jury's still out on Nimmo being able to handle CF. Cecchini also scores very well in terms of general baseball smarts and makeup, the soft factors that make evaluators' hearts sing. Don't worry — the Mets like Nimmo's work ethic and competitiveness, too.
What's the scoop on Hansel Robles? Thanks Matt.
Brooklyn RHP Hansel Robles has some similarities with Rafael Montero in that he's a short-ish righty starter whose advanced command gives him a chance to stay in the rotation. The Mets say Robles has the liveliest fastball in the system with 92-96 mph velo and plus sink.
Has Cesar Puello's stock dropped much since last year to you? Still in your 30?
OF Cesar Puello retained a place in the 30, but 2013 will be an important year for him. He played through a hamstring injury and suffered a fractured hamate bone in his wrist, so it's tough to evaluate Puello's year from a performance standpoint. The power's still there, the speed's still, he played more games in CF this year than in RF, so if he cleans up his plate approach then he might be on to something. He's a hard worker, so don't bet against him.
Christian (FT Gordon, GA):
Cory Vaughn vs. Cesar Puello...who is the more legit prospect and has a better chance of impacting the major league team? Vaughn has the power, and Puello has the "tools", but is either going to hit enough to be a legit player?
I think you have to take Vaughn at this stage based on what he's showed on the field. But for both it's probably going to be power over hit.
Karl of Georgetown (Georgetown, Delaware):
I thought he might be in your top 10 - does Cory Vaughn at least make the top 20? After all, he lead the entire Met's system in homers.
Aderlin Rodriguez hit 8 HR for St. Lucie to overtake Vaughn for the system lead.
Matt, Thanks for doing the chat. What's the word on Lupo? I know DSL stats mean very little but what are your thoughts on him? Any idea where he and Rosario may open 2013?
Much, much more interest in Venezuelan LF Vicente Lupo than anticipated. He's a prospect, but along with countryman C Jose Garcia, I'd like to see them play in the U.S. instead of the DSL. Both of the aforementioned will be worth checking out in Rookie ball this year. Lupo had a nice instructional league, drawing raves for taking a professional batting practice and for his maturity. He often served as translator for many of his Latin teammates.
Matt, Some bloggers have taken to really loving Jacob deGrom. I know he is older but what is your take on him? How close was he from making the top 10? Who is "prospect #11"?
I can see the appeal of RHP Jake deGrom seeing as I had to restrain myself from ranking him No. 10. (Cory Mazzoni has a similar repertoire, a cleaner bill of health and has done it at a higher level.) DeGrom has a "now" fastball with 93-95 mph velo (and plenty of life) that he holds deep into starts. He teases scouts with a slider that flashes plus tilt, but given his inexperience on the mound, the fact that he can spin the ball augers well for his future. He's relatively new to pitching because he didn't really begin until his junior year at Stetson, and then he had Tommy John surgery shortly after getting drafted in 2010.
Familia seems to be lower than most people have him. I've seen him at number 2. Thoughts?
No scouts outside the Mets organization give RHP Jeurys Familia even small odds to start in the big leagues. His arm action and poor command make him a reliever, they say, albeit one with a good two-pitch mix. One could make a case for running Familia up the list if the chief criteria is proximity to the majors, but even then, Wilmer Fores has just as good a case. In a system such as the Mets' this year, I elected to shoot the moon with upside gambles at Nos. 2-5 with Cecchini, Nimmo, Luis Mateo and Rafael Montero. All are far from the majors, granted, but they have ceilings that get them noticed by other organizations.
Raylan Givens (Arlen):
Matt, Most of the info on Rosario has touched on his makeup/background. Tools wise what does he look like? Will he open 2013 in the GCL?
Dominican SS Amed Rosario signed for a franchise-record bonus in July, and he earned an invite to U.S. instructional league, where he opened eyes with his defensive actions, bat speed and aptitude. Rosario could hit for solid power, though he's an average runner and may outgrow shortstop, but then again he may not. He'll be 17 next season.
Mr. Must See TV (Cit Field):
I know it's nitpicking, but how come Luis Mateo is rated ahead of Michael Fulmer, Rafael Montero, Domingo Tapia and even Jacob deGrom? Mateo was old for the NY-Penn League and Montero, Tapia and Fulmer did more against better competition and are younger. I saw Mateo a number of times at Brooklyn and, while I liked him, I just don't see how he's better. Maybe I'm missing something.
The rankings of RHPs Luis Mateo and Rafael Montero are aggressive, but as mentioned previously, they're upside picks that will look either inspired or insipid in a few years. Sure, Mateo was old for the Penn League, but he could pitch at two levels in 2013, then be ready for a late-2014 callup to New York (he'll be 24) if his stuff continues to play. As to why he rates ahead of the pitchers you mentioned, it's all there in the report. Mateo throws the best slider in the system and has uncanny control of a plus fastball, a combination that gives him a high ceiling (if he picks up a changeup) and a high floor.
Your thoughts on Tyler Pill's skillset?
RHP Tyler Pill was a late riser in these rankings, and he made the Top 30 based on his feel for four pitches and fine control. I can't wait to see how he fared in Double-A. The success of the Braves' Kris Medlen in 2012, I think, will open the floodgates for comparisons between him and other 6-foot righty starters without big-time fastballs. So let me be the first to use that (completely unauthorized) comp. Like Medlen, Pill is a Southern California player with a two-way amateur background and ample athleticism and feel for pitching. I'm not saying Pill will develop in Medlen, but it's an absolute best-case scenario to keep in mind if he continues to dice up hitters with an 89-90 mph fastball, cutter and solid-average curve and change.
Ezequiel Cirigliano (Milano):
Beyond Wheeler anybody who could make a big impact for the Big League club next year?
Wheeler is the big fish, of course, but Familia and Flores could contribute if they're not overexposed as rookies.
Dave (Montebello, NY):
What is the outlook for Reese Havens? Is there still hope for him to overcome the injury bug that has robbed him of so much playing time?
It's getting harder and harder to find sources who believe 2B Reese Havens will put it together, which is a shame because he has obvious baseball skills. Players like Wilfredo Tovar and waiver claim Brandon Hicks have passed him on the depth chart, and Danny Muno is nipping at his heels.
Jim Hellwig (Parts Unknown):
Matt, The Cyclones rotation seemed to be unusually prospect laden. #1 how would you rank the arms there #2 Who is on the radar as guys who may emerge in a similar fashion in 2013? Miller Diaz?
The Brooklyn rotation was notable for its quantity of quality arms, you are correct, but what's really amazing as that all but Mateo signed with no fanfare. I ended up ranking three members of the rotation, Mateo and RHPs Hansel Robles and Gabriel Ynoa (terrific projection prospect who will flash you three average pitches & does it with a smooth delivery), but RHP Rainy Lara also has a case for inclusion. I just ran out of spots. Looking ahead to the Cyclones' possible rotation for 2013, I'd keep an eye out for RHP Miller Diaz, as you mention, plus RHP Chris Flexen (another projection righty with pretty firm present stuff), RHP Akeel Morris (power stuff that plays when he finds the zone) and possibly LHP Steve Matz (if he gets held back in extended).
Hi Matt - thanks for the chat. Where would Kevin Plawecki slot in on the top 30?
Supplemental pick C Kevin Plawecki just missed the Top 20, but he does move to the top of the org prospect depth chart at catcher, slotting ahead of Cam Maron, waiver claim Anthony Recker and talented teen Jose Garcia, who spent the season in the DSL. Plawecki can be tough to pitch to because he can pull the inside pitch for power or serve the outside pitch to right field. He did a good job learning to communicate with a Brooklyn rotation that was almost exclusively Latin, and while his pop times aren't going to wow scouts, he does have enough arm for the position.
Rich (Port Jefferson):
Can you give me an update on Steve Matz? Last thing I heard was he was throwing 98. Was he shut down early?
LHP Steve Matz topped out near 96 mph in the Appy League but got shut down with shoulder tendinitis that he was still rehabbing from as instructs camp came to a close.
Rob Dorsey (Silver Spring, MD):
Thanx for the chat, Matt. To pose the ever-popular question, does anyone make the top 100 besides Wheeler?
I bet Cecchini and Nimmo will garner second-half of the list support, but without looking at it closely, Wheeler ought to rank 11-20.
You seem to project many of the Mets pitching prospects as future relievers. Why is that?
The chorus of opinions thrown back by the scouting community, while not infallible, certainly presented a consistent picture. I tried to touch on all the potential obstacles faced by each pitcher in his capsule. Those obstacles range from lack of a consistent third pitch, trouble holding runners, below-average command, hard-to-repeat mechanics and stamina issues. A lot of scouts like to see a pitcher work inside-outside with his fastball, and not merely up-down with a fastball and breaking pitch. That gives them more ways to worry opposing batters, and makes them better rotation bets.
Moose (Malone, NY):
This still seems like a weak system that is barely improving year to year. How much of that should fall on Sandy Alderson?
They lack the blue-chip position prospect that would elevate them, but turning out Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in consecutive years would be a neat trick. Also, the 2011 draft and a handful of international signees have restocked the lower levels, but that won't be evident for a few more years still. I refer particularly to draftees like Michael Fulmer, Phillip Evans, Tyler Pill, Logan Verrett and Jack Leathersich; and international prospects like Luis Mateo, Jose Garcia and Amed Rosario.
Wow! Mejia was the Mets #1 prospect two years ago and he isn't even in there projected lineup. Does that say more about this years top 10 or that years top 10?
This is a good point at which to stop, by taking a look back at the farm system after the 2010 season, Omar Minaya's swansong as GM. You can look back on that Top 10 and see they have only one potential impact talent, Harvey, who had just been drafted and had not pitched as a pro. As mentioned previously, the 2011 draft, the quick matriculation of Harvey and the trade for Zack Wheeler really injected new life in the system. Keep in mind, the Mets have been expanding their draft budget annually, so one could view the state of things right now as merely the first steps in an upward swing.
Thanks for the great questions. If you've got something that can be answered in 140 characters then hit me up on Twitter @eddymk