Moving forward with our organization reviews, we turn our attention to the New York Mets. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season grades and rankings.
This list was originally published December 16,2012 and revised January 15, 2013.
1) Travis D'Arnaud, C, Grade A-: Borderline B+. He's been hurt all year, just now getting back into action, playing for Double-A Binghamton. Hitting .253/.378/.418 in those 20 games split between three levels. I don't think his talent level has changed, but he seems more vulnerable to injury than most catchers at this point, and staying healthy is a skill in itself.
2) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. 3.93 ERA in 69 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas with 73/27 K/BB; has held his own despite some command problems in the majors, with a 3.55 ERA and a 36/23 K/BB in 46 innings. If he stays healthy, I think his command will gradually improve. Certainly has plenty of stuff.
3) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. 2.80 ERA in 19 starts between High-A St. Lucie and Binghamton, 110/24 K/BB in 100 innings, has posted a 46/8 K/BB in 36 Double-A innings. Excellent season in all respects and we are hearing fewer complaints about the breaking ball being substandard.
4) Wilmer Flores, 3B-2B, Grade B+: Borderline B. Hitting .319/.354/.527 with 14 homers for Las Vegas, 24 walks, 60 strikeouts in 408 at-bats. Continues steady improvement, though he's done a lot of damage in friendly home park so I wouldn't be filling out all-star ballots just yet. Still young, turns 22 this coming week.
5) Michael Fulmer, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B-: Limited to 31 innings by a knee injury but he is back on the mound at St. Lucie and holding his own, 3.82 ERA with 27/9 K/BB combined between High-A and rookie ball rehab. Let's see how he handles August now that he's getting his stamina built back up.
6) Jeurys Familia, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline B. Just 10 innings in the majors and seven in the minors due to surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. Wait and see with him.
7) Luis Mateo, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline B. Out with Tommy John surgery.
8) Brandon Nimmo, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .258/.368/.344 for Low-A Savannah, with 44 walks, 101 strikeouts in 291 at-bats. He's still quite young at 20 and I like the fact that he draws walks, but his power development has been disappointing for a guy who strikes out this much, and he's lost speed. Stock down, but too soon to give up.
9) Gavin Cecchini, SS, Grade B-: Hitting just .215/.250/.253 in 21 games for Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League, very disappointing. Good reports on his defense and the sample is too small to conclude that he won't hit eventually, but he's got a lot of work to do.
10) Rafael Montero, RHP, Grade B-: 3.24 ERA with 113/29 K/BB in 117 innings combined between Double-A and Triple-A. Command still in progress, but holding his own in unforgiving PCL/Vegas environment. Stock up for me.
11) Domingo Tapia, RHP, Grade B-: 4.29 ERA, 71/45 K/BB in 80 innings for St. Lucie. Continues to stand out with arm strength but needs better command.
12) Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. 4.29 ERA with 71/18 K/BB in 63 innings in Double-A before going down with a hamstring injury in early July.
13) Jake DeGrom, RHP, Grade C+: Combined 4.44 ERA at three levels, 96/37 K/BB in 116 innings, 132 hits; hittable but has managed to survive in Vegas. Stock flat.
14) Kevin Plawecki, C, Grade C+: Hitting .314/.400/.467 combined between Low-A and High-A, excellent 36/44 BB/K in 360 at-bats, glove his highly-regarded. I have liked him since his days at Purdue and expect him to continue to play well. Might show more power in time. Others disagree and see him as a fringy/marginal prospect, so take that however you will.
15) Matt Den Dekker, OF, Grade C+: Playing time limited by injuries, has hit combined .273/.327/.407 in 150 at-bats between 29 games in Vegas and 14 games in St. Lucie. Turns 26 this month, so a lost season is badly-timed for him. Reserve outfield profile at this stage.
16) Cory Vaughn, OF, Grade C+: Another injury case, hitting combined .259/.361/.408 with 15 steals in 63 games between Double-A and rehab games for elbow injury in GCL and FSL. No change in profile: he's got power and speed and will take a walk, but he has contact issues and frustrates scouts.
17) Logan Verrett, RHP, Grade C+: 4.15 ERA in Double-A with 104/25 K/BB in 125 innings, 110 hits, 18 homers. Throws strikes and eats innings with average stuff, as he has since college, but gopher rate is high enough to be concerning.
18) Jack Leathersich, LHP, Grade C+: Continues to strike people out at an obscene pace, 86 in just 48 innings this year between Double-A and Triple-A. He also has walk problems, granting 17 free passes in 19 innings since moving up to Vegas. Even slight improvement with his control will make him a dominant bullpen force.
19) Danny Muno, INF, Grade C+: Hitting .250/.389/.378 with 72 walks, 75 strikeouts in 344 at-bats in Double-A. Utility profile with some OBP ability.
20) Phillip Evans, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .211/.277/.276 in 92 games in Low-A. Major disappointment for me; I liked him in high school but he's just not panning out with the bat.
OTHERS GRADE C+: Darrell Ceciliani, OF; Rainy Lara, RHP; Matt Reynolds, 3B; Hansel Robles, RHP; Gabriel Ynoa, RHP.
OTHERS: Wuilmer Becerra, OF; Matt Bowman, RHP; Luis Cessa, RHP; Gonzalez Germen, RHP; Erik Goedell, RHP; Gilbert Gomez, OF; Darin Gorski, LHP; Matt Koch, RHP; Juan Lagares, Of; Vicente Lupo, OF; Steven Matz, LHP; Colin McHugh, RHP; Tyler Pill, RHP; Cesar Puello, OF; Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B; Ahmed Rosario, SS; Logan Taylor, RHP; Wilfredo Tovar, SS.
The gaping hole in the pre-season list is Cesar Puello, of course, who was relegated to the Grade C/others section. I had seen him flail helplessly at too much breaking stuff to rate him more highly, even though I respected his tools. But here he sits at .328/.405/.550 with 24 steals in Double-A. Sometimes the tools guys figure it out. Of course, there's the little problem of Biogenesis. . .I don't know how you account for things like that.
The big league team is 10 games under .500 and in rebuilding mode. They've gotten some use out of Juan Lagares, and Josh Satin has been great thus far. I didn't have him on this list, but in past years I've rated him as a sleeper to watch closely, as laid out in this Prospect of the Day article from last week. I don't think he's the long-term solution at first base but I think he can be a useful complementary player. Zack Wheeler has been pretty good so far and his long-term potential is immense.
Injuries have been a big factor this year, for both hitters and pitchers.
Jace Boyd has had a good year down in A-ball, but the offensive curve for a first baseman isn't an easy one. Right-handers Rainy Lara, Gabriel Ynoa, and Matthew Bowman has also had strong seasons, along with lefty Steven Matz. Akeel Morris, John Gant, Miller Diaz, Chris Flexen, and Robert Whalen are some current short-season arms to watch for 2014.
Overall, I don't see the Mets as having an elite system. They need to add more hitting depth and the current returns from Nimmo and Cecchini are disappointing. God knows what will happen with Puello. However, I love Syndergaard, Dominic Smith from the 2013 draft adds an impact bat, and there are enough live arms that the system doesn't count as empty, either. I had them ranked 12th pre-season and middle-of-the-pack still seems about right.