Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player’s long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven’t exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2014.
On the heels of their fifth straight losing season—and second consecutive 88-loss effort—the Mets received some really bad news. Ace righthander Matt Harvey will miss the entire 2014 season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
The seventh pick in the 2010 draft, Harvey electrified the baseball world with a power arsenal that got power results in 2013. He went 9-5, 2.27 in 26 starts and struck out 191 batters, six times as many as he walked.
Harvey even started the All-Star Game in front of a hometown crowd at Citi Field, but his season ended on a sour note after he allowed a career-high 13 hits to the Tigers on Aug. 24. An MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, and after the 24-year-old initially tried rest and rehab, he gave in to the inevitable and had surgery in October.
While the Mets drafted Harvey after a 92-loss disaster in 2009, they went the trade route to acquire their other two prized young righthanders, 2013 rookie Zack Wheeler and current No. 1 prospect Noah Syndergaard. The former is a product of the Carlos Beltran trade with the Giants in 2011, while the latter arrived from the Blue Jays in December 2012 as part of the prospect haul for R.A. Dickey.
The 23-year-old Wheeler made his big league debut on June 18. After initial growing pains, he reeled off a string of quality outings in July and August, going 6-2, 2.96 in those 11 starts with 7.9 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings. He finished the year as one of five rookie starters to pitch 100 innings with an average fastball velocity of 94 mph or higher.
Syndergaard, meanwhile, ranked as the top pitching prospect in both the high Class A Florida State and Double-A Eastern leagues, and he appears poised to follow Wheeler’s path to the big leagues in 2014.
The Mets believe they have as much pitching depth as anybody. For proof, they can point to the fact that their pitchers at the full-season levels finished with a collective 2.79 K-BB ratio, better than any of the other 29 organizations. They handed out the second-fewest unintentional walks (7.6 percent of batters) and struck out the third-most (21.3 percent).
Outside of Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores, who made their big league debuts in 2013, all the Mets’ brightest position-player prospects spent the season in the low minors. That list includes catcher Kevin Plawecki, shortstop Amed Rosario and the club’s three successive high school first-rounders from 2011-13: outfielder Brandon Nimmo, shortstop Gavin Cecchini and first baseman Dominic Smith.
The Mets would benefit from the offensive reinforcements sooner rather than later after scoring 619 runs in 2013, their lowest output for a full season since 1992. Only franchise cornerstone David Wright fits the profile of a championship-caliber starter on the current roster.
On the international front, the Mets traded with the Angels to acquire bonus pool space, giving them a budget of more than $3 million. They invested nearly $2.5 million to sign five international players in 2013, headlined by Dominican outfielder Ricardo Cespedes ($725,000), Venezuelan catcher Ali Sanchez ($690,000) and Venezuelan shortstop Luis Carpio ($300,000).