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TOP 10 PROSPECTS
|1. Amed Rosario, ss|
|2. Dominic Smith, 1b|
|3. Justin Dunn, rhp|
|4. Desmond Lindsay, of|
|5. Brandon Nimmo, of|
|6. Gavin Cecchini, 2b/ss|
|7. Robert Gsellman, rhp|
|8. Thomas Szapucki, lhp|
|9. Gabriel Ynoa, rhp|
|10. Tomas Nido, c|
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner ended the Mets’ season with a shutout in the National League Wild Card Game, but even the disappointing finish to 2016 did not obscure a successful season for New York. The Mets, one year after they advanced to the World Series, qualified for the postseason in consecutive years for just the second time in franchise history.
Prior to 2015 they hadn’t even had a winning season since 2008 or a playoff berth since 2006.
While the Mets failed to defend their NL pennant in 2016, they overcame long odds to even be one win away from competing in a Division Series. They finished play on Aug. 19 with a 60-62 record before winning 27 times in their final 40 games to claim the top wild card, narrowly edging the Giants and Cardinals.
Before Bumgarner vanquished them, the Mets contended with an equally formidable foe: the disabled list. New York played the majority of the season without three position players from its 2015 World Series roster—third baseman David Wright, first baseman Lucas Duda and center fielder Juan Lagares. When their farm system couldn’t fill in the cracks, the Mets turned to freely available players Jose Reyes and James Loney to replace Wright and Duda—though 25-year-old Wilmer Flores enjoyed a career year as an infield patch before suffering a wrist injury of his own.
The most debilitating injuries struck the Mets’ rotation. Three of the four starters the Mets leaned on in the 2015 postseason finished the year on the DL. Righthander Matt Harvey succumbed to thoracic outlet surgery in July. Rookie lefthander Steven Matz made his last start on Aug. 14, then later had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. The most deadly blow rained in September, when ace righthander Jacob deGrom had elbow surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right elbow.
The Mets had better luck replacing lost innings, and even with myriad injuries to the pitching staff still ranked third in the NL with a 3.58 ERA. Rookie righthanders Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, along with second-year righty Logan Verrett, combined to make 27 starts. While Verrett fizzled (5.20 ERA in 92 innings), Gsellman (the system’s top big league-ready arm) and Lugo (who recorded the highest-spin curveball of the MLB Statcast era) positioned themselves for larger roles in 2017.
All three righthanders are products of the 2011 draft, the first under general manager Sandy Alderson as the Mets embarked on a rebuild. That same draft yielded first-round outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who hit .352 at Triple-A Las Vegas and made his big league debut, and supplemental first-round righthander Michael Fulmer, whom the Mets traded to the Tigers in 2015 for Yoenis Cespedes. Fulmer emerged as the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year for Detroit.
The Mets emphasized high school players with their top picks in the first few drafts under Alderson, selecting players like Nimmo and Fulmer in 2011, shortstop Gavin Cecchini in 2012, first baseman Dominic Smith in 2013 and outfielder Desmond Lindsay in 2015. Nimmo, Cecchini and Smith will integrate into the major league lineup in 2107 and 2018, where they will join 2014 first-round outfielder Michael Conforto.
New York deviated from its prep-heavy draft strategy in 2016—their first without scouting and player development head Paul DePodesta, who left to work for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns—to take Boston College righthander Justin Dunn, Connecticut lefthander Anthony Kay and Florida first baseman Pete Alonso in the first and second rounds.
Dunn and Alonso played well at short-season Brooklyn, while Kay did not pitch and ultimately had Tommy John surgery. Regardless, that trio could advance quickly in a system that skews toward prospects signed as high school players or international free agents, demographics that pertain to every member of the Top 10 Prospects except for Dunn.
Though the organization’s domestic winning percentage has fallen from .568 in 2014 (No.1 in baseball) to .532 in 2015 (No. 7) to .480 in 2016 (No. 20), the Mets had several top prospects take steps forward this season. Notably, shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith both appeared in the Futures Game and finished the year at Double-A Binghamton.
1. Amed Rosario, ss |
|Based on 20-80 scouting scale—where 50 represents major league average—and future projection rather than present tools.|
Born: Nov. 20, 1995. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2012. Signed by: Chris Becerra/Gerardo Cabrera.
Background: Sandy Alderson took the reins as Mets general manager after the 2010 season and promoted Chris Becerra to international scouting director in 2012. Becerra had previously worked as an area scout in Southern California—he recommended Robert Gsellman for the 2011 draft—and in his new role focused on Rosario as his first major acquisition. The Mets signed the Dominican shortstop for $1.75 million on July 2, 2012, and that bonus amount stands as a franchise record for an international amateur. Rosario, who was teammates with Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara as a youth in Santo Domingo, graduated from high school before turning pro. His father, who was a lawyer and a judge, helped steer the signing process. Rosario wowed the Mets at instructional league after signing and made his pro debut at Rookie-level Kingsport in 2013, ranking as the No. 1 prospect in Appalachian League at age 17. After ranking as the top position prospect in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2014, he shot up to high Class A St. Lucie in 2015 and opened 2016 back there before earning a promotion to Double-A.
Scouting Report: Tall and lean, Rosario began to fill out his frame and swing the bat with more authority in 2016. He also improved his pitch selectivity and bat-to-ball skills, resulting a career-best .324 average and walk rate of 7.6 percent across high Class and Double-A, while his .833 OPS ranked fourth among all minor league shortstops. His bat plays best when he lets the ball travel and uses his hands, strong wrists and plus bat speed to drive the ball to all fields. Capable of turning on the ball for occasional pull power, Rosario set a new personal standard with five home runs and .135 isolated slugging percentage in 2016. While his strikeout rate crept into dangerous territory at Double-A, Rosario has all the tools to be a plus hitter with possibly fringe-average power. Plus speed and strong instincts will help him take extra bases and steal perhaps 20 bags per season. The best athlete in the Mets system, Rosario stands out most for his glove work. Managers in both the Florida State and Eastern leagues recognized him as the best defensive shortstop in those leagues in 2016, and he has the easy plus range and arm strength to profile as a true impact defender. He will improve his throwing accuracy with experience, but scouts rave about his hands, live body and infield actions.
The Future: Rosario has the potential to be an all-star shortstop with Gold Glove potential who can bat near the top of a lineup. He might begin 2017 back at Binghamton to refine his plate discipline, but he could push his way into the big league picture later in the season. The Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera under contract through 2017, meaning Rosario could be the organization’s full-time shortstop at some point in 2018.
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