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, 2011.
Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed
learning a new organization this year after previously covering the Blue
Jays, Padres, Mariners and Angels.
JAYPERS (IL): Did 2010 draftees Matt den Dekker and Erik Goeddel get consideration for your list, and what are you being told about each?
Yes, both den Dekker (Florida, 5th round)
and Goeddel (UCLA, 24th round) made the second half of the list. Den
Dekker has a chance to stick around in pro ball for awhile if he
continues to hit as he did in his debut. He's a strong defensive player
whom the Mets moved aggressively to Low-A in his debut. That's a
meaningful vote of confidence. As to Goeddel, he signed well over-slot
for $350,000, so don't read too much into his draft round. The Mets view
him as a starting pitcher after he served as a shutdown reliever for
the Bruins' College World Series finals team. Goeddel has the
weapons—93-94 mph head and a vicious slider—to move quickly if he does
shift back to the bullpen.
Ben (Leland Grove): What's the story on legacies Cory Vaughn and Juan Urbina? Which one came the closest to the top 10?
It's really hard to find anything bad to
say about 17-year-old LHP Juan Urbina, who ranked as the top pitching
prospect in the Gulf Coast League this year. He was the most difficult
player for me to omit from the Top 10—and you could reasonably draw up a
list that includes him in the 10. Athleticism, arm strength,
bloodlines, feel for a changeup—you name it and Urbina's got it. He
sits more in the high 80s now and hasn't mastered a breaking ball, so
improving on those two pitches will be areas of concentration in 2011.
Matt (Whippleville, NY): The pitchers seemed to
collectively regress last year. Other than Mejia and Harvey, is there
any arm in the system to get excited about?
This is a great observation, Matt, and I
don't think it's pure coincidence that the Mets parted ways with minor
league pitching coordinator Rick Waits after the season. When you look
at the whole picture, the Mets' young power pitchers, from Brad Holt to
Robert Carson to Jeurys Familia, all regressed in 2010 as they seemed
almost tentative to really let it fly. But in Waits' defense, some of
the system's more command-oriented arms, like Dillon Gee and Mark
Cohoon, really seemed to thrive this year.
Liam (Malone, NY): Brandon Moore is old for his level, but his results are solid. Will he make it as a starter or is his ceiling middle relief?
It could go either way for RHP Brandon
Moore, a 14th-round pick in 2008, who worked on perfecting his changeup
during instructional league in order to better profile as a starter. As
it is, he throws a high-80s sinker with tailing action and a pretty good
curveball that the Mets favor over his slurvy slider. Moore seems to
liked the slider because it gets more swings and misses against Class A
hitters. Interesting Moore tidbit: He pitched on the same Indiana
Wesleyan team as Braves righty Brandon Beachy, who made his big league
debut in September. So while Moore is the highest drafted player every
from IWU, the non-drafted Beachy beat him to the big leagues.
Kyran (Moira, NY): Does Neiuwenhuis have the necessary power to play an outfield corner or is he more of a fourth OF type as I suspect?
Scouts will tell you that Nieuwenhuis has
a tweener profile—not enough range to play center field every day and
not enough bat to profile on a corner. They might be right. But on the
other hand, Nieuwenhuis has won over observers with his all-out playing
style, which could be compared with Aaron Rowand or Reed Johnson or
their ilk. But perspective is important as well. He's gone from playing
NAIA ball in 2008 to the extra-base hits champ in the Florida State
League in '09 to the projected leader in the Eastern League this year.
What I mean is that Nieuwenhuis has responded very well to being
challenged, so perhaps it's not wise to count him out.
Rob (Hamilton, ON): What happened to Kyle Allen this year? Is he still a legit prospect or what does his future hold?
Add RHP Kyle Allen to the list of
pitching prospects who took sizable steps back in 2010. He's among the
best athletes in the system, has an average fastball with some sinking
action and a pair of secondary pitches that need work. Someone seeing
him this year would probably project him as a low-leverage reliever at
best. But Allen's athleticism offers hope he can continue to improve and
perhaps raise expectations.
Ben (Leland Grove): I couldn't help but notice
you have Flores in LF on the lineup card. Is this the position that will
get him to the Majors the quickest, and are the Mets planning to play
him there in the near future?
In order: Probably, and probably not. If
we're being realistic about Wilmer Flores' future position, then it's
going to be a corner position (because he lacks footspeed and quickness
to play up the middle) and it's probably not going to be third base
(because of David Wright). Some scouts thought Flores fit best at first
base, but then he'd have to contend with Ike Davis and the Mets would be
wasting his above-average throwing arm. For those reasons, I feel most
comfortable projecting him as a corner outfielder, at least early in his
career. Technically, his best future position might be third base. He's
got the arm and his hands work on the infield—he's just not quick.
Bangs (New York): Where does Tobi Stoner fit into the Mets system/future?
RHP Tobi Stoner is on the 40-man roster,
so he's at least got a chance. He lacks an out-pitch and sits at 86-89
mph, so he's probably looking at a year in the Triple-A rotation with a
chance to contribute in New York as an emergency starter or middle
Grant (NYC): SP or RP - what are the Mets planning to do with Familia? Is he in your 11-20 range?
The Mets view RHP Jeurys Familia as a
starting pitcher, but this view is not universally shared in the
industry. He throws hard—very hard at 94-97 mph—but lacks the kind of
control you'd like to see from a starter. Opposing batters also get a
very good look at the ball because of his long arm action and lack of
deception in his delivery. However, Familia has an outstanding work
ethic and his hard, mid-80s slider and changeup have their moments. He's
very close to the Top 10, and he'll get there with a good year in 2011.
Clooch (VT): I'm surprised that Cory Vaughn didn't sneak onto the back half of the top 10. What kept him out?
RF Cory Vaughn had an outstanding pro
debut, leading the New York-Penn League in slugging (.557) and OPS
(.953) while ranking second with 14 homers. He has prototype right-field
tools: above-average raw power, good arm, average speed and range. But
as the son of a four-time all-star like Greg Vaughn, Cory has been on
the prospect map since he was a teenager, but until suiting up for
Brooklyn he hadn't ever put it all together. So while he's a fine
prospect—in the Mets' Top 15 for sure—his longer track record cautions
a wait-and-see approach, in my opinion. The most recent evidence is
quite compelling, though, and Vaughn could make a jump straight to
High-A next season, a la Kirk Nieuwenhuis in '09.
JAYPERS (IL): Is it conceivable that Harvey could reach CitiField by late next summer?
Maybe if Double-A Binghmaton plays a game
there. Seriously, the Mets probably will begin RHP Matt Harvey in
High-A and then move him to Double-A toward midseason if everything goes
as expected. But a 2012 big league debut is not out of the question.
Mike (Miami): How would you rank the farm systems in the NL East?
Top 5 prospects in the east as well?
I believe most evaluators would take
either the Braves or Phillies with the first pick. The Nationals would
be attractive because of Bryce Harper. The Marlins and Mets would duke
it out for fourth place. The top prospects: Harper, RF Domonic Brown
(Phillies), RHP Julio Teheran (Braves) and then some combination of 1B
Freddie Freeman (Braves), 1B Jon Singleton (Phillies) or the Mets'
Jenrry Mejia. Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello could enter the
conversation very soon.
Jeff (Pittsburgh): How is Mejia eligible? Hasn't he graduated via the Daniel Bard ruling from last year?
A pitcher is disqualified if he logs more
than 50 innings or makes more than 30 relief appearances in the big
leagues. The key phrase is more than, because Mejia made exactly 30
relief appearances (but logged just 39 innings). The Mets' new
front-office regime is talking like they want to get Mejia most of a
full season in Triple-A, so he might not exhaust his prospect
eligibility until late next season.
Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Matt. Wondering about a
couple of players. In having fun projecting the future starting
rotation, you left out Gee. Are you not that high on him or are the
others that good? Also, 2B Havens - is it just injuries holding him back
as his bat seems to have some punch? Do you see him as a plus offensive
minded 2B or do the Mets just have nobody else to project at 2B?
It's easy to root for RHP Dillon Gee. He
competes well, he battled back from a serious shoulder injury and he had
a nice year in Triple-A, leading the International League in
strikeouts. Gee might win a starting gig coming out of spring training
(especially with Johan Santana out for at least three months), but he
just doesn't have the raw stuff to safely project him as a future
rotation mainstay. Not many big-time righty starters sit at 87-89 mph,
though Gee does have a nice changeup and a pair of breaking pitches he
throws for strikes. It's a perfect No. 5 starter profile, but if he
makes the team and pitches well he'll stay relevant in the mix.
As to the Havens portion of the question .
. . Yes, the scouting and performance profiles suggests he can be a
solid regular. Of course, chronic injury is always a concern. I wouldn't
say the Mets are loaded with middle-infield prospects, but the most
likely internal candidates for second baseman of the future, if not
Havens, would be Ruben Tejada, Robbie Shields or Jordany Valdespin.
ATL (AC): Does Zach Lutz have the potential to be a starter, or his ceiling more of a platoon/bench guy?
Because he signed as a college senior and
then missed essentially his entire pro debut season with a serious
foot/ankle injury, Zach Lutz didn't begin his career in earnest until
2008, when he was 22 years old. Subsequently, he's dealt with foot/ankle
injuries in both 2009-10, which have robbed him of much of his speed
and mobility. Scouts like his bat speed, knack for contact and plan at
the plate, but they're less optimistic about his chances to stick as an
everyday third baseman at the big league level. His hands work and he
throws well, but he just doesn't range well laterally. A move to first
base only heightens offensive expectations, so Lutz's best chance at a
career would seem to be as corner infield reserve and righty power bat
off the bench.
Brian (Detroit): Ruben Tejada....obviously he
was rushed to the majors. What do you project him to be? Everyday
player or utility guy. Can he annually hit .300?
Ruben Tejada would seem to be an ideal
utility player as someone who can really defend both middle-infield
posts and not kill you offensively when he plays for weeks at a time.
He's got a good eye at the plate and good contact skills, though hitting
.300 might be a stretch. Keep an eye on Tejada with Triple-A Buffalo
this season, especially as the Jose Reyes trade rumors intensify as he
nears free agency.
JAYPERS (IL): Player to must likely to hit 40
HR's in the Majors: Greg Halman or Fernando Martinez. Which one to you
has been the bigger dissapointment ?
Fascinating question. Somebody ought to
plug them into a Strat-O-Matic lineup, bat them leadoff and give them
700 plate appearances to settle this question once and for all!
Tony D' (work): I had Darrell Cecilliani and Cory Vaughn on my top 10 list. Where do they rank on your list?
Along with LHPs Juan Urbina and Robert
Carson, CF Darrell Ceciliani is one of the better upside plays in the
Mets system outside the Top 10. As you all probably know, Ceciliani hit
.351 to win the New York-Penn League batting title, but he's not just a
slash-and-run type. In fact, when all's said and done he could have
average-or-better tools across the board, with a chance to score better
in terms of hitting for average and range in center field. We could be
looking at 60 grades there eventually. But he's not there yet, and
that's why he falls outside the Top 10 for now. Ceciliani's not a pure
burner, but he runs well and has enough strength to keep defenses
honest. He did drive one of his two home runs out to right field in
Brooklyn, where charging winds keep most everything in play. Other lefty
hitters to play for Brooklyn have done no better. Lucas Duda, Reese
Havens and Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit one each to right field while with the
Cyclones. Ike Davis hit zero.
William (Salt Lake City, Utah): Do you think
the new Mets Front Office will remain active in the Latin America or
focus all their attention for the next couple of years with the draft ?
Anecdotal evidence suggests the Mets will
continue to be players in Latin America. They opted to keep on Ismael
Cruz, the organization's international scouting director who had a hand
in signing the top three prospects on this list, as well as Aderlin
Rodriguez and Juan Urbina. Be sure to look for Ben Badler's feature on
the Mets' recent international efforts. It will run as Prospect Pulse in
our NL East issue and also on BA.com next week.
Doob (Cologne, Germany): Is German C Kai
Gronauer regarded as a legit prospect ? Will he crack the top 30 ?
Also, would you agree that the talent depth of this system is much
deeper than in previous years, especially among positional talent while
still lacking true "can´t miss" types ?
The Mets signed German C Kai Gronauer as a
21-year-old in April 2008. He's hit his way to High-A, but evaluators
are mixed in their opinions of his potential. Some see him as having a
Triple-A ceiling, while others can foresee a future backup catcher. He
makes consistent contact, draws walks and throws well enough, but he's
got virtually no power and is very inconsistent at this stage. As to the
second part of your question . . . I think your assessment is fair: No
true can't-miss prospects but more depth than in recent seasons.
JAYPAL (MANHATTAN): Hello Matt, us in New York
have been eagerly anticipating the Mets the prospect list. A little
surprised that Holt made the cut on the top ten. This season wasn't
just bad, it was scary bad. Did his AFL play carry a lot of weight?
Want to know what's even scarier? On
earlier drafts of this list I had Holt ranked even higher than No. 10.
Two different scouts who I trust insisted that Holt has the stuff to
reach a ceiling of No. 3 starter. Now, there's no getting around the
awfulness of Holt's 2010 season—way too many baserunners, not enough
focus when things got tight, mechanical issues, wild pitches. All of it.
However, it's important to remember that his spring wrist injury might
have affected his command more than we realize. Even if it didn't affect
him, Holt still sat in the low-90s with plus life this season, while
showing flashes of brilliance with his curve and changeup. So while his
performance obviously has gone backwards since 2008, his secondary stuff
actually has gotten better. Combine that with better command and an
offseason of rest and you might see a vastly different version of Brad
Holt in 2011.
Jason (New York City): I felt the Mets had a
surprisingly good draft last year. What can you tell us about late
round picks Akeel Morris and Eric Goeddell? AmI right to get excited
about these potential steals?
The Mets think very highly of both
Goeddel and Akeel Morris, their 10th-rounder from the Virgin Islands.
With Morris they like his athleticism, arm speed and projectable frame.
He pitches at 91 mph as a teenager and could be dangerous if he refines
his secondary stuff. But at this stage he's a long-term project.
Virgil Dahl (Waterloo, Iowa): Matt; your
scouting report on Cesar Puello is pretty complete and all encompassing.
Is there anything you can, or would like to add. thanks
For a player who hit only one home run in
2010 (and just seven in three seasons), RF Cesar Puello was universally
liked by evaluators inside and outside the organization. If this kid
starts putting a few more balls over the fence, he's going to start
generating serious prospect buzz. A very strong case could be made for
him ranking No. 2, ahead of Flores.
Nick (Lynbrook, NY): Whats your opinion of the 2
guys the Mets picked in the Rule 5 draft, Brad Emaus and Pedro Beato?
Do you see them both sticking around for the year?
Generally, I would give about a 10
percent chance that even one Rule 5 pick would stick with a
large-market, large-revenue club like the Mets, but . . . 3B/2B Brad
Emaus and RH reliever Pedro Beato do seem to fit nicely into holes on
the 25-man roster. The Mets could be looking for offense at second base
if they cut ties with Luis Castillo, and Emaus could provide that. The
club also will be without two of their best relievers from 2010 (Pedro
Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi) and Beato could at least fill in for
awhile as a sinker/slider type who has been up to 93 mph.
JD (AZ): Matt, any update on 2009's top pick Steve Matz? Is he a possible sleeper for 2011?
LHP Steve Matz impressed the field staff
during 2010 spring training, but he had Tommy John surgery in May and
won't return to action until this May or June. At that point, he'll
probably head to one of the Mets' three short-season affiliates. Matz is
a fine sleeper for 2011, along with Zach Dotson, another prep lefty
from that '09 draft.
Shane (Miami): His position aside, what's the
upside with Flores' bat, in terms of his hit and power tool? Just
recently 19, he's continuing to show glimpses of a future star in the
Venezuelan Winter League.
Throwing out 60 grades for both hit and
power did not prompt scouts to scoff at the notion. Strictly speaking,
that would translate to an average between .286 and .299 and 20-26 home
runs. I don't think anybody will complain about his position if even
those low projections come to pass.
DG (Paris, France): Matt, did a busker like
Mark Cohoon get any consideration for the top half of the list? He
profiles a bit like a Jamie Moyer, and Moyer could not & would not
grace a BA Top 10 ever!
Some scouts are convinced that LHP Mark
Cohoon will pitch in the big leagues as a durable strike-throwing
starter. He's built quite a reputation in the past two seasons as he�s
shot from short-season Brooklyn to Double-A Binghamton, going 21-7, 2.42
with nearly four times as many strikeouts (201) as walks (52). One
could easily justify ranking Cohoon on the top half of the list.
steve (wichita): what is a realistic
expectation for lucas duda, and do you see him getting 200-300 ABs next
year given the relative unknown of pagan and health questions
surrounding beltran and bay?
I think the fact that the Mets
non-tendered Chris Carter bodes very well for Lucas Duda's immediate
future. He has a better feel for hitting than people generally realize,
but, no, he doesn't have elite bat speed or power. Duda could force his
way onto the Opening Day roster if he crushes the ball in spring
training, but the Mets might opt instead to send him to Buffalo so his
bat doesn't gather rust on the big league bench. Who knows what will
happen in the second half? Maybe Carlos Beltran is traded, maybe Angel
Pagan plays his way into a backup role.
Mike (Parsippany): I've read a lot about Robert
Carson as one of the Mets top pitching prospects coming into the year.
The Mets were pretty aggressive with the way they handled him promoting
him to AA and then sending to the AFL as one of the youngest players
there. But his numbers don't match the hype - is he another overhyped
NY prospect or a young talented pitcher still figuring things out?
While LHP Robert Carson did not respond
well to a bump to Double-A at age 21 (8.32 ERA), the fact that the club
promoted him at all tells you a lot about how they value him. And you
can be sure he'd be one of the first players that other clubs would ask
about in trades. A physical 6-foot-3 lefty, Carson tops out at 95 mph
with late, cutting action, and both his cutter/slider and changeup have
flashed average. He seems destined for a big league career of some sort,
perhaps as a power reliever.
Juan (Union, NJ): How serious will Mets take the draft under this regime. Will the Wilpons let them go overslot?
The Mets are hinting that they will begin to spend more on the draft, but until they actually do so, it's all talk.
JAYPERS (IL): Did Jefry Marte's stock fall significantly since last year? What faults does he need to overcome?
Last question, and it's a good one. 3B
Jefry Marte improved all parts of his game in 2010, showing a strong
line-drive stroke and a feel to hit. He doesn't loft the ball
particularly well at this stage, so that hurts his home-run total, but
he makes consistent hard contact and seldom chases out of the zone.
Marte has fringe-average hands, feet and range at third base, but he
runs up high error totals with errant throws. Ideally, you'd like to see
more consistent defense at the hot corner or more homers if he has to
move to first base or the outfield. Marte burned brightly in his Gulf
Coast League debut two years ago, but he's now slipped well below fellow
'07 signees Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello.
Thanks for all the great questions. We'll be back with another NL East Top 10 on Monday.