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.
Lots of interest in the Mets and/or their
farm system, at least judging from the number of questions already in
the queue. Let's get started.
Ryan (AZ): Matt Den Decker. What do you think of him? Can he stick in center? What type of a hitter do you see him as? Thanks!
Ryan got his den Dekker question in
before any others, so let's begin there. Evaluators believe den Dekker
has the range and raw speed to profile as at least a solid-average
defensive center fielder—if not a plus one. How much he hits will
determine whether he's a starter or a reserve. The strikeouts are an
issue (156 in 139 games this year) at this stage, but those bullish on
den Dekker think he has the discipline and the line-drive stroke to hit
for a decent average with walks and doubles.
Dawson (Toronto): What are the Mets' plans with Mejia next year? I would imagine he will begin the year as a starter in triple A, correct?
I think you're correct. Look for Jenrry
Mejia to head to the Triple-A rotation when he's ready to let it fly in
2012. As to his future role, he'll probably be given a season in New
York's rotation to show what he's got, but the reality is that most
righthanded pitching prospects wind up in the bullpen if they don't have
at least an average breaking ball or if they don't produce early
Pat Murphy (Sandpoint, Idaho): Matt Harvey......middle rotation innings eater? Mike Pelfrey?? Middle releiver? Or an ace needing polish?
Some evaluators still see Matt Harvey as
more of a reliever down the road because they question how far the
changeup and command can realistically be expected to develop. On the
other hand, Harvey had an outstanding full-season debut and showed
swing-and-miss stuff in Double-A, a strong indicator that he has the raw
tools to start. I'd probably hedge and call him a high-quality No. 3
starter or borderline No. 2. Harvey is a notch above where Mike Pelfrey
was at the same point in his development. The breaking ball is a real
separator between the two. Harvey's is really good, while Pelfrey never
has had a swing-and-miss breaker.
Roger (Santa Barbera): Did Philip Evans play in instructs? If so, any reports on how he looked? How close was he to the top 10? Thanks!
From what I'm told, Mets personnel at
instructional league really took to Phillip Evans, a 15th-round prep
shortstop who signed late for $650,000. They laud his work ethic and
simple, repeatable righy swing. Look for Evans to slide across the bag
to second base at some point in the future, but he might have the bat to
handle the switch.
Brett (I like Jamba Juice): It says that Zach Lutz is the system's best power hitter. What can you say about him?
Low-A 3B Aderlin Rodriguez can challenge
or surpass Lutz in terms of raw power, but Lutz has a much better idea
how to use it in games. He's mashed 29 homers in 127 games the past two
season. But while Lutz's performance record in the high minors is
encouraging, his health track record is not. He missed time this year
with a hamstring injury, two concussions and a broken finger. He might
get a look in Queens in 2012 if he can stay healthy.
Michael (My house): Does Lucas Duda have enough bat/defense to profile as an every day left fielder, in your opinion?
Enough bat, yes. Over a full season, Duda
could give you 20 homers and a .350+ on-base percentage. That won't
cause anyone to confuse him with Barry Bonds, but with offensive levels
in complete free fall in the big leagues, what Duda accomplished in 2011
was actually quite impressive. The trouble, of course, is that his
natural position is 1B, and the presence of Ike Davis rules out that
option. On the bright side, the Mets may not have anything to lose in
2012 by simply letting Duda show them what he can or can't do in right
James (ASU!): Is it safe to write off Fernando Martinez as a prospect at this point?
I didn't have to grapple with that
question this year because he (barely) cleared our 130 ab-bat threshold.
However, I can't shake the feeling that he's got one or more productive
seasons in his future. He's got real thunder in his bat, and one of
these years he'll be healthy enough to play 120-130 games, right? Looks
like he's got one minor league option remaining for 2012, but after that
his next big league opportunity may come with an organization other
than the Mets.
Dillion (Oklahoma!): I know to not pay
attention to the future lineup, but I do notice that Johan Santana is
not listed anymore. Are you just that worried about his recovery? I
thought he was making progress. Thanks!
Santana's contract runs through 2013, and
he'll be 36 when 2015 rolls around. Those were the biggest reasons I
chose not to include him in the future lineup.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Jordany Valdespin had what could be considered a breakout year. Was he considered for the top 10?
I went back and forth with Wilmer Flores
and Jordany Valdespin at No. 10 before settling on Flores. With 15
homers and 33 steals, Valdespin had one of the more dynamic power/speed
seasons in the Eastern League, and his hitting and running tools are
intriguing. He can throw, too, so that boosts his utility player
chances. My main worry for Valdespin is that big league pitchers will be
able to exploit his ultra-aggressive hitting approach, making him more
of a bench player or fringe starter than impact regular. Also, he kept
his nose clean in 2011, but thus far in his career that's the
aberration, not the norm.
Liam (Buffalo): The Mets system is devoid of
catching prospects. Who is their best overall catching prospect and does
he have a legitimate chance of making any impact?
Most other clubs probably would identify
Low-A Savannah's Albert Cordero as the prime trade target among Mets
catchers. He's a deft, athletic receiver with a solid-average arm and a
high energy level. Cordero has the hand-eye coordination and plate
coverage to continue to hit for average, though he may profile best as a
big league backup because his swing isn't geared for power.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Logan Verrett get any top 10 love?
Third-rounder Logan Verrett did not
receive support for a Top-10 ranking, though he appears in the Top 30 I
turned over in October. The Mets believe he has the best breaking ball
of any pitcher they drafted in 2011, though his fastball is merely
average and his changeup nonexistent at this stage. That could be a
recipe for an eventual conversion to the bullpen for Verrett, though
he'll get every chance to start in the minors.
Herbert (Texas): Has Christian Montgomery's stuff ticked back up since he signed?
The Mets are cautiously optimistic that
11th-rounder RHP Christian Montgomery will recover some of the velocity
he showed as a high school junior in Indianapolis. They like his
breaking ball quite a bit, though, and will give the benefit of the
doubt to the teenager from a cold-weather background.
Candy (Queens): Did outfielders Juan Lagares and Darrell Ceciliani make your overall 30? Which was closer to making your top 10 list?
Yes, both Lagares and Ceciliani will rank
among the top 20 or so Mets prospects. I slotted Ceciliani a little
higher because his profile is a little cleaner as a lefty-swinging
center fielder with average speed and range. None of his single tools
will blow you away, however. Lagares doesn't have the classic power
teams like to see from corner outfielders, though he does square up
different kinds of pitching and has a chance to hit for average. He
seemed to swing at pitches he could drive more frequently this season,
thus his average jumped from .279 to .349.
Frank (Chicago): Which list would you choose between this year's and last year's top 10 Mets prospects?
The addition of Zack Wheeler and two
top-50 draft picks make up for the loss of Lucas Duda, in my opinion.
Plus, this year we have a better idea of what Matt Harvey is capable of
in pro ball. Give me this year's list.
Candy (Queens): Is RHP Domingo Tapia one to keep an eye on?
Without a doubt rookie-ball RHP Domingo
Tapia is a pitcher to watch. He tops out near 100 mph and holds legit
double-plus velocity late into his starts, his limitations being that he
does not yet have a reliable second pitch. Nor does he strike out as
many opponents as you'd like to see with 96-98 mph heat. He's tall and
his ball is heavy, so it sounds like Tapia possesses the Fausto Carmona
@Jaypers413 (IL): Does your gut tell you Familia can remain a starter, or is he likely headed to the pen next year?
My gut says reliever, and a really good
one. One scout said he though Familia lacked the fluidity/athleticism to
repeat his delivery for 100+ pitches a night. There's no shame in being
a high-leverage reliever, though, and Familia's fastball and slider
could be legitimate weapons in that role.
William (Pensacola, Florida): Seems that Juan Urbina took a step back in 2011. Where does he rank on the Mets Top 30 list ?
Lefty Juan Urbina didn't exactly take a
big step forward in 2011, but nor did he take a step back. He's still a
potential three-pitch lefty with a loose, easy delivery. Check that
strikeout-to-walk ratio in his final seven starts for Kingsport: 34-to-8
over 36 innings. Sure, a 5.95 ERA in rookie ball is ugly, but don't
Darin Gorski (Mount Joy, Pennsylvania): You said that I have the best changeup in the system. You also said that I have the best control. Why am I not ranked?
For those of you who missed it: St. Lucie
LHP Darin Gorski earned pitcher of the year honors for the Mets as well
as Florida State League. He helped pitch St. Lucie to the league finals
and led the loop in ERA and WHIP. Among Mets farmhands, only Matt
Harvey struck out more batters than Gorski. He's racked up strikeouts
with his changeup before, but this year he sat more consistently at
90-91 mph, after pitching 3-4 ticks lower in the past. That's critical
for a pitcher who relies on a plus changeup and throws more of
flat-plane slider than a true breaker. Before getting aggressive with a
ranking I want to see Gorski maintain his velocity gains in 2012 and
also see if Double-A batters have an easier time solving him. Also, keep
in mind that Gorski already is 24.
Candy (Queens): Mr. Eddy, you describe Harvey's
command as below-average, yet he's had starts in which he has looked
dominant, with several starts in which he struck out 8 or more. Just a
case of hitters swinging at bad pitches, or can he find the strike zone
more often than he misses?
Matt Harvey's control is just fine, and
so is his raw stuff. The distinction to be made here is that not all
strikes are necessarily good strikes from the pitcher's point of view,
and that's why command is so important. The more advanced hitters in
Triple-A and the big leagues are going to more frequently punish hanging
breaking balls and belt-high fastballs that catch too much of the
Matt (Malone, NY): Is Wheeler's ceiling really a #2? His numbers and stuff indicate he could be an ace given improved command, no?
This is how we define a No. 2 starter in
the Prospect Handbook: two plus pitches, average third pitch, average
command, average makeup. Sounds an awful lot like Zack Wheeler's
ceiling, no? To reach No. 1 status he'd need plus-plus command, and you
can count the number of big league starters who meet that definition on
probably two hands—three tops.
Kyran (Albany): Why is Brandon Nimmo so high?
He's very young and comes from a state with no high school baseball.
Isn't that ranking a little generous?
We're not presenting absolute truth with
these rankings. We're trying to present a synthesis of opinions from
scouts, managers and other evaluators. In other words, the people who
get paid to make these decisions. Perhaps Nimmo carries more risk than
the typical No. 3 prospect in a system, but his foundation of tools is
intriguing. He's got present strength, a sweet lefty stroke and enough
range to play center. As an added bonus, the Mets were absolutely sold
on Nimmo's makeup, which ought to enable him to get the most out of his
JD (AZ): Matt, thanks for the chat. Should we
expect to see Steven Matz in action next year? After two years off
would he start in Brooklyn?
The club's top pick in 2009, Matz missed
2010 after having Tommy John surgery, and then he missed 2011 after a
slow recovery from the procedure. The Mets say he looked good in
instructional league, but who knows what to expect at this stage?
Rich (Port Jeff): With a strong Spring, can Reese break camp as the starting second baseman?
It's a long-shot possibility, but it
probably requires an injury to either Justin Turner or Ruben Tejada to
happen. The Mets will have to add Reese Havens to the 40-man this
offseason or else risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. He's got the
perfect profile for second base, but it's a matter of staying healthy,
just as it was in 2010 and 2009.
Sam (Connecticut): Who will end up being a bigger contributor for the 2012 Mets, Ruben Tejada or Reese Havens?
If Jose Reyes departs as a free agent, I
could see Tejada opening some eyes as the starter at shortstop. He can
field the position, and he batted .303/.368/.377 in the second half of
Sherm (Topeka): What kind of power production does Nimmo project to have?
That will be the big question about
Nimmo's ultimate ceiling. If he stays in center field, then he can get
away with 45 power, but if he moves to a corner it's a tougher fit. His
swing isn't loft-oriented at present, but the Mets actually seem to
prefer that at this stage of his development. Nimmo can learn to pull
the inside pitch for homers as he matures.
Matt (Malone, NY): Is this a Top 15 farm now?
At the Low-A level the Mets had C Albert
Cordero and SS Wilfredo Tovar, two players who possess the defensive
chops to remain at those critical positions. But will they hit enough to
make it all the way to the majors? New York's top international forays
this year were Jose Garcia, a switch-hitting Venezuelan catcher, and
flame-throwing, 21-year-old RHP Luis Mateo, who sits in the mid-90s with
a power slider. He could move quickly as a reliever, though his only
experience has come in the DSL because of a prolonged identity
Jay (Howell, New Jersey): What are the general
thoughts of some of the late round selections in the Mets draft. Evans,
Marquez, Montgomery, Diehl are all fairly interesting prospects. Do
they figure intothe top 30?
You'll have to read the Prospect Handbook
to learn their identities—beyond Nimmo and Michael Fulmer—but the
initial Top 30 I turned in contained a total of eight 2011 draft picks.
Jason (New York): Was it a tough decision between Wheeler and Harvey for the top spot?
Yes, I headed into the process believing
that Harvey had the advantage because of a cleaner injury history and a
nice Double-A debut. In fact, further investigation revealed that
Wheeler had more velocity than Harvey, a better breaking ball and a
third pitch of equal or greater value. To the person who asked if I was
concerned that the Giants had sold high on Wheeler, a la Tim Alderson in
2009, I say, Not anymore. From what I can tell the Giants were just
that desperate for a big bat. Keep in mind that only the Mariners scored
fewer runs this season, and the addition of Carlos Beltran probably
made the difference between San Francisco finishing 29th and 30th.
Pete (Savannah, GA): How would you rate the Mets farm system overall among all MLB teams, 10 - 15, or 15-20?
The Mets have probably not received full
credit for graduating some nice players in recent years. I'm thinking of
players like Ike Davis, Dan Murphy, Tejada, Thole and Duda. But to be
considered a top 10 system, I think you've got to have a can't-miss
hitting prospect or two, and the Mets fall short in that regard.
Wheeler, Harvey and Familia do provide a strong pitching corps, however,
and perhaps a perfect complement to the position players listed above.
Kyran (Moira, NY): Wilmer Flores isn't going to make it as a major-league starter is he? It seems the power just isn't coming.
The home run totals aren't encouraging,
but Savannah and St. Lucie are tough home environments for a young,
aspiring power hitter. Watch to see what he does in Double-A, and hope
that he takes a cue from Juan Lagares and learns to wait for a fastball
he can drive—and not just the first fastball he can handle.
Sam Shapiro (Connecticut): Among the highly
touted pitchers of their 2011 draft class, who makes the majors first:
Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett, or Jack Leathersich? Do any have rotation
Sure seems like second-round righty Cory
Mazzoni or fifth-round lefty Leathersich could move quickly as
relievers. Mazzoni is a better bet to start because he commands two
pitches and has a more traditional delivery.
Kelly (St. Cloud, MN): Your impressions of Danny Muno? Top 11-20 range?
Eighth-round SS Danny Muno, a senior sign
from Fresno State, won admirers for his gritty play with Brooklyn. His
tools aren't explosive, but he knows the strike zone and his defensive
versatility and line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate make him
just about the ideal utility player prospect.