2019 New York Mets Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Andres Gimenez (Photo by Tom DiPace)

To see the Mets top 10 prospects, click here. 

Matt Eddy: It’s time to chat Mets. This is my ninth year covering the system for BA, I think.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    How many of these guys are likely to make the BA 100 list?

Matt Eddy: Sorry, I had to refresh my memory as to who was still in the system 🙂 SS Andres Gimenez and 1B Peter Alonso are already Top 100 Prospects. SS Ronny Mauricio is probably a hot month or two away from serious consideration. 3B Mark Vientos could play his way into consideration, but he’s starting a little farther behind Mauricio.

Danny (Richmond VA): 

    Hey, Matt. What are your thoughts on Luis Santana? Really young for his level, and he probably boasts only one tool (hit). But is that tool good enough for him to be interesting? Thanks for the chat.

Matt Eddy: I was inclined to underestimate 2B Luis Santana based on his 5-foot-8 stature and lack of loud overall tools, but the more sources I talked to, the more I liked him. Move him up, they all said. Santana ultimately will fall just outside the top 10, with a chance to move into the 10 next year if he performs in full-season ball. He does have a potentially special bat, with his knack for hard contact, plate discipline and just swagger.

Grant (Queens, NY): 

    About how far off the top 10 was Desmond Lindsay, and are you optimistic he can regain his former status?

Matt Eddy: Swing changes and a promising cameo in the AFL could give CF Desmond Lindsay some helium as he heads into 2019, when he should spend significant time at Double-A. Meeting the ball out front more consistently should allow Lindsay to get to the power he has flashed at times, and that the batted-ball indicators suggest he is capable of. Hitting for more power, perhaps at the expense of AVG and OBP, will make a world of difference.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): 

    Thanks for the chat. Do you think the Mets have enough to acquire Realmuto, seeing as their new GM clearly has no problem dealing two of his better prospects right off the bat?

Matt Eddy: It depends on the Marlins’ risk tolerance, because outside of Alonso and maybe Gimenez, the Mets don’t have impact prospects who will be big league ready in 2019 or 2020. But they do have intriguing prospects who will require a four- or five-year investment in development time.

Dan (NYC): 

    What can you tell us about Eric Hanhold’s ceiling/floor?

Matt Eddy: RHP Eric Hanhold, the return from the Brewers for Neil Walker in 2017, is the Mets’ top relief prospect. He made his major league debut late in 2018. He has a potent power fastball-slider mix that could play in a high-leverage role. He has something else I like: A starter’s background and pedigree. Pitchers who worked as starters in the past tend to make better relievers.

Ben (Dallas, TX): 

    Gavin Cecchini – prospect or suspect at this point?

Matt Eddy: Prospect, but mostly for the 30-game flash he showed at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2018 before injuring his foot and missing the rest of the year. His power uptick was substantial (caveat: small sample), and he has continuously improved his physique since turning pro. Because of the Robinson Cano acquisition and emergence of Jeff McNeil, Cecchini will have to prove himself as an option at multiple positions. Even then he will have to show a better bat than players like Luis Guillorme or T.J. Rivera, who will be competing for the role of extra infielder.

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    Will Alonso be the Mets equivalent of Judge, or will Alonso have the offensive profile of Matt Olson with a .240 avg and 30 hrs?

Matt Eddy: The Athletics’ Matt Olson is coming off a deserved Gold Glove in 2018. Alonso will never be more than playable at first, but in terms of home run production and average exit velocities and a discerning batting eye, there are some similarities. The left vs. right difference skews the perception for me as well.

Dugmet (Down Under, USA): 

    How would you assess Andres Gimenez’s power potential? Could we see 15+ HR at peak value? There’s tape of him pulling the ball with authority over the RF wall as well as an oppo-taco HR against FSL pitching. Do you think he will push Rosario off SS or is he better suited to move to 2B?

Matt Eddy: I believe in Gimenez’s batting potential. I think 15 HR is entirely reasonable, based on his expected physical maturation and bat speed. The same maturation applies to Gimenez on defense, where he now grades as a plus defender with a plus arm for most evaluators. Rosario has a higher ceiling defensively because he’s faster/twitchier and has a better arm, but if the Mets need Gimenez to play SS for whatever reason, he could do it.

DugMet (Down Under, USA): 

    Rosario, Gimenez, Mauricio, and Newton. Do the Mets have the best crop of young SS in professional baseball?

Matt Eddy: Good question. I don’t have the answer at hand, but I have to imagine the Mets’ group ranks among the top five. Tweet me at @MattEddyBA with other contending organizations. What I do know is that former international director Chris Becerra, who left to take a job with the Red Sox after the season, made Latin American shortstops a focal point on the July 2 market, and he came away with three great ones in Rosario, Gimenez and Mauricio.

Eric (Bronx): 

    Given his deficiencies at 1B, would the Mets be justified trading Alonso to an AL team where he can DH, or are they convinced his hitting prowess outweighs his shortcomings?

Matt Eddy: When I first heard about the Cano rumors, I assumed Alonso would be part of the trade because of his AL player profile. (It would also open 1B for Cano in a few years.) But with their chips all-in for 2019 and 2020, the Mets need to hang on to prospects with proximity value, such as Alonso, while also being mindful of the fact that contending teams *need* home run production from first base in today’s game. You’re playing from a deficit if your first baseman isn’t hitting the ball out of the park. Alonso has demonstrated that he can do that, and yes I think his power production will outweigh the runs he allows on defense. The last prospect first baseman I can recall with such poor defensive tools grades was the Pirates’ Josh Bell.

Manny (Palm Bay, Florida): 

    Do you feel the Mets would be more inclined to trade Rosario for Realmuto knowing they have Gimenez knocking on the door? And do you think if Rosario is traded that Gimenez gets a shot at winning the job in spring training?

Matt Eddy: I think that’s a bit optimistic on Gimenez’s timeline. But from what I hear he is one calm, collected, confident character who will not be fazed by the bright lights and big stage.

Carl S (Queens): 

    Alonso, Alonso, Alonso Alonso Alonso? Alonso? But for real- what’s your bold prediction for him this year- gotta imagine he’s a ROY candidate and potential HR Derby participant? .260 25/80Rbi out of the question?

Matt Eddy: I’ll admit it. Coming into the year, I was skeptical of Alonso’s impact potential in the major leagues. As a longtime Baseball American, it’s in my DNA to be skeptical of RH hitting first basemen. (We were light on Mark McGwire, on Frank Thomas, on Paul Goldschmidt, on Rhys Hoskins, etc.) But when you weigh the value of the Statcast and TrackMan data that is telling us that Alonso is doing things than literally no other hitter has done, well, that’s convincing data to me. I think a rookie projection of .250 with 25-30 HR and a healthy walk rate is in play.

Zac (NYC): 

    Hey Matt, I’ve loved Szapucki for a long time. Do you think of the three lefties you have in the current top 10 he has the highest ceiling? Who are some of the other arms, outside the top 10, that I should keep an eye on for a breakout?

Matt Eddy: Yes, I agree with Thomas Szapucki having the highest ceiling. He has the size, the repertoire and demeanor to dominate, health permitting. Now that Kay is pitching with two plus pitches on some nights, and could continue to restore feel for his changeup, he might give Szapucki a run for his money.

Bored Lawyer, Esq. (Law Office): 

    Is Mauricio a more likely candidate to start at Columbia, or XST and then BKLYN? Is that somewhat informed by how NYM decide to split time at 3B/SS with Vientos and Newton at Columbia?

Matt Eddy: The Mets were not shy with full-season assignments for Amed Rosario or Andres Gimenez, who both played in low Class A in their third pro seasons. I think Mauricio would have to play his way *out* of an assignment to Columbia in 2019. It’s possible that he gets held back in extended for a few weeks, but I don’t expect Brooklyn to be his targeted assignment.

Zac (NYC): 

    If I’m looking for a strong contact/OBP bat in this system who are some of the guys I should keep my eye on?

Matt Eddy: 2B Luis Santana and SS Luis Guillorme are your best bets. 2B Gavin Cecchini has established bat-to-ball skills. SS Andres Gimenez has strong contact skills, especially for his age and experience level.

Zac (NYC): 

    Rosario hasn’t been great since coming up to the big leagues. To what do you attribute these struggles? Who do you think has more potential, him or Gimenez?

Matt Eddy: Dating back to Rosario’s time in the minors, plate discipline has been his biggest weakness. The Mets said as much, and I bet if you asked Rosario, he would agree. But . . . late in 2018 season he began to show improvement. He was hitting the ball harder. He was swinging at more strikes. He was striking out less. (I highly recommend Mike Petriello’s piece from August at MLB.com. Google: Rosario’s breakout may just be getting started.) Because Rosario ranked as a Mets’ top 10 prospect four times — peaking at No. 1 — I think we lose sight of how young he still is. He played all of 2018 at age 22.

VandyGuy (VandyLand): 

    Does Will Toffey have a path to the big leagues? Does he need to show more pop?

Matt Eddy: That’s exactly right. 3B Will Toffey, acquired along with RP Bobby Wahl and international pool money for Jeurys Familia, has flashed power in his career, e.g. 12 HR as a Vanderbilt junior (granted he was 22) and a .179 ISO at Double-A after coming over from the A’s. The Mets are crossing their fingers that offseason shoulder surgery will free Toffey up to get to his power more consistently at Triple-A Syracuse in 2019.

Matt (NY): 

    I’m surprised the Mets gave up so much in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz deal while still taking on so much of Cano’s remaining salary. Are they going to really regret including Kelenic in this deal down the road? Based on everything I’ve heard, he reminds me of a more athletic version of Alex Kirilloff coming out of HS. Do you see his FV hit/power at least being 55/55 with the potential for more?

Matt Eddy: I settled on future 60 hit and 55 power for Kelenic, which would obviously be outstanding in center field. If he moves to a corner, that’s a little more ordinary but still an asset. But with virtually no chance to impact games in the majors until 2022, Kelenic was a bit of imperfect fit for the Mets, who should be trying to maximize wins in 2019 and 2020. Young pitchers don’t stay young forever, and with Wheeler controllable for one more season, deGrom for two and Syndergaard for three, it’s now or never for the Mets.

Mark (NJ): 

    Any of the pitchers returning from TJ have the potential to rise and help bolster the Farm to a degree?

Matt Eddy: Absolutely. The Mets have two notable pitchers on target for 2019 returns in LHP Thomas Szapucki and RHP Jordan Humphreys and then one for 2020 in Franklyn Kilome.

Dugmet (Down Under, USA): 

    Mets may be considering Pollock due to a lack of upper level RH outfielders in their system. Outside of Lindsay, are there any RH outfielders of any note at any level?

Matt Eddy: Honestly, this seems like a perfect match of player and organization. Pollock is a Connecticut high school product. Center field and RH lineup presence are two of the club’s weakest attributes. As to the Mets’ current OF situation in the minors: It’s bleak. A breakout season from Desmond Lindsay would go a long way. The next-best prospect is probably this year’s 12th-rounder Ross Adolph, who showed he is a player in his pro debut at Brooklyn.

Alan (Maine): 

    The Mets took a nice leap forward with some positive surprises in the minors. Does losing Kelenic and Dunn really hurt the entire Mets minor league system that much or are there 11-25 players from the lower minor leagues that can push forward?

Matt Eddy: Losing Kelenic and Dunn hurts the depth and impact potential of the farm system. Dunn probably will be ready to assume 30-50 big league innings in 2019 and then possibly as many as 120 in 2020. With the frequency of pitcher injuries, that loss will be felt. The Mets have done well to restock the lower levels of their system in recent years. When you break down their initial pre-trade top 10 ranking it consisted of draft picks from the top two rounds of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 drafts, plus a pair of premium July 2 shortstops and then SS Shervyen Newton. So continuing to hit on their big-ticket amateur signings will be paramount, because that’s how they built the farm system to where it stands today.

CapnSammy (New York): 

    Obviously he’s no longer a Met prospect, but do you think the Mets will regret trading Kelenic instead of giving up Gimenez, especially when they lack OF depth in their system? Also who would you consider their top OF prospects now that Kelenic is gone?

Matt Eddy: Assuming two prospects are of roughly equal overall value — and I think that’s the case with Mauricio and Kelenic — I would always prefer to trade the outfielder. Players with true infield skills in the major leagues, especially a switch-hitting shortstop like Mauricio, are much more rare. Playing shortstop at a young age opens so many doors to future position switches, too. But there’s another element to the infield vs. outfielder discussion. The pool of players who can play outfield is larger simply because it includes both RH and LH throwers. So when you factor that the offensive bar is set much higher for major league outfielders than shortstops, and that there are more players in direct competition for outfield spots, I think the infielder is always preferable.

Sammy (Long Island): 

    Is Rhys Hoskins a good and realistic comp for Alonso?

Matt Eddy: Their body types are different but the power and discipline are similar. Hoskins is tall and chiseled and overall more athletic. The LF experiment failed, but the notion of even trying him there is a product of his athleticism. No such experiment will be entertained for Alonso.

Harrison (RR, TX): 

    After the Diaz/Cano deal, do the Mets fall in the 20-30 farm rankings?

Matt Eddy: I would estimate 15-20, but that hasn’t been determined yet.

Mike (Syracuse): 

    Ross Adolph…anything there? Good summer in Brooklyn (especially considering that’s a notoriously tough park for LHH), looks like a power/speed guy from the stat line. Maybe another under the radar 12th rd steal ala McNeil??

Matt Eddy: Posting this question to amplify my earlier answer about Ross Adolph. Mike is correct: Brooklyn is notoriously tough on LH power hitters, though it didn’t seem to impact Michael Conforto in 2015.

DugMet (Down Under, USA): 

    In your nine years covering the Mets farm, does the current crop of Top-10 prospects have more upside than any other Top-10 Mets list you compliled — even without Kelenic and Dunn?

Matt Eddy: This was the Mets’ best top 10 prospects group since the 2015 top 10 class included Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Amed Rosario, Steven Matz and Brandon Nimmo. And looking back at our historical system rankings, that 2015 class ranked No. 4 in baseball, making it the best going back to at least 2011.

Alex (SF): 

    Ronny Mauricio has some really exciting tools. Is it fair to project his FV hit/power/defense/arm all potentially being above-average to plus? If so and he produces, that seems like a future elite top end prospect.

Matt Eddy: An absolute best-case would see Mauricio develop plus or better hit, power and arm. He’s not much of a runner and his future position is not yet in focus, though SS or 3B are most probable. Below the surface level, his hand speed and bat speed also separate him from his peers and indicate significant growth potential.

Carlos (Mets Fan): 

    Mark Vientos showed increased power in 2018. However, even being young for his draft class in 2016, he has yet to move beyond the APP Rookie League. What were scouts thoughts on Vientos coming into 2019? Do you think Mauricio and Vientos eventually become the 1A and 1B prospects within the Mets system due to their bats being louder than Gimenez?

Matt Eddy: 3B Mark Vientos was drafted in 2017 (not sure if your 2016 reference was a typo) and will enter his third pro season in 2019 at age 19. He will be 19 all season, in fact. For perspective, Jarred Kelenic turned 19 about a month after he was drafted and was old for his high school class. It’s common for organizations to hold back non-first-round high school prospects in year two of their pro careers, as the Mets did with Vientos by sending him to the Appy League in 2018. In other words, he is right on schedule. Had he not played in the same league as Rays wunderkind Wander Franco, it’s possible Vientos would have garnered more attention for his display of power, patience and contact skills at such a tender age. Scouts need to be convinced about young corner bats, and Vientos is no exception, but he certainly has ability to begin winning converts in the next few seasons.

Alex (Bay Area): 

    If Fernando Tatis Jr. the best case scenario comp for Ronny Mauricio? He seems to have very similar attributes a pre breakout Tatis had except Tatis’ above-average speed. Does Mauricio start the season in LoA and rapidly move to become an elite top 100 prospect if he produces?

Matt Eddy: This is one of two references to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the queue. Is that comp out there in cyberspace? I wouldn’t expect Mauricio to elevate to Tatis’ level, certainly not as rapidly, because his strike-zone management is not as refined as Tatis’ was at the same stage. Also, Tatis is one of the top prospects in baseball, and I’m not ready to go there yet with Mauricio. He does have significant impact potential, though, which I tried to convey by ranking him No. 3.

Matt Eddy: Awesome questions. That’s it for me this Top 10 Prospects season. Time to produce the Prospect Handbook. See you next year.

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