New York Mets 2020 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
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Matt Eddy: Amazingly, this is my 10th year covering the Mets farm system and ranking the Top 10 Prospects for Baseball America. I’ve had my hits and misses, of course, but three things I’m most proud of are: (1) Having Jacob deGrom in the top 10 heading into his Rookie of the Year season of 2014; BA was the only source to have him top 10, as I recall. It looks jarring now, but deGrom had a 4.51 ERA, 7.3 SO/9 and 1.45 WHIP as a 25-year-old in the minors in 2013. (2) Being an early adopter of Amed Rosario. He moved to No. 2 in the system after an ordinary 2015 season in the Florida State League. He then ranked No. 1 heading into 2017 and is now entrenched at shortstop in New York. (3) Sticking with Brandon Nimmo through the ups and downs of his minor league development. Drafted in 2011, he ranked in our top 10 for six seasons until he had his first taste of big league success in 2017.
Matt Eddy: Let's talk Mets. #LTM
mike (wyckoff, nj):
- hi...thanks for the chat. Sure you got this before but where would Kelenic, Dunn, Kay and Woods Richardson rank on this list? thanks, mike
Matt Eddy: Mike wins the contest for first to ask about Kelenic. Not only that, but Mike had the first question in the queue. That's a win-win. As to Kelenic, he had an eye-opening full-season debut in which he advanced to Double-A and then the Arizona Fall League. He ranked No. 23 on our end-of-season Top 100 Prospects, higher than any Mets prospect. Therefore, Kelenic would rank No. 1 for the Mets. I sketched the rest of the list like this from 2-10: Mauricio, Woods Richardson, Alvarez, Baty, Allan, Gimenez, Dunn, Vientos, Kay.
mjk (new brunswick, nj):
- hi...when he was drafted, there was mention of the fact that Kelenic was old for his draft class. I believe Baty is even older comparatively. Is that much of a true consideration and when does that age difference no longer matter? thanks
Matt Eddy: Kelenic turned 19 in July of his draft year. Baty was 19 on draft day and turns 20 this month. Thus Baty is a solid year older than Kelenic was when drafted. There seems to be two ways to look at this. On one side, some clubs claim they would not have looked at Baty until the fifth round based on his age and how that affects their player modeling projections. Other clubs look more favorably, realizing that if Baty hits the ground running in pro ball then he will be roughly equivalent to a junior college hitter. Here, we can look at Kelenic as a best-case example. He blitzed through Class A and reached Double-A a year after being drafted. That is Baty's template.
Eric (New Orleans):
- Is this system sneakily better than many think? Feels like they have some really young assets that are being undervalued. Any deep sleepers you really like?
Matt Eddy: I would assess it as a volatile system. Their low-level prospects have high ceilings. From Mauricio to Alvarez to Baty to Allan to Wolf, you're looking at players who have the *raw talent* to become Top 100 Prospects -- or in the cases of Mauricio and Alvarez, simply retain that standing and move into the top 50. The system's weaknesses are also apparent. The Mets lack upper-level talent that could impact the big club in 2020. Also missing is a pure center fielder to help fill a gap on the major league roster.
Nick (Franklin Square, NY):
- With a solid draft and the ascension of Alvarez this system still looks decent. Where would the system rank if they didn't make the Kelenic/Dunn & SWR/Kay trades?
Matt Eddy: I estimate the Mets' system would rank roughly No. 15 had they not made the Diaz/Cano and Stroman trades. For whatever reason, the Mets have shifted gears in recent drafts by taking a larger number of high school prospects than they used to, from Vientos in 2017 to Kelenic and Woods Richardson in 2018 to Baty, Wolf and Allan in 2019. They remain invested in the international market as well, typically signing one of the BA top 10 prospects for July 2 each year. That's a good follow-up question for me. Are they going younger because they perceive more value at those draft positions than they would get from a collegian? Do the younger prospects have more trade value? Etc.
- Much is made of Baty’s age but how different is he really then a guy who went and played JUCO for a year and was drafted. Wouldn’t they be roughly the same age and starting at the same level. I’m pretty excited by the tools. Are we talking All Star upside here? Thanks.
Matt Eddy: I agree with you. The only downside I see for Baty is that he won't be extended the same grace period based on his age. When an 18-year-old struggles in low Class A, we can live with that. It's different for a 20-year-old. I think given Baty's power, strong work ethic and sneaky athleticism that he does have a high upside. I would want to see more in terms of pro performance before tagging him as a future all-star, but I think your excitement is warranted.
Joe R (Newport News VA):
- Baty is a 60/High. Alvarez is a 60/Very High. Justify rating Alvarez ahead of Baty given they have similar ceilings but Alvarez more risk.
Matt Eddy: Good catch. I meant to turn in Baty at 55/High. So that's a typo. The reason Alvarez ranks ahead is because of his strong tools and incredible adaptability. Keep in mind that Alvarez was at the same stage of development -- 17 and in the Appy League -- as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Wander Franco were when they blasted up prospects lists. Plus, I have learned not to discount the good scouting vibes. Alvarez has those.
- I know its early, but if Mauricio reaches projections, is he the type that will be a solid player with a few all-star appearances when its all said and done, or are we talking impact, franchise-type player?
Matt Eddy: Many scouts view Mauricio as a future first-division regular. Decision-makers I talked with in other organizations viewed him as the Mets' top prospect. However, Mauricio still has a lot to prove. He kept his head above water in the South Atlantic League, hitting .269 with 4 HR as an 18-year-old everyday player. He is a high-end athlete who has all sorts of room to fill out, but the fact remains that he hasn't dominated a league yet like some of the IFA franchise types who come to mind.
- How close was Junior Santos? I recall reading that his control was more advanced than the normal jumbo high velo teenager. Is this true?
Matt Eddy: Towering Rookie-ball RHP Junior Santos will fit comfortably inside the top 20. His exact placement is TBD, but his fastball and strong work ethic should take him far. Ever since Santos signed, the Mets have raved about his competitive makeup.
James (New Hampshire):
- I was pumped to see Alvarez at #2! Given his age, what would a "successful" development path over the next few years look like? 2020 in A/high A, 2021 in AA, 2022 in AA/AAA, 2023 in majors? I know there's no blueprint for any prospect, and catchers are even weirder. But I'm just wondering what this journey might look like.
Matt Eddy: I think it's wise to build in some slack for Alvarez's projected timeline. Let's say low Class A in 2020, then high Class A in 2021, then Double-A in 2022. Come 2023 you might begin to at least *think* about him as a big leaguer -- but that's a huge if. In 2023, Alvarez will still be just 21 years old. While that youth doesn't sound prohibitive, it's well documented that catchers develop later and tend to debut later in the majors than players at other positions. Ivan Rodriguez is the last MLB catcher to bat even 300 times in a season at 21 or younger. The best of the young catchers of recent vintage would be Yadier Molina and Salvador Perez. Both of those all-stars made MLB pop-ins at age 21 before assuming a larger share at age 22. But as these examples illustrate, being an international signee definitely will benefit Alvarez.
- Is J.D.Davis moving to 3B or do you see the Mets waiting for Baty? How good is Brett Baty defensively.
Matt Eddy: As I understand the Mets' thinking, J.D. Davis is the presumed everyday left fielder in 2020. (Side note: How do Mets fans feel about the NL adopting the DH???) As to Baty, the impression I got was that the Mets and rival scouts were pleasantly surprised by his defensive play. He moves well for a big man and throws well. It's instructive here to remember that defensive scouting reports are overwritten all the time. Remember last year when the Cardinals' Nolan Gorman was a borderline defender at third base? Well, this year he was best defensive 3B in the Midwest League and has the scouting reports to back it up.
Ronny Mauricio (Trending Up?):
- I didn't set the world on fire like my fellow 2018 J2 signee Julio Rodriguez but held my own at a very aggressive assignment to LoA. What are scouts saying about my tools after the season? Is there some concern that my hit and power tools might be as high as originally projected?
Matt Eddy: Mauricio did not perform as well as the Mariners' Julio Rodriguez -- but who did? -- but I thought the example of the Phillies' Luis Garcia was instructive. Garcia ranked ahead of Mauricio on our 2018 Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects but completely flamed out offensively in the South Atlantic League this year. I would caution against expecting a huge batting average from Mauricio, but scouts saw what they wanted to see in terms of future power potential.
Doug (New Jersey):
- Have you gotten any recent reports on Gimenez from his successful AFL season? I heard his swing was more level again, compared to over the summer.
Matt Eddy: Yes, that's exactly right, and what I tried to reflect in my report. I can't stress enough how much scouts and managers love Gimenez's glove and take-charge demeanor on the infield. I think his bat could fit near the top of a big league lineup as well, especially because he bats lefthanded and has improved his speed and aggressiveness. But as you note, he doesn't seem like a good candidate for the launch angle revolution. But that's OK. Variety is the spice of life -- and a major league lineup.
Doug (New Jersey):
- Why was Kevin Smith ranked just ahead of David Peterson? Does Smith's breaking ball profile to miss more big league bats? Is there reason to be optimistic that Kevin Smith can be a solid MLB starting pitcher? Is there reason to have doubts that Peterson cannot?
Matt Eddy: The standouts for Smith are threefold: (1) The Mets felt comfortable pushing him to Double-A a year after he was drafted because they know how hard he works and how mentally tough he is. A collegian reaching Double-A may not seem like a big deal, but such rapid advancement is rare for seventh-round picks. (2) There is something to Smith's angle, athleticism and deception that makes him difficult to square up -- even if his raw pitch grades don't jump out. (3) His 2019 performance was sneaky good. According to FanGraphs.com, Smith ranked top 10 in the Florida State League in swinging-strike rate, and among all minor leaguers with 100 innings, his FIP ranked inside the top 20.
- hi...know it would be major stretch for Ali Sanchez to be in top 10 but is in that 11-15 range? speaking of prospects that have lingered on the list ala Nimmo...tx
Matt Eddy: Ali Sanchez is a perpetual backup catcher prospect based on his defensive acumen. It looks like Tomas Nido has a bead on that role for the Mets, but things change. Assuming he goes unselected in the Rule 5 draft in December, Sanchez has one more year in the organization before he qualifies for minor league free agency after the 2020 season (unless he is added to the 40-man before then).
- Thanks for chatting! Are there any thoughts that Vientos' suppressed statistics were due to his hitting environments (Columbia being very pitching friendly, and the SAL as a whole not having many hitter friendly parks)?
Matt Eddy: You aren't kidding! I just checked my minor league park factors, and among all minor league parks, Columbia ranked in the following percentiles: 7th for runs, 39th for home runs and 11th for BABIP.
- It seems like most of their top prospects are at least 3-4 years away right now. Do you think any of them might be able to get through the minors quicker to help the MLB team? There pitching is getting older quickly.
Matt Eddy: The Mets view Brett Baty and Matt Allan as candidates to move quickly from the 2019 draft class, based on their tools and big league-ready physiques.
Matt Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. You guys never disappoint. Stay tuned for the complete top 30 ranking in our Prospect Handbook. I'm always available on Twitter -- just in case you need a reminder of how much I love J.D. Davis' bat :-)