New York Mets Top 10 Prospects Chat

Matt Eddy: Welcome to another Top 10 Prospects chat. I’m proud to say this is my seventh year ranking the Mets system for BA. My tenure on this beat overlaps with the Sandy Alderson era, and it’s been a good ride for the system.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Thanks for chatting, Matt. How far off was Andres Gimenez, and are you reasonably confident he can remain at SS for the forseeable future?
Matt Eddy: We take our prospect rankings to 30 and beyond, as you know. So while Venezuelan SS Andres Gimenez didn’t crack the top 10 (yet), he is prominently featured in the Prospect Handbook chapter. One of the top international talents available in 2015, he turned in an outstanding pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2016. Gimenez led the circuit in on-base percentage (.469) while ranking second in average (.350) and doubles (20). He can be a plus hitter with above-avg wheels and above-avg ability at shortstop.

Josh (New York City): Were the Mets expecting a future TJ surgery for Kay when they signed him? Will he be in the 11-20 range?
Matt Eddy: I don’t think the Mets expected to find that 2016 first-round LHP Anthony Kay would require Tommy John surgery right away. They had previously drafted the Long Island native out of high school, so maybe they would have taken him regardless. I’m not clear either way. Kay just missed making the top 10 and would have been a slam dunk had he not required major surgery. He has the repertoire and control to profile as a No. 3 or 4 starter, but now he’s going to miss 2017 and will spend 2018 building his workload.

Frank (Indianapolis IN): How many of these guys are likely to make the BA 100?
Matt Eddy: Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are locks. Justin Dunn is probable. Desmond Lindsay is possible. I could construct cases for Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Robert Gsellman and even Thomas Szapucki, but I wouldn’t count on them making it.

Freddy (Queens, NY): Is power Alonso's main calling card, or does he bring more to the table?
Matt Eddy: Pete Alonso, the 2016 second-round pick from Florida, is a solid defender at first base, but power is far and away his carrying tool. He has a long track record for delivering plus power dating back to his college days, and he delivers from the right side, to boot. In his brief New York-Penn look, Alonso showed elite power (99th percentile for ISO) but fairly ordinary strikeout and walk rates. He inflicted extreme damage against short-season lefthanders, so watching his split versus righties will be instructive as he advances.

Eric (Dallas TX): Thoughts on Marcos Molina at this point? Projection for you is?
Matt Eddy: I think a relief role is most probable for RHP Marcos Molina in the majors — though he could potentially fill a high-leverage role given his stuff. He missed most of 2015 and 2016, and now that he’s on the 40-man roster, he has three years to build himself into a starting pitcher capable of handling ~150 innings in 2020, when he will be out of options. Molina will spend 2017 just getting back into a routine, probably at High-A St. Lucie and probably with a strict pitch limit. That reduces his window to two years to ramp up to major league starter.

Dave (Bronx, NY): I'm assuming Tim Tebow won't make the Handbook? Did the Mets really sign him merely to increase ticket sales? It's OK, you can tell us.
Matt Eddy: Quite a few Tim Tebow questions in the queue. He will not appear in the Prospect Handbook, but that doesn’t nullify his signing with the organization. As you note, Tebow is a serious revenue-generator for the Mets (and the Arizona Fall League). Plus, he sets a good example for younger players in the system, and maybe he could take on a director of leadership role with the Mets when his playing days have concluded. From what I understand, he lives close to the Mets’ spring base in Port St. Lucie.

Ryne (Waco, TX): Does Josh Smoker have the stuff to succeed in the back of the bullpen? Could he see save chances at any point this season or in the near future? Thanks.
Matt Eddy: Yes, LHP Josh Smoker most definitely has the raw ingredients to pitch in a big league bullpen — though I have no idea how big league LHBs hit him for a .360 average in 2016! His Pitch f/x review practically sings: 95 mph velocity, nearly 15% swinging strikes, 75% first-pitch strikes. Very impressive. However, as is the case with any LH reliever, how he fares against same-side batters in (necessarily) small samples will dictate his future role. That’s because teams don’t typically carry LH relievers who don’t retire LH batters. Smoker will contend with Josh Edgin, Sean Gilmartin and any free-agent imports for innings in 2017.

Sam (Washington DC): Which position is Luis Carpio best at? Will we see him at Columbia in April?
Matt Eddy: The Mets truly love Luis Carpio’s competitive makeup. He’s the type of player who is going to maximize his natural ability. However, asking him to play the left side of the infield might be asking too much for a player with a fringe arm and now labrum surgery on this throwing shoulder. Look for Carpio to settle in at second base.

Noel (Portland): The division rival Phillies have another impact SS in their farm system. Who would you rather have on your squad: Rosario or Crawford (and why)?
Matt Eddy: Give me Amed Rosario rather than the Phillies’ J.P. Crawford. Crawford might have a higher hit and power ceiling, but not to the extent where it eclipses Rosario’s advantage on defense or on the bases.

Harold (NY): What would be your response to a prospect analyst who says that Robert Gsellman should be much higher on this list - 2 or 3 being that his stuff has trended upward and has MLB success. On top of that, his stuff looked the part and many believe that he already is a number 3 starter.
Matt Eddy: I would say, “To each his own.” In all honestly, I viewed every player after Amed Rosario and before Gabriel Ynoa to be fairly interchangeable. All seven prospects have the same exact BA Grade (which you can find in the Prospect Handbook) once you adjust for risk level, and I toyed with various iterations of the ranking. In the event of a tie, I typically side with the position player because they tend to be less volatile. Gsellman belongs to the same general family of young pitchers we have ranked in the Top 100 Prospects before, so you could make a case for his inclusion. However, I tried not to read too much into his major league performance in September. The Mets’ schedule was backloaded with games against the Phillies (three starts) and Braves (two), and, generally speaking, the worst times to make player evaluations are March and September because of the roster irregularities and different stakes.

Zac (NY): Hi Matt- I saw Szapucki pitch live a few times last season and he looked lights out. It was short season A ball of course, but do you think he has potential to be a top of the rotation guy? Do you have a comp for him/how he needs to develop?
Matt Eddy: From my Word doc to your computer screen: “He just looks like a front-line guy.” That’s what one pro scout said about LHP Thomas Szapucki based on his look in short-season ball this year. When a teen lefthander has two present plus pitches and a dominating performance, you have to take notice. Szapicki could shoot toward the top of this list next year if he can maintain his stuff and health over 20 starts in full-season ball in 2017. That’s not exactly a given, though, because the Mets shut him down early in 2016 with a back issue, and his control needs work, as does his changeup.

JayPal (New York): Excited about 5 round draft pick Colby Woodmansee after Baseball America wrote a nice draft feature on him. Will he rank somewhere in the top 30?
Matt Eddy: Yes, SS Colby Woodmansee will rank in the top 30, barring further prospect acquisitions. If the Mets do pick up more prospects this week, then Woodmansee’s grasp becomes tenuous, based on a number of factors, such as a poor finish at short-season Brooklyn and the shortstop depth in the Mets system.

gary Marullo (port st lucie): Do you see any catching prospects already in the system who could solve our catching issues in the next three years?
Matt Eddy: Yes, No. 10 prospect Tomas Nido joined the 40-man roster in November. He will be ready for Double-A in 2017 and could be ready for New York at some point around mid-year 2018. Low-A catcher Patrick Mazeika probably won’t be ready to catch 100 games within the three-year time frame you’re looking for, but with continued defensive improvement at each level in 2017, 2018 and 2019, he could be entering the Mets’ picture in 2020.

Lance (Memphis): Who are the Mets most likely to lose in the Rule 5 draft?
Matt Eddy: Without hesitation, I would answer SS/2B Phillip Evans, who won the Eastern League batting title this year. That calls to mind Rangers 2B Odubel Herrera, who won a Double-A bating title in 2014, the year the Phillies Rule 5’d him. Evans has some gap power and a sound hitting approach, but he doesn’t really run or draw walks. Lots of contact and positional versatility (he has the arm for SS and 3B) is what a team would be buying. The Mets left Evans off the 40-man because they have similar players already, such as Gavin Cecchini, Matt Reynolds and even T.J. Rivera. Some other Mets who might generate Rule 5 interest would be relievers Nabil Crismatt or Paul Sewald or possibly one-tool standouts like Champ Stuart (speed) or Travis Taijeron (power).

Larry (Michigan): Where would Seth Lugo have been if he were rookie eligible?
Matt Eddy: I haven’t given it much thought, but based on RHP Seth Lugo being 27 years old, I would imagine somewhere near No. 20 on the list. A year ago, I would have thought similar things about Logan Verrett.

Sholom (Smithtown, New York): The Mets have never gone over their International bonus pool or signed any major Cuban free agents even if they are not subject to the bonus pool. Why not?
Matt Eddy: Two Cuban signings from previous front-office regimes — Jorge Toca and Alay Soler — didn’t pan out. Plus, the Mets are now run by Sandy Alderson, the man responsible for helping to clean up record-keeping in Latin America when he worked for MLB prior to taking the Mets job. More generally, I think the Alderson Mets take an everything-in-moderation stance on player acquisition. They haven’t busted the budget for international amateurs, true, but nor have they busted the budget for domestic draft picks or major league free agents. They spend in all areas, but don’t spend exorbitantly.

Chris (NY): Thanks for chatting Matt. Everything I read in the Gsellman blurb seemed like it was pretty outdated. Calling the slider fringey seems like it was wrong and everything I saw in the majors made it look like a true plus pitch, a true "Warthen" slider. Was this not backed up by what scouts told you, or were they just talking about his slider when he was in the minors?
Matt Eddy: I am printing a dissenting opinion about Gsellman here for those interested in more sourcing. From what I gathered about Gsellman’s time in the minors, he had a 55 fastball, 55 curveball, 45 slider, 55 changeup and 50 control. It’s a well-rounded set of abilities, but our definition of a No. 3 starter requires at least one plus (60) pitch. Even this report indicates ability to spin a breaking ball based on his curveball grade. Gsellman’s initial big league results with the pitch classified as his slider are quite positive.

Ethan (Lit): Mets Farm system is better/worse than #15 in MLB
Matt Eddy: Better, but perhaps only slightly so.

Rob Jr. (NY): If the Mets starters don't recover from last years injuries, is there any chance we see Justin Dunn at Citi-Field this upcoming season? Starter or in relief?
Matt Eddy: No chance you see Justin Dunn as a starter in 2017. Even as a reliever it would be highly doubtful. Given Dunn’s unusual background as a college reliever right up until two months before the draft, I would wager he will require more time in the minors than the typical first-round college starter. The Mets can afford to be patient.

Billy (St. Lucie): In your opinion who would be the closest player comp for Rosario?
Matt Eddy: We have heard everything from Jose Iglesias to Elvis Andrus.

norman (greenville,sc): Gsellman in June 2017 .In the rotation,bullpen or in the minors ?
Matt Eddy: Rotation, for sure. He is probably a better bet as a starter for 2017 than Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, and with Bartolo Colon out of the picture, at least one rotation spot will be open all year.

Sean (Hawthorne): Possible we are under rating Nido? Is he not a better prospect than Kevin Plawecki was 2 years ago?
Matt Eddy: I think Tomas Nido receives better defensive grades than Plawecki from two years ago, but at the same time, he is not exactly overflowing with plus grades. He has work to do, in other words.

Adam (Boston): Amed Rosario or Gleyber torres?
Matt Eddy: This is a question we will wrestle with for months. I think the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres has built a slight advantage, though that could simply be recency bias based on his Arizona Fall League MVP and halo effect from being Cubs property until about four months ago. I think Rosario is more highly regarded for his defensive ability, and that might be enough to push him ahead of Torres if he continues to hit.

Metro (Chicago): How much of Becerra's power outage are the Mets attributing to his shoulder issue?
Matt Eddy: I would attribute virtually all of RF Wuilmer Becerra’s lost power to his bum shoulder. He couldn’t throw or swing a bat as he was accustomed. Give him a mulligan for 2016.

Neil Diamond (Brooklyn): Hi Matt, wondering about Harol Gonzalez, is he a prospect worth watching off of his big year for my Cyclones.
Matt Eddy: Yes, RHP Harol Gonzalez is a prospect of interest. He doesn’t have huge stuff, but he has fine command for his age and quality secondary pitches. It’s easy for pitchers of this ilk to dominate the lower minors, so if Gonzalez continues to excel at Double-A then we can start to get excited.

John (NJ): What is Thomas Szapucki's ceiling? I saw him this past summer for Brooklyn and kid looked legitimate. Is my projection of a #2 starter that far off?
Matt Eddy: Szapucki has No. 2 starter *upside* for sure — two plus pitches, (potential) average third, (potential) average control — but he’s a long way from that ceiling.

DW (NYC): Matt, Awesome chat. Would you mind naming a few pitchers you like most of the group of arms below St. Lucie? The Gonzalez's, Simon etc? Anyone stand out?
Matt Eddy: Sure, the best arms at Low-A or short-season ball in 2016 (excluding 2016 first-round picks and Top 10 Prospects) were: RHP Merandy Gonzalez, RHP Harrol Gonzalez, RHP Jordan Humphries, LHP Jake Simon and RHP Cameron Planck, the 11th-round Kentucky prep whom they signed for $1 million. Oh, and RHP Adonis Uceta throws really hard and reminds some of Hansel Robles.

Dan Warthen (NYC): Matt, Any thoughts/insight from scouts regarding my ability to somehow coax notably "better" stuff out of SP once they are called up? Does this impact evaluation of Mets pitching prospects?
Matt Eddy: Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola, pitching coordinator Ron Romanick and other coaches also put a lot into young Mets pitchers. Because while the Mets don’t necessarily have *more* pitching prospects than other organizations, they tend to maximize the value of their young pitchers. Additionally, touted Mets rookies are always ready to compete in the majors, with the possible exception of Rafael Montero.

Frankie (Manhattan): In the catchers question you mention Nido and Mazeika - no love for Ali Sanchez or is it just that he's too far away?
Matt Eddy: Venezuelan C Ali Sanchez is young and talented, but he also is coming off a .216 season (with no secondary skills) in the New York-Penn League.

Ryne (Waco, TX): Could we get a quick blurb on Merandy Gonzalez and his future potential? Does he have the tools to continue to start as he advances through the minors? Thanks in advance.
Matt Eddy: If you had to put money down now on Brooklyn RHP Merandy Gonzalez, then bet reliever. He lacks feel for his changeup and is on the short side for a RH starter, but he has electric arm speed and feel to spin the ball. Gonzalez still has time to grow from thrower to pitcher. He just hasn’t taken that step yet.

BJ (Boston): Curious to know what the relatively low ranking of Gsellman is indicative of - did you move him down because his ceiling is lower relative to his proximity to the majors, or because you don't feel that he'll ultimately do that well as a major league starter? This info would be helpful to know for dynasty league owners considering rostering him. Thank you!
Matt Eddy: Robert Gsellman has moved only in an upward direction on BA rankings, from No. 30 in 2015 to No. 14 in 2016 to No. 7 today. He fits a No. 4 starter profile with firm stuff — that’s what his report says.

Mike (Nj): Do you think pitching in Las Vegas actually helps the Mets pitchers since they have to work through trouble a lot? Same goes for hurting the hitters because it is too easy there?
Matt Eddy: I joke that the quality of a Mets pitcher’s ERA at Las Vegas is indirectly proportional to his ERA in the majors. For example, Jacob deGrom had a 4.52 ERA at Vegas one year, then a 2.69 ERA in an NL Rookie of the Year season the next. Noah Syndergaard went from 4.60 to 3.24. Zack Wheeler went from 3.93 to 3.42 in his rookie year. In 2016, Seth Lugo went from 6.50 to 2.67, while Robert Gsellman went from 5.73 to 2.42. There might be something to the idea that young pitchers are truly tested at Las Vegas, and other parks like it, because they have to work from the stretch so often. The batting average on balls in play tends to be much higher in PCL parks than IL parks.

Clayton (Chicago): What is Brandon Nimmo's ceiling and floor? And who is a good comp? Thanks!
Matt Eddy: Possibly a table-setting left fielder, a la David DeJesus, or if Nimmo begins to turn on more early-count fastballs, maybe a David Murphy-type corner outfielder. I’m interested to hear comps from fans, though. Hit me up on Twitter at @MattEddyBA

Darren (Fairfield, CT): Do the Mets have enough high end prospects to trade for an impact player?
Matt Eddy: Sure, if you stretch the definition of prospect to include Michael Conforto, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. Amed Rosario would draw universal trade interest, and I bet at least half of teams would be piqued by Dominic Smith and Justin Dunn.

Jack (Staten Island, New York): I find it hard to believe Peter Alonso did not make this list after posting a .321 average .383/.586/.969 OPS. I think he is the steal of the 2016 draft and will be a Pat Burrell type player. Thoughts?
Matt Eddy: Alonso has really enticing power. I hadn’t heard the Pat Burrell comp before. Here’s a riddle for you: How many RH-hitting college players can you find who played *exclusively* first base in college and the minors and went on to have long, productive careers. I found one in the Wild Card Era. See if you can find him and then reach out on Twitter: @MattEddyBA

Death Of A Gsellman (Pasadena, CA): I have seen Gsellman rated as 70/60 from BP to a B- from Sickels to a 45 somewhere else. I watched a couple of Mets games recently on and he looked pretty dang good. Why such the range of views and what FV grade would you slap on him?
Matt Eddy: OK, I will post this one because of the creative user handle. I can’t comment on rankings from other sources. Yes, Gsellman looked good during his September callup (see above comment for September evaluations). And he gritted through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, which speaks to his toughness. We put a future 50 grade on him: playoff-caliber No. 4 starter.

Matt Eddy: Awesome questions. I love seeing all the interest generated by the Mets and by our Top 10 Prospects rankings. If you have additional player questions (or answers to my Nimmo and Alonso riddle) then tweet at me @MattEddyBA

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