New York Mets Midseason Top 10 Prospects
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On the heels of a 92-loss campaign, The Mets began 2018 with a new manager, Mickey Callaway, and a new outlook after signing complementary free agents Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak and Jason Vargas to supplement a talented core.
New York began the season 11-1 and seemed poised for a run at a National League wild card—but then everything fell apart. After their hot start, the Mets went just 28-54 (.341) to close the first half.
The culprits for the Mets’ disastrous slide were myriad.
Underperformance had touched nearly every corner of the Mets’ roster, most critically in the bullpen (the Mets were 9-16 in one-run games) and the lineup, where a team that tied for the NL lead in home runs in 2017 had slugged just .380 in the first half to rank ahead of only the Padres and Marlins.
Outfielder Brandon Nimmo became a fixture as leadoff man, Wilmer Flores continued to grow into power with a regular role, and 28-year-old righthander Zack Wheeler rediscovered the elite fastball that made him a top prospect five years and one Tommy John surgery ago.
The Mets have replenished the lower levels of the farm system with draft picks and international signees, but they have only one prospect who could impact the big league club this season or next: 23-year-old first baseman Peter Alonso, the latest Statcast hero for his mammoth Futures Game blast.
That leaves the Mets in a tough spot. They have a playoff-caliber rotation featuring ace Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler and Steven Matz, but insufficient depth or reliability in every other area. The playoffs are out of the question this year, but the direction New York takes at the trade deadline probably depends on what kind of prospects other teams offer for the aforementioned starters.
1. Andres Gimenez, SS
High Class A St. Lucie
Scouts lauded Gimenez for his high baseball IQ when he was an amateur in Venezuela, and those forecasts have proven accurate in pro ball. He quickly acclimated to the low Class A South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old in 2017 and has upped his game in the Florida State League this season. Gimenez packs a punch at the plate thanks to his bat speed and selective, high-contact approach that profiles at the top of the order. Despite ordinary speed, he has racked up high stolen base totals this year with improved ability to read pitchers and game situations. Gimenez plays a strong fundamental shortstop but might be destined for second base down the line.
2. Peter Alonso, 1B
Triple-A Las Vegas
Alonso combines elite exit velocities with strong plate discipline to produce huge righthanded power. The 2016 second-rounder has done nothing but mash since turning pro and has hit his way to Triple-A in short order. Alonso profiles as a middle-of-the-order masher and below-average defensive first baseman who will supply substantial value with his bat.
3. Jarred Kelenic, OF
The Mets chose Kelenic sixth overall in June, making him the first high school batter selected in 2018 and also the highest prep drafted from Wisconsin in draft history. He moved quickly from the Gulf Coast League to the Appalachian League in his pro debut, showing the necessary work ethic and drive to go with outstanding tools. Kellenic’s smooth lefthanded swing portends above-average—and possibly plus—hitting ability and power, and he backs that with above-average range and arm strength in center field.
4. David Peterson, LHP
High Class A St. Lucie
Peterson has physicality at 6-foot-6, three pitches and control. What the 2017 first-rounder out of Oregon didn’t have coming into the year was experience. An ingrown toenail curtailed his pro debut last year and then a tweaked knee delayed his start this season. When Peterson returned, he quickly advanced to the Florida State League with his low-90s fastball, solid-average slider and average changeup. He gets results because of the angle on his pitches and ability to keep the ball on the ground.
5. Justin Dunn, RHP
The 19th overall pick in 2016, Dunn ran up a 5.00 ERA in the Florida State League a year ago, but the lightning-armed, athletic righty had improved dramatically this season. Dunn shows feel for three pitches and throws from an effortless delivery, making his 93-94 mph fastball and hard-breaking slider play up. Improved fastball command and manipulation as well as enhanced feel for his changeup have made him tougher on lefthanders and more effective overall.
6. Anthony Kay, LHP
High Class A St. Lucie
A first-round pick in 2016 out of Connecticut, Kay had Tommy John surgery after signing, which delayed his pro debut until this season. Once healthy, the hard-nosed southpaw advanced quickly to the Florida State League thanks to a 93-94 mph fastball that touches 96 and an elite spin-rate curveball. Kay also throws a quality changeup. Developing his curve as a swing-and-miss pitch could make him a No. 3 starter.
7. Ronny Mauricio, SS
Rookie-level Gulf Coast League
One of the top prospects on the international market in 2017, Mauricio has handled an assignment to domestic Rookie ball this year, showing plus bat speed and plus athleticism in the Gulf Coast League. The ball comes off his bat with authority because of exceptional hand speed and a swing that stays on plane through the hitting zone. Mauricio’s plus arm and body control will keep him at shortstop as he advances.
8. Thomas Szapucki, LHP
Recovering from Tommy John surgery
Szapucki has carved up minor league competition with bat-missing stuff that opponents struggle to square up or lift. He reached low Class A Columbia in 2017 before his progress was put on hold by Tommy John surgery in July. When healthy, Szapucki throws an electric fastball/curveball combo that ranks as the best in the system. He could return to the mound in instructional league.
9. Mark Vientos, 3B
Drafted as a shortstop in the second round last year, Vientos has shifted to third base in the Appalachian League, but he has the power and overall hitting profile to weather the move. With fast hands, a projectable frame and the ability to loft the ball, he should develop above-average power. Vientos, who was one of the youngest players in his draft class, needs to clean up his plate approach and defensive fundamentals at his new position, but he’s well on his way.
10. Gavin Cecchini, 2B/SS
Triple-A Las Vegas
The 2012 first-rounder didn’t hit much last year, but he got off to a fast start in the Pacific Coast League this year thanks to an improved swing plane and softer front-foot landing. Unfortunately, Cecchini suffered a foot injury on May 9 after being hit by a pitch, costing him a shot at a callup. (The Mets instead called on Luis Guillorme and Ty Kelly as backup infielders.) Cecchini lacks a carrying tool outside of his bat-to-ball skills, but he’s a well-rounded, big league-ready player who can do a little of everything, including play all infield positions.
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- Rookie-level Kingsport SS Shervyen Newton is a switch-hitter who signed out of Curacao for a modest $50,000 in 2015, but he’s opening eyes in the Appalachian League with his above-average power, high exit velocities, mature hitting approach and overall baseball IQ.
- Double-A Binghamton RHP Eric Hanhold might be the best of the seven minor league relievers the Mets imported in their 2017 trades. His velocity has ticked up to the mid-to-high 90s after moving to the bullpen, and he pairs it with a plus slider that can make batters look foolish.
- Triple-A Las Vegas 2B/3B Jeff McNeil led the Florida State League in on-base percentage in 2015 but had the bulk of his next two seasons wiped out by injuries. Healthy this year, the lefthanded hitter zoomed to Triple-A (and a likely second-half callup) after improving his launch angle to pair with already-elite contact skills and barrel control.
- High Class A St. Lucie C Ali Sanchez is an advanced defender and thrower who could be figuring things out with the bat. He tweaked his hand positioning in extended spring training, and his power output has increased dramatically.
- High Class A St. Lucie OF Desmond Lindsay, the athletic 2015 second-rounder, posts high exit velocities, shows advanced plate discipline and grades out well in center field, yet he hasn’t been able to generate consistent offensive production in full-season ball.
- Double-A Binghamton RHP Marcos Molina showed greatly diminished stuff in a repeat of the Eastern League to earn his release in July.
- Joining LHP Thomas Szapucki on the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery is RHP Jordan Humphreys. Both could get back on the mound at instructional league, at the latest.
- Triple-A Las Vegas reliever Jamie Callahan landed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis after seven rough outings.
- 2B/SS Gregory Guerrero spent last season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but he hasn’t played this year after having shoulder capsule surgery.
- Working as a spot starter and reliever, RHP Chris Flexen recorded seven outs to exhaust his prospect eligibility.