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Down following myriad graduations.
The Mets used recent first-round picks on college lefthanders Anthony Kay and David Peterson, who pair with Thomas Szapucki to give the club southpaw depth they haven’t seen in years. The Mets’ international program continues to funnel prospects through the system, particularly projectable Latin American shortstops like Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio and Sebastian Espino.
After graduating the likes of Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, Amed Rosario and Noah Syndergaard (and trading Michael Fulmer) in the past three years, the system lacks blue-chip prospects. In particular, the Mets are short on power bats (aside from Pete Alonso) and top-of-the-rotation-type arms.
Notable Graduations: SS Amed Rosario (1), 1B Dominic Smith (2) and OF Brandon Nimmo (5) finished the season as regulars, while RHP Robert Gsellman (7) logged 120 innings.
The Mets acknowledged Gimenez's talent by signing him for $1.2 million in 2015, when he ranked as the No. 2 prospect on the international market, but they now hold his athleticism, maturity and work ethic in similarly high regard. After hitting .350 in his pro debut in 2016, when he led the Dominican Summer League with a .469 on-base percentage, he skipped domestic short-season ball entirely to make his U.S. debut at low Class A Columbia in late April 2017. As one of four 18-year-old regular position players in the South Atlantic League, Gimenez more than held his own, ranking 12th in the league with a .346 OBP and 11th with a 15.3 percent strikeout rate. Described as a “ball of dynamite” by one Mets official, Gimenez has a shorter, thicker build than many shortstops but compensates with twitchy athleticism. Scouts expect him to impact the ball more frequently as his body matures in his 20s. Gimenez pushed his average to .289 on Aug. 2, but he closed the year in an 18-for-91 (.198) skid as he dealt with a jammed thumb and general fatigue. Nothing phases Gimenez at the plate, where he has the attributes to be an above-average hitter. His lefthanded swing is direct to the ball, and he identifies pitches well, doesn't swing and miss often and hangs in versus southpaws. Skeptics question his batting upside potential, however, because he has average present running speed, while his power projects to be below-average. Body control and quick actions serve Gimenez at shortstop, where he has above-average range, reliable hands and an arm that plays up to plus thanks to a quick release and accuracy. His instincts and feel for the game will keep him at shortstop--where he has plus defensive potential--as he climbs the ladder, while his arm and reliability would allow him to shift to second or third base as needed. Given his youth and distance from the big leagues, Gimenez's future role has not yet come into focus. Some scouts fall short of giving him a single plus tool, which could make him a second-division regular or utility infielder, but those who see a plus middle-infield defender and above-average hitter envision a potential double-play partner for shortstop Amed Rosario in Queens. Gimenez has three more minor league levels to master before then, and that task begins at high Class A St. Lucie in 2018.
An unsigned 28th-round pick out of high school, Peterson blossomed as an Oregon junior after he clicked with new pitching coach Jason Dietrich. He ranked sixth in Division I (and first in the Pacific-12 Conference) with 140 strikeouts. The Mets selected him 20th overall in 2017 and signed him for a tick less than $3 million. Peterson walked 3.5 per nine innings in his first two college seasons before reducing that rate to 1.4 in 2017, when he showed the best control in his draft class. A physical, 6-foot-6 lefthanded starter, he has ordinary fastball velocity--he sits 90-91 mph and peaks at 95--but above-average sink and run to go with a wide repertoire. Peterson shows advanced command of an above-average, low-80s slider that flummoxes batters with its unique angle and deceptive late drop. It's an out pitch versus lefthanders and a back-foot weapon against righties. His fading changeup could develop into an above-average weapon now that he has sharpened his fastball command. He throws an occasional fringy curveball early in counts. Peterson signed at deadline and then had surgery to remove an ingrown toenail, which inhibited his ability to walk or pitch, so he made just three abbreviated starts at short-season Brooklyn, none more than 39 pitches in duration. He notched 20- and 17-strikeout games at Oregon in 2017, but his repertoire suggests more of a durable, strike-throwing, groundball-oriented No. 3 or 4 starter.
Dunn worked primarily as a reliever at Boston College until moving to the rotation two months before the 2016 draft. He pitched well enough in eight starts to generate first-round attention, and the Mets selected him 19th overall. He shined at short-season Brooklyn in his debut but struggled with the jump to high Class A St. Lucie in 2017, where he ran up a 5.00 ERA. As a starter with an athletic delivery, quick, loose arm and pitchability, Dunn could be in line for better days ahead. He flashes a plus fastball and slider, his primary weapons in college, but below-average control and command hampered his effectiveness. At his best, he ranges from 92-96 mph with above-average life on his fastball and breaks off a mid-80s slider with late three-quarters tilt. He even shows surprising command of a changeup given his bullpen background, but just as a platoon split plagued him in college, Dunn needs to find a way to retire lefthanded batters after they hit .345/.464/.462 against him in the Florida State League. If he improves his fastball command, changeup and stamina, Dunn could profile as a No. 3 or 4 starter. If he doesn't, he should have no trouble reaching the big leagues as a high-leverage reliever. A key development year in which he should reach Double-A awaits.
Alonso's incredible righthanded power translated from Florida to pro ball. He launched a 421-foot home run to center field at the 2015 College World Series, and the blast still stands as the longest at Omaha's TD Ameritrade Park. In 2017 he walloped a Florida State League-leading 16 home runs at high Class A St. Lucie at the time the Mets promoted him to Double-A--despite missing six weeks with a broken hand. Alonso generates by far the highest exit velocity and has the most power in the Mets system. He looks for pitches to elevate with his plus-plus raw power, and the ball carries to all fields when he connects. In addition to plus game power, Alonso has a chance for an average hit tool because he hits the ball hard with frequency and doesn't swing and miss as much as many sluggers. A well below-average runner and uncoordinated, slow-bodied defender, he committed 19 errors at first base in 2017, the majority of them fielding miscues and dropped catches. He requires a lot of work to be playable in the field. Alonso has crushed lefthanders as a pro, compiling a 1.166 OPS, but he has hit a more modest .256/.316/.456 against same-side pitchers. Regardless, his power will play in the big leagues, perhaps in the second half of 2018, whether as a regular or a platoon masher.
One of the most promising pitchers in the Mets system, Szapucki looked sharp during his full-season debut at low Class A Columbia. He made just six starts, however, because he missed April and May while recovering from a shoulder impingement, then had Tommy John surgery in July that will cost him the 2018 season. His 2016 season also ended prematurely with back stiffness at short-season Brooklyn. A physical 6-foot-2 lefthander, Szapucki when healthy delivers high-quality stuff from the left side out of a low three-quarters arm slot. He ranges from 90-96 mph and sits 93 with electric life on his plus fastball. He commands his big-breaking, low-80s slider and uses it as an out pitch. Szapucki even showed feel for a changeup he has developed in his three pro seasons, though it remains fringe-average. His control grades as below-average but can be improved with better direction to the plate. Szapucki might have ranked No. 1 in the system had he remained healthy--he has that kind of ceiling. If he recovers fully and proves his durability, he can develop into a No. 3 starter. He turns 23 in 2019, when he is targeted to return to the mound.
The youngest player selected in the top 10 rounds of the 2017 draft, Vientos didn't turn 18 until December of his draft year. His father was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in New York a Mets fan and couldn't contain his excitement when New York selected Vientos in the second round and signed him for $1.5 million out of Florida prep power American Heritage. The Mets zeroed in on Vientos early in the spring season, drawn to his fast, powerful swing, strong hands and projectable 6-foot-4 frame. He started slow in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League but then hit .305/.339/.467 in 115 August at-bats. After hitting only one home run as a prep senior, Vientos clubbed four homers in the GCL, and the Mets believe his knack for elevating the ball will lead to plus power down the road. Though he is a well below-average runner, he has plus hands and an above-average arm at shortstop. Most scouts project him to third base because he's not as quick as a typical shortstop and his frame still has plenty of room to fill out. Vientos offers a promising blend of offensive upside and left-side-of-the-infield value, but he is four years or more away from the big leagues. With a good spring training, he could be on track for low Class A Columbia in 2018.
Noted for his arm strength early in his career, Molina began to produce results and gain prospect helium at short-season Brooklyn in 2014. He lost momentum in 2015 and 2016 as he dealt with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but a convincing season at Double-A Binghamton in 2017, after recovering from a lat strain, restored his shine. With a workhorse physique and easy, athletic delivery, Molina throws strikes and generates above-average life on all his pitches. He sat 94 mph in the Arizona Fall League in 2016, but his velocity dipped to 91 mph with a peak of 93 in 2017 as he focused on commanding and sinking the ball. He commands his high-spin two-seamer to both sides of the plate and hides the ball well. Molina's plus low-80s slider has late three-quarters tilt and depth to play against batters on both sides of the plate. His mid-80s changeup took a step forward in 2017 and projects as average. Based on his pitch profile and sharp control, Molina has the attributes to be a No. 4 starter. If he rediscovers a few ticks of velocity, he could be better than that. He figures to be the next Mets starter to make his major league debut at some point in 2018.
The Mets' top draft pick in 2015 after they sacrificed their first-rounder to sign free agent Michael Cuddyer, Lindsay has flashed impact potential in pro ball--but only in glimpses and only in between injuries. Hamstring trouble affected him in high school and in his first two pro seasons, then in 2017 he was plagued by elbow trouble that required season-ending surgery in late July to transpose his ulnar nerve. At full strength, Lindsay has power-speed potential and a discerning batting eye. He struggled out of the gate in 2017 at low Class A Columbia and hit just .149 through his first 38 games, but an altered eyeglass prescription might have cued a late surge. In his final 27 games before surgery, he hit .300/.352/.560 with six of his eight home runs. Lindsay has plus raw power and impacts the ball to all fields when he connects, but he didn't do that often enough, with rates for walks (13 percent) and strikeouts (31 percent) that ranked among the highest in the South Atlantic League. A prep third baseman, Lindsay has used his above-average speed to develop into an average center fielder with an average arm. A healthy season would go a long way toward determining Lindsay's future potential and timetable. Moving to a more hitter-friendly park at high Class A St. Lucie in 2018 could help.
Flexen began the 2017 season on the disabled list after having surgery to remove a bone spur from his right knee. He ended it in the big leagues after a 10-start run through the minors that included his first seven turns at Double-A. Flexen missed time in 2014 and 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery and wasn't ready for prime time as an emergency callup in 2017, as indicated by his 7.88 ERA in 48 innings. Flexen added a few ticks to his fastball, threw more strikes and improved the effectiveness of his mid-70s curveball in 2017. In fact, he recorded the second-highest curveball spin rate on Mets' big league staff, finishing (a distant) second to Seth Lugo, owner of the highest-spin curve of the Statcast era. Flexen pitches at 92 mph and can reach 96, while adeptly adding sinking or riding life to his fastball by changing his grip. He made progress with his average changeup, but would benefit from developing his fringe-average slider into a chase pitch. Flexen commands three pitches but lacks a knockout offering. Without an out pitch, he profiles as a No. 5 starter or reliever.
Guillorme won the low Class A South Atlantic League MVP in 2015 despite not hitting a single home run. He continued his high-contact, low-watt production with a season of extremes at Double-A Binghamton in 2017. He ranked second in the Eastern League with 72 walks while turning in the EL's lowest strikeout rate (10 percent) and isolated power (.048). Guillorme drew national attention during spring training 2017 when he nonchalantly barehanded a bat hurtling for the Mets dugout. Appropriately, his scouting report begins with lightning-quick hands and reflexes, which he parlays into plus defensive ability at shortstop and second base. He confidently makes difficult plays in the field with above-average range, a solid-average arm and a great internal clock. Guillorme hardly ever pulls the ball and has bottom-of-the-scale power, but he could develop an average hit tool because he works deep counts, hits the ball hard consistently and uses the whole field. As a lefthanded batter who brings a plus glove to shortstop, second base or third base, Guillorme is a shoo-in for a utility infielder role. If his bat develops, he could be a second-division regular, possibly at second base for the Mets, where no long-term solution is apparent.
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