Hello everybody, and welcome to year number 8 of MetsProspectHub. This hopefully promises to be our best year ever, with the late season additions of Eddie and Andrea in 2013, who will continue to blog for MPH in 2014 while also doing their own thing (Eddie on TheDailyStache, where I also guest-blog), and Andrea with her own blog (http://littlemissmetsblog.com/). As usual, of course, we had the Period of Darkness from November to March where nothing much happens here, but now we’re heading (finally? Hopefully? Please go away @PolarVortex…) into spring, so it’s time to get this baby going!
The following is a list of things to watch, and look for, in the 2014 season. By no means is it an exhaustive list, but these are some of the things I’ll be keeping an eye on.
The Cyclones look to have, at least right now (3 months out) a good chance to have 4 pretty good, pretty interesting, prospects who will open there. Casey Meisner (19) and Andrew Church (19) (both from the 2013 draft) and then Marcos Molina (19; who I vastly underranked in the MPH top 45) and Amed Rosario (19; who has tools to spare). This group has vast upside, and will, if they open in Brooklyn, play as teenagers in the college heavy NYPL. Meisner, at the time he was drafted, was an extremely tall stringbean, standing 6’7 and weighing just 190, but already reaching the mid 90s with his fastball. He has extreme upside in my opinion, the hope of course, is that he fills out, gains velocity, and becomes a beast of a pitching prospect. Andrew Church offers less upside, at least in my opinion, but he also throws mid 90s with a curveball and slider, both of which were said to be raw at the time of the draft. Molina, who I absolutely should’ve ranked with Meisner in the mid 20s, offers a low 90s fastball with increasing velocity, and outstanding command. He follows in the Rafael Montero/Gabriel Ynoa group of polish over crazy stuff (though all 3 of their arsenals are at least major league average (or project to be)). Finally, Amed Rosario is an extremely raw toolshed shortstop who can stick there. He probably has the highest upside of this quartet of prospects, but will likely take a few years to get there.
The Sand Gnats will once more feature a stable of pitching prospects to keep an eye on. Rob Whalen (@RobWhalen38), Chris Flexen, Akeel Morris, Alberto Baldonado (lefty power reliever), Ricardo Jacquez (short righty power reliever), amongst others. The big name in Savannah very well could be Dom Smith, who beasted last season in the GCL. Joining him on in the infield will probably be Gavin Cecchini (who everyone knows I’m down on). Jared King and Champ Stuart will likely be in the outfield, giving us a nice quartet of offensive prospects to keep an eye on here.
What I’ll be watching for:
Rob Whalen. I will be interested to see how Whalen’s strikeouts, in particular, come along at the higher level, he was very very VERY good in 2013 (79 Ks in 78.2 innings) along with a very strong groundball tendency (2.40). Supposedly light on stuff, I hope to see Whalen maintain that strong combination of strikeouts and groundballs.
Dom Smith. Just the fact he’s here at age 19 will be enough for me. Grayson Stadium is death to power hitters, so it will be interesting to see how he does. Does he continue to be a high OBP guy as he was last year? Does he hit a ton of doubles?
Chris Flexen. Keep it rolling, uptick the strikeouts (65 in 74 innings last year). Solidify his arsenal, maybe gain a tick or two on his already averageish fastball.
Darkhorse prospects (aka the Forgotten Ones). Tomas Nido. Phillip Evans. Lets see some signs of life from these two, both are young enough, both have varying amounts of upside. Nido especially as a power hitting catcher who has been pushed very hard in the system.
The prospects here, on offense anyway, aren’t as exciting, at least to me. You’ve got Dilson Herrera and Brandon Nimmo headlining, of course, both of them are exciting, but then you have them surrounded by a lot of “eh… he’s OK” guys. Eudy Pina (the lone survivor from the 2009 DSL Speed Squad™), Matt Oberste (who the Mets paid overslot to land in round 7 (185.7k slot, he got 325k which is 5th round money)), and LJ Mazzilli (a 23 year old senior sign in 2013).
Where the fun is here is in the pitching, where you’ll have a Big Three of Michael Fulmer, Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz, all of whom were in my top 12 prospects list (8, 9 and 6, respectively). All three of these pitchers profile as mid rotation guys at worst, and could even be #2s if all breaks right. Matz and Fulmer’s floors are likely as relievers, too, which removes some of the risk there.
What I’ll be watching for:
Brandon Nimmo. Now fully healed from the hand/glute injuries that plagued him in 2013, and away from Grayson (but still in a pitchers park), will he hit for any power this year?
Steven Matz. Will he make it to the end again this year, and does his changeup progress? Does he finally pick a breaking pitch and go forward with it, after alternating a few times between curveball and slider.
Michael Fulmer. Does he have a fully healthy season after a lost 2013. How much did that lost 2013 hurt him? Has he developed a third pitch to add to his low-to-mid 90s fastball and curveball?
Under the Radar. The relief core of Beck Wheeler, John Mincone, Johnny Magliozzi and Bret Mitchell. All four of these guys throw relatively hard, and could move quickly. Will we be discussing any of them in our potential 2016 bullpens?
Ah, Binghamton, the red-headed step child of the system for the second straight season. The weakest of all the fullseason teams. There is still some intrigue here, though it is mostly in the 20 to 40 area on my prospect list. The one ‘big’ name is Kevin Plawecki, and then it’s a bunch of relievers, even some masquerading as starters (Domingo Tapia, Cory Mazzoni, Hansel Robles).
What I’ll be watching for:
Spring. Does it ever arrive? Will the temperature ever break 60 degrees? What will that feel like for all of us?
Kevin Plawecki. Does he continue to hit for a high average/high OBP? Does he improve his throwing out of runners? His arm is fringe/average as a catcher, can he make that work?
Domingo Tapia. Does his triple digit heat transition into a pen role here? I feel he’ll be asked to be a starting pitcher to open the season, but that will not last very long. Does he gain enough command in the bullpen to become another hard throwing option for the 2015 Mets bullpen?
Redemption Stories. Aderlin Rodriguez and Matt Reynolds. A lot has been expected of them over the last two years, and neither has delivered anything close. Will 2014 be the season we see something from either of them? Aderlin is a power hitter, and Reynolds was a 2nd rounder. Will they show some promise?
The strongest of the fullseason teams, arguably, and easily the most intriguing, Vegas is poised to play host to a powerhouse starting rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Jenrry Mejia (let us take a moment to consider just how epically retarded our front office is… re: Mejia), Rafael Montero headlining. That front 3 would probably match up pretty well with the big club’s front 3 out of the gate (Gee, Colon, Wheeler). On offense, you have Wilmer, Eric Campbell, Kirk, den Dekker, and Puello as part of a powerful offense which also will feature Zach Lutz somewhere, along with Allan Dykstra. The 51s look poised to have a ridiculously awesome season.
What I’ll watch for:
Noah Syndergaard. Super Two. OK, OK. Does he keep his walk rate down? Does his changeup progress? A little refinement never hurt anyone.
Jenrry Mejia. By how much will he make the brass look utterly and completely inept?
Wilmer Flores. How bad will he look at shortstop? When will the Mets realize he is their second baseman of the future?
Cesar Puello. Will he hit as well as he did last year? Will he draw more walks? Will he put the PED questions to rest?
The bullpen. Carreno, Walters, Kolarek, Huchingson, Leathersich. Josh Edgin. Which among this group will put their foot forward and attempt to lay claims to future bullpen assignments?
The Major League Team. I know this is a minor league blog, but we’re all fans of the Mets, right? So here are few quick hits of what I’ll be looking for with the parent club.
Juan Lagares. Can hit even a little (even a .260/.300/.400 line, combined with his defense, makes him a potential 4 to 4.5 win player). He’ll continue to be a total vaccuum in center field, but what happens when runners don’t challenge him anymore? Obviously that’s a good thing, but I’m not sure if there are statistics which account for that. Still, if he can manage even a .700 OPS, it would be awesome. Anything more would be, in my opinion, gravy.
Daniel Murphy. Can he repeat his 2013, and will the Mets make a smart move and trade him if he looks like he is? I sure hope so. If he’s rocking a .280/.330/.450 line with 12/16 steals on July 1st, I’d want the Mets to be shopping the hell out of him (Dodgers anyone?)
Travis d’Arnaud. Can he stay healthy for the first time in the past 3 seasons? If he does, I’ve no doubt he will hit, and play good defense. All the people writing him off after 99 big league at-bats amaze me, to be honest, it’s like they just started watching baseball in 2013. Rookies, especially rookie catchers, take a long while to develop offensively (look at that guy on the Cardinals… you know, the one who… neverfuckingmind what he did)
Five Bold (Borderline Lunatic) Predictions
1. Dominic Smith will end the season in St. Lucie after ripping the hell out of Savannah
2. Amed Rosario will hit for a .730+ OPS in Brooklyn (.265/.310/.420)
3. Casey Meisner will be promoted to Savannah after 9 utterly dominant starts in Brooklyn
4. One of John Church, Chasen Bradford, Adam Kolarek, or Chase Huchingson (aka the relief prospects no one talks about) will establish themselves in the major league pen.
5. Hamilton Bennett’s stache will continue to be awesome
Three Deep Sleeper Prospects to Watch for
1. Brandon Brosher. Taken as a 1b in the 36th round last year, the Mets are going to try and convert him to catcher, it will be interesting to see how it takes, if it does. He showed off good power last year when he did play, with a double and 3 homers in 61 ABs, to go along with 12 walks.
2. Jose Garcia. This catcher was given a very sizeable bonus ($800,000) and did not wholly disappoint as an 18 year old catcher in the GCL. He might not have a breakout season in 2014, but he is definitely a name to keep an eye on going forward.
3. Champ Stuart. A five tool outfielder who the Mets nabbed in the 6th round in 2013, Stuart had a good pro debut in Kingsport, and will probably open in Savannah this season. I look for him to have a good season and make a lot of people go “who?”. That qualifies as sleeper in my books.
Well, that’s all for the season’s preview, and some of the things that I’ll be watching for this year. It looks to be yet another season of minor league watching while we await the inevitable Year of Contention™, which was 2014, but is now 2015 due to Harvey’s injury. Thanks for reading, we’re about 9 days or so away from minor league opening day, and I hope this article got you as excited for it as I am. It’s almost time for baseball that counts.