I think this is the part of the article where I mention something about Mets starting pitching, and then something else about elbow injuries. Let’s check those two boxes right from the gate, and talk about how boring any, and all homegrown Mets hitters are. When was the last time the Mets produced a bat that wasn’t kind of boring? David Wright? Jose Reyes? Okay, okay Michael Conforto is exciting, but often for the wrong reasons. Like “I’m freaking excited to not own Michael Conforto any longer.” That was you after April 30th. The problem is none of the upcoming bats have first round fantasy upside. Nevertheless, the divide between pitching talent and hitting talent is never so evident as it is at the major league level. The lineup is littered with talent acquired in trades and free agent mercenaries. While the rotation runs 7 deep with major league starters from within the organization. The stats bear this out too, as good as the Mets were at preventing runs (ranking third in 2016 in team ERA), were as bad as they were at scoring them (ranking 25th in runs scored). Maybe some of that’s park aided or maybe some of it’s talent. While the light (and I use that term lightly) at the end of the tunnel, is still more than likely a year or two away, there are some bats progressing through the system that should be on fantasy owners radar’s. Players like Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, and Brandon Nimmo all offer fantasy impact (to varying degrees) in the next two years. However, true to form the best talent lies in the pitching ranks, with the highest upside prospects coming in the form of pitchers like Justin Dunn and Thomas Szapucki. I certainly wouldn’t rank Amazin’s system in the top 10, but they’re in the top half, and that’s better than being the Marlins. Enough of the lead-in, hop into the post, and learn why I’m moderately enthused about the Top New York Mets Prospects.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Amed Rosario, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Rosario was a youth teammate of Nomar Mazara when he signed for $1.75 million out of the DR in 2012. He was the first signing of scouting director Chris Becerra’s reign, and so far he looks to be a great one. He’s impressed throughout his pro career first in the Appy league in 2013, followed by the New York-Penn League in 2014 and the Florida State and Eastern League over the last two years. I saw a little of Rosario this year with AA Binghamton, and the easy right handed swing, and plus bat speed, stick out. While I don’t see him evolving into a 20/20 threat, I do see him with low to mid-teens power, and 20 or so steals in his high seasons. His carrying offensive tool is his ability to hit for average, which plays up due to his speed. His fielding might already be Gold Glove caliber, meaning he’s got no chance of moving off the position. Over the last year plus his approach and his eye have improved, meaning he’s not far off from Flushing. I’d be shocked if he’s not the Mets everyday shortstop opening day of 2018. Should see some time in New York, at the end of 2017.
Dominic Smith, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
Always knocked as a hit tool only guy with no power since going 11th overall in the 2013 draft, Smith has made slight power gains over the last two years, boosting his overall stock. The recipient of the always lazy James Loney comp, Smith was the MVP of the Florida State league hitting .305/.354/.417 in 2015. He followed that up with a strong year in AA, finishing third in the Eastern League in hits, and RBIs, while posting career best ISO (.155), slugging (.457), and home run (14) totals. He’s still only 21, so there could be more power to come, particularity with his keen eye and advanced approach to hitting. While I don’t forsee 30 home run years in Smith’s future he could be a .280/20/85 player with extra value in OBP leagues. I should probably mention he’s a thick through the middle big-bodied guy, listed at 250 LBS, but he’s not sloppy, and plays a solid first base. Closing statement: The bat is legit.
Robert Gsellman, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
One of my favorite rookie picthers entering 2017, was a bit overlooked heading into last season. Gsellman’s game starts with his elite groundball numbers, generating a 56% GB rate across all levels last year, and a 55% in his 44 innings in the majors. His fastball sits 93-96, with plus sink and good movement. This pitch in particular generates weak contact in bunches. His K per stuff took a giant step forward last season due to an overall improvement in his secondary offerings. He throws an above-average curveball, an average changeup, and a fringe slider. One of Gsellman’s greatest strengths is his ability to get ahead in counts, throwing first pitch strikes 61% of the time. He also does a good job of getting batters to chase out of the zone (30.5% O-Swing), while also swinging at a lot of pitches in it (68.6%). Couple his swinging strike rate (9.1%), with his groundball numbers, and you get someone generating weak contact, as well as swings and misses in and out of the strike-zone. This tells me Gsellman, is controlling at bats more often than not, which is a great indicator of long term success. Has a back end starter floor with Kyle Hendricks upside.
Justin Dunn, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
Straight out of Freeport, Long Island, the hometown of hypeman extraordinaire and reality show luminary Flavor Flav comes Justin Dunn. The 19th overall pick in this June’s draft was Boston College’s closer until the final two months of the season. Then Dunn was moved to the rotation, where he made 8 strong starts, and never looked back. His loose athletic delivery and live arm saw him rise up draft boards, but the questions remain if he’ll ultimately progress as a starter. His plus fastball and slider mix looks a lot like an elite pen 1-2 punch, Dunn’s future role will be determined by his fringe change or curve developing into an average major league offering. While his fastball works mid-upper 90’s, it’s his slider with good vertical break and tight spin that’s his bread and butter. Many scouts have dubbed it the best slider in the system. His returns through 30 pro innings in the short season New York-Penn League have been good, as he posted a line of 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA a 10.5 K/9, and a 3.0 Bb/9. I’d expect he gets a full season assignment to the Florida State League out of camp, with a chance to make some late season starts with AA Binghamton.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Brandon Nimmo, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
The pride of Wyoming, as Nimmo is the only prep player to ever be drafted out of the state. I threw around some hyperbole about Nimmo on the recent episode of the Razzball Prospect Podcast, where I dubbed him a future batting title contender. When I watch him that’s what I see, and his recent numbers do nothing to dissuade that notion. In fact last year in the PCL he slashed .351/.424/.545 in AAA Las Vegas, missing the batting title by .001 of a point. He’s been an on base machine throughout his professional career, highlighted by his 12.3% career walk rate across all levels. Despite owning the 5th highest slugging in the PCL, his power is middling, but could improve should he get more aggressive early in counts. From a batted ball perspective he hit’s a lot of grounders, 48% to be exact, but his LD% of 23 is very solid. Looks like a solid future 2 hole hitter with batting title upside.
Peter Alonso, 1B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
We spoke in depth about Alonso on the podcast this week, as he was a favorite sleeper of myself and Halp coming out of the draft. Oh hey, what do you know, I listed him as a sleeper way back in my 2016 Draft Sleepers post in early September. He’s a power hitter in the mold of A.J. Reed (also a 2nd rounder), in that he doesn’t possess a super quick bat, but makes up for it with caveman strength, and advanced approach. He was one of the more underrated players on last year’s stacked Florida Gators squad, and followed up a strong collegiate career with a good first run through proball, slashing .321/.386/.586 with 5 homers in 109 at bats. Alonso crushes lefthanded pitching, setting his floor as powerful platoon bat, but I think the Mets hope he can develop into an everyday first baseman to compete with Dom Smith.
Wuilmer Becerra, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
The power outage in 2016 after a strong full season debut in 2015 is concerning on it’s face. But he was plagued by recovery from a shoulder injury, which could be the culprit for the reduced pop. When healthy he offers a decent power-speed profile, so he’s worth holding if you’re a Becerra owner.
Marcos Molina, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: N/A
After good early returns through his first three professional seasons, Molina missed all of 2016 after going under the knife for TJ. When right he offers three above average or better pitches led by his plus fastball, mixed with an above average slider and change. Prior to his injury his control was also above-average, he’s just Mr. Above Average!! One thing, if I may rant for a second. Rant** Hey scouts we need a better description than above average, it sounds like a halfhearted attempt by a girlfriend to make her boyfriend fell less self conscious. It’s supposed to be good!! let’s fix this!! End Rant** He returned to the mound this fall in Arizona, and the results were mediocre. Here’s to hoping a full off-season and camp can help Molina get back on track. An excellent buy low candidate in deeper dynasty leagues.
Gavin Cecchini, SS | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
I’m asleep and I haven’t even started writing up Cecchini yet. He’s as floor-boring as they come, a hit tool player with no real power or speed, though he does have a little of each. The younger brother of AAAA superstar Garin Cecchini, has had his own bouts with the overrating bug, having gone 12th overall in the 2012 draft. Not a strong defender, should move off the position and end up a future second baseman with not a lot of fantasy relevant tools.
Others: Jhoan Urena, Gabriel Ynoa, Tomas Nido, David Thompson, Eudor Garcia
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Thomas Szapucki, LHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
The 2015 5th round pick looks like a steal, which is exactly what the Mets needed after foolishly throwing away their first rounder in that draft for a .259/.309/.391 line from Michael Cuddyer. Due to wonky mechanics there’s lots of pen risk, but the stuff is phenomenal. There’s three plus pitches with his mid-90’s fastball leading the charge, his offspeed stuff features two plus breaking pitches in his slider and curveball, with the slider being the best of the two. However the curve is no slouch, as I’ve seen it described by scouts as the best in the Mets system. His fastball works well to both sides of the plate generating a solid amount of groundball contact (46% last year). However his ability to miss bats (41% strikeout rate) is what sets him apart from the pack. After adjusting his arm slot in 2015 instructs to a ¾ delivery, his results boosted, evident by his 1.38 ERA in 9 starts between rookie league and SS NYPL. Unfortunately Szapucki was shutdown toward the end of the season due to a back issue. If he’s able to stay healthy and meet his immense promise, we could be looking at the next Mets ace.
Desmond Lindsey, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
The other pick Mets fans hope can make the Cuddyer mistake a distant memory. After going in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft, Lindsey was considered a bit of a steal after missing his senior year with hamstring issues (which popped up again in 16). He presents a fantasy baseball players dream skillset with power, speed, and hit tool. Lindsey’s ceiling is the highest among hitters in the system. His 19.2% K rate, and 16% Bb rate in 102 at bats show he’s polished for such a toolsy youngster. Scouts and reports from those inside the Mets front office laud his strong make-up and work ethic. The downside is the reoccurring soft tissue injuries at a young age, not good for a player whose upside is dependent upon athleticism.
Anthony Kay, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: N/A
Anthony Kay is like if Marcos Molina’s blurb had a baby with Justin Dunn’s blurb, but came out a white guy in a UConn t-shirt and just baffled the shizz out of everyone. He’s another Long Island native, because the Mets made a bet with Rakim and R.A. The Rugged Man that they could only take pitchers from L.I in the first round this year. Now they got themselves another TJ survivor, I guess getting it out of the way before they become major league stars is the new thing in Flushing. Not a bad strategy. He’s a control pitcher with an above-average fastball, change, and fringe slider.
Andres Gimenez, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: DSL
Just turned 18 back in September, but is one to dream on in the Mets system. He offers tons of upside from a fantasy perspective with hit tool, speed, and developing power. He’s a long ways away, but he slashed .350/.469/.523 with 4 homers and 13 steals over 62 Dominican Summer League games.
Harol Gonzalez, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
We talked extensively about Gonzalez on the podcast last weekend, and he’s another favorite of Halp and myself. A control over stuff guy, Gonzalez excels as a pitchability guy. He’s one of the most overlooked Mets prospects hardly cracking many prospector’s system rankings over the past few seasons. It might be the bias toward small righties, because the production screams good prospect. In 85 innings in the short season New York-Penn League Gonzalez went 7-3 with a 2.01 ERA, a 9.32 K/9 to a 1.8 Bb/9. Good god, that’s sexy! But wait, it gets better. Gonzalez’s true skill is generating groundballs, in fact in 2016 he owned a 56% groundball rate. Doode is a stud how’s MLB.com not going to rank this guys? Here’s one to buy and one that’s off so many radars you should be able to scoop him very late in minors drafts.
Others: Luis Carpio, Milton Ramos, Merandy Gonzalez, Ali Sanchez, Gregory Guerrero
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