The 2012 New York Mets Top 40 Prospect List: 8-1

14 Nov

8. Cesar Puello, OF

Grade: B-

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 21

Predicted 2012 Assignment: Adv. A St. Lucie

Optimistic Projection: 20/20 player that can handle a major league centerfield

Pessimistic Projection: Tools bust, something like a right-handed Felix Pie.

Notes: I kind of excoriated Puello on my midseason prospect list. I think I had him around 20 and ranted on the podcast about his lack of production at any level of the minors. It’s true that the stats don’t jump off the page at all, but my overall characterization was probably unfair. Ultimately the point of having a farm system is developing homegrown, cost-controlled stars. As much as I like writing about the Darin Gorskis and Josh Satins of the world, I can flip through any team’s C/C+ guys and find similar players. Now, once in a while those C/C+ guys turn into all-stars, but we’re talking about  a scant, scant few. Puello has an all-star ceiling. He’s not near that ceiling now, and the range of possible outcomes here is wide, but you squint and you can see a five-tool player here. Not too many of those in that system, and I still have him lower than most other sources. He is going to have to hit at some point and not just tease you with a strong second half, but he really has to rank ahead of Juan Lagares and Cory Vaughn.


7. Michael Fulmer, RHP

Grade: B-

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 19

Predicted 2012 Assignment: Short Season A Brooklyn

Optimistic Projection: #3 Starter

Pessimistic Projection: He’s going to be 19 next year, so any number of bad things can happen.

Notes: So, a philosophical question: Why is Fulmer this much higher than Urbina and Morris? They are basically the same age and will probably be at the same level this year. Well, Urbina and Morris have shown you some of their warts in professional baseball, while Fulmer is considered fairly polished for a prep arm. But let’s be honest, Akeel Morris would have decimated Oklahoma high school hitters this year. Ultimately, we rank Fulmer higher, because he hasn’t done anything to dash our view of his ceiling yet. I think we also have a bias towards the known quantity of high school arms, especially when the international signings haven’t blown us away with their stat line or stuff. It’s one of those quirks of prospect punditry. Now, I don’t doubt that plenty of places will rate Urbina higher than Fulmer, just on ceiling. But I really like Fulmer and think he could even start in Savannah this year. But I am not totally confident in this ranking and it goes beyond simply the TINSTAAPP mantra. I don’t think he’ll be that much higher on the 2013 list, but he could certainly be lower.


6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF

Grade: B-

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 24.7

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AAA Buffalo

Optimistic Projection: Above average MLB outfielder, think a better version of Ryan Church

Pessimistic Projection: 4th OF with contact and platoon issues

Notes: Like Lutz, Nieuwenhuis was also supremely unlucky this year. If he doesn’t hurt his shoulder making a diving catch in May, he probably takes over in right field after the Beltran trade. Maybe he’s the one that stamps his claim on  the position rather than Duda. I don’t think Niuewenhuis would have kept mashing in the International League to the level he did in the first couple months, but he can hit, take a walk, and shows a some decent pop. Plus, he’s probably about 15 runs better in right field than Duda, but things don’t always break your way, and Nieuwenhuis will find himself back in Buffalo this year. He’s not an elite prospect, mind you, there are some issues here. He strikes out a lot and hasn’t shown he can hit lefties. There is also the question of whether or not he is actually a centerfielder in the bigs. That said, the Mets outfield is kind of a mess right now. Nieuwenhuis is the perfect platoon partner for Bay, has a much better glove than Duda, and isn’t even that terrible an option in CF right now. If only he had gotten a full season under his belt at Buffalo. C’est la vie. The floor is pretty low here at least, since just about every team could use a righty masher who can play all 3 OF positions.


5. Jenrry Mejia, RHP

Grade: B-

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 22.5

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AAA Buffalo, sometime around the all-star break

Optimistic Projection: Relief ace or #3 starter

Pessimistic Projection: Reliever with more than occasional injury woes

Notes: It’s easy to forget that Mejia won’t turn 23 until next Fall. It’s less easy to forget how badly he’s been bungled these last few years. He’s never thrown 100 IP in a season. He’s bounced between relieving and starting. He was rushed to the majors without developing his secondary stuff, and he’s gotten hurt the last two years. This past season’s injury of course required Tommy John surgery, and while that’s not particularly daunting anymore, it’s hardly a guarantee that he will return to full strength before 2013. I think Jeurys Familia has passed him as a prospect at this point and is more likely to stick as a starter than Mejia (and I’m only like 60% sold Familia as a starter). But that arm? That arm is electric. Hopefully it will be again.


4. Brandon Nimmo, OF

Grade: B

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 19

Predicted 2012 Assignment: Seems like it’s might be Savannah, which is ambitious.

Optimistic Projection: If all goes right, Jay Bruce.

Pessimistic Projection: Oh, let’s say Alex Escobar since he did already have knee surgery

Notes: Here’s the thing. Basically anyone the Mets picked in the first round this summer would have been a Top 5 prospect. The system is that thin. Sonny Gray? Sure. Jed Bradley? Yeah. Even Kolten Wong. That said, a lot of sources had Nimmo as more a supplemental round talent. I think if the Mets loved him they had to take him here, since I don’t think he gets by the eleventy billion picks the Rays and Jays had. I do wonder if the ‘story’ of Nimmo hasn’t dominated the conversation to the extent that it’s obscured what kind of prospect he actually is. He’s a bit riskier than your average prep guy, because we have less to gauge him against. But the Mets were on him even in early Spring, so I am going to trust the process here. I think the upside is worth the risk. I really do like Sonny Gray, though. Oh well.


3. Jeurys Familia, RHP

Grade: B

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 22.5

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AAA Buffalo

Optimistic Projection: Maybe Edwin Jackson as a starter, Ryan Madson as a reliever

Pessimistic Projection: A decent middle relief arm

Notes: I guess one of the disclaimers I should have included up front is that I am a writer, not a scout. That said, I have had the opportunity to see Familia, and came away suitably impressed. (though I do seem to be the only person that thinks his change-up is pretty good already) But there are concerns here. Familia had a mysterious shoulder ailment of some sort this year that was handled rather oddly by the Mets. His fastball command does seem to leave him as he gets deeper into games, and many pundits think he is a reliever, albeit a good one, in the end. I think he has the offerings to be a good mid-rotation arm, but the stamina and durability questions need to be answered. Criticisms aside, this is a very good arm, and the B grade might be a bit conservative. I just wish I were more certain he was a starter in the end.


2. Zack Wheeler, RHP 

Grade: B+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 21.8

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AA Binghamton

Optimistic Projection: #2 starter that has a couple ace type seasons at his peak

Pessimistic Projection: Say it with me…TINSTAAPP

Notes: If you want to talk ceiling, his tip-top ceiling, I can squint, turn my head sideways and tell you that Wheeler van be an ace. Matt Harvey looks more to me like a workhorse #2. That said, Wheeler’s ceiling isn’t that much higher than Harvey’s. I can certainly see the argument for putting Wheeler #1. He is a full year younger, and his pure stuff is a bit better. Wheeler is just a bit more volatile. He needs to be stretched out a little more and has to refine his fastball command, but he is a borderline elite pitching prospect. TINSTAAPP is a useful shibboleth, but that doesn’t mean you don’t draft, acquire and develop high upside arms. Pitching prospects are just volatile. Wheeler is a bit further away, a bit more raw, and the extra upside here isn’t high enough to mitigate the extra risk. He’s a Top 50 type prospect, and the front office pulled of a coup when they got him for Beltran. I will take him in my system every day of the week, but I just like Harvey a little bit more.


1. Matt Harvey, RHP

Grade: B+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 23

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AA Binghamton

Optimistic Projection: Durable #2 starter

Pessimistic Projection: League average innings muncher

Notes: Not all that controversial a choice. Wheeler and Harvey are going to be 1-2 on just about everyone’s list. So let me tell you a little bit more about why I favor Harvey. The slider has made some strides, and the fastball is going to be a plus one. That alone should carry him to the majors, even if the change-up and curve don’t get much past serviceable. He had to make some adjustments at AA and did. He threw 135 innings, and generated groundballs while striking out better than a batter per inning. He could get hurt, but you can say that about every pitching prospect. I think the worst case scenario is something like Mike Pelfrey. And as much as we all are fed up with Pelf, he’s still a a major league arm.


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