The Mets Minors Review Top 50 Mets Prospect List for 2013: 50-41

21 Dec

A few reminders:

1. This is how I would rank the Mets prospects today. Tomorrow it could…you know what, I probably already hate it.

2. Ordinal rankings are not as important as the write-up.

3. Ordinal rankings are based on a simple criterion: which prospect would I prefer were I starting an organization from scratch. The longer I do this, the more my biases tend towards tools and upside, but it’s still a balancing act between likelihood of making the majors and how good a prospect might be if he gets there.

3a. I tend to be conservative with recent draftees.

3b. Also, it seems like this year I have a bit of a bias towards Brooklyn players, at least in terms of volume, probably since I saw that affiliate the most and am always more comfortable ranking guys I have seen. This is more noticeable at the backend of the list.

4. To qualify for the list a player must be rookie-eligible, have played stateside in 2012, and be younger than 26 on Opening Day 2013. So no Jenrry Mejia, Vicente Lupo, or Reese Havens.

5. “The Usual Sources” are potentially BA, BP, Bullpen Banter, Dave Gershman’s work on the Penn League blog, Toby Hyde’s Mets Minor League Blog, Mike Newman’s work at FanGraphs, or Alex Nelson’s post-draft scouting reports at Amazin’ Avenue. I’ll cite when I use them. Mostly color or counter-balancing opinions if I’ve seen a guy, but I do sometimes have to lean on them if I haven’t.

6. And with that, let’s have at it.

 

 

50. Juan Centeno, C

 

Bats/Throws: L/R

Last Year: Not Ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 23.4

Acquired: 32nd round, 2007

2012: 313 PA, .285/.337/.342, 43 K / 23 BB for Binghamton (AA)

Risk Factor: Low-Medium. I don’t see a ton more refinement happening here and there’s enough glove here that he’ll kick around the upper minors for a bit even if he never makes the bigs.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks/Video Look

The short of it: Contact-oriented left-handed hitting catcher may remind you of Josh Thole, but you’re going to have to squint to see it.

The long of it: Centeno’s had a weird path to this point. Until this season, he’d generally backed up or split time with other more highly-regarded catchers in the Mets system. He spent two seasons in Brooklyn, splitting time with Dock Doyle and Blake Forsythe. He then spent last year backing up Francisco Pena in St. Lucie. Finally this year he got the bulk of the playing time in Binghamton and showed enough to sneak onto the back end of my list. Centeno has drawn comparisons to Josh Thole, but on the offensive side he doesn’t quite measure up. Doesn’t make quite as much contact, doesn’t walk as much, and doesn’t have as much pop. It’s just a bit around the margins in each aspect, but it adds up. As a 22-year-old in AA, Thole almost never struck out and hit .328/.395/.422. Centeno has seen his K rate creep up the last few seasons, and what ittle doubles power he had erode. He does have the edge on defense. He’s a solid receiver, though he will occasionally stab at balls in the dirt, and a quick release that helps his otherwise average arm play up. The lack of secondary skills will probably force him to hit .280 in the majors to hang around as a back-up, and I don’t know that the hit tool is that good. There’s a big difference between the Eastern League and MLB.

The projection: Hard to see a long term major league back-up here, even with the contact skills. There’s just not enough secondary skills or a plus defensive profile to go with it. But he’s a catcher, and it’s never bad to be a catcher. Wouldn’t be shocked if he somehow finds a couple hundred plate appearances in the bigs.

What’s next: The trade of Nickeas and Thole to Toronto opens a spot in Las Vegas for Centeno, who I’d peg as the odds on favorite to back-up d’Arnaud.

 

49. Adam Kolarek, LHP

 

Bats/Throws: L/L

Last Year: NR

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 24.3

Acquired: 11th round, 2010

2012:  63.1 IP, 11.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, 8.4 H/9 between St. Lucie (A+) and Binghamton (AA)

Risk Factor: Medium. Still needs to have stuff tested against upper level bats, but ceiling is LOOGy, and he’s gotten lefties out.

Ranking based on: The Usual Reports

The Short of It: The best of the Mets 74* future LOOGy candidates.

*approximation

The Long of It: Traditional LOOGy profile. Kolarek sits around 90 with the fastball and adds a low 80s breaking ball. He has a bit of funk in his delivery and hides the ball well behind his head. Also seems to step towards first base a bit in his delivery which forces him to throw across his body, but gives him even more deception. Splits were about what you would expect given all that, as per Toby Hyde, lefties managed just a .476 OPS against him in St. Lucie, while righties posted a much more robust .712 OPS. Weirdly spent most of the year in St. Lucie outside of a brief cup of coffee in Binghamton during the summer. Not that 6 innings tells you anything, but the peripherals weren’t bad enough to merit a demotion back to the Florida State League. Might have just been a bit of a roster crunch.

The Projection: Some nice LOOGy potential here, but we’ll have to see him against AA left-handed bats first.

What’s next: And Kolarek should get his shot as I see no reason he won’t open 2013 in Binghamton.

 

48. Rainy Lara, RHP

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 22

Acquired: IFA, 2009

2012:  68 IP, 10.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, 7.0 H/9 for Brooklyn (SS-A)

Risk Factor: High. Stuff is fringy, mechanics are problematic, and he’s a long way away from the majors.

Ranking based on: Live Look

The Short of It: Despite the sexy peripherals, the least prospect of the Brooklyn starters, due to less advanced secondary offerings and a concerning arm action.

The Long of It: My one live look at Lara this year was his June 29th start against Aberdeen. He did his best to make a good impression, striking out 10 and walking zero in 5 2/3 innings of work. He had plenty more dominant starts like that throughout his 2012 Penn League campaign, but the stuff just doesn’t match the results. Lara sits around 90 with the fastball and he is able to throw strikes and change eye levels, but the secondary stuff is only really good enough to induce swing and misses from short-season bats. Lara’s slider is pretty much a chase pitch at this point, though it has some bite, and the change-up is below-average. He did seem more comfortable with using secondary stuff earlier in counts and had a solid feel for sequencing in general, though I don’t know how much credit fort that goes to Lara versus Plawecki. Like all the Brooklyn arms this year, he throws strikes by the bucketful. He also has a funky arm action that lends him some deception, but leaves even me with worries about his long-term health. I also saw Lara get fatigued as his pitch count got higher. Given those issues, it’s hard to see a starter here long term.

The Projection: If the arm stays attached at the shoulder and the secondary stuff improves he could prop up the backend of a bullpen, but it’s more likely that Lara, like so many other arms, bumps up against a ceiling against more advanced bats.

What’s next: Lara should join most of his Brooklyn rotation mates at Savannah, a very forgiving environment for pitchers, which should keep his peripherals nice and inflated.

 

47. Stefan Sabol, OF

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 21.2

Acquired: 17th round, 2012

2012:  254 PA, .241/.343/.395, 58 K / 30 BB for Brooklyn (SS-A)

Risk Factor: High. Hasn’t played full season ball yet, raw power is only current tool.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks

The Short of It: Converted catcher is a right-handed bat with some pop, but plays left field like a converted catcher.

The Long of It: Sabol was an interesting late-round flyer, a well-regarded high school catcher forced into the outfield in JuCo due to a spate of injuries. He’s still clearly adjusting to the new position. Sabol’s jumps and route running are not particularly good right now and he is a below average runner, so the defensive package is not eye-pleasing. However, the bat intrigues me a little bit. He’s able to generate a lot of pop from the right side, though I have questions about how much contact he’ll make at higher levels. Sort of the poor man’s Travis Taijeron right now.

The Projection: The poor man’s Travis Taijeron is not a future major leaguer, but Sabol was much more age-appropriate for the NYPL than Taijeron in 2011, so you can squint and maybe see some future pop off the bench here.

What’s next: Historic Grayson Stadium, which will probably be none to kind to Sabol’s skill set on offense or defense.

 

46. Julian Hilario, RHP

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 22.7

Acquired: IFA, 2009

2012:  55.2 IP, 7.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9 10.0 H/9 for Brooklyn (SS-A)

Risk Factor: High. Older pitcher in short-season ball, lack of advanced secondary offerings

Ranking based on: The usual reports/A pleasant chat with Jason Parks

The Short of It: Hilario has a live arm, but didn’t dominate despite being a bit old for the New York-Penn League.

The Long of It: Hilario was just about the only Brooklyn pitcher I didn’t see this year. Fortunately, Jason Parks did and came on my podcast to talk a little bit about him. Parks had Hilario at 90-92, touching 94 with some armside movement with a soft, low-80s slider and firm change-up. One should keep in mind that this was Hilario’s worst start of the year, a 1/3 of an inning lambasting, and Parks was impressed with his poise and approach on the mound and thought he was worth keeping an eye on if the secondary stuff improved.

You can read Jason Parks’ full write-up on Hilario here

The Projection:  Parks had him as a potential middle relief arm, which sounds about right to me, but that projection is going to require an improved breaking ball, and like Lara, Hilario may meet his match against upper minors bats.

What’s next: Hilario will join his most of his Brooklyn colleagues in Savannah.

 

45. Akeel Morris, RHP

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #17

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 20.4

Acquired: 10th round, 2010

2012:  38.1 IP, 11.7 K/9, 5.2 BB/9, 1.6 HR/9 8.9 H/9 for Kingsport (R)

Risk Factor: Very High. Hasn’t even seen A-ball yet, diminished stuff from original scouting reports.

Ranking based on: The Usual Reports/A pleasant chat with Mike Newman

The Short of It: A diminished fastball and a move to the pen in short season ball might signal the end of Morris’s prospect status.

The Long of It: I’ve been intrigued by Morris since he was a raw draftee in 2010, but after talking with Mike Newman about him on the podcast, we’ll have to lower expectations. The fastball velocity was down into the low-90s, and his command of the pitch came and went. Morris showed a high 70s curve, a big breaker that Newman liked, but overall he looked like a two-pitch reliever. Indeed, Morris had much more success in Kingsport out of the pen than he did as a starter, but as Newman noted, raw relief arms in the Appy league rarely turn into major relief arms in the majors. Video from Newman at FanGraphs shows max effort delivery from a small frame, making it tough for him to move back to the rotation in Brooklyn next year without some serious command refinement. If you want to be particularly optimistic, Robles was able to do it, and they were similarly small-framed, high-effort guys.

You can read Mike Newman’s full report on Akeel Morris here.

The Projection: Morris no longer looks like an impact arm, but I suppose he has a puncher’s chance to make a major league pen if he can tighten up the command issues. But without more refinement/progress, he looks like a guy that will fizzle in full-season ball.

What’s next: Morris probably showed enough improvement out of the pen in Kingsport to move up to Brooklyn in 2012. Moreover, you can’t really justify a third year in rookie ball for anybody. Morris is still reasonably young, but 2013 will be a very important season for him as he barely clings to prospect status.

 

44. Matthew Koch, RHP

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 22.4

Acquired: 3rd round, 2012

2012:  23.1 IP, 7.3 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9, 9.6 H/9 for Brooklyn (SS-A)

Risk Factor: High. Major League reliever projection without a present day plus breaking ball or full season ball experience.

Ranking based on: Live Look

The Short of It: Big-armed Louisville closer had a so-so pro debut and showed less stuff than was in the scouting reports.

The Long of It: Reports coming out of Louisville had Koch with plus fastball velocity and a potential three-pitch mix. I caught him at the tail end of the 2012 season and frankly did not see any of that. The fastball was 91-93 for the most part and the slider looked just okay. Koch also struggled mightily with his fastball command. It was at the end of a full college + short season, so I guess I could give him more of a pass, but Koch split time at closer for Louisville and the Mets used him on a regular schedule as a multi-inning reliever, so he only threw 55 total innings in 2012. As I mentioned above, I tend to be pretty conservative with new draftees, especially if they weren’t in the first 100 picks or so, but even if that wasn’t a bias of mine, I don’t know that Koch would be much higher.

The Projection: In his post-draft report for Amazin Avenue, Alex Nelson expressed some hope that Koch might get moved into the rotation. Toby Hyde did the same when he stopped by my podcast, but I don’t see much more than a potential power arm in the pen here.

What’s next: If the Mets keep Koch in the pen, they could probably push him to the St. Lucie right off the bat. (and unlike with Bowman, I haven’t heard any reports about Koch moving into the rotation next year) He could also start in Savannah and work on the slider/change-up if the Mets still think there’s rotation possibilities here.

 

43. Matthew Bowman, RHP

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 21.8

Acquired: 13rd round, 2012

2012:  29.1 IP, 9.2 K/9, 0.6 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9, 8.0 H/9 for Brooklyn (SS-A)

Risk Factor: High. See Koch, Matthew.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks/The usual reports

The Short of It: Tim Lincecum clone will reportedly get a chance to start in 2012, but looks like he will be better in short bursts.

The Long of It: Let’s get this out of the way. The deliver looks exactly like Lincecum’s. It’s uncanny. The stuff…well, that’s not quite as good. Fastball was 90-92 out of the pen with some late life, and Bowman showed a solid change-up that Penn League hitters couldn’t touch. He also offers what Alex Nelson called a slider, but looks more like a curve to me. It’s okay, and he commands it well, but it’s a slurvy offering that shows its break too early. The delivery does lend his stuff some added deception, but just because Lincecum made these mechanics work for a while doesn’t mean Bowman will hold up under the same high effort delivery.

The Projection:  The fact that Bowman has three fairly polished offerings has led to reports that the Mets will make him a starter in full-season ball next year. I suppose that’s fine in order to get him innings, but I think his long-term future is clearly in the pen. I think he and Robles are similar prospects. Robles has the better fastball but serious mechanical concerns, while Bowman has the more advanced offspeed stuff. Both have middle relief ceilings.

What’s next: It seems like Bowman is likely to start next year somewhere in A-ball. Savannah is the most likely destination, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Mets push the polished righthander to St. Lucie, as the Gnats’ rotation is already looking quite crowded.

 

42. Robert Carson, LHP

 

Bats/Throws: L/L

Last Year: #35

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 24.2

Acquired: 14th round, 2007

2012:  51.1 IP, 9.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, 10.7 H/9 between Binghamton (AA) and Buffalo (AAA)

Risk Factor: Low. Carson got a cup of coffee in the majors last year and will get a shot in the Spring to win a full-time job.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks/Multiple Video Looks

The Short of It: Carson’s stuff looks like it should play in the 7th or 8th inning, but the whole still doesn’t add up to the sum of the parts.

The Long of It: Carson finally moved to the bullpen in 2012 and the results were…better I guess. The fastball plays up now, 93-95 and he touched 97 when I saw him in April. The mid-eighties slider is his primary secondary offering, but I didn’t see much of it this year in Binghamton or Buffalo, and it was used infrequently and ineffectively during his short stint in the majors. It’s generally been an average pitch, but the fastball/slider combination overall is just not as good as Edgin’s. The move to the pen bumped up his strikeout rate, but he still struggles with command and control issues and it just seems like he should be more effective than he is.  Carson’s also not particularly effective at getting lefties out, which leaves him as a pen arm without an obvious role. As a lefty with plus velocity though, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to figure it out.

The Projection: Not much to project here. Carson is a big-bodied lefty with plus velo and a solid slider and he’ll be around the fringes of the major league bullpen this year. He’ll need to make strides with his command before he becomes a fixture in middle relief.

What’s next: Depending on how active the Mets are on the relief market and perhaps on how he looks this Spring, Carson will either round out the major league pen or take on a late-inning relief role in Las Vegas.

 

41. Chris Flexen, RHP

 

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 18.8

Acquired: 14th round, 2012

2012:  32 IP, 7.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 10.7 H/9 for Kingsport (R)

Risk Factor: High. Little professional track record and a long ways away.

Ranking based on: The usual reports

The Short of It: Overslot prep pick has a big arm, big potential, and a long way to go.

The Long of It: Flexen was an overslot prep pick out of California this year and made just a half dozen starts for Kingsport. Toby Hyde caught his debut, and saw a fastball that sat 92-94 and four secondary offerings. That’s not a bad foundation, especially for a player that was a young 18 when he was drafted, or a Jazayerli pick, if you will. Flexen’s already listed at 6’3″ 215 lbs, so while he has a lot of work to do, he does have the prototypical pitcher’s build.

The Projection: Potential mid-rotation starter. Massive error bars here.

What’s next: Extended Spring Training for Flexen and probably a return trip to Kingsport as he seems like the type that would have been sent to the GCL if the Mets actually had a GCL team last year. I suppose with a good showing in XST he could earn an assignment to Brooklyn. Wouldn’t bet on it though.

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