The Mets Minors Review Top 50 Mets Prospect List for 2013: 10-1

7 Jan

10. Jeurys Familia, RHP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #3

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 23.5

Acquired: IFA, 2007

2012: 137 IP, 8.4 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, 9.5 H/9 for Buffalo (AAA)

Risk Factor: Low-Medium. Familia could start 2013 in the major league pen, assuming he is able to remember how to throw strikes.

Ranking based on: Live Look, Multiple Video Looks

The Short of It: A collapse of command/control in 2012 put a severe damper on Familia’s chances of being a major league starter, but his power arm should be useful in the pen.

The Long of It: In 2011 Familia looked like a future #3 starter, filling the strike zone with a pair of fastballs at 92-96, a bat-missing slider and a potentially average change-up. After some offseason mechanical tweaks at the behest of the Mets, Familia’s control and command collapsed in 2012. He could not throw his fastball for strikes early in the counts, and he threw far too many fat four-seamers after falling behind. The change-up became a rare and wholly ineffectual part of his arsenal, and the slider got more slurvy, to the point where I started questioning whether or not Familia was throwing two distinct breaking balls. The breaking ball (whatever it is) is still an effective pitch. Familia can actually throw it for strikes, and its mid-80s velocity makes it a potential plus offering. However, Familia’s inability to throw the fastball for strikes made it difficult to set up the slurve. The control issues likely tie back into the changes to Familia’s delivery. He appeared to be thinking his way through his mechanics for much of the season, and he had trouble repeating. He went through a similar issue in 2010, so I think there’s a reasonable chance he can bounceback again. Familia has the body of a workhorse starter, but he looks more like a classic two-pitch reliever now.

The Projection: Familia has late-inning potential as a reliever, but the wildness injects a lot of uncertainty into this projection. He could become more of a AAA shuttle guy who struggles with occasional bouts of wildness and the long ball. Think Manny Acosta (I know, horrifying thought). The starter projection has all but evaporated due to the regression of the change-up. I’m half convinced now that I saw the only Familia start where the pitch was really working for him.

What’s next: Right now Familia needs innings more than anything else to work through his mechanical issues. He’ll head up the Mets rotation in Vegas in 2013, and depending on his progress could be in the major league pen by the All-Star break.


9. Gavin Cecchini, SS

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: NR

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 19.3

Acquired: 1st round, 2012

2012: 218 PA, .240/.307/.321, 44 K / 18 BB for Kingsport (R)

Risk Factor: High. No professional track record, much of his value is tied to playing premium defensive position at major league level.

Ranking based on: The usual sources/A pleasant conversation with Mike Newman

The Short of It: Mets fans brandished their pitchforks after Cecchini was drafted over higher-upside guys like Lucas Giolito and Courtney Hawkins, but he has the tools to be a solid major league shortstop.

The Long of It: I didn’t see Cecchini live in 2012. While he was up in Brooklyn for the last week or so of the NYPL season, the Cyclones were in the midst of a pennant race so Cecchini mostly rode the pine. Fortunately, just about every other source that writes about Mets prospects did see him and gave him the basically exact same write-up: average to slightly above-average tools across the board (except for power), good makeup grades, potential average major league shortstop. I generally tend to leave a pretty large margin for error when ranking guys I haven’t seen, but it is unusual to see so many different sources converge on one projection, especially for a recent prep pick. Still, I’m generally pretty conservative on recent draftees, and there’s a pretty big gap between the 18-year-old in Kingsport and the future major league shortstop. You could probably stick him ahead of Montero and Flores if you really believe in the projection, and overall the 4-9 guys are pretty closely clustered in my mind.

The Projection:  Average major league shortstop. It’s not sexy, but it’s damn valuable. As with any prep pick, there’s a lot of risk here, as the tools are both offense and defense still need to develop.

What’s next: An interesting question. The Mets started 2011 prep pick Brandon Nimmo at Brooklyn, but he signed two months later than Cecchini. Given his extra professional experience and superior polish coming into the draft, I see no reason to keep Cecchini in short-season ball in 2013, but I can’t shake the feeling that he follows the Nimmo track and debuts in Brooklyn in June.

8. Rafael Montero, RHP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #26

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 22.5

Acquired: IFA, 2011

2012: 122 IP, 8.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9, 7.1 H/9 between Savannah (A) and St. Lucie (A+)

Risk Factor: Medium-High. Montero refined his secondary offerings this year, but his lack of plus stuff means the upper minors might be a challenge.

Ranking based on: Video Look, The usual sources

The Short of It: Montero broke out in 2012, showing improved secondary offerings and excellent command and control, but AA will be a test for his flyball tendencies and merely solid-average velo.

The Long of It: I had a good feeling about Montero coming into 2012, but I don’t think anyone thought he’d be this good (well, maybe Jonathan Mayo). Fastball seems to jump out of his hand, and it looks faster than 91-93. Plus command also makes the pitch play up.  Combine that with a developing change-up and slider, and it’s hardly shocking Montero cruised through both A-ball levels this year. He actually got better in St. Lucie, upping his strikeout and groundball rates. Didn’t get to see him pitch there, so I can only speculate that it’s due to improvements in his slider. He flashed a solid one last year when I saw him in Brooklyn, and it looked better on video this year in Savannah. That will be the key for him going forward, as that flyball rate is a bit of a red flag as he heads into the upper minors. Already has good feel for the change-up, which makes me think he can make further strides with the slider. I could have ranked him higher, but because of his profile I’d like to see him have some success at AA before I put him above Tapia or Fulmer.

The Projection:  #3/#4 starter if he continues to make strides with the slider. If you want to be cautious and project him as a reliever since he doesn’t have three average pitches yet and is a 6’ right-hander, that’s totally reasonable. But Montero worked deep into games this year without any issues. I think he can stick as a starter.

What’s next: Montero dominated Advanced-A in his admittedly brief time there. I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t start 2013 in the Binghamton rotation. AA will be a good test, but as long as the secondary stuff continues to develop I think he’ll have success there.

7. Wilmer Flores, 3B/1B

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #11

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 21.7

Acquired: IFA, 2007

2012: 547 PA, .300/.349/.479, 60 K / 38 BB between St. Lucie (A+) and Binghamton (AA)

Risk Factor: Medium. Flores’ bat is good enough to get him to he majors in some capacity, but there is a pretty wide range of outcomes here depending on where he’s standing on the diamond.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks

The Short of It: Bat-only prospect has some positional questions, but oh my what a bat.

The Long of It: Best hit tool in the Mets system. Pretty swing that covers the plate, matched up with good pitch recognition skills. Aggressive in the zone, but walks started to come as pitchers realized he could punish balls out over the plate. Can be aggressive out of the zone as well, which did lead to some less-than-ideal contact. You can get him out with better breaking stuff, but hey, you can get all of us out with better breaking stuff. Flores can drive a baseball, but there’s not much loft in the swing and I do wonder about his ultimate power ceiling. Projects like a .280, 15-20 HR guy for me, and if he outperforms one of those numbers, I think it’s the batting average. I’m not listing him as a second baseman, because he’s not a second baseman. He did play some second base in 2012, I’ll grant you that. Only one look on video of him at second, but he struggled to make routine plays on the move. One of the slowest non-catchers in the system. Fastest home-to-first time I pulled was 4.65 and he was more commonly 4.7-4.8, that’s a 20 runner, folks. Okay hands and enough arm for third, but he’s statuesque, and his actions are…what’s the opposite of fluid? Viscous? Had a scout tell me unsolicited that he thinks Flores is a first baseman. I’m wishy-washy. Doesn’t look like Flores will be even average there, but first base puts an awful lot of pressure on the bat. He’s probably a first baseman in the long term, as there’s a good chance he’ll put some more weight on his frame as he ages. Oh, if you think the Mets should try Flores in the outfield, I will once again point you to that home-to-first time.

The Projection:  Offense-driven third baseman. The bat will get him to the majors, and there’s still some projection left in the offensive tools here, but I have trouble seeing much more than a solid every day player due to the defense/positional questions. Could end up more of a platoon two-corners guy or lefty masher, but I’m pretty confident now that the bat will make him a useful major leaguer of some sort.

What’s next: Flores will probably hit 50 doubles in Vegas, but there’s no easy path to the majors given the Wright extension and the recent vote of confidence in Davis. He might get a full year in Vegas to pump his value for a potential trade.

6. Brandon Nimmo, OF

Bats/Throws: L/R

Last Year: #4

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 20

Acquired: 1st round, 2011

2012: 321 PA, .248/.372/.406, 78 K / 46 BB for Brooklyn (SS-A)

Risk Factor: High. Despite a solid performance in short-season ball, Nimmo’s a long way away. Big gap between present skills and future projection.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks/The Usual Reports/A Pleasant Conversation with Jason Parks

The Short of It: High-ceiling 2011 pick answered some questions with his strong performance in Brooklyn, but some new ones have popped up around just how high that ceiling actually is

The Long of It: Showed all five tools in Brooklyn this year, though none of them really stand out. I have him as a plus runner, but Baseball America had him as a fringe-average one. His outfield routes can get a little circuitous, and he was making up for bad reads with his speed. If he does have to move off centerfield, average arm probably limits him to left field, and he needs to tighten up his throwing as the arm could be scattershot at times. Potential 20 home run bat in the majors. In-game power is currently gap, but he can go the opposite way with surprising pop and power profile should improve has he ages and adds bulk. Jason Parks thinks he’s going to fill out and get thick which would make it difficult to project him as a major league centerfielder. Hit tool is the biggest question mark. He keeps his hands very high, which gives him a long path to the ball and was susceptible to soft stuff away and left-handed breaking stuff in general. Better pitch recognition skills than some of the NYPL umpires and overall has a good plate approach. Gets positive makeup reports and has no real weaknesses, but just doesn’t fill up the scouting report with 6s and 7s.

The Projection: Everyday outfielder with a 50/50 shot of sticking in center. I think he will improve against lefties with more in-game reps, but if he continues to struggle with southpaws, might end up more of a longside platoon/4th OF type. There’s also quite a bit of risk here. Not impossible he gets eaten up by better breaking stuff in the upper minors.

What’s next: Nimmo will start 2013 in Savannah and likely spend most (if not all) of the year there.

5.  Michael Fulmer, RHP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #7

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 20

Acquired: Supp. 1st round, 2011

2012: 108.1 IP, 8.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, 7.6 H/9 for Savannah (A)

Risk Factor: High. A lot of projection here, offspeed stuff still needs refinement, some whispers about the physique.

Ranking based on: Live Look, Video Look, The Usual Sources

The Short of It: 19-year-old more than held his own in full season ball, showing two potential plus pitches, but what does he do for an encore?

The Long of It: After ranking Fulmer seventh in the Mets’ system on my 2012 list, I remarked that I thought it was unlikely he would be higher on my 2013 list. Well, he’s higher. Of course, I based my 2012 ranking on the potential of the curveball, which Fulmer has now mostly scrapped in favor of a slider. The slider went from a show-me pitch in April to flashing plus by June, which is pretty impressive. The fastball was generally 92-94 when I saw him, and again, he made big strides with the pitch between April and June. The command improved a lot, especially in terms of keeping the ball down in the zone. Now, the command issues keep it an average offering for now, which made it the third-best fastball in Savannah behind Tapia and deGrom, but like the slider, it’s a potential plus pitch. There’s not much of a change-up here yet, so you’ll see people hang a bullpen projection on him, but he was just 19 last season. There just aren’t that many 19-year-old pitching prospects with present-day average or better change-ups, but it is the pitch that needs the most improvement in order for Fulmer to meet his projection. I’ve also heard some concerns about the body, but I’m less worried about that. Obviously Fulmer might add some bulk in his twenties, but he’s a long way from deserving the ‘bad body’ label.

The Projection: So far Fulmer looks like he came straight out of central casting for the role of “durable mid-rotation arm.” Of course, he’s a 20-year-old without a present day usable change-up, so the bullpen whispers will always be there. I do think he can be a good late-inning reliever if things break that way, but given the strides he made this year with his slider, I’m happy to bet on the change making progress in the future as well. But there’s a lot of projection involved in this projection, if you get my drift.

What’s next: Fulmer will be one of the youngest players in the Florida State League this year, and I expect him to spend most of the 2013 season there.

4. Domingo Tapia, RHP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #23

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 21.4

Acquired: IFA, 2009

2012: 108.2 IP, 8.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9, 7.6 H/9 for Savannah (A)

Risk Factor: Medium-High. Usual pitcher risks and gap between SAL and MLB apply, but Tapia has a higher floor than most A-ball pitchers.

Ranking based on: Live Look, Video Look, Conversations with contacts

The Short of It: Best fastball in the system should get Tapia to the majors, and if the secondary stuff comes along, he has front of the rotation potential.

The Long of It: Massive arm. Four-seam fastball has touched 99 this year, and the two-seamer is the best pitch in the system. It’s a 93-95 mph howitzer that bores in on right-handed hitters and shatters lumber with malice of forethought. Change-up is the superior secondary offering, and Tapia shows some feel for it. Results with the pitch were inconsistent though, as it was often too firm at 90-91. When it’s around 88 it showed  decent fade and depth. A scout told Toby Hyde that the Fastball/Change combo was good enough that Tapia could have pitched in the major league pen in 2012. Slider is better than advertised, but that’s not saying much. Command comes and goes and he needs to improve his sequencing and trust his secondary stuff more. Got in trouble when he tried to hulk up and blow fastballs by guys to get out of jams. Biggest concern is the low arm-slot. Tapia is about as low ¾ as you can go without being a sidearmer, which may make it harder for Tapia to throw a consistently sharp slider and could point to future platoon issues.  That said, a contact told Mike Newman that he saw Tapia with a solid slider, and he throws it hard enough that I could see him developing a 88-90 slutter-type thing like Matt Harvey. Given the rest of the arsenal, that might be enough breaking ball for him to start.

The Projection: There is a wide gap between what Tapia is now and what he could be, but he’s actually less risky than you might think for such a “raw” arm. The fastball will get him to the majors as a pen arm of some sort, and as Mike Newman said on the podcast, likely one with late inning potential. If the secondary stuff makes strides, he’s a mid-rotation arm with potential for more. The fastball is just that good

What’s next: Tapia won’t be rushed, and I would not be surprised if he spends all of 2013 at St. Lucie. He could move fast if he starts to put things together, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s #1 on this list next year.

3. Noah Syndergaard, RHP

Bats/Throws: L/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 20.6

Acquired: Trade (R.A. Dickey), 2012

2012: 103.2 IP, 10.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9, 7 H/9 for Lansing (A)

Risk Factor: High. Like every non-elite pitching prospect in A-ball, Syndergaard needs to improve secondary stuff and fastball command to reach his projection.

Ranking based on: The Usual Sources

The Short of It: Big-armed Texan needs to improve his secondary offerings, but has front of the rotation potential.

The Long of It: The Lansing Lugnuts played 12 games last year broadcast by I’ll give you one guess at how many Syndergaard started. Yup, so we’re going off the reports. Fortunately, the reports are pretty damn good. Syndergaard’s fastball will immediately be among the best in the system, featuring mid-nineties velocity and ‘heavy sink’ according to Jason Parks. The secondary stuff is in need of refinement of course, but Parks at least sees two potential plus offerings there in the curve and change. (Baseball America is less enthusiastic, especially about the curve.) If Aaron Sanchez is the Zack Wheeler of the Blue Jays system, Syndergaard was the Matt Harvey. Like Tapia and Fulmer, I could see Syndergaard breaking out this year in St. Lucie, but unlike those two, he’s already a Top 100 prospect in the game.

The Projection: It’s east to see the potential plus-plus fastball, two average->plus secondary offerings, and big frame, and project a workhorse #2 or #3 starter here. So that’s what we’re going to do. Of course like any pitching prospect in the low minors without a current above-average secondary offering, the bullpen is always a possibility, but that’s much less exciting, isn’t it?

What’s next: Syndergaard will join what is shaping up to be an awesome St. Lucie rotation. He’s polished enough that he could move faster than Tapia or Fulmer and make it to Binghamton at some point this summer.

2. Travis d’Arnaud, C

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: Not ranked

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 24.2

Acquired: Trade (R.A. Dickey), 2012

2012: 303 PA, .333/.380/.595 59 K/ 19 BB for Las Vegas (AAA)

Risk Factor: Low-Medium. Very close to major league ready. Some minor injury concerns. Some questions about how much contact he’ll make against major league pitching.

Ranking based on: The Usual Sources


The Long of It: Quite possibly the best catching prospect in baseball (it’s either d’Arnaud of the Mariners’ Mike Zunino), and he’s in the Mets organization. Bwuh? d’Arnaud handled AAA with aplomb before a knee injury put him on the shelf. He should be ready for Opening Day and free of issues, but he does have a bit of an injury history now. K rate is a bit concerning, but I think he’ll make enough good contact to hit .270 with average or maybe a tick above-average power. That’s a nice offensive profile for a catcher. The defense projects to be above-average, though he’s had issues with throwing guys out, which is odd given the reports of a plus arm. I don’t know that there is a perennial all-star lurking in this profile, but I see a potential above-average major league catcher with a very high floor. That is nothing to sneeze at. I have Wheeler as the clear #1 in the system still, but I wouldn’t quibble too much if you want to rank d’Arnaud #1.

N.B. I planned on taking a few looks at d’Arnaud on video for this list, but illness knocked me out of commission for a while. You can bet I’ll be covering him more in-depth on the podcast once I have time to scour Doubt his ranking changes, though.

The Projection: Above-average major league catcher. Maybe an all-star game or two if he more fully taps into the power potential. Downside here is something like J.P. Arencibia, which isn’t a bad downside at all.

What’s next: The Mets will “give d’Arnaud a little extra time to recover from last season’s knee injury,” or, if you are cynical, “play with his service time” by starting him back in AAA. I would be surprised if he isn’t in the majors by the All-Star break at the latest.

1. Zack Wheeler, RHP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Last Year: #2

Age: (as of Opening Day 2013) 22.8

Acquired: Trade (Carlos Beltran), 2011

2012: 149 IP, 8.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9, 6.9 H/9 between Binghamton (AA) and Buffalo (AAA)

Risk Factor: Low-Medium. Wheeler is close to a finished product, close to the majors, and the raw stuff gives him a high floor. Command and lingering injury concerns mostly due to age is the only thing keeping this from being lower.

Ranking based on: Multiple Live Looks

The Short of It: Best prospect in the system has two plus pitches and front of the rotation potential

The Long of It: Electric arm. Fastball was 93-95 and routinely touched higher. Hit 98 in near sub-freezing weather in April. Four-seamer has some natural cut to it and was a swing and miss pitch in AA. With improved command it’s a plus-plus offering. Threw a two-seamer more in second look. It’s 92-94 with good armside run. Slider improved the second time I saw him and is a plus pitch for me. Solid two-plane break, but the thing that makes it deadly is the velocity, as Wheeler can touch 88 with it. Curve looked like the best secondary offering in April. It lagged behind the slider in second look, but is a solid offering in the low-mid 80s. Jason Parks received better reports on it and gave it a plus grade. No mechanical red flags, but Wheeler still struggles with command issues. Fastball is up in the zone too much, and better hitters can square it. Like Matt Harvey, the stuff is good enough to out-pitch the command issues at times, but needs to improve fastball command and change-up to reach #2 projection. Change-up occasionally flashes solid-average at 86-88 mph, but too often is firm and flat at around 90. That’s batting practice. Gets high marks for work ethic/make-up. I still have a few lingering concerns about his ability to go 200 innings in MLB, but was able to work late into games in 2012 with fewer issues than 2011.

The Projection: #2 starter that makes a couple all-star teams despite occasional control issues. Fastball/Slider combo makes high leverage reliever a reasonable fall back position if the command and change-up issues persist, but barring injuries he seems a pretty safe bet to be a major league starter of some sort. Worth mentioning that Parks hung a #1 ceiling on Wheeler. I don’t see it, but Jason’s eyes and rolodex are both better than mine.

What’s next: Despite all the hand-wringing about sending Wheeler to Las Vegas, that’s his likely destination barring a huge Spring or multiple injuries to the rotation. Wheeler’s arrival in the bigs is likely to be dictated by team need/health, but he’s a safe bet to make it to Flushing sometime in 2013.


One Response to “The Mets Minors Review Top 50 Mets Prospect List for 2013: 10-1”

  1. John January 7, 2013 at 10:52 PM #

    Love the list, thank you so much for writing so in depth about all of the prospects

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