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February 18, 2014

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

New York Mets Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Mets list

The Top Ten

  1. RHP Noah Syndergaard
  2. C Travis d’Arnaud
  3. 3B Wilmer Flores
  4. RHP Rafael Montero
  5. SS Amed Rosario
  6. 1B Dominic Smith
  7. OF Cesar Puello
  8. C Kevin Plawecki
  9. CF Brandon Nimmo
  10. RHP Marcos Molina

1. Noah Syndergaard
Position: RHP
DOB: 08/29/1992
Height/Weight: 6’6” 240 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Legacy HS (Mansfield, TX)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #28 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.00 ERA (54 IP, 46 H, 69 K, 12 BB) at Double-A Binghamton, 3.11 ERA (63.2 IP, 61 H, 64 K, 16 BB) at High-A St. Lucie
The Tools: 8 FB; 7 potential CB; 6+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Another developmental step forward for the big Texan, as Syndergaard pitched his way to the Double-A level flashing a power arsenal with sharp control.

Strengths: Impressive size and strength; very athletic; creates steep plane to the plate; elite arm strength; fastball can work 95-100; excellent manipulation of the pitch; can create big arm-side run; can cut the ball; true 80 grade offering; curveball is plus at present; projects to be plus-plus; upper 70s/low 80s with sharp vertical action; impressive depth; power pitch; changeup projects to plus (or better); shows feel for the offering; can show deception and plus arm-side life; control is very sharp for power arm; command projects to be plus; frontline profile.

Weaknesses: Tendency to elevate and work up in the zone; curveball can break early; easier to track the tumble; changeup is often overthrown and too firm; thrown into bat speed.

Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 50-plus innings at Double-A level; physically mature.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: While it’s easier to profile as a fantasy ace than a true ace in a scouting sense, it’s still not something that gets thrown around too lightly. Syndergaard, with his strikeout-inducing stuff and WHIP-reducing control, has that upside—and he should be up as soon as he’s cleared all necessary financial hurdles, given the current state of the team.

The Year Ahead: Syndergaard is one of the top arms in the minors, with impressive size and strength, an impact arsenal including an elite fastball and wipeout curveball, and the overall command to elevate an already intense arsenal. It’s the prototypical profile of a power pitcher, and that’s without giving the changeup its proper hype, as several sources think the changeup will blossom in the coming years, settling in as a plus offering and taking Syndergaard to his frontline projection. The big Texan could use more seasoning in the upper minors, but will likely make his major-league debut at some point in 2014, and should help the Mets compile the best young rotation trio in baseball in 2015, along with Harvey and Wheeler.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Travis d'Arnaud
Position: C
DOB: 02/10/1989
Height/Weight: 6’2”
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2007 draft, Lakewood HS (Lakewood, CA)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #15 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .202/.286/.263 at major league level (31 games), .304/.487/.554 at Triple-A Las Vegas (19 games), .222/.300/.481 at Double-A Binghamton (7 games), .318/.348/.455 at complex level GCL
The Tools: 5+ arm; 6 glove; 5+ potential hit; 5+ potential power

What Happened in 2013: An injury once again limited d’Arnaud’s ability to stay on a field, but the long-time prospect finally made his major-league debut in 2013, although the bat showed up lighter than expected.

Strengths: Good frame; good strength; well-rounded skills on both sides of the ball; very good receiver with a plus glove; fundamentally sound; blocks well; calls well; frames well; strong arm; quick release; controls the running game well; shows both ability to put the ball in play and make hard contact; hit/power could play to solid-average (or better).

Weaknesses: Can’t stay on the field; tools are more solid-average than plus; can sell out for power and lose bat control; tendency to wrap the bat; can get tied up by velocity.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level; durability concerns.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The worst thing about having d’Arnaud as your dynasty league catcher is that you’ll likely need to waste a roster spot on a backup, unless your league is particularly shallow. When healthy, he should be a capable starter on any team, with the potential for a .270 average and 20 homers. But it’s going to take a long time to rid himself of that modifier.

The Year Ahead: I feel bad for d’Arnaud, a player who has been on the prospect landscape since 2007 yet has faced numerous (and often freak) injury hurdles on his journey to the majors. In his debut, he was pressing and selling out for more pop, which resulted in less pop and less contact. A run of good health could lead to a run of more comfort and confidence in the box, and the real d’Arnaud can emerge, a legit dual-threat catcher who has the overall skill set to develop into a first-division talent. It will all come down to healthy reps at the highest level, so staying on the field will be paramount.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

3. Wilmer Flores
Position: 3B
DOB: 08/06/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2007, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2013 Stats: .211/.248/.295 at major league level (27 games), .321/.357/.531 at Triple-A Las Vegas (107 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 5+ potential glove; 6 potential power; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: It happened fast for Flores, who started the 2012 season in the Florida State League and finished the 2013 season at the major-league level, where the Triple-A bat failed to make the journey.

Strengths: Good feel for hitting; excellent hand/eye; added strength in 2013; power likely to play solid-average to plus; run producer; can catch up to velocity; hands to find contact when he’s fooled; arm is left-side strong; soft hands; fluid actions; good footwork around the bag at second.

Weaknesses: Well below-average run; range isn’t sufficient for shortstop; aggressive approach at the plate; can get himself out early; hit tool might only play to average; game power could play down without approach refinement.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average regular

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Flores is just in the wrong organization for his current fantasy value. The two half-decent offensive players the Mets finished the 2013 season with cover the only two places that Flores can potentially play (second and third base), so he’s unlikely to be much help in 2014 barring injury. If given a full season, he could hit .275 with 25 homers and more RBI than you think given his propensity for contact.

The Year Ahead: Flores doesn’t get enough credit, mostly due to his inability to project at shortstop and the organizational roadblock at third base; it gets forgotten that Flores has really nice hands and a very strong arm, and with his offensive upside, a third base profile would make him a much more heralded prospect in the game. Despite the glove and overall coordination, Flores lacks average range, and that could limit his utility at second base, although he could certainly handle the fundamental aspects of the position. At the plate, Flores is going to hit for power; it’s just a matter of time and a question of how much. He has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball, with excellent hand/eye coordination and improving strength in his body that allows him to get extension and drive the ball to right-center. This is a very legit player, and this will be true even if he struggles in a longer major-league look in 2014. I’m a fan.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

4. Rafael Montero
Position: RHP
DOB: 10/17/1990
Height/Weight: 6’0” 170 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.05 ERA (88.2 IP, 85 H, 78 K, 25 BB) at Triple-A Las Vegas, 2.43 ERA (66.2 IP, 51 H, 72 K, 10 BB)
The Tools: 6 FB; 5+ CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2013: Montero continues to climb the professional ranks while being underappreciated (at least by this source), putting himself in a position to contribute to the major-league rotation in 2014.

Strengths: Fluid, easy arm; good arm strength; sneaky plus fastball in the low 90s; whippy three-quarters arm and good late explosion; good overall pitchability; can locate fastball; work east/west; changeup plays well from the arm; good disguise and solid-average action; slider can play average (or above); can log innings and hold stuff despite size.

Weaknesses: Lacks prototypical size; short/slender; lacks impact stuff; fastball can get to the mid-90s, but more comfortable in low 90s; tendency to get too fly-ball friendly; secondary arsenal lacks wipeout pitch; slider can play sharp but can also get slurvy and lose bite; more command/control profile than power.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; upper minors experience; mature arsenal.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Montero has gotten the job done at the minor-league level, despite not having elite raw stuff, but he’ll have more trouble putting up these types of numbers for your fantasy team. What he can provide is a decent number of strikeouts (think 160 or so over a full season) and a very strong WHIP, which could linger in the 1.10-1.15 range in his better seasons.

The Year Ahead: I often discount Montero because of his size and his good-but-not-great stuff, missing out on the fact that he can actually pitch, mixing his arsenal with a good feel for command execution and the ability to make outs. As long as Montero can stay healthy and continue to refine his command, he can find sustainable success in a rotation, but I see more of a back-end type than a pitcher likely to reach frontline status. Perhaps I’m still underselling the 23-year-old Dominican, for as much as I respect his ability to pitch, I’m still skeptical that his solid-average arsenal can push him that high in a major-league rotation without exceptional command. He should get a chance to make his case in 2014.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Amed Rosario
Position: SS
DOB: 11/20/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 170 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .241/.279/.358 at rookie level Kingsport (58 games)
The Tools: 5+ run; 5+ arm; 6 potential glove; 6 potential hit; 5+ potential power

What Happened in 2013: High-dollar international signee in 2012, Rosario made his professional debut in the rookie-level Appalachian league, holding his own as a 17-year-old.

Strengths: Physically projectable; good athlete; natural feel for the game; great actions; easy and fluid; glove projects to above-average; arm is solid-average to plus; can make left-side throws; quick first step and reactions; good range; solid-average run; projectable hit tool; impressive bat speed and hand/eye; stays inside the ball; drives through it; uses all fields; power potential down the line; high baseball IQ.

Weaknesses: More flash than fundamentals in the field; range could slow as he adds weight; not a speedster; swing mechanics are inconsistent; can load the hands too deep and arrive to the ball late; gets himself out; aggressive; raw power is present but game power might play below average.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division player/all-star

Realistic Role: 5; major league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; rookie level experience

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Rosario is forever away, and his impact will likely be much less important in fantasy than for the Mets, but he still is worth watching for our purposes as well. And while he’s still just a flier at this point, if the .118 isolated power as a 17-year old in Rookie ball is an indication of some future pop, he may graduate from that status in short order.

The Year Ahead: Rosario has the potential to blossom into a top-tier prospect in the game, with five-tool talent at a premium position and the type of natural bat-to-ball ability to produce at the plate. Add to the mix a noticeable feel for the game, work ethic and intelligence and you could have something very special. But Rosario has a long developmental road ahead, and needs refinement in all aspects of the game. The glove is slick, but the physical projection could end up limiting range, even though every source for this list had Rosario projected to stay at shortstop. The bat will play because of his quick hands and overall coordination, but if he is to really step forward with the stick, he will need to work himself into better hitting conditions and not give away at-bats with an overly aggressive approach and the need to swing just because he can. For some context on his potential, ask yourself how many stateside high school juniors could make the jump straight to the Appalachian League and hold their own at the plate while playing a premium position? The Mets have something here, but its not going to be an overnight rise to glory for the 18-year-old Dominican.

Major league ETA: 2018

6. Dominic Smith
Position: 1B
DOB: 06/15/1995
Height/Weight: 6’0” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Serra HS (Gardena, CA)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .667/.750/.1333 at rookie level Kingsport (3 games), .287/.384/.407 at complex level GCL (48 games)
The Tools: 7 potential hit; 5 potential power; 6+ potential glove; 6+ arm

What Happened in 2013: In a strong draft class, Smith was taken 11th overall and showed off his sweet left-handed swing, hitting over .300 in his first professional taste.

Strengths: Beautiful swing from the left side; shows natural feel for putting the barrel on the ball; can square velocity and keeps hands back on off-speed; hit tool could make him a .300 hitter; power could play to solid-average; good athlete with plus glove at first; strong arm; could hit 90+ off the mound as an amateur; natural leader on the field; high baseball IQ.

Weaknesses: Not physically imposing; limited defensively; run is below average; power potential is subject of debate; could play below average; swing more conducive for line-drive pop, not over-the-fence power.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: Low 5; second-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional experience; first-base only profile.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There are a wide range of opinions on Smith’s power potential, and that is a huge driver of his dynasty league value. I view him as the eighth-best option in dynasty drafts this year and potential .300-hitting first-baseman with 20-25 homers. Of course, like any first base prospect, the fantasy upside is greater than the real-life upside.

The Year Ahead: Smith is going to hit; anybody who has ever seen him in person can tell you that after watching his swing against live pitching. The real question is whether or not he brings big power into the equation, which could take him from being a good major-league regular to a first-division/all-star type. As a first baseman, Smith is going to have to really hit to carve out his value, and as mentioned, he’s going to make a lot of hard contact and should develop into a plus hitter at the highest level, and perhaps even a perennial .300 hitter if everything clicks. With his easy plus defensive profile at first and a monster hit tool, the Mets could be looking at a Keith Hernandez-type, with more power potential than the former MVP but less mustache projection. Smith failed to crack the BP 101 heading into the season, but could hit his way there with a strong full-season debut in 2014.

Major league ETA: 2017

7. Cesar Puello
Position: OF
DOB: 04/01/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2007, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .326/.403/.547 at Double-A Binghamton (91 games)
The Tools: 6 run; 6 arm; 6 power potential; 5+ glove

What Happened in 2013: Puello was erupting as a prospect before a connection to the Biogenesis investigation brought a 50-game suspension, a connection that soured several sources on the 22-year-old Dominican.

Strengths: Athletic with good present strength; loud raw tools; plus run; plus arm strength; versatile on defense, with some feel for center; good glove; showed ability to make improvements at the plate (improved hand position in the setup/swing allowed the bat to take off in 2013); power potential is plus; impressive bat speed and ability to lift the ball.

Weaknesses: Aggressive at the plate; looks fastball and struggles to recover from bad guesses; pitch-recognition concerns; balance needs work; lacks consistency; reads/routes need refinement up the middle; power likely to play down against better arms; more boom or bust than average player with Double-A experience; makeup concerns.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average major leaguer/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited upper minors experience; makeup concerns; gap between present/future offensive grades.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Anytime you see plus grades on the run and power potential, you know you’re looking at someone you should pay attention to for fantasy. Puello is no different, though he’s going to have to show that his bat will allow those things to play without whatever he may have allegedly received from the Biogenesis clinic in order to make his 20/20 upside believable.

The Year Ahead: I have several outside-the-org sources on Puello, and while each source can wax poetic about his tool-based potential, each source also found the projection to be very abstract and carrying more risk than most players with upper-minors experience. Puello has loud tools and was starting to bring them into game action before the suspension, which is another issue that raises red flags about his profile. Not that the results in 2013 weren’t authentic; they likely were. But the stain of the association will follow Puello for the foreseeable future, casting doubt on his level of performance and his makeup for allowing the association in the first place. I have no idea what to expect from Puello in 2014, as the talented Dominican could continue where he left off in 2013 and mash his way to a big-league opportunity or he could suffer at the hand of his aggressive approach and general inconsistencies on all sides of the ball. The ceiling is high enough to justify this ranking –or even ranking him higher on a list—but the profile is still very cloudy and the risk is still high.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Kevin Plawecki
Position: C
DOB: 02/26/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .294/.391/.392 at High-A St. Lucie (60 games), .314/.390/.494 at Low-A Savannah (65 games)
The Tools: 5 arm; 5 glove; 5+ potential hit; 5 potential power

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, the former first round pick hit his way to the Florida State League, showing a knack for contact while flashing playable skills behind the plate.

Strengths: Good build for backstop; good present strength; simple swing that is very contact heavy; doesn’t swing just to swing; mature approach; hit tool projects to solid-average; power could play to average; good receiver; strong hands; fundamentals over flash; arm is average; can control the running game.

Weaknesses: Lacks plus tools; defensive profile is average; below-average run; lacks big boy pop; more contact heavy and gap power than over the fence; lacks projection.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average regular

Realistic Role: Low 5; second-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to play at Double-A level; dual-threat development

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Plawecki makes for a nice target in OBP leagues, as he could post .360-.370 marks at the major-league level—which is fantastic for a catcher. Unfortunately, he doesn’t profile to do much else, as his power isn’t much more than low double-digits. However, the average/on-base profile is enough to keep him above the Blake Swihart line and makes him ownable in non-shallow formats.

The Year Ahead: Plawecki is a quality prospect, with playable tools at a premium position and the ability to swing a good bat. The problem is that it’s more present than projection and the tools are more of the average variety than impact level. As a sum-of-his-parts player, Plawecki could end up an above-average talent, especially if the bat continues to play as he faces better pitching. But any setback to his defensive profile will retard his overall value, and right handed first baseman that can hit left-handed pitching are vastly more abundant than well-rounded role 5 backstops. Double-A will be a big test for Plawecki.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

9. Brandon Nimmo
Position: CF
DOB: 03/27/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, East HS (Cheyenne, WY)
Previous Ranking: #9 (Org)
2013 Stats: .273/.397/.359 at Low-A Savannah (110 games)
The Tools: 5 glove; 5 run; 6 arm; 5 potential hit; 6 potential power

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, the former first round pick (13th overall) was solid but not spectacular, making developmental progress on his long road to his projections.

Strengths: Good athlete; good baseball awareness; pretty swing from the left side; line-drive stroke with some power to come down the line; average run; average glove; arm is corner strong; can flash five-tool talent; more baseball skills than expected given his background.

Weaknesses: Lacks loud tools; can play soft in games; good athlete but lacks plus run; better profile in a corner; pretty swing but bat speed is average; tendency to wrap it; struggles against arm-side stuff and quality velocity can tie him up.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; bench outfielder/below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; yet to play in upper minors; questions about his profile.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There is still the potential for Nimmo to be a 20-plus homer and 10-plus steal player with an average that won’t hurt you, but the combination of his rawness and his ETA keeps him from graduation out the flier pool. He’s a worthy risk if your league rosters 200 or more prospects, but if not, there’s probably someone better out there.

The Year Ahead: Nimmo deserves some developmental space given his limited exposure to quality talent in high school, and he’s made noticeable progress on all sides of the ball since signing with the Mets. He is athletic and physical, and when it works, it can look very good on the field. But the tools are more solid-average than high end, and the overall profile looks more like a tweener than a first-division player in either center field or a corner. Nimmo’s bat speed has never impressed me, and the better velocity he faces, the more this particular attribute could be exposed. I still see a major-league future for the soon to be 21-year-old, but it might be more of a second-division/utility variety than the all-star caliber talent you expect from the 13th overall pick in a loaded draft.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Marcos Molina
Position: RHP
DOB: 03/08/1995
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: N/R
2013 Stats: 4.39 ERA (53.1 IP, 56 H, 14 BB, 43 K) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6 potential CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: In his stateside debut, the electric Dominican arm showed up better on the scouting report than he did on the stat sheet, missing bats but showing the inconsistency of a young, underdeveloped pitcher.

Strengths: Plus-plus athlete; physically projectable; fast-twitch; big arm strength; very quick arm; routinely worked 91-96 in the GCL; good feel for filling up the zone; turns over a promising changeup; excellent late action on the pitch; commands it; slurvy breaking ball shows some bat-missing potential; slower slider action; highly competitive on/off the mound

Weaknesses: Still transitioning from thrower to pitcher; erratic stuff; flashes of brilliance followed by inconsistency; more control than command at present; turns over a quality changeup but can get deliberate in the delivery; breaking ball is inconsistent; more slurve than clear slider; lacks a tight rotation and shows limited depth.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; complex-league experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Here's a name to watch for the future. While Molina likely doesn't warrant a pickup in your league right now (unless you play in a league where 300-plus minor leaguers are kept), he is someone to keep an eye out for as he moves up the ladder in the Mets' system. With a strong fastball, and advanced development of a changeup for his age, Molina could blossom into a strong fantasy starter--it will just take a some time.

The Year Ahead: We might be a year premature by ranking a relative unknown like Molina this high in a very good system, but the scouting reports were excellent in his stateside debut, and a conversation with one front office source (outside the org) really sealed his placement on this list. When discussing Molina, it was mentioned that if the 18-year-old were available for inclusion in the rule 4 draft, the highly athletic 6-foot-3, 190 lb. righty would be considered a first-round talent. Add to that his strong complex debut and lofty projections and the choice to include Molina became easier to justify. Molina isn’t going to explode overnight, but as he improves his pitchability and finds more consistency on the mound, he has all the ingredients to develop into a high-end prospect, a super athletic righty with size, stuff, and a competitive edge to push him beyond his paper grades.

Major league ETA: 2017

Prospects on the Rise:
1. RHP Michael Fulmer:
A healthy Fulmer is a no brainer top 10 prospect in this (or any other system) but an injury-plagued 2013 put his status in limbo. The reports are good coming into 2014, but knee injuries can linger, and when you add Fulmer’s big boy size to the equation, the road to his former self could take some time. We can worry about the health, but we need not worry about the stuff, because even when he was dealing with the knee issue, the stuff was still sharp, with a plus fastball/slider combination delivered with the polish of a command/control arm. When Fulmer proves (on the field) that he is 100 percent, he’s a legit mid-rotation starter in the making.

2. RHP Casey Meisner: Highly projectable Texan arm, Meisner’s present stuff arrived on the professional scene better than advertised, sitting comfortably in the low 90s and showing good feel for his secondary arsenal, including a good changeup. The third round pick is the rare lanky 6-foot-7 pitcher who can control his body and repeat his delivery, allowing the 18-year-old to throw strikes. As he adds strength to his frame, his fastball could blossom into a monster offering, but even without additional fuel to the heater, the combination of plane, location, and present velocity will allow him to find success as he climbs the professional ranks. If he does start to tick up, watch out. He will likely be a top 10 prospect in this system at this time next season.

3. SS Luis Guillorme: Arguably the slickest glove available in the 2013 draft, Guillorme is going to wow you with the leather and is worth the price of admission, but his bat could limit his upside. The 19-year-old can put the ball in play from the left side of the plate, which is a positive of his offensive skill set, but most sources don’t think the bat will play to major-league standard. But the glove is slick, a potential 7 grade tool, and if he can just carve out a little offense, he could develop into a second-division type as a ceiling or a utility type as a floor. He’s fun to watch.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. RHP Victor Black:
Acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade, Black is a hard-throwing reliever with heavy mid-90s smoke and a sharp slider, but struggles with command limited his effectiveness in his major-league debut. The big Texan can find late-innings success if he can find more consistency in his delivery, which will improve his strike-throwing ability and allow him to pound the lower zone with his plus-plus fastball and use his breaking ball to miss bats. It’s a setup profile that could morph into a closer if the command really picks up.

2. LHP Jack Leathersich: A fifth round selection in the 2011 draft, Leathersich’s brief career has been built on grotesque strikeout totals, including missing a ridiculous 102 bats in only 58 innings in 2013. Aside from his plus name, the 23-year-old lefty brings a deceptive plus fastball to the table that he backs up with a playable hard curve. The short lefty’s future will mostly likely be as a situational reliever at the highest level, mostly on the back of the sneaky low-90s fastball, but if he can refine his command and stay over the curve despite the slot and action, he can continue to miss bats and work himself into more high-leverage situations at the next level.

3. RHP Jake deGrom: It’s not an overly sexy profile but it can be effective, as the former ninth round pick in 2010 was able to build on a strong 2012 season and push himself up the ladder toward a major-league opportunity. With good size (long and lean) and athleticism, deGrom can throw strikes and log innings, using a 90-94 mph fastball with some sink to do most of his dirty work but flashing a quality slider and playable changeup as well. Sources aren’t sold that he’s a viable major-league starter, but he could find a home in the bullpen—where the 25-year-old arm could offer versatility, pushing the arsenal up a few ticks to work in bursts—or chew innings in a long relief/spot starter capacity.

Top 10 Talents 25 and Younger (born 4/1/1988 or later)

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Zack Wheeler
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. Travis d’Arnaud
  5. Jenrry Mejia
  6. Wilmer Flores
  7. Rafael Montero
  8. Amed Rosario
  9. Dominic Smith
  10. Cesar Puello

The Mets have stockpiled a collection of talent that can both bolster and impact the roster over the next handful of seasons, providing hopes of a consistent force in the National League East. This list features a blend of players who can help now, along with some names off in the horizon that can develop into a second wave of big-league talent.

Right-handed starter Matt Harvey headlines the list after successfully transitioning to the majors and showing his high-octane stuff can be absolutely dominating. Though he will miss a good chunk of 2014 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Harvey edges out fellow right-handed starter Zack Wheeler for the top slot. Wheeler showed during his stint with the Mets that his arsenal can compete against big-league lineups, and he will continue to build his resume in the rotation in 2014. If the 23-year-old can further sharpen his fastball command and avoid working too much in the upper tier of the zone, there’s a chance he sustains more consistent success. Harvey and Wheeler are in essence “1A” and “1B” on this list. Both arms can anchor the front of the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Top prospect Syndergaard checks in at no. 3. The Texas flashed electric stuff at two levels, and is cresting toward a look with the Mets this year. The ceiling is huge for the 21-year-old, with developmental work ahead making his delivery more consistent. The righty can join Harvey and Wheeler to make a formidable trio of Mets power arms. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud earns the nod in the fourth spot. I may be taking a bit of chance in placing him in front of right-handed starter Jenrry Mejia, given the concerns surrounding d’Arnaud’s ability to stay on the field, but the 25-year-old’s talent and potential impact show when he’s in the rhythm of the game.

Mejia, infielder Wilmer Flores, and right-hander Rafael Montero make up the middle portion of this list. All three represent potential contributors in the near term. Mejia should get a chance to prove he can pitch consistently in the back of the Mets rotation in 2014. Flores has been a name on the radar since his time in the lower levels, and got a taste of The Show in 2013. While the defense isn’t likely to be a strong suit, the Venezuelan has been taking physical strides forward and has some thunder in his stick. It can click into an average-to-better regular as he learns the league. Montero showed his mettle in the upper minors last season, and elevated his prospect status. He’ll be challenged to throw quality strikes with his mid-90s fastball so that his secondary stuff can play up against top hitters.

The back end of the list features three longer-lead prospects. The 18-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario is just beginning the development journey, and will be tasked with polishing his hit tool in the early stages of his career. The 2013 first rounder Dominic Smith shows an advanced ability to hit, but the power ceiling draws questions for a first baseman. Cesar Puello brings the power element to a corner outfield spot. –Chris Mellen


A Parting Thought: This is a very good farm system that will take a hit with likely major-league promotions for their top four prospects, but the strong depth coming out of short-season ball could keep the Mets in the top-10 farm discussion for the foreseeable future.

***

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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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