Weekend Storyline – St. Lucie Mets
The Mets made news in late March by assigning a number of their top young prospects to High-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League and skipping them over Low-A. This wasn’t so surprising for a college first-rounder like Michael Conforto, but it did come as a surprise for young prospects like Jhoan Urena and Amed Rosario, who had yet to venture outside of the short-season New York-Penn League.
The move was surprising because of the limited potential benefit as compared to the developmental risk. If Urena and Rosario can handle the aggressive assignment, then it bumps up their timetable to the majors, which is nice. But if they struggle, it could stunt their development and hinder their growth, potentially even requiring them to be sent down to Low-A Savannah where they were expected to be assigned in the first place.
Savannah may in fact have been part of the problem. A tremendously unfriendly hitter’s park, Savannah received a large portion of the blame for the power outage of fellow Mets prospect Dominic Smith last year (just one home run in 2014). Perhaps the Mets wanted to avoid sending their top hitting prospects into that situation, not that the Florida State League is much more forgiving for power hitters.
One game into the season, there was a feeling of over-excitement that only Opening Day can bring. One full series is still far too early to come to any reasonable conclusions, but it’s enough to check in and see how the collection of hitting prospects that make up the Mets lineup is doing.
- Michael Conforto, OF: .357/417/.636 (5-for-14, HR, 3 BB/3 K). It’s not surprising to see Conforto off to a strong start, as he was considered one of the more advanced college bats coming out of last year’s draft. He’s been a candidate for a mid-season promotion since the day he arrived at Tradition Field. Not an extremely high ceiling, but also not that far away from it.
- Jhoan Urena, 3B: .294/.294/.412 (5-for-17, 3B, 0 BB/6 K, SB). The triple is fluky, as Urena isn’t a strong runner, but then again, he stole a base too. Power is Urena’s game, as is a strong feel for the barrel. He’s aggressive by nature, which we’re already seeing glimpses of.
- Amed Rosario, SS: .188/.235/.353 (4-for-17, 2 2B, 0 BB/3 K, SB). Rosario was the most surprising of these promotions, as he’s the weakest present hitter of the bunch. A fantastic defender with some positive hitting tools, Rosario also has the biggest gap between present and future ability of any of the Mets top prospects. He’s a talented prospect, but the FSL is full of mid/late-round college pitchers who have limited stuff but know how to use it. This could be a difficult matchup for such a young player.
- Dominic Smith, 1B: .188/.235/.250 (3-for-16, 2B, 1 BB/3 K). Smith is in the right place, at least based on his projected developmental schedule. A case could have been made for sending Smith back to take another crack at the Sally League, but a change of scenery was probably for the best. Still, we haven’t seen any power yet, and the FSL won’t be terribly more forgiving than was Savannah, meaning Smith will have to earn it.
Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 2-3, R, 2 BB, 2 BB, K. Correa’s time in the California League was cut short last season after breaking his ankle, but it didn’t slow down his development. The Astros were undeterred, assigning him to Double-A anyway, a decision that Correa is already rewarding. In addition to his strong Friday, Correa had two more doubles on Saturday, giving him five on the season.
Bruce Caldwell, 3B, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 3-3, 2 R, 2B, BB. Caldwell is off to a start that would make Adrian Gonzalez envious, finishing the weekend hitting .583. Perhaps the most Cardinals player ever, Caldwell does nothing outstandingly, but enough things well to be able to envision a big-league future. He showed some pop last year and has enough versatility to handle both second and third base. In an initial look this season, he’s already showing a better approach at the plate and a feel for how to attack pitchers. He’s exactly the kind of mid-round pick (15th round) that the Cardinals seem to find and turn into useable pieces.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Angels (Salt Lake, AAA): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Heaney clearly has this minor-league thing down. He hit virtually no road bumps as he cruised through the Marlins system over the past two years, but ran into a wall at the major-league level. After two offseason trades, he landed with the Angels, who have him waiting in the wings for a big-league rotation spot to become available. Despite his hiccup in the big leagues last season, there’s still no reason he can’t be a mid-rotation starter at his peak, and he’s ready to go whenever the Angels need him.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 11 K. Twins’ fans need all the good news they can get these days, and Berrios is here to provide it for them. With the makings of three potentially plus pitches, the only question last season was how his small frame would hold up over the course of the season after seeing diminishing velocity late in 2013. He answered those questions last August and has returned to Double-A to finish the job.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies (Modesto, A+): 2-4, 3 R, 3B, HR. McMahon has put up great numbers as a professional and nothing has changed to start this season. He gets overshadowed by some of his fellow Rockies prospects, Raimel Tapia and David Dahl, because he has more holes in his swing than those two, as Ryan Parker pointed out in an in-depth breakdown last week. He’s going to rack up strike-out numbers, but there should be enough production in between to do plenty of damage.
Trevor Story, 2B, Rockies (New Britain, AA): 4-4, 2B, BB. Story has endured a roller coaster of performances from league to league in the minors, but he was one of the more impressive players in the Arizona Fall League this October. His tools stand out on the field, but don’t always translate at the plate because of a wild approach at the plate. He has the skills to be an above-average second baseman, and our own Mauricio Rubio, Jr. believes he can be “playable at shortstop.”
Gleyber Torres, OF, Cubs (South Bend, A-): 3-4, 2B, BB, K. The Cubs were aggressive with Torres this season, jumping him to full-season ball as an 18-year-old and essentially skipping short-season ball. There are going to be some bumps in the road, but there are also going to be some games like this, where Torres shows off a potential plus hit tool as part of an all-around package.
Eric Jagielo, 3B, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-4, 3 R, 2 HR, BB, 2 K. A former first-rounder, Jagielo has two above-average tools. Luckily for him, one of them power, which guarantees him continued chances. His bat speed is not elite, and he struggles with plate coverage and against left-handed pitching. There are enough holes in his game that he’s unlikely to be the kind of everyday player the Yankees are hoping for, but with occasional power, there’s a role for him out there.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Reds (Louisville, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K. The former first-rounder (38th overall) hasn’t become the swing-and-miss threat that the Reds might have hoped for when drafting him that high, but he’s off to a nice start in backing up a strong 2014 season. Now in Triple-A, he should be ready at some point this season when the Reds need additional starters.
Carlos Rodon, LHP, White Sox (Charlotte, AAA): 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 R), 2 BB, 9 K. Rodon is probably one of the White Sox five best starters right now, and starts like this show why. It also shows part of why he’s not in the majors yet, as it took 87 pitches to get through five innings of work, partly because his command is a work in progress and partly because strike outs take a lot of pitches. Regardless, he’ll be on the South Side soon, possibly by next month.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K. How long can he get away with pitching like this? That’s the (multi) million-dollar question surrounding Glasnow. His fastball command continues to be well below average, with the strikes he does throw often not being where he wants them, and there are far too many free passes. And yet, Glasnow continues to dominate. Big-league starters don’t walk four batters per nine innings, or at least they don’t for very long, so something will have to give. For one start this season, however, it looks like we’re going to see more of the same from Glasnow.
Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 3-4, R, HR, BB, SB. Meadows has had nothing but success thus far as a professional, with the only blemish on his resume being his inability to stay on the field. He’s healthy to start this season, which should finally give us a legitimate look at what kind of future we can expect from Meadows.
Kodi Mederios, LHP, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. Mederios was a high-risk draft pick when he was selected 12th overall last year, and his inconsistent performance in complex ball last year supported that analysis. This is a completely different Mederios making his full-season debut, one that the Brewers envisioned when they dreamt on his two potential plus pitches. There is still a long way to go for the still-raw Mederios, but this is an extremely positive start to his season.
Joe Wendle, 2B, Athletics (Nashville, AAA): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, K. The return the A’s got for Brandon Moss, Wendle’s profile is as an offensive second baseman. There’s nothing outstanding about him, and power is not typically his calling card, but there’s enough there to keep pitchers honest.
Branden Kline, RHP, Orioles (Bowie, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K. Scouts have bounced back and forth on whether or not Kline projects as a starter or a reliever. His secondary pitches rate out as average at best, but on Sunday a fastball that sat 95-96 was enough to miss bats throughout the game. He’s going to need more than that to remain a starter, but that kind of velocity and a starter’s frame gives him a fighting chance.
Tyler Kolek, RHP, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K. We haven’t learned much more about Kolek than we knew about him when he was drafted second overall last summer. He was used sparingly in the Gulf Coast League, throwing just 22 innings, allowing for limited looks. We had two Prospect Team members there to see his first full-season start:
#Marlins Tyler Kolek FB 94-96; 2S 91-92. Downhill plane. SL 79-81; some bite but can get soft. Arm speed becomes depressed on offspeed.
#marlins Tyler Kolek sitting comfortably at 94-96; SL 77-80; soft. CH 86; some armside fade. Replicates arm speed better on CH than SL.
— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 12, 2015
Good amount of effort in Kolek's delivery but has the frame/build to withstand a large workload. Not missing bats at 94-96 though. #marlins
— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 12, 2015
As you can see, the report is still much like it was this time last year—premium size and velocity, limited secondary stuff. Of course, there’s still plenty of time, so there’s no reason for concern, but the secondary pitches are a point of focus for him.
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