The State of the System: What if I told you there was an entire prospect list made out of our low minors sleepers superlative?
The Top Ten:
- Andres Gimenez, SS
- Peter Alonso, 1B
- Ronny Mauricio, SS
- Shervyen Newton, IF
- Mark Vientos, 3B
- David Peterson, LHP
- Franklyn Kilome, RHP
- Thomas Szapucki, LHP
- Anthony Kay, LHP
- Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
1. Andres Gimenez, SS
Height/Weight: 5’11” / 161 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed September 2014 by the New York Mets out of Venezuela for $1,000,000.
Previous Ranking(s): #1 (Org), #82 (Top 101)
2018 Stats: .282/.348/.432, 6 HR, 28 SB in 85 games at High-A St. Lucie; .277/.344/.358, 0 HR, 10 SB in 37 games at Double-A Binghamton
The Report: Gimenez showed up this spring in better shape, shed some baby fat, and added athleticism to his polished up-the-middle profile. The 19-year-old hit at both High-A and Double-A, and his plus hit tool projection backs up the statline. Gimenez has exceptional bat control, his path keeps the lumber in the zone a long time, and he can adjust in-swing to offspeed. He very well could have seasons where he hits .300. The power at present plays mostly gap-to-gap. The raw is 40 at present, potentially average at physical maturity if he adds good weight to his frame. He has high-end 6 speed and is a smart, aggressive baserunner who could be good for 30 steals a season.
The plus speed plays in the field as well, giving Gimenez above-average range that plays up further due to a good first step. While we previously had concerns about him sticking at the 6, his defense has improved and he checks every box for a potential plus shortstop—good instincts, hands, and actions; smooth around the bag; plus throwing arm. The lack of power projection and his occasional over aggression against offspeed limits the ceiling a bit, but he’s as good a bet as any prospect in baseball to have an eight-year major league career of some variety.
OFP 60—First-division shortstop, occasional all-star
Likely 55—Above-average everyday shortstop
The Risks: Low. While the profile lacks superstar upside at present, Gimenez inherits the “safe middle infield prospect” mantle from predecessors Willy Adames and Ozzie Albies. He doesn’t have the power upside they’ve shown, but he’s a plus athlete with a good hit tool. If you want to bet on a “high-floor” profile at the 6, that’s the one.
Major league ETA: A September 2019 call-up, but he might be ready before then.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: In some ways, this is a test to see if we’ve learned anything from the army of smaller, hit-tool-first prospects who have reached higher upsides than we would have ever comfortably projected. Gimenez has everything you want, except for the power, but if he can grow into even 15-homer pop, we’re looking at someone who could approximate Jean Segura’s fantasy value and maintain top-10 shortstop status even if he never really competes with the Lindors or Machados of the world.
2. Peter Alonso, 1B
Height/Weight: 6’3”/ 245 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, University of Florida; signed for $909,200.
Previous Ranking(s): #7 (Org)
2018 Stats: .314/.440/.573, 15 HR, 0 SB in 65 games at AA Binghamton; .260/.355/.585, 21 HR, 0 SB in 67 games at AAA Las Vegas
The Report: Listen, we hate this profile as a rule. This is a R/R college first baseman who is a cover model for the BIG BOY SZN catalog and he doesn’t play great or even particularly good defense. You will go absolutely broke betting on players of this type to make it. But some do, and we think Peter Alonso is going to be one of the exceptions.
We said last year that 2018 would be a big year for Alonso. He killed Double-A for the first half of the season, did the same in Triple-A from mid-July on after a slow first month, and impressed in the Arizona Fall League. We said he projected for plus game power with a chance for more. Thirty-six homers in the high-minors later, the chance got there, and he now projects for 80 game power. We said Dom Smith might establish himself in the majors first and cloud up Alonso’s profile and, well, pretty much the exact opposite of that happened. He’s got power, he’s got patience, he’s got bat speed, he can turn on velocity, he’s got better feel for contact than you usually see in these types of players.
It’s not all roses, obviously; he’d be ahead of Gimenez if it was. Outside of the Vladitos of the world, you don’t know when a guy is going to be able to hit major league sliders until you know, and we don’t know yet. The Mets left him in the minors all year, whether because of service time or 40-man considerations or a veteran fetish, robbing us of the chance to know. He’s still, generously, a work-in-progress with the glove at first base, although he ranges and throws well enough. We believe that he’s “playable bad” there instead of “needs to be traded to the American League,” but there are scouts who project the latter.
OFP 60—First-division first baseman, routinely a league leader in homers
Likely 55—Above-average first baseman/DH, occasionally a league leader in homers
The Risks: Low-to-medium, depending on how you look at it. There’s low risk in the tools, he’s about as fully-formed as a prospect can be, in part because he shouldn’t be prospect-eligible. There’s still substantial risk in the profile until we see how good he is at getting on base against MLB pitching. There isn’t a ton separating Rhys Hoskins and C.J. Cron in profile or skills, but that slight gap is the difference between a star and a waiver claim. Mets fans might also cringe at the exit velocity hype after The Eric Campbell Experience. —Jarrett Seidler
Major league ETA: July 2018
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Frankly, I’m shocked Brendan let me write this. It’s not that my favorite player growing up was Howard Johnson, or that I can still remember exactly where I was when Todd Pratt hit the walkoff homer that sent the Mets to the NLCS in 1999 (the percussion building of the old Sam Ash in midtown Manhattan.) It’s that I’ve been subscribing to BIG BOY SZN for over a decade now. I own a Dan Vogelbach Cubs shirsey unironically. This profile weakens me, and although guidance counselors and career advisors alike will tell you to identify your weaknesses so that you can overcome them, that implies you want to overcome them. So yes I’m on board with Alonso as a top-10 dynasty prospect, and yes I’m on board with Alonso as a 40-homer bat, and yes I’m on board with Alonso being a top-200 pick in redraft formats this season. The average isn’t going to be special, but he could run it up to .280, which could leave him with an OBP approaching .400.
3. Ronny Mauricio, SS
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 166 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed July 2017 out of the Dominican Republic for $2.1 million.
Previous Ranking(s): NR
2018 Stats: .279/.307/.421, 3 HR, 1 SB in 49 games at GCL Mets; .233/.286/.333, 0 HR, 1 SB in 8 games at Rookie-League Kingsport
The Report: Here’s an example of both sides of the coin for ranking J2s. Last year, Jeffrey conceded that Mauricio and Adrian Hernandez—two recently-signed, seven-figure Dominican IFAs with great reports—might both be among the ten best prospects in the system, but we lacked enough information to rank them with any precision, or write anything interesting about them. Mauricio then got nothing but buzz in the spring, earned a stateside assignment, reached the Appy League by the end of the season, and is under consideration for the 101. Hernandez was left in the Dominican complex and played okay in the Dominican Summer League. He’s still a prospect too, and he could show up on any Mets list between now and 2025 without surprising us, but this is the last time you’ll be reading about him on this particular installment.
As the Seattle trade unfolded, there was a lot made of Jarred Kelenic having the highest upside in this system, but for me, Mauricio is a bigger upside play by more than a little—if less likely to hit it. The body is as projectable as they come. There’s plus power potential. There’s plus hit tool potential as a switch-hitter. He even might stick at shortstop. In two or three years he could absolutely be a bigger, more physical Andres Gimenez, and that’s the makings of a tippy-top global guy. We can dream big right now.
Of course, extreme projectability is as much of a curse as it is a compliment, because it implies considerable rawness. These abilities we’re gushing about only come across in flashes and bursts right now. Wilmer Flores had this kind of profile once upon a time, very similar actually, and he turned out pretty well, all things considered. Flores still didn’t become a full-time regular in his original org, and didn’t make it through his arbitration years without being released.
OFP 60—Good regular somewhere on the dirt
Likely 50—Decent regular somewhere on the field
The Risks: He’s played eight games in his career outside of a complex. The body can go in a lot of different directions. Projecting hit tools on players like this is more like talking about Delta Airlines than normal baseball prospect delta. There’s star potential, Double-A slugger potential, and every potential in between. —Jarrett Seidler
Major league ETA: 2022 if things go pretty well.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: And just like that we’ve already hit the flier section of this list. I’m probably going to be one of the higher folks on Mauricio this offseason, mostly because the power projection is a lot of fun, but even I can’t squint enough to put him in the discussion for the Top 101 at this point. He should be owned in leagues that roster 200 or more prospects, however.
4. Shervyen Newton, SS/3B
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 180 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed July 2015 by the New York Mets out of the Netherlands for $50,000.
Previous Ranking(s): NR
2018 Stats: .280/.408/.449, 5 HR, 4 SB in 56 games at Rookie-League Kingsport
The Report: Newton oozes tools and athleticism. He’s 6-foot-4 and lean with a high waist. While only an average runner, he eats up ground with long strides and shows a good second gear. There’s at least plus raw power at present and he projects for more down the road. He’s a better shortstop than you’d think given the frame. Newton’s actions are fluid, his arm’s plus, and he has great instincts. He is already a captain of the infield as well. He might simply grow off the position, but he’d be a fine third baseman.
Newton is extremely raw at the plate, but there are positive markers for future development with the bat. He shows plus bat speed with loft, and while he can struggle with spin, especially if you back door it for a strike, he’s a pesky hitter who stays in against offspeed and will foul stuff off and work deep counts. He does tend to get pull and lift happy which means he will get beat down in the zone, but there’s a potential average hit tool in here with plus game power to go with it. That’s a borderline star at shortstop. He also might never hit enough to be more than an up-and-down bench piece. It’s rookie ball, man.
OFP 60—First-division shortstop or third baseman
Likely 45—Really cool IF/OF super-utility dude with pop
The Risks: Extreme. Newton led the Appy League in strikeouts. I’m projecting an average hit tool here, but if he doesn’t get there, the profile falls apart a bit. Ditto if he grows off of short. There’s a few different ways this can go badly, and they all end with him topping out in Double-A.
Major league ETA: 2022
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: You could basically just copy-and-paste Mauricio’s comment here, as Newton carries similar upside and risk with the bat. As alluded to above, there’s certainly a path to a .250 average and 30-plus homers by the time the next midterms shake out, with the potential for a more notable value in OBP leagues due to his 2.5-true-outcomes approach at this point in his development. Stay tuned, but stay interested, and make sure he’s owned if your league rosters 200 prospects.
5. Mark Vientos, 3B
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 185 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 59th overall in the 2017 draft, American Heritage HS (Plantation, FL); Signed for $1.5 Million.
Previous Ranking(s): #3 (Org)
2018 Stats: .287/.389/.489, 11 HR, 1 SB in 60 games at Rookie League Kingsport
The Report: Vientos was in play for the Mets first pick in the 2017 draft, so they were quite pleased when he was still on the board for their second. Still a few days from turning 19 at publication, Vientos has as much upside in his bat as any prospect in this system due to a plus-plus raw power projection. It’s a bit of a length and strength approach at the best of times, and he’ll add more length with an occasional hitch in his swing path, but this is the kind of thing that can get smoothed out with time—and something the Mets have had particular success with developmentally. At present though there are swing-and-miss issues, especially on the outer half.
The hit tool is more projectable than you’d think. Vientos shows pretty good feel for contact and has an idea at the plate. He shortens up against better velo and doesn’t try to lift and pull everything. In the field he’s a bit rough at third base, better on the reaction play than the ones where he has time. The arm is above-average but not a cannon, and he may grow off third base and end up in left field or at first. That would put a lot of pressure on the potential 25+ home run power to actualize.
OFP 55—Wilmer Flores as a viable left-side infield option
Likely 45—Wilmer Flores
The Risks: High. Short-season hitter with hit tool and positional questions.
Major league ETA: 2022
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: How many of these same comments are we going to suggest copying and pasting? Vientos could be a 30-homer bat down the road, but he’s approximately as far away from the majors as Mauricio and Newton. On the other hand, he showed the best approach of the group, which could lead to more success in full-season ball and a quicker path to the majors. If I had to choose one of these three to run with in a dynasty league right now, it’d be Vientos (though it’s close).
6. David Peterson, LHP
Height/Weight: 6’6” / 240 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 20th overall in the 2017 draft, University of Oregon; signed for $2,994,500.
Previous Ranking(s): #2 (org.)
2018 Stats: 1.82 ERA, 3.50 DRA, 59.3 IP, 46 H, 11 BB, 57 K in 9 games at Low-A Columbia; 4.33 ERA, 3.99 DRA, 68.7 IP, 74 H, 19 BB, 58 K in 13 games at High-A St. Lucie
The Report: The Mets were conservative with Peterson in 2018 after a pair of minor injuries in spring training. Despite being a polished college lefty, he finished the season in High-A (we’ll return to this theme in a bit). Arguably Peterson’s stuff should have overpowered A-ball hitters more than it did. His low-90s fastball comes from a tough angle given his height and slingy, low-three-quarters slot. He pairs it with a very advanced, potential plus slider and commands both offerings well.
The changeup is the clear third pitch at present, and he could use a better armside weapon against righties. Peterson is a massive human, and although there are no real red flags in the delivery past a bit of the usual lefty funk, his body might require some monitoring. Double-A will tell us a lot more about the ultimate profile here, but for now he remains on pace to be a middle or back-end starter, although perhaps not as quickly as you’d have thought when he was drafted.
OFP 55—No. 3/4 starter
Likely 45—No. 5 starter
The Risks: Medium. It’s probably low, but I’m hesitant to to throw that on any pitching prospect who hasn’t seen Double-A yet. Without a changeup grade jump he might fit better in the pen due to platoon issues.
Major league ETA: 2020
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If you looked up the definition of nondescript potential SP5 in a dictionary—first of all, send me a copy of that dictionary—a picture of Peterson would be right there for all to see. Pitchers like Peterson come off the waiver wire for spells of usefulness upwards of 20 times per season in medium-sized mixed leagues, so use that roster spot on a high-risk hitter who could be a 101 candidate at this time next year.
7. Franklyn Kilome, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’6” / 175 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed January 2013 by the Philadelphia Phillies out of the Dominican Republic for $40,000; traded to the New York Mets for Asdrubal Cabrera.
Previous Ranking(s): #6 (org: PHI), #68 (overall)
2018 Stats: 4.03 ERA, 4.50 DRA, 38 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 42 K in 7 games at AA Binghamton; 4.24 ERA, 4.65 DRA, 102 IP, 96 H, 51 BB, 83 K in 19 games at AA Reading
The Report: It gets harder to handwave Kilome’s consistency issues now that he’s in the upper minors, but on balance his 2018 regular season was at worst a net neutral for his profile. You know the story by now. An easy mid-90s fastball with life up in the zone and heavy down in it. It will flash gloveside cut as well. But sometimes it will just be 90-92, overthrown gloveside for a batter. Sometimes it will be more 92-95 for a start. His curve is a hammer, flashing plus-plus in the low-80s. Kilome sells it like a fastball until it’s too late for the batter to do anything other than look foolish.
The search for a third pitch rolls on. The Phillies attempted to teach him a slider for a while, and it still hasn’t really taken. It bleeds into the curve too much, just a slurvier version of his 11-6 wipeout downer. Occasionally you’ll see one around 85 that is sharp in on lefties, which is a useful different look. A changeup shows itself… occasionally. Kilome has done a better job keeping his mechanics on line since the trade, but there are still a lot of moving parts in both his upper and lower halves, and they can get out of sync, limiting the command projection here to average at best. Then there is the matter of his postseason Tommy John Surgery that will cost him all of 2019. At this point, Kilome might be best served with a move to the pen in 2020.
OFP 55—No. 3/4 starter or second-division closer
Likely 40—Swingman or middle relief
The Risks: High. This was 6/5 and borderline Top 101 before the UCL tear because we really like the profile, but that was with heavy reliever risk baked in, which is only going up. He will be 25 shortly after he starts throwing meaningful pro innings again, and again, he was riskier than you’d like before he went under the knife.
Major league ETA: Late 2019
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: I’ve been along for the ride the last three years, but surgery and a likely reliever future is enough to get me off the bandwagon. Even if the stuff returns, his realistic ceiling at this point is a really good setup option in front of newly-acquired closer Edwin Diaz.
8. Thomas Szapucki, LHP
Height/Weight: 6’2”/ 181 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 draft, William T. Dwyer H.S. (West Palm Beach, FL) signed for $375,000.
Previous Ranking(s): #5 (org.)
2018 Stats: Did not pitch
The Report: I really considered recycling last year’s report here in full. After Tommy John surgery in summer 2017, Szapucki spent the entire 2018 season rehabbing in the complex.
When healthy, Szapucki has shown a lively fastball in the mid-90s, touching higher, and a big, already-plus hook. He’s also flashed a useful change. That’s a big, big stuff profile for a lefty. The command profile and repeatability are good for his level of rawness, but he looked pretty raw when he last pitched. Things like fielding, holding runners, and throwing to bases were all issues, and his delivery is unorthodox; this is, conveniently, the type of stuff you can work on while rehabbing. So is changeup consistency.
This profile is fairly similar to Marcos Molina’s from several years ago. Molina’s stuff just never came even most of the way back from a late-2015 Tommy John, even though the Mets gave him several extra years on the 40-man to get it together. He was ultimately released this past summer. Not all rehabs are alike, and not all rehabs are successful. We might not fully know where Szapucki is at until he steps back on a pro mound (hopefully) this spring. By this time next year, he could’ve reestablished No. 2 starter upside, or he could be a footnote.
OFP 55—Mid-rotation starter or back-end reliever
Likely 40—Starter with major health problems or LOOGY
The Risks: He hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch since July 2017. In four pro seasons he’s thrown 83⅓ innings, and only 29 in full-season ball. He’s blown out his elbow already. He’s had back problems already. He’s had shoulder problems already. There’s a lot going on here. —Jarrett Seidler
Major league ETA: 2020-2021
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If you’re going to gamble on a pitcher trying to return from an extended absence due to Tommy John, you at least want to bet on upside, and Szapucki still fits the bill here. The risk is sky-high, but a possible SP3 payoff with the ability to run up strikeouts still makes the southpaw worth holding onto in leagues that roster 250 prospects or more.
9. Anthony Kay, LHP
Height/Weight: 6’ / 218 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 31st overall in the 2016 draft, University of Connecticut; signed for $1,100,000.
Previous Ranking(s): Next Ten (Org)
2018 Stats: 3.88 ERA, 4.21 DRA, 53 ⅓ IP, 51 H, 27 BB, 45 K in 10 games at High-A St. Lucie; 4.54 ERA, 4.00 DRA, 69 ⅓ IP, 73 H, 22 BB, 78 K in 13 games for Low-A Columbia
The Report: Kay was picked in the supplemental round in 2016 as a polished, quick to the majors, but relatively low-ceiling lefty. A UCL tear discovered shortly after the draft cost him six figures off his bonus and the 2017 season. The Mets—being the Mets—took it slowly with Kay in 2018, leaving him in the two full-season A-ball levels all year. The top line performance is fine and the stuff is most of the way back, and he still projects as a back-of-the-rotation three-pitch lefty.
The fastball sits in the low-90s from a tough angle with run and sink, and Kay will reach back for 95 on occasion. His breaking ball is an upper-70s curve that flashes tight 1-7 action, but he doesn’t have consistent feel for it. The change was his party piece at UCONN, a potential plus offering, but it was too firm too often in his minor league debut. The hope is the stuff and command will tighten up a bit as he gets further removed from Tommy John surgery, but the whole moving fast thing hasn’t happened, and Kay will be 24 in the spring.
OFP 50—No. 4 starter
Likely 45—No. 5/swingman/lefty reliever
The Risks: Medium. Kay was drafted as a fast-moving pitching prospect, but he’s developmentally behind now and still hasn’t seen the upper minors. We also don’t know what the stuff will look like post-TJ.
Major league ETA: 2020
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: A low-upside starting pitcher still recovering from a torn UCL? Sign me up.
10. Simeon Wood Richardson, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 210 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 48th overall in the 2018 draft, Kempner HS (Sugar Land, TX); signed for $1,850,000.
Previous Ranking(s): NR
2018 Stats: 4.50 ERA, 3.92 DRA, 6 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 11 K in 2 games at Rookie-Level Kingsport; 0.00 ERA, 3.09 DRA, 11 ⅓ IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 15 K in 5 games for GCL Mets
The Report: One of my favorite 2018 draft stories—and an extremely Mets story—was that Simeon Woods Richardson himself wasn’t even expecting to get picked Day One. His velocity popped right before the draft though, and the Mets went overslot to buy him out of his commitment to the Longhorns.
Woods Richardson dialed it up into the upper-90s in his pro debut after sitting more low-90s for most of high school, with a potential above-average breaker, and a delivery that has relief markers. He was young for his prep class, but is not particularly projectable by Texas prep arm standards. So for now he’s an arm strength guy worth keeping an eye on, but he’s already more intriguing than that pre-draft Day Two projection.
OFP 55—No. 3/4 starter or setup
Likely 40—Middle reliever
The Risks: Extreme. Eighteen-year-old arm strength and development bet. This can go several different ways.
Major league ETA: 2023
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Pro debuts deserve life-sized grains of salt, but SWR (let’s save some space here, shall we) impressed enough prior to his 18th birthday to make him a reasonable late-round flier in dynasty drafts this offseason. That said, he’s forever away, he’s a pitcher, and the ceiling isn’t obnoxiously high.
The Next Five:
11. Luis Santana, 2B (Rookie-Level Kingsport)
How far can a plus hit tool take you? We’ve played this game on Mets prospect lists lately with another R/R second baseman, T.J. Rivera. Rivera—an undrafted free agent who was significantly overage at every minor league stop—has almost nothing else in common with Santana, but the former’s unlikely path to the majors offers a roadmap for the latter. Let’s cover the issues with the profile first. Santana is not 5-foot-8 for starters; he’s more likely a stocky 5-foot-6. He’s a fringy runner with below-average power. He’s good enough at second base, but his arm strength is below-average and his throws can get casual.
He also hit .350 in the Appy League and didn’t turn 19 until a month into the season. He barrels everything he sees. At a glance, it sure looks like a potential plus hit tool. But Santana’s swing is… noisy. His hands are in constant motion pre-swing, and while he ends up short to the ball, I wonder how that bat path will work as he sees more dudes throwing 95. It’s a very tough profile, but a plus hit tool will paper over a lot of faults. And for Santana it might be enough to make him an average regular in the majors.
12. Ross Adolph, OF (Short-season-A Brooklyn Cyclones)
I’ve spent much of my prospect writing career bemoaning the Mets draft strategy, especially w/r/t Day Two and Three college picks. Under the Alderson regime, they tended to favor low-ceiling major-conference college performers lacking even average tools. So when they popped Adolph—a first team All-MAC player—in the 12th round and gave him full pool, I was prepared to be unimpressed. However, he won me over almost immediately, showing average tools across the board. Despite a stocky physique, he’s an above-average runner with a high motor who can go get it in center field. He’s short to the ball with sneaky pop that plays pull side and oppo gap. He stays in well against lefties. There’s no plus tool here, and the profile screams ‘tweener,’ but Adolph projects as a quality fourth outfielder who might surprise you (and me) and end up a second-division type.
13. Jordan Humphreys, RHP (Did not pitch)
Go back and read the Thomas Szapucki blurb, then mentally adjust it to a righty with a slightly worse breaking ball. Humphreys was one of early-2017’s best breakout pitchers, suddenly showing three above-average pitches with command. Far too often, a bump in stuff like this is immediately followed by a blown elbow, and sure enough, Humphreys went down that summer. Like Szapucki, he was conservatively held back for the entire 2018 season and we aren’t going to know much here until we see him in a competitive game environment again. If healthy, he has mid-rotation upside and could move fast. —Jarrett Seidler
Last year, we thought Nido’s defense and bat control would carry the day, despite weak offensive production at Double-A. After a 2018 repeat only went marginally better for the former Florida State League batting champion, Nido’s bat now looks more like a backup’s than a guy you want to give 400 plate appearances. He’ll play anyway, because there’s an extreme paucity of decent catching floating around these days. I suppose if you want to be kind, you can say he’s likely to be above useless with the stick. But he appears on course to be the umpteenth straight promising Mets catching prospect who tops out well below his projection. Catchers are weird, man. —Jarrett Seidler
15. Junior Santos, RHP (GCL Mets)
I’ll confess that I am more comfortable making strange calls on the Mets list than most others. This is a particularly good year to do it since functionally this system is now 11 guys and then a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Sometimes picking the 17-year-old projection bet sets you up to fall in an active volcano, but Santos has advanced stuff and control for a dude who spent most of the 2018 season only eligible for a learner’s permit (and ineligible to pitch stateside). He’ll flash three pitches, will touch 95, and is a—let’s say—very projectable 6-foot-8. The Mets have generally done well with these low six-figures arms with some present feel for pitching. Santos might be nowhere near this list next year, or he might be near the top of it. I’d rather take a chance here than write another bland report on a major-league-ready reliever or Day 2 college pick.
Others of note:
Low Minors Sleepers
Hansel Moreno, IF/OF (Low-A Columbia)
To be frank, most of this list could broadly be categorized as “low minors sleepers” given the dearth of upper minors prospects, but we’ll add a couple more. Moreno is a toolsy guy with present rawness, but he’s already 22-years-old and only in A-ball. The aforementioned tools may not play on the dirt. He’s filling out and slowing down, and the hands and arm at shortstop are more solid-average than plus. The Mets tried him all over in the South Atlantic League, and he might fit best in center field. There’s potential above-average power in the profile, and he’s already tapping into some of it pull side. Moreno’s approach is raw enough—and he’s old enough—that he might not be more than emergency depth, but he’s also weirdly still projectable given his cohort. In conclusion, Hansel Moreno is a land of contrasts.
Stanley Consuegra, OF (GCL Mets)
Now if I wanted to make a different weird call at #15, it could have easily been Consuegra on a different day or in a different mood. He’s the more traditional 17-year-old complex league hero bet. The Mets gave him $500,000 as part of their 2017 July 2nd class, and he has center field tools and big exit velos, if you are into that sort of thing. He’s a premium athlete with a lot of physical projection left, so this is more like the first page of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The risk of falling into the volcano at the end is still very high.
2018 Draft Follow
Jaylen Palmer, IF (GCL Mets)
When the Mets aren’t spending Day Three popping low-ceiling college performers, they like to mix in the odd overslot local prep. It doesn’t get much more locavore than Palmer, whose high school is a ten minute jaunt up I-678 from Citi Field. The Mets have had about as much luck with these prep flyers as the Day Three college bats, but Palmer might be a hidden gem. He had a huge growth spurt in high school and now garners Shervyen Newton comps. He’s less likely to stick on the dirt than Newton, profiling best in a corner outfield spot, but he may also have the tools to carry that profile. Check back in four years to see if Gary Cohen will be making references to Flushing’s own Jaylen Palmer or if that will be the purview of Tim Heiman.
Top Talents 25 and Under:
- Amed Rosario, SS
- Edwin Diaz, RHP
- Andres Gimenez, SS
- Peter Alonso, 1B
- Ronny Mauricio, SS
- Robert Gsellman, RHP
- Shervyen Newton, IF
- Mark Vientos, 3B
- David Peterson, LHP
- Dominic Smith, 1B/“OF”
Rosario is, for the time being, still a Met. His performance in the majors has been more mediocre than great, but sometimes we forget that he’s only a year-and-a-half off being our no. 2 prospect in baseball on the 2017 midseason top 50. The low bar at shortstop means that even with his weak DRC+ and FRAA numbers, he was still about three-quarters of a win above replacement last year. He’s been rumored to be available in trade, because he’ll return a superstar and Gimenez is coming quickly; Gimenez might be a better long-term fit at shortstop if not quite a better player overall. That reality also could also push Rosario off shortstop to center field or third base within the next season or two if he remains a Met.
Díaz ahead of the top prospects feels hot takey, but it’s also pretty clear that he has more value than Gimenez or Alonso. You’d trade either of those guys for him straight up in a heartbeat, no? Put it another way—Díaz is a role 7, and that’s higher than either Gimenez or Alonso’s OFP. He’s among the small handful of the best relievers in baseball, he doesn’t turn 25 until nearly Opening Day, and he’s got a pretty clean pro health record. It’s okay to question whether the Mets were in a position to be trading for an elite closer, but he’s a hell of a pitcher.
Mickey Callaway spent a lot of the spring and summer using Gsellman like he was an Andrew Miller-style durable relief ace. It went better than it did in 2017—his fastball and slider played up in short bursts as we expected they might, and he should be at least a good MLB reliever moving forward. But he looked gassed at various points in the season when used too heavily. Díaz’s acquisition should push him into a more traditional setup role, and hopefully he’ll be supplemented by further acquisitions in the pen to take some of the load off.
The unceremonious salary dump of Jay Bruce slightly reopens the window for Smith to re-establish himself as a regular. 2018 was rough, with mediocre performance at both the majors and Triple-A followed by a short and difficult stint in winter ball. Somewhat bizarrely, he spent 39 games puttering around in the outfield in a fashion all too familiar to those who remember the escapades of Lucas Duda. There’s playing time available at first base until the Mets end the service time charade and call Alonso up, but even there Smith’s path has roadblocks. The current situation with four MLB infielders currently projected to split 2B/SS/3B could easily spill over into first base too. Time is becoming Smith’s enemy.
Several circumstances conspired to make this list fairly easy. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are both ineligible by less than a month, and Jeff McNeil was a couple weeks more of missed playing time away from the rare “on the Top Ten but not on the 25U” exacta. Gsellman vs. Justin Dunn would’ve been a difficult call down here, but Dunn was gone before we had to make that choice. Drew Smith and Tyler Bashlor might’ve made a top 15, but they’re clearly a cut below Kilome and Szapucki.
For the record, Jarred Kelenic would’ve ranked fourth before the trade, between Alonso and Mauricio. Dunn would’ve ranked fifth out of the prospects, between Mauricio and Newton. We’ll have their full write-ups in the Seattle list, so long as the Mariners actually keep them. —Jarrett Seidler
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