Handicapping Odds of Mets Prospects Making the Opening Day Roster
The general sentiment revolving around the New York Mets' prospective 2013 Opening Day roster isn't too optimistic. With the exception of the infield and two or three spots in the starting rotation, there isn't a spot on the roster that is set in stone for the upcoming season.
Many areas need to be improved upon when April comes around, but seeing as the free-agent market is basically dried up from the Mets' perspective given their financial issues, these upgrades will have to come from prospects already within the system.
As has been the case numerous times in the past (see: David Price, Mike Trout and others), prospects can make a world of difference for a young team lacking in key areas.
Sandy Alderson's Mets may not have a prospect on the same level as Trout or Price, but they do have a slew of young players who could prove to be difference makers come the 2013 season.
Here we will handicap the odds of some Mets prospects making the Opening Day roster.
Zack Wheeler: 20 to 1
Zack Wheeler is the top pitching prospect in the New York Mets organization any way you look at it. Last season in Double-A and Triple-A, the 22-year-old righty posted a 3.26 ERA over 149 innings to go with 148 strikeouts and just four home runs allowed.
Despite his inexperience, Wheeler has shown great movement and velocity on his fastball, along with relatively impressive control. His other go-to pitch, a biting curveball, in all likelihood will prove to be his out-pitch when he establishes himself in the majors.
Wheeler has received much praise, but he isn't going to be on the Opening Day roster. In fact, it is almost a foregone conclusion that he won't be with the big league club until at least May, as the Mets will control him until 2019 (rather than 2018) if he spends the first three weeks in the minor leagues.
The Mets front office is banking on this kid as the future of the franchise, but fans may have to wait until the summer before they get their first taste of Wheeler.
Travis d'Arnaud: 20 to 1
Travis d'Arnaud, the most prized possession of the R.A. Dickey trade, appears to be major-league ready, but the New York Mets will probably leave him in Triple-A to start the season for the same reason as Zack Wheeler.
Player control has become such a pivotal part of today's MLB, and the difference between one year can be the difference between re-signing a potential star or not re-signing a potential star.
The extra time in the minors will do d'Arnaud some good, as he spent the last half-season on the shelf with a torn PCL ligament in his knee. Prior to the injury, d'Arnaud was hitting .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI through 67 games.
If this Mets lineup is going to turn it around and start driving in some runs, d'Arnaud will be one of its centerpieces. Here's hoping he makes a speedy recovery and makes his Flushing debut soon.
Wilmer Flores: 15 to 1
Those who invest much of their time in the New York Mets have been hearing about Wilmer Flores for nearly half of a decade now. Since he made his minor-league debut in 2008 at the ripe age of 16, team scouts have been adamant that he will someday make an impact in the bigs.
That dream has yet to be realized, even though Flores has shown his potential over the last few seasons.
In 2010, he posted a .289 average across two leagues to go with 11 homers and 84 RBI in 133 games. His next season was nearly identical despite a 20-point drop in batting average. Last season, Flores socked 18 home runs and 72 RBI while still finishing with a .300 batting average.
Flores has had a hard time getting a call-up because the Mets haven't needed him. He played primarily second and third base in 2012 after spending time at shortstop the year before—positions that are currently held by Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Ruben Tejada.
The only way Flores is going to be included in the Opening Day roster is if one of the aforementioned players suffers an injury during spring training.
If only he played a corner outfield position...
Jeurys Familia: 10 to 1
Jeurys Familia is similar to Jenrry Mejia in that they both have great stuff to work with, but the former has shown through all levels that he has a problem with control.
In his only major league start (yes, it is a small sample size) Familia threw nine more balls than he did strikes (33-42) in four innings en route to walking six, striking out three and allowing just one hit.
That result was subpar, but there are some good vibes to be felt from the 23-year-old's eight appearances. Sans his outing against the Philadelphia Phillies, in which he yielded three hits and five earned runs in just 0.2 innings, Familia finished at a much more respectable 2.41 mark.
One aspect working in Mejia's favor in his quest to make the Opening Day roster is that he can also come out of the bullpen. It's a simple reality that numerous pitchers will fall victim to injuries in spring training, so don't be surprised if Familia makes the roster—just don't expect it.
Matt den Dekker: 5 to 1
Matt den Dekker's name began to surface toward the back end of last season when the New York Mets were dealing with numerous outfield injuries.
At 25 years old, den Dekker can no longer be considered a young prospect, but it seems as though he has one of the best chances at making the major league roster come Opening Day. He is regarded as the top defensive outfielder in the Mets minor league system according to Baseball America, but was wildly inconsistent at the plate last season.
He tore the cover off the ball in Double-A, hitting .340 through 58 games, but struggled mightily in Triple-A to the tune of a paltry .220 average in 317 plate appearances. Some of his issues in Triple-A can be attributed to the unfamiliarity with the competition, but he'll have to turn it around in spring training to have any chance at making the team.
Sandy Alderson will have to work with an outfield in shambles, one that will be comprised of many players who, to put it bluntly, aren't major-league caliber guys. This, as well as the need for a good defensive outfielder at Citi Field, will work to den Dekker's advantage, but it will be a tough route to the majors for the Fort Lauderdale native.
Jenrry Mejia: 3 to 1
New York Mets scouts have been saying the name Jenrry Mejia since he was signed as an amateur free agent more than five years ago, when he was just 18 years old. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much to show for the relentless optimism.
Mejia showed signs of promise last season, albeit those signs were sprinkled in amongst stretches of ineffectiveness. His 5.63 ERA doesn't induce that warm and fuzzy feeling about the future, but the 16 innings he threw last season marked his first MLB action since 2010.
Another thing working in Mejia's favor is that R.A. Dickey is now with the Toronto Blue Jays, meaning that another spot in the Opening Day rotation will be up for grabs.
Given the fact that most of the other pitching prospects in the organization aren't ready to make their debuts yet, Mejia will be the front-runner to command a back-end spot in the rotation when pitchers and catchers report.