New York Mets' Best Prospect at Every Position
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson didn’t come into a great situation when he was given the key to Citi Field before the 2011 season, but he has done a great job of bolstering the farm system since his arrival.
The acquisitions of Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud—among others—injected new blood into a team that was going nowhere with what it had.
Alderson isn’t quite where he wants to be yet, meaning that we could still see some prospects changing hands in the near future, but for now, the farm system has Mets fans looking toward the future.
The future isn’t here yet, but what follows is something to hold the impatient fans over. Here is a list of the top Mets prospects at each position.
Pitcher: Zack Wheeler
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Zack Wheeler is more than just the top pitching prospect that the New York Mets have in the system. He’s the most important prospect out of any on this list.
Wheeler has been billed as having electric stuff, but the general feeling surrounding his mechanics has taken a dip over the last year.
The concerns are warranted, as Wheeler’s K/9 ratio fell from 9.1 to 8.5 last season when he moved up to Triple-A while his BB/9 number rose from 3.3 to 4.4. While the 22-year-old righty has struggled more recently with his control, his maturation process should be able to straighten that out.
Standing at 6’4” and just 185 pounds, it would probably be a good idea for Wheeler to add some extra mass before he—along with Matt Harvey—becomes the young workhorse of a team that so desperately needs his services.
Catcher: Travis D'Arnaud
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As the centerpiece of the deal that sent Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays, Travis d’Arnaud should be taken care of by the New York Mets' front office and medical staff.
Too often, we have seen catchers be betrayed by their own bodies as they break down from remaining in an uncomfortable squatting position for a full season. With a little luck—and responsible handling by executives and coaches—the Mets could have a very necessary power bat behind the plate.
D’Arnaud tore his PCL in June and missed the rest of the minor league season because of his injury—another reason why the Mets must be careful.
Teams seldom stumble across a catcher that can hit for power and average, which is what the Mets have in d’Arnaud.
First Base: Aderlin Rodriguez
Photo Credit: Adam Rubin, ESPN
Aderlin Rodriguez has only played a handful of games at first base, but the Mets should slide him into the first base prospect slot in a de facto manner because they don't have a viable prospect who plays first base full time.
Rodriguez is unequivocally the best power hitter the New York Mets currently have in their minor league system, as he hit 24 homers in Single-A last season at the ripe age of 21. He is a little undisciplined at the plate, but that isn't the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a major league stint.
The Mets are going to have a hard time finding a position for Rodriguez to call home.
David Wright remains the third baseman of the future. Even if something were to go wrong—such as a devastating injury—Wilmer Flores would appear to be next in line for the third base job.
Rodriguez is 6'3" and 210 pounds, which would make it hard for him to play anywhere but the corner infield spots, and seeing as Ike Davis has the position locked down for as long as he's in town, the Dominican Republic native doesn't have an easy road ahead of him.
However, Davis might wish to find another place to play when he is no longer eligible for arbitration, albeit that is three years from now.
Rodriguez is an intriguing prospect for sure, but who knows at what position he will make his living?
Second Base: Reese Havens
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Since the New York Mets drafted Reese Havens No. 22 overall in the 2008 MLB Amateur draft, the organization has had a hard time figuring out exactly what it has in the second baseman from South Carolina. Unfortunately, if Havens doesn’t figure out the answer to that question himself, he may not make it to the big leagues.
Havens has struggled through up and down seasons, and has been plagued by a myriad of injuries since his first season in the system. He has played just 307 games in five seasons, but looks to be heading in the right direction when it comes to his health after playing 94 games last season.
That’s the good news for Havens. The bad news is that he hit .215 over the course of those 94 games. Some consolation can be found in the fact that his on-base percentage was .340.
However, he’s proved that the talent is there, most recently when he hit .288 in 2011.
He isn’t on his way out of town yet, but Havens has to show that he can stay healthy and perform consistently, or he’ll be looking for work on another field.
Third Base: Wilmer Flores
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Wilmer Flores is somewhat of a utility prospect for the New York Mets, as he has played all four infield positions during his stay in the minor leagues.
At 6’3”, it looks like Flores has outgrown the middle infield positions, which led to him playing 87 games at third base over two levels last season. Of course, that spot is occupied for the foreseeable future, meaning that we could see Flores at a corner outfield position.
For right now, he’s more of a hitting prospect than anything else, and his increased power numbers serve as evidence to that.
Last season, he doubled his home run total from nine to 18 and also raised his average by 21 points to an even .300. Throw in the 30 doubles and 2 triples, and you are looking at a solid foundation for a player who is just 21 years old.
Shortstop: Gavin Cecchini
Gavin Cecchini (left) and Kevin Plawecki
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Despite being the No. 12 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, 19-year-old Gavin Cecchini hasn’t been getting much praise around the organization. Rightfully so, as his first season in the minor leagues didn’t do much for his case as the New York Mets’ No. 1 pick in 2012.
He hit just .240 through rookie ball and Single-A last season, but the Mets' Director of Amateur Scouting, Tommy Tanuous, had this to say about the Louisiana Native (via New York Post):
An offensive shortstop, but doesn’t give much away defensively. We feel like he’s going to bat in the top of the order. He’s a tremendous makeup kid. This is a kid who is a mix of tools, but also baseball instincts.
Cecchini needs much more time to develop, and he will certainly be provided the opportunity to do so.
Outfield: Matt Den Dekker
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The New York Mets front office was extremely high on Matt den Dekker last season—so much so that the 25-year-old left-handed hitter was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A.
Sandy Alderson and Co. very well may have been wincing at their decision when they looked at den Dekker’s averages side-by-side: .340 in Double-A and .220 in Triple-A. There aren't many explanations for that swoon other than lack of familiarity with the competition or overall lack of talent, but hopefully it’s the former.
One aspect of den Dekker’s game that works in his favor with this organization is his ability to patrol the outfield at an above-average level. Seeing as the Mets have one of the most cavernous home parks in all of baseball, den Dekker could make his living in center field.
Outfield: Brandon Nimmo
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Aside from Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo is the top hitting prospect that the New York Mets have under their control.
Nimmo was tabbed as raw when the Mets drafted him No. 13 overall in 2011, but his 2012 season proved otherwise—at the dish, at least. In 266 at-bats with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Nimmo walked 46 times. Although he hit just .248, a .372 on-base percentage is nothing to snarl at in a player’s first full minor league season.
He won’t be making his debut until the back end of this decade, so there isn’t much to get excited over yet. But if his potential is reached, Nimmo will be the power-hitting corner outfielder that the Mets are searching for.
Outfield: Cesar Puello
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Conversations pertaining to Cesar Puello have taken a backseat over the last two seasons due to the acquisition and development of superior prospects, but Puello is one of the more exciting guys in the farm system.
He’s just 21 years old, but already has five years of minor league service under his belt with his best coming two seasons ago with the Savannah Sand Gnats (Single-A). In 2010, Puello hit .292, swiped 45 bags and was caught just 10 times.
The novice outfielder saw his numbers dip last season due to injury, but he is relatively healthy now.
Puello is on this season’s 40-man roster heading into Spring Training, but he is definitely a long shot to make the team.