New York Mets' Top 10 Prospects Rankings, Spring Forecasts
Over the last decade, the New York Mets have used their first-round pick(s) to target both experienced college players and high-risk, high-reward high-school prospects. Thus far, they’ve had considerably more success with the former than the latter. Through it all, the organization has found stability in the international scouting realm, as four of the team’s top-10 prospects are a product of either the Dominican Republic or Venezuela.
Headed into the offseason, the Mets’ farm system was ranked in the bottom third among all organizations due to their lack of impact talent beyond Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. However, after dealing ace R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in exchange for top-50 prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard during this winter, the system is unquestionably headed in the right direction.
Although it’s unlikely that the Mets will compete in 2013, there’s still plenty to be excited about with Wheeler and d’Arnaud poised to spend most of the year in the major leagues.
10. Luis Mateo, RHP
DOB: 3/22/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185
Drafted/Signed: 2011, Dominican Republic
Season in Review: Mateo was very impressive in his stateside debut last season, as the right-hander posted a 2.45 ERA with 85/9 K/BB in 73.1 innings in the Short-Season New York-Penn League.
Scouting Report: Mateo got a late start to professional career after a minor elbow injury and fraudulent paperwork; 6’3” right-hander has a loose, wiry frame and whip-like arm; throws fastball in the low-to-mid-90s on good downhill plane and complements it with a sharp swing-and-miss slider; changeup is raw and lags behind other pitches; will need to improve a third offering for success at higher levels; attacks hitters vertically and laterally with fastball-slider combination and is comfortable throwing each of his pitches in any count.
Spring Training Forecast: Mateo will head to minor league camp where he’ll work on developing his changeup while gaining much-needed experience.
2013 Outlook: After a lights-out pro debut in 2012, the right-hander will jump to a full-season level this summer, possibly even High-A.
9. Domingo Tapia, RHP
DOB: 12/16/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 186
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic
Season in Review: Tapia held his own during his full-season debut last season, as the hard-throwing right-hander registered a 3.98 ERA with 101/32 K/BB in 108.2 innings for Low-A Savannah.
Scouting Report: At 6’4”, 186 pounds, there’s a lot to like about Tapia; right-hander floods the strike zone with a mid-to-upper-90s fastball that was noticeably heavier last season; changeup is his best secondary offering and receives above-average-to-plus grades; lack of a breaking ball could be problematic at higher levels; development of a third pitch is crucial towards his projection as a starter; will likely end up in the bullpen given his plus-plus fastball and changeup combination.
Spring Training Forecast: After logging over 100 innings during his full-season debut in 2012, the Mets will likely ease his workload in favor of the development of a third pitch in minor league camp this spring.
2013 Outlook: With two potential monster pitches, 2013 will be a telling year for Tapia. The right-hander may not struggle until he reaches Double-A, but the lack of a breaking ball is bound to catch up with him (in a starting role).
8. Gavin Cecchini, SS
DOB: 12/22/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Alfred M. Barbe HS, La.)
Season in Review: The Mets’ first-round draft pick in 2012, Cecchini turned in a lackluster professional debut in the rookie-level Appalachian League by batting .246/.311/.330 with 12 extra-base hits and 43/18 K/BB in 53 games.
Scouting Report: Regarded as one of the more athletic and advanced shortstops in 2012 draft class; broken finger in early August relegated him to DH duties for a majority of the season; only defensive tool that doesn’t grade as above-average is his arm, though it suffices for the position.
Not a fan of his swing as it’s loaded with unnecessary movement; frequently casts hands away from body and around baseball, resulting in weak contact to the left side; weight transfer through the baseball is choppy and lacks fluidity; hard to see him hit for much power with said swing; over-aggressive approach led to high strikeout total, though it will inevitably improve in upcoming seasons; will be more of a stolen-base threat as he gains experience on the bases.
Spring Training Forecast: Although he’s a well-rounded player and mature for his age, Cecchini has numerous mechanical issues—mostly swing-related—that will be addressed in minor-league camp.
2013 Outlook: Due to said mechanical issues, it’s likely that the Mets will hold him back in extended spring training to begin the season, with a subsequent promotion to Low-A Savannah around June.
7. Michael Fulmer, RHP
DOB: 3/15/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental-first round, 2011 (Deer Creek HS, Okla.)
Season in Review: Making his full-season debut for Low-A Savannah, Fulmer emerged as yet another high-ceiling starter from the 2011 draft class by registering a 2.74 ERA with 101/38 K/BB in 108.1 innings.
Scouting Report: 6’3”, 200-pound right-hander projects to be one of numerous frontline starters to emerge from 2011 draft class; thrived this past season as a younger player in the South Atlantic League; keeps the ball in the park by pounding the knees and is an overall cerebral pitcher.
Fulmer boasts a plus fastball that registers in the mid-90s and has scraped 96-97 mph on occasion; heater gets on opposing hitters quickly and features late life to the arm side; slider is a put-away offering that draws whiffs from both right- and left-handed hitters; changeup steadily improved over the course of the regular season and he’s become comfortable throwing it in a variety of counts.
Spring Training Forecast: Although he wasn’t invited to major league spring training, there’s a chance that he could make a start in late March in big-league camp.
2013 Outlook: After an excellent full-season debut in 2012, Fulmer will move up to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League (High-A) with a strong chance to finish the season at Double-A.
6. Rafael Montero, RHP
DOB: 10/17/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’, 170
Drafted/Signed: 2011, Dominican Republic
Season in Review: After a delayed start to his professional career, Montero proved to be far more advanced than expected last season across both Class-A levels, as the right-hander registered a 2.36 ERA and showcased pin-point command with 110/19 K/BB in 122 innings.
Scouting Report: Undersized right-hander (6’, 170 pounds) is highly advanced for his age and has moved up the organizational ladder quickly since pro debut in 2011; possesses loads of natural arm strength though his command is easily his strongest attribute.
Montero’s fastball comes in at a deceptive 90-93 mph and generates a surprising amount of swing-and-misses; commands the pitch to both sides of the plate, and will also attack hitters up and down; curveball and changeup are both serviceable offerings, though both will need considerable refinement in upcoming years; needs to establish at least one of them as an out pitch.
Spring Training Forecast: Montero has some serious helium after last year and will have the opportunity to showcase his superb command in big league camp.
2013 Outlook: Headed for High-A to open the 2013 season, the 22-year-old could jump on the fast track to the major leagues with a strong follow-up campaign.
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF
DOB: 3/27/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185
Drafted/Signed: 13th overall, 2011 (East HS, Wyoming)
Season in Review: Although Nimmo showcased advanced plate discipline last season, his overall production of .248/.372/.406 with 28 extra-base hits in 69 games for Short-Season Brooklyn left something to be desired.
Scouting Report: Lanky outfielder leaves plenty of room for projection, as does his raw skill set; Nimmo employs a patient approach at the plate, but can be too passive and take hittable pitches; left-handed hitter has plus bat speed; yet to tap into above-average raw power; has been unable to solve left-handed pitching.
Lack of speed was disappointing and hurts his projection as a top-of-the-order hitter; has a lot to learn about base stealing and reading pitchers; defense in center field was shaky this past season, however there’s no reason to move him off the position until necessary.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in minor-league camp, Nimmo will continue to refine his approach and swing as he prepares for his full-season debut.
2013 Outlook: Presumably slated to open the year at Low-A, Nimmo’s skill set will likely be challenged against the more advanced pitching. The key to his development over the course of the season will be the speed at which he’s able to make adjustments.
4. Wilmer Flores, 3B-2B
DOB: 8/6/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 190
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Venezuela
Season in Review: After countless seasons embedded in the lower levels of the Mets’ system, Flores enjoyed a long-overdue breakout campaign last season, which was highlighted by a .311/.361/.494 slash line with eight home runs and 30/20 K/BB in 66 games for Double-A Binghamton.
Scouting Report: Developed as a shortstop since 2008 before moving off position this season; defense vastly improved, especially at the hot corner; lacks the feet ideal for any position, but has solid instincts and a good first step; hands are reliable and arm is more than enough for the position.
The 21-year-old turned the corner offensively after several years of stagnation across all Class-A levels; finally made noticeable adjustments to approach and reaped the rewards; looked for pitches to drive rather than force contact; projects to have above-average power in the major leagues; began to consistently turn on the ball for first time in young career; still lets the ball get deep and will use an inside-out swing to go the other way.
Spring Training Forecast: With David Wright scheduled to participate in the World Baseball Classic next month, Flores stands to receive significant playing time at both second and third base in his absence.
2013 Outlook: Likely headed back to Double-A to open the 2013 season, the 21-year-old will be blocked by Wright at third base for the considerable future. Therefore, Flores could see much more playing time at the keystone this season where his emerging bat should serve as a premium.
3. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
DOB: 8/29/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 200
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Legacy HS, Texas)
Season in Review: The Blue Jays finally scaled back the caution during his full-season debut at Low-A Lansing in 2012, and Syndergaard responded by posting a 2.60 ERA with 122/31 K/BB in 103.2 innings. Not only was he difficult for opposing hitters to barrel, but he also showed a knack for missing bats with an advanced arsenal. The 20-year-old was traded this offseason, along with Travis d’Arnaud, to the Mets in exchange for R.A Dickey.
Scouting Report: 6’5” right-hander has a power pitcher’s frame; physical presence on the bump; throws everything on a solid downward plane; pounds lower portion of strike zone; still learning to use legs; fast arm; repeats mechanics well given his size; strong core; moderate effort involved in delivery.
Fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side life; flirts with triple digits in shorter stints; amasses a healthy mix of strikeouts and ground-ball outs; curveball has plus potential; tight-breaker with late, downward bite; command of the pitch is inconsistent and will be challenged at higher levels; features better command of his changeup; not as dynamic of a pitch; thrown with deceptive arm speed; if breaking ball doesn’t develop as planned, he still has an incredibly high ceiling as a late-inning reliever.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in minor-league camp, this will be Syndergaard’s first opportunity to work with the Mets’ coaching staff.
2013 Outlook: Given his size, plane and plus fastball-curveball combination, Syndergaard could conceivably reach Double-A by the All-Star break.
2. Travis d'Arnaud, C
DOB: 2/10/1989 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007 by Phillies (Lakewood HS, Calif.)
Season in Review: Batting .333/.380/.595 with 16 home runs in 67 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, d'Arnaud would have likely served as a September call-up had he not suffered a season-ending knee injury in June. Regarded as the top catching prospect in the game, the 24-year-old was traded to the New York Mets this offseason in the R.A. Dickey deal.
Scouting Report: 6’2” right-handed hitter has above-average bat speed; impressive raw power; lift to stroke; generates backspin carry; power frequency continues to improve; short, compact swing; good feel for bat head relative to zone; makes loud contact to all fields; has some swing-and-miss in his game; will pull open with front side; needs to focus on driving the ball to right-center gap; keeps hands inside ball when in a groove.
Defense has vastly improved over last two seasons; quiet athleticism; moves well laterally behind the plate; has become a more aggressive blocker; boxes fewer balls; receiving skills continue to improve; gives umpires a good look at pitches; has been lauded by pitchers and managers for putting down good fingers; plus arm is strongest defensive asset; footwork can get out of sync with arm; career-best 30 percent caught-stealing rate prior to injury.
Spring Training Forecast: The spring will offer d’Arnaud the opportunity to settle in with his new organization and familiarize himself with the team’s pitching staff. Despite his checkered medical history, the 24-year-old should receive plenty of at-bats over the next month as a means of making up for lost time.
2013 Outlook: Travis d’Arnaud enters the 2013 as the top catching prospect in the game and a franchise future with his new organization. Considering he hasn’t played in a professional game since June, he will open the year at Triple-A Las Vegas. However, his stay may be short-lived, as the Mets will likely promote d’Arnaud to the majors once he’s regained rhythm on both sides of the ball, and service time is no longer a concern.
1. Zack Wheeler, RHP
DOB: 5/30/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 by San Francisco Giants (East Paulding HS, Ga.)
Season in Review: Wheeler continued his ascent toward the major leagues in 2012, registering a 3.26 ERA with 117/43 K/BB in 116 innings at Double-A Binghamton to open the season. The Mets promoted the right-hander to Triple-A at the same time Matt Harvey was bumped to the major leagues. Although he made only six starts at the level, the 22-year-old posted a 3.27 ERA with 31/16 K/BB in 33 innings.
Scouting Report: 6’4” right-hander has a very projectable frame; present strength; loose body; athletic delivery; lightning-quick arm; creates excellent shoulder angle and downhill trajectory toward plate; results in overall deception; arm whips through window; consistent release point; good finish in extension; falls off to third base side; throws each of his pitches with tilt and depth; adept at stifling running game; quick to the plate; varies looks.
Plus fastball sits 93-96 mph with explosive arm-side run; effortless velocity overwhelms hitters; pitch is difficult to barrel; lots of helpless swings from right-handed hitters; curveball is a hammer and a second plus offering; mixes in a slider and changeup; potential four-pitch mix of above-average-to-plus offerings.
Spring Training Forecast: After reaching Triple-A at the end of the 2012 season, Wheeler will receive a significant amount of looks this spring—as evidenced by the fact that he started the Mets’ first spring contest. While he’s likely to open the year in the minors, the right-hander’s stuff and polish easily ranks within the five best in the organization, and could sway opinion over the next month.
2013 Outlook: Whether he opens the year back at Triple-A or as part of the Mets’ starting rotation, Wheeler is one of the top pitching prospects in the game and should spend a majority of the 2013 season in the major leagues.