The New York Mets are less than two weeks into spring training 2013, but it isn't too early to tell which players are set to outperform others down in Port St. Lucie.
Over the next month, Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson will have to make decisions on tough roster moves and position battles. The manager and the general manager will need to find a blend of experienced veterans who can mesh well with the variety of prospects the Mets have at their disposal.
The Mets still have some split-squad games to get through, and probably a few more tune-ups against some college teams before spring training is actually in full swing. As the spring progresses, the team and fanbase will be enlightened as to who the top prospects in the system actually are.
But for now, we'll play the guessing game. Here you can find the Mets prospects destined to have a great spring.
Zack Wheeler has been getting most of the attention in Port St. Lucie thanks to his electric stuff beyond his years. Don't expect that to change for the rest of spring training.
While it was a very small sample, Wheeler dazzled in his spring debut on Saturday against the Washington Nationals by hurling two innings of shutout ball. His velocity was right where it has been—mid to upper 90s—and he showed his maturity in settling down after walking the first batter he faced.
According to CBSSports' Danny Knobler (via Twitter), one scout is perhaps even more excited than most Mets fans about Wheeler's future:
One scout who saw Wheeler spring debut: "Same stuff as Strasburg. That will go down as best trade Sandy Alderson will make in his life."— DKnobler (@DKnobler) February 25, 2013
The aforementioned scout is getting a little ahead of himself seeing as Stephen Strasburg is already one of the elite pitchers in the game, but the two do have similar body types and mechanics.
It would be a surprise if Wheeler made the big league team right out of spring training, but he's progressing on par with expectations (maybe even a bit ahead). He'll be on the mound at Citi Field once the weather begins to heat up, and it could be sooner rather than later.
Talk about making a case to be included on the Opening Day roster.
New York Mets prospect Wilmer Flores is pleading his case to reach the majors better than anyone the team currently has at spring training, after the infielder launched a three-run bomb en route to driving in four runs in Saturday's intrasquad game.
Flores had a great year last season in St. Lucie and Binghamton and saw his batting average climb from .269 in 2011 to .300. He posted a decent strikeout to walk ratio and hit 18 home runs across two levels last season.
The only issue is that the Mets have yet to find a permanent position for the 6'3", 21-year-old rising prospect. Manager Terry Collins confirmed that sentiment as per a report from the New York Post's Mike Puma: “When his bat is ready, he will play in the big leagues. “I don’t know what position yet, but he will play in the big leagues," said Collins.
Flores has been taking more reps at second base in camp, but his frame could prove to cumbersome for that spot. However, according to MetsBlog's Michael Baron, vice president of Mets scouting and development Paul DePodesta was "particularly impressed with how Flores has handled second base during the last year or so."
Could Daniel Murphy be fighting for his job if Flores continues to impress the team through spring training and the early part of the season? We'll know more once spring training ends.
Prized prospect Travis d'Arnaud hasn't been tearing the cover off the ball in the Grapefruit league, but he's seeing his first live game action since a season-ending knee injury last June. He's 1-for-5 with three strikeouts over the last two games but looked fairly comfortable behind the plate when he spent two innings behind the plate for Matt Harvey.
D'Arnaud is one of the top catching prospects in the game, and unequivocally has the highest upside of any backstop outside of possibly Seattle Mariners' prospect Mike Zunino. It's hard to imagine just how exciting it must be for d'Arnaud to really get back on the diamond for the first time in about nine months, so he's going to be jittery at the plate until he gets back into form.
The Mets have a perfect situation in front of them. An elite-level prospect in Zack Wheeler, an enthralling young arm in Matt Harvey and a budding front-end starter in Jon Niese all have a young catcher to develop and improve alongside.
D'Arnaud's road to the bigs has been a bit bumpy thus far, but look for a turnaround as the Mets get deeper into the spring.
Rafael Montero hasn't received much recognition in the New York Mets minor league since he came on board in 2011, but the 22-year-old righty is making a name for himself this spring training.
In the above video, you'll see that his two go-to pitches are his fastball, which sits around the mid-to-low 90s and his slider, which typically comes in at around 10 mph slower. He's going to need to develop another pitch on top of his changeup in order to work his way into the bigs as a starter, but his fastball isn't flat and his slider has a great break.
Montero posted a 2.15 ERA in 71 innings with four of the Mets minor league teams, and he showed those numbers weren't a fluke by going 11-5 with a 2.36 ERA through 20 starts and 122 innings in Savannah and St. Lucie.
His most recent outing resulted in two shutout innings against the University of Michigan. The competition he did it against isn't formidable, but the fashion in which he did it was encouraging.