New York Mets: Prospects Who Have the Highest Ceilings
The organizational depth of the New York Mets is not yet elite, but it has certainly much improved over the past two seasons. Gone are the days that the "teenage hitting machine" is force fed to the fans as the greatest hitting prospect since Ted Williams.
There are potential impact players at all levels of the minor leagues, with several players that could contribute this season, if necessary.
Here are the five players with the highest ceilings.
Zack Wheeler has essentially become the poster boy for the Sandy Alderson era. He represents what Alderson has done best, and that is transition the franchise from Omar Minaya's "add water" approach to a fundamental philosophy change centered around pitching and defense.
The 22-year-old is back on track after struggling through five starts with a 5.79 ERA. Many speculations ensued, ranging from the heat of Las Vegas, the small ballpark and even the pressure he is facing.
Nevertheless, his last two starts have been spectacular, and he is on par for a promotion very soon. His ERA is down to a respectable 4.00 ERA for the difficult Pacific Coast League. Most importantly, he is flashing brilliant command.
Of course, the Mets will look to delay the promotion so they can avoid the Super 2 cutoff date. As Chris Walendin of MetsBlog pointed out earlier in the week, the date is not official yet. It could be as late as June 4.
With the state of their rotation, the sooner he could help out the better it would be. Even last year, the rotation was in better shape because Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese were all throwing well at this point.
Wheeler has the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect, and he is capable of being a frontline starter due to his intimidating arsenal of pitches.
After a beginning of the season that was unfathomably impressive, Rafael Montero has suffered the inevitable regression in Double-A. His numbers remain solid with a 3.54 ERA, .209 BAA and 48:6 K:BB ratio, but his last two starts featured 10 ER in 13 IP.
Montero has garnered a great deal of attention, due to his fantastic 2012 season and his strong showing in Spring Training this year.
It is not simply the statistics that give the Mets optimism regarding Montero's future. He has a smooth delivery that generates more velocity than most 6'0" pitchers can.
The delivery is reminiscent of Roy Oswalt, although many have used the Pedro Martinez comparison due to his ethnicity, size and command.
I think Montero can continue his success because his command and repeatable mechanics will allow him to succeed at any level. The Mets have a real star in the making with this right-handed pitcher. The 22-year-old will be promoted within the next year.
When the Mets selected Brandon Nimmo with the No. 13 overall selection of the 2011 draft, it raised more than a few eyebrows. The biggest reason for that was Nimmo's home state of Wyoming not having a high school baseball program, which meant the Mets scouts were putting a great deal of trust and money into a player who has had a small track record against top-notch players.
To his credit, he has flashed his ability in the minor leagues so far. He got off to a scorching start, hitting .424 with the Savannah Sand Gnats in mid-April.
Since then, unfortunately, he struggled with the bat and hasn't played since April 29 due to a hand injury.
At 6'3" and 20 years old, Nimmo still has the time and size to develop into a power hitter. He was an all-state track runner in high school, which means he has the quickness to play any position in the outfield.
Nimmo is the best outfield prospect in the organization, and he can be a cornerstone player for this franchise once he develops more power.
While most fans were excited about the addition of Travis d'Arnaud—and rightfully so—I was more intrigued to watch Noah Syndergaard shoot through the minor leagues.
He is a classic power right-handed pitcher in that he relies on his 95 mph heater and a sharp-breaking curve ball. Where he separates himself, however, is his consistent changeup and overall spectacular command.
At 20 years old, he already has posted two terrific minor league seasons. What stands out is his 122:31 K:BB ratio last season.
In 2013, he got off to a bit of a rough start but has since dominated in his last three seasons, spanning 19 innings (one earned run).
If Syndergaard has another dynamic season, there will be significant members of the organization that will be in favor of his promotion to the big leagues at this time next year.
At this point, there's not much else to report on Travis d'Arnaud until he is cleared to begin his rehab assignment.
The 24-year-old catching prospect entered the season as either the No. 1- or No. 2-ranked backstop in the game, depending on if you preferred him or Mike Zunino of Seattle.
Either way, he is a highly touted prospect due to his complete package. He plays strong defense, calls a solid game and can swing the bat.
The Mets haven't developed their own franchise catcher in decades, despite having prospects such as Vance Wilson and Jason Phillips who were groomed to be the heirs to Mike Piazza.
I am not suggesting d'Arnaud will flame out the way they did. As long as his fractured foot heals, he should be able to return to full strength in late-June and will hopefully be promoted to the big leagues shortly after.
He was hitting .250 in Triple-A, which is certainly not overwhelming, but he has the tools to allow him to be successful at the next level immediately.