Far out of contention, the New York Mets will use the 2013 season’s final 40 games to evaluate which prospects—if any—can be key contributors for the team next season.
After enduring what’s likely to be a fifth-straight losing season, New York is entering a crucial offseason, as the team seeks a return to contention in 2014. General manager Sandy Alderson has repeatedly promised to spend money in free agency, but first must evaluate the talent within his organization.
The front office needs to see how certain players perform before dipping into the free agent market. The Mets will hardly have an unlimited budget, so it’s essential to make good use of their limited resources. Making the right decisions this offseason could very well be the difference between contention and obscurity.
As September approaches, here are three prospects the Mets should be expected to call-up when MLB expands to 40-man rosters.
Rafael Montero, SP
Montero is currently rated as the Mets second-best pitching prospect behind Noah Syndergaard, according to a scouting profile on MLB.com. The right-hander projects as a front-line starter that could be a key piece of New York’s rotation in the not-too-distant future.
The 22-year-old has succeeded at every level of New York’s farm system since being signed in 2011. In June, Montero was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after dominating Double-A hitters to the tune of a 2.43 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Following his promotion, Montero struggled while pitching in Las Vegas’ hitter-friendly park, but has pitched to an impressive 0.82 ERA during August.
The Mets have a surplus of young starters, but expect them to give Montero a couple of well-deserved starts toward the end of the season. Although he's likely to start the 2014 season in the minors, Montero could certainly make a September cameo in Queens.
Matt den Dekker, CF
Juan Lagares has gone a long way towards solidifying his spot on next season’s roster, but look for den Dekker to get an opportunity in center field next month.
den Dekker’s season was derailed when he suffered a broken wrist while diving for a ball during spring training. On June 17, den Dekker returned to Single-A Port St. Lucie and quickly made his way up to Triple-A.
Considered one of the best defensive outfielders in the organization, den Dekker has also shown some pop in his bat since being promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas.
In 45 games, the 25-year-old is hitting .282/.357/.503 with six home runs and 33 RBIs, but some of that success must be attributed to the hitter friendly environs of the Pacific Coast League. den Dekker’s strikeout rate has also dipped under 30 percent.
den Dekker deserves to get a look from the Mets before the end of the season. Sandy Alderson could pursue a center fielder in free agency this offseason, but he should make sure no stone goes unturned inside the organization before taking that step.
Jacob deGrom, SP
deGrom is hardly a top-pitching prospect, but it’s about time the Mets figured out what they have in the hard-throwing right-hander.
The 25-year-old deGrom is the rare pitcher whose numbers have actually improved since his promotion to hitter-friendly Las Vegas. In 12 starts, deGrom is 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 68.2 innings pitched. He’s posted strong numbers this season and is ripe for a September call-up.
Unfortunately, deGrom has reached his 140 inning limit for the season, according to MetsBlog, but don’t be surprised if the Mets forgo the limit to afford him a couple of starts with the big club.
deGrom is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at the end of the season, which means the Mets need to decide if they want to commit to him. Despite a relative lack of experience, look for deGrom to make a few appearances for the Mets in September.