10 Prospects in the Farm System That the New York Mets Can Build Around

Vinny Messana@v1nsaneCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2012

10 Prospects in the Farm System That the New York Mets Can Build Around

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    "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    Mets fans have been forced to remain patient over the past four seasons in which they have faded as the second half has begun.

    They are looking to rebuild this franchise from the ground up, with the farm system being the main source of excitement this season.

    We have already seen Matt Harvey display his excellence, but he is just the appetizer.

    Their system has several high-upside prospects which the Mets are pinning much of their future on. Some will fall by the wayside, while others will fulfill their potential.

    For a team that is devoid of spending money—the opposite of the Omar Minaya days—that is a lot of pressure on 18 to 22-year-olds.

    Regardless, here are 10 prospects that the Mets are looking to build are in hopes of becoming competitive for a sustained period of time.

10. Steve Matz, P

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    The path to professional ball was a rocky one for left-handed pitcher Steve Matz, but he has made a terrific first impression now that it has finally come.

    After being drafted with pick No. 72 out of Ward Melville HS in June 2009, Matz did not pitch professionally that season due to signing on the last possible day before he would enter college.

    He then sustained an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery and two years of rehabilitation.

    Matz finally made his debut this season while pitching for the Low-A Kingsport Mets, and he flashed brilliance in his 29 innings before suffering another arm injury which will shelf him for the rest of 2012.

    He compiled a 1.55 ERA, including 34 strikeouts and a .158 batting average against and only one home run, which is why his future looks bright.

    On the down side, he walked 17 batters, which will need to decrease significantly if he will be successful at the higher levels of the minor leagues.

    He is not on the precipice of the big leagues as some of the other pitchers on this list, but he certainly possesses the live-arm and frame that the Mets would love to see in Citi Field within two or three years.

9. Michael Fulmer, P

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    The Mets selected Fulmer with the 44th overall selection out of his Oklahoma high school in 2011, and he has improved across the board over his first full season in professional ball.

    Fulmer has thrown 108 innings this season for the Savannah Sand Gnats, posting a 2.74 ERA, a .227 BAA and a 2.7 K/BB ratio.

    It is a bit surprising the organization would allow him to shoulder such a heavy workload at his age, but he has handled it thus far.

    Fulmer is a power arm that could see a rapid ascension through the minors if he continues his development.

8. Collin McHugh, P

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    McHugh was relatively unknown entering the 2012 season, but has put himself on the verge of a September promotion with a fantastic season in Buffalo.

    The 25-year-old native of Georgia began 2012 by dominating in Binghamton with a 2.41 ERA over 74 innings displaying solid control.

    Since his arrival in Triple-A, he has not been overwhelmed and has posted a 3.39 ERA over 69 innings. He has posted impressive strikeout numbers as well.

    At 25, he may not have the ceiling of some of the younger fireballers in the system, but perhaps his pitchability could enable him to provide numbers that Dillon Gee has given the Mets.

7. Kevin Plawecki, C

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    I have been criticized on this forum in the past for "expecting too much" out of the Mets catchers in terms of offense this season.

    I do understand that the organization has been spoiled with some of their offensive catchers such as Gary Carter, Mike Piazza and Paul LoDuca, to a lesser degree, but they have received next to nothing from their catchers this season at the plate. 

    Their next hope for a more productive player may be 21-year-old Kevin Plawecki, who they selected with their second pick in the 2012 draft.

    He has played sufficiently well for the Brooklyn Cyclones to this point, as he has posted a .769 OPS with six home runs. 

    Clearly, he needs another year of seasoning and working on his game-calling, but I expect the Mets to have Plawecki in the big leagues by the beginning of 2014.

6. Wilmer Flores, 3B

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    It is hard to believe Wilmer Flores just recently tuned 21 years old, considering he has been the Mets top prospect since he was signed with the team on his 16th birthday in 2007.

    He has continued to hit the ball well, but without much power, throughout his professional career. He has not eclipsed the .842 OPS he compiled as a 17-year-old in the Appalachian League.

    The biggest issue is where Flores will play in the field. He is 6'3", which makes him too bulky and slow for the middle infield, but does not possess the power to be a corner infielder or outfielder.

    If he can develop more power, Flores could begin to fulfill some of the expectations which envisioned him as the next Miguel Cabrera.

    Regardless, Flores is a natural hitter, and the Mets could certainly use more punch in the lineup. 

    If the Mets are to re-sign David Wright in the offseason, they will need to switch his position once again.

5. Jeurys Familia, P

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    Familia put himself on the prospect map last season with a tremendous season in Double-A. His improved command enabled him to become more difficult to hit and, ultimately, become more successful.

    He was promoted to Triple-A this season, but has failed to improve on his 2011 season. 

    Unfortunately, he has nearly doubled his walk total from last season in the same amount of innings, and his strikeouts have decreased substantially.

    Those figures, in addition to tougher competition and a .263 BAA, have combined for a .500 season with an inflated ERA for the young right-handed pitcher.

    Familia may still be promoted when the rosters expand on September 1, but his ceiling has perhaps lowered after his struggles this season.

    Regardless, his arsenal of pitches will make it hard for the organization not to at least begin the 2013 season with him in the bullpen with the hopes of him improving his command.

4. Gavin Cecchini, SS

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    It will be interesting to see how the organization handles Cecchini considering Ruben Tejeda has established himself as a big-league caliber shortstop and he is only 22.

    Cecchini possesses a brilliant glove and an advanced baseball IQ, but has struggled with the bat since his transition to professional ball.

    He is only 19 years old, so there is plenty of time to develop, but he is not on the same track that the Orioles have used with Manny Machado and the Rangers have used with Jurickson Profar.

    Next season will go a long way in determining whether Cecchini will push the Mets to perhaps trade Tejeda to make room for him, or if the Mets will need to move Cecchini to second base in order to find him playing time in the future.

    His personality seems to fit New York, but ultimately, he will need to continue his development if he is to be successful at the upper levels.

    The .664 OPS is not overly impressive, but again, having just completed his senior year of high school, Cecchini will be given the opportunity to be a stalwart for the Mets infield in the future.

3. Jenrry Mejia, P

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    The hype surrounding Jenrry Mejia may not be as loud as it was entering the 2010 season, when he began the year in the bullpen as a 20-year-old, but he is nearing a promotion.

    At the time, it did not seem too outrageous to promote Mejia considering his 91/39 K/BB ratio the previous season in the minor leagues.

    Mejia struggled with his command pretty mightily during his 39-inning stint with the Mets that season.

    He ended up having Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the remainder of the season and much of 2011.

    Now he is back to full health, but he has performed much better as a starter than as a reliever, which gives the team a viable option to replace Johan Santana if the team will shut him down early. 

    Mejia is still only 22, and he will be given the opportunity to become a core player for this franchise.

    His arsenal of pitches is outstanding, and he saw what he had to offer with his mid-90s cutter at age 20.

2. Brandon Nimmo, of

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    As a 19-year-old playing in the New York Penn League, Brandon Nimmo has performed extremely solid. An .821 OPS displays his combination of speed and power, which should translate to the next levels.

    On a good note, Nimmo has displayed the ability to hit for extra-base power, smacking 17 doubles and four home runs, which should improve as he adds more strength to his lanky frame.

    It is a bit disappointing he has only stolen one base in four attempts despite being lauded for his exceptional speed dating back to his All-State track days in Wyoming.

    I wrote an article recently declaring Nimmo as the most likely player to become the "next" David Wright based upon his upside and youth.

    The Mets farm system is extremely thin on big-league-ready positional players. Nimmo may not be very close, but he has the chance to be a very good player for a long time in this league.

1. Zack Wheeler, P

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    No surprise here, ladies and gentlemen.

    The Mets organization has high hopes for this power pitcher and hopes to have him anchor the rotation along with Matt Harvey for many years to come.

    When Sandy Alderson was looking to trade Carlos Beltran in July of 2011, many doubted whether he would be able to land an elite-level prospect considering Beltran was a rental player for the remainder of the season.

    He end up finding a ball club that was loaded with pitching talent and was willing to give up one of its finest prospects.

    He dominated during his stint with Double-A Binghamton, compiling a 10-6 record with a 3.26 ERA. He displayed his overwhelming arsenal by accumulating 117 strikeouts in 116 innings.

    Since his promotion to Triple-A Buffalo, however, Wheeler has struggled in his three starts, posting a 4.60 ERA.

    Sandy Alderson announced that he will be shut down after 150 innings this season, which means no big league promotion in 2012, but he will certainly see Citi Field in the early part of 2013.

    The Mets' best chance to succeed in the future lies in the development of Harvey and Wheeler.