New York Mets: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week No. 3
Prospects are called prospects for a reason, nothing is certain. When you have blue-chip talents, however, there is less of a chance that the player will turn out like Lastings Milledge and they're more likely to turn into David Wright or Jose Reyes.
Since taking over as general manager of the New York Mets, Sandy Alderson has transformed the Mets farm system from one that relies on Fernando Martinez-type raw talents to mature, into ready-to-contribute-now prospects like Travis d'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler.
This week was very uneven for top prospects, and here is the updated stock watch. The rankings are based on Michael Rosenbaum's list compiled in spring training.
10. Luis Mateo, RHP
Stats: (FSL): 1 GS, 1-0, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, .182 BAA
(BING): 1 GS 0-1, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K, .400 BAA
The 23-year-old Luis Mateo fell into the lap of the New York Mets organization after his signing bonus was rescinded by both the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. Issues with his actual age and elbow problems deterred them from offering their contract.
The Mets signed him for $150,000 and he pitched very well in both 2011 and '12. In '11 he compiled a ridiculous season; 6-1, 2.00 ERA, 63 IP, 80:5 K:BB ratio. Last season, 85:9 K:BB ratio with two home runs allowed in 73.1 innings.
He was promoted to Double-A to replace Collin McHugh but he was removed in the fourth inning due to an elbow/forearm issue.
If he comes back in two weeks as expected, he can shoot up the radar quickly. His command and strikeout numbers are impossible to ignore. He must prove his arm is healthy.
9. Domingo Tapia, RHP
Stats: 4 GS, 2-1, 2.29 ERA, 19.2 IP, 14 H, 5 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 18 K, .203 BAA
Like most fans, I have never watched Domingo Tapia pitch in person. After watching this video, however, I became pretty excited to watch him develop.
Listed at 6'4" and 185 pounds (which is apparently not correct), Tapia is an imposing presence on the mound. He throws from a low 3/4 arm angle which gives him incredible tail on his two-seam fastball. It also induces ground balls, but could eventually cause more risk for an elbow injury.
Aside from his April 11 start in which he only lasted 0.2 IP, Tapia has been dominant. On April 20, he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six.
I look forward to watching him pitch at the upper levels because with that combination of deceptive delivery, tailing action and fastball velocity, he can be death on right-handed hitters
8. Gavin Cecchini, SS
Stats: (Brooklyn Cyclones season begins June 17)
The No. 12 overall pick of the 2012 draft debuted in the Appalachian League and played respectable for an 18-year-old coming from high school.
He hit .246, with 47 hits in 191 at bats. He only compiled 12 XHB, but that should increase as he gains strength. The important thing is he was not overwhelmed.
Cecchini got promoted to Brooklyn for five games, and was 0-for-5 in his limited showing. This year he will probably start with the Cyclones, and hopefully get promoted to High-A before the end of the season.
It will be interesting to see if the Mets begin grooming him for second base. They have Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada but with the early-season struggles of Tejada, perhaps the perception of him has changed in the organization.
7. Michael Fulmer, RHP
Stats: (Has not pitched this season)
Michael Fulmer, the No. 44 overall selection in the 2011 draft, had a terrific season with Savannah last year, posting a 7-6 record with a 2.74 ERA. Like Montero, he displayed a solid K:BB ratio of 101:38 for a young pitcher.
According to Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog, some in the organization have compared his makeup to that of Matt Harvey. Fans know how that has translated to the big leagues of course.
For now, it is put on hold due to his March surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. That is a recovery of a few months, which could hinder his progress this season, but the fact that he just turned 20 means he has youth on his side.
6. Rafael Montero, RHP
Stats: 4 GS, 3-0, 1.59 ERA, 22.2 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 27 K, .183 BAA
If there is one silver lining in the sluggish April performances of Wheeler and Syndergaard, it is that Rafael Montero is generating significant buzz throughout the minor league rings.
Last season he really made a name for himself by posting the 110:19 K:BB ratio between Savannah and St. Lucie. Now he is duplicating that level of dominance against more mature hitters in Double-A.
At 22 years old, he may not be that far away, especially if he can continue demonstrating this advanced feel for all of his pitches.
Most Mets fans were most likely introduced to him for the first time in spring training, and were already quick to compare his small frame and delivery to Pedro Martinez.
If the Mets have a pitcher anything close to Pedro on their hands, Flushing is where he needs to be.
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF
Stats: 17 G, 66 AB, 18 R, 28 H, 1 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 10 BB, 14 K, 2 SB, 1.088 OPS, .424 AVG
The Wyoming-native is off to a scorching start for the Savannah Sand Gnats of the South Atlantic League.
It is encouraging to see such rapid improvement considering he batted only .211 in his pro-level debut in 2011 and .248 with the Brooklyn Cyclones last season.
Nimmo is probably the outfielder with the highest ceiling right now in the Mets system. Of course, he is only 20 and at least two years away.
The team will let him progress naturally right now, with a chance of making a Double-A debut later this season.
4. Wilmer Flores, 3B
Stats: 18 G, 68 AB, 12 R, 19 H, 5 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 8 BB, 7 K, .743 OPS, .279 AVG
Coming off his tremendous 2012 season in which he was awarded the Sterling Minor League Player of the Year award for the Mets organization, there were lofty expectations for Wilmer Flores.
Thus far, his performance has not been overwhelming or disappointing. Of course, numbers are generally inflated in the Pacific Coast League--and more specifically, Las Vegas—but his six XBH denotes that he hasn't been driving the ball as much.
Plenty of people have suggested that his true value to the Mets is as a trade chip. I agree completely, in fact, I thought the time to trade him was after last season when he finally put his talents to fruition. They could've centered a deal around him to land Justin Upton.
With David Wright under contract for the foreseeable future, Flores does not have a home at third base with the parent club.
The Venezuelan-native has always been proficient with the bat, and hopefully he settles into a groove so that the Mets can deal him for mid-season help in the outfield.
3. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Stats: 3 GS, 12 IP, 15 H, 9 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 15 K, .313 BAA
It's simply too small of a sample size to get perturbed by the performance of a 20-year-old. Also, after his first two starts, he had tossed nine innings with an ERA of 2.00. Basically, one start in which he got lit up affected his numbers dramatically.
Noah Syndergaard appears to have the makings of another top-of-the-rotation starter. His numbers last year were incredible for a 19-year-old, especially the 122:31 K:BB ratio and 2.60 ERA.
I envision him progressing quick through the system because he possesses the same business demeanor that Matt Harvey has.
For now, he needs to string together a few consistent starts to re-instill his dominating presence on the mound.
2. Travis d'Arnaud, C
Stats: 36 AB, 12 R, 9 H, 5 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 12 BB, 8 K, .901 OPS, .250 AVG
It could have happened to anyone, that was the sentiment most people will agree on when speaking about Travis d'Arnaud's latest injury, a non-displaced fracture of the first metatarsal in his left foot. The injury will likely keep him out of action for two months.
Again, it is extremely frustrating because he was on the cusp of making the roster out of Spring Training and now the 24-year-old will be fortunate to be a September call up.
Obviously, John Buck's incredible start to the season (seven home runs and 22 RBI) mitigates this somewhat, but d'Arnaud is the future and he has now suffered a setback.
1. Zack Wheeler, RHP
Stats: 4 GS, 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 18.1 IP, 20 H, 10 ER, 1 HR, 21/12 K/BB. .282 BAA
It is a bit disappointing that the crown jewel of the farm system, and Sandy Alderson's first big-time acquisition, is not dominating the way everyone expected. It is unfair to expect him to dominate in the fashion that Matt Harvey has, but he is nowhere close to that.
The main issue has been his command, which needs to improve before he is considered to be promoted to the big-league squad. It's a shame because the Mets could certainly use someone to replace the innings that Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Hefner were occupying.
I do expect Wheeler to turn it around, he already had one start in which he fanned eight without issuing a walk, but it would be encouraging to see him firing on all cylinders against minor league hitters.
Of course, the Pacific Coast League and the arid climate of Las Vegas could be contributing to it. The latest outing, which consisted of six walks in 4.1 innings was simply shocking from a pitcher who has been lauded for his outstanding arsenal.