Projecting MLB Debuts for Baseball America's Top-10 New York Mets Prospects

Sean Cunningham@@SS_CunninghamContributor IIDecember 20, 2013

Projecting MLB Debuts for Baseball America's Top-10 New York Mets Prospects

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    New York Mets fans can't wait to see their latest first-round pick in the big leagues, first baseman Dominic Smith.
    New York Mets fans can't wait to see their latest first-round pick in the big leagues, first baseman Dominic Smith.USA TODAY Sports

    The offseason is exciting because it lets fans think about the future, imagining how their favorite team can improve in the coming season. Baseball America adds to fans’ offseason excitement with its offseason top-10 prospect lists for every team.

    Baseball America’s list of the New York Mets’ top-10 prospects has players who should contribute in 2014, but some of the organization’s most talented prospects occupy the lower minors.

    With the Mets’ big signings of older and more established players like Bartolo Colon and Curtis Granderson, fans have reason to be hopeful for the 2014 season; however, they should also be excited for the future with some of the young talent the Mets boast in their farm system.

    The most annoying thing about prospects is the uncertainty that comes with them, whether they will reach their ceiling and not knowing when they will start helping their big league squad.  Presented here is an attempt to quell some of that uncertainty, as I project the major league arrival dates for Baseball America’s top-10 New York Mets prospects.

    Baseball America’s list is composed of all players with rookie eligibility, so some players on this list have already reached the majors. For those players, I will project where they will be on Opening Day 2015.

    All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

10. Jacob deGrom

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    I ranked Jacob deGrom fifth on my ranking of the Mets' most major league ready prospects, as the lanky righty should be making an impact in Queens soon.

    DeGrom still has a chance as a starter, but he is likely headed to the bullpen, where he should be very effective. With his big-sinking fastball and meteoric rise through the minors (playing for three different affiliates in 2013), he has proven himself as a valuable and promising young arm who is a pretty safe bet to play in the majors for a long time.

    Due to his advanced age (he will turn 26 next June), the Mets have little incentive to try and save money by waiting to promote him, giving him a chance to make the club out of spring training.

    Projection: late April of 2014 as a spot starter, eventually moving to the bullpen.

9. Gavin Cecchini

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    Gavin Cecchini, like any prospect in the low minors, may never make the major leagues.

    The Mets' 2012 first-rounder spent last season in Brooklyn, hitting a meager .273. He also did the rare task of slugging at a lower rate than he reached base. His OBP was .319 while he slugged only .314.

    Things wont get any easier for Cecchini in 2014, as he should start in Savannah. The Sand Gnats' home ballpark, Historic Grayson Stadium, is a pitcher’s paradise, and the young shortstop needs to show with his bat that he was worthy of such a high draft selection soon.

    Cecchini doesn’t have a high ceiling, projecting as an average shortstop offensively and defensively. If Cecchini starts to figure it out and play like the Mets expected he would when they drafted him, he could move quickly due to his solid all-around ability.

    Projection: 2017 midseason.

8. Brandon Nimmo

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    Brandon Nimmo at Citi Field for the Futures Game.
    Brandon Nimmo at Citi Field for the Futures Game.The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

    Brandon Nimmo is the opposite type of player as Cecchini. While Cecchini projects as a solid player at his peak, Nimmo has a large frame with impact potential.

    The young outfielder got off to a blazing start in April before a wrist injury slowed him down, hurting his performance and keeping him in Low-A Savannah for the entire season.

    Nimmo has the advantage of being a raw player who already has an advanced approach at the plate. He has room to grow physically, and learning patience is one of the more difficult traits to learn for young players.

    This is a big year for Nimmo. If he brings it together and shows that the .273 batting average and lack of power in 2013 were because of his wrist, he could be much higher on this list next year.

    He should start in High-A St. Lucie, but if he gets off to a hot start he could reach Double-A by the end of the season. Nimmo could also go in the other direction and struggle against the more advanced pitching of the higher level.

    Projection: 2016 September call-up.

7. Amed Rosario

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    Amed Rosario is just 18 years old and has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in the Mets system. He’s a super-athletic shortstop who, if he can refine his athleticism into baseball skills, could be a star.

    That being said, he just turned 18 in November and only hit .241 in the Appalachian League. All of this makes him very risky as a prospect, and his path to the majors will be long if he ever makes it.

    He could start 2014 in either Low-A Savannah of Short Season-A Brooklyn, where his performance could indicate whether he rises quickly or needs more time to develop.

    Projection: 2018 September call-up.

6. Wilmer Flores

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Wilmer Flores dominated Triple-A in 2013, raking a .321 average, 15 homers and 86 RBI through the beginning of August. When he was called up following David Wright’s injury, he got an opportunity to play his ideal position at third base.

    Heralded for his bat, Flores struggled at the plate with a .211 batting average and a 22.8 strikeout percentage. Despite this he started off looking solid before he suffered an ankle injury, after which his performance notably dropped.

    Flores’ biggest question has always been his defense. He has good hands and a strong arm but is slow and has very limited range in the field.

    His bat would provide the Mets the most value at second base, but due to the combination of his limited range and the players in front of him (Daniel Murphy and Eric Young Jr.), Flores becoming New York’s second baseman of the future is unlikely.

    Third base is obviously occupied with Wright, but Flores provides the team a good option if anything happens to the team's star. He could be limited to first base because of his range, but his less-than-overwhelming power would make his bat less valuable for the position.

    Projection: 2015 starting first baseman. With the team looking to trade Ike Davis, Lucas Duda is the likely 2014 Opening Day first baseman. Unless Duda hits better than he has the past two seasons (under .240 batting average both seasons), the team could overlook his high on-base percentage and give Flores the job midseason.

5. Kevin Plawecki

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    Kevin Plawecki’s college pedigree and advanced approach at the plate should let him advance through the Mets' farm system quickly.

    The former Purdue Boilermaker projects to be an average defensive catcher at best. Plawecki is a solid receiver but lacks ideal arm strength.

    His bat is where his value lies, as he hit .305 with a .838 OPS between Savannah and St. Lucie.

    If Plawecki develops into a serviceable major league catcher, his offense will make him a valuable asset. However, if he is forced to first base, his bat suddenly becomes much less valuable.

    Projection: 2015 midseason.

4. Dominic Smith

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    Dominic Smith is the youngest player of Baseball America’s top-10 Mets prospects, just a couple months younger than fellow 18-year-old Amed Rosario.

    Despite this, he is not the most difficult prospect to project in terms of when he’ll reach the majors.

    The Mets 2013 first-round pick has the potential to be a great hitter but lacks the overwhelming power potential desired out of an ideal first baseman.

    Playing for both of the Mets' rookie affiliates, he hit .301 while showing good patience, reaching base at a .398 clip. His lack of elite power was visible through how he only hit three home runs in 206 plate appearances.

    Advanced for his age as a hitter, Smith also has great potential as a defensive first baseman, bringing great hands and instincts to the position.

    It will be interesting to see where Smith starts the season, as the Mets have placed their last two first-round picks out of high school in Brooklyn following their initial season. But playing Smith in Savannah could accelerate his development.

    Projection: 2017 midseason.

3. Rafael Montero

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Many Mets fans overrate Rafael Montero relative to his prospect status, with his great minor league numbers being a big reason why. He posted a 2.78 ERA and a 1.101 WHIP in 2013 in Binghamton and Las Vegas combined, exhibiting great control and fastball command.

    Despite Montero’s command, he has a small frame that causes doubts about his ability to hold innings and has never thrown more than the 155.1 innings he threw last year.

    Even if Montero can't prove that he can become an effective starter, he is a likely major leaguer nonetheless. His elite command and above-average offerings make a bullpen role his floor.

    Montero has proven himself to the point where if he performs this year in Triple-A, he is more than likely the first choice to come up and start if a spot opens up.

    Projection: May 2014.

2. Travis d'Arnaud

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    I wrote extensively about Travis d’Arnaud earlier this offseason, arguing how he is a key for the Mets' 2014 playoff chances.

    While he struggled in his debut last season, batting just .202 with one home run in 99 at-bats, he still has great potential.

    Offensively he has great bat speed with an approach to all fields, but he is still aggressive chasing pitches outside of the strike zone. Defensively, he handles the pitching staff well and has a laser of an arm behind the plate.

    Projection: Beginning 2015, he will be preparing to build off a strong 2014 and be a potential All-Star (if he stays healthy).

1. Noah Syndergaard

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    Coming off a terrific 2013 season, Syndergaard topped my list of the Mets' most major league ready prospects. He also sits atop Baseball America’s list of the team’s top prospects.

    Syndergaard should start the year in Triple-A after finishing the season strong for Double-A Binghamton.

    He appears to be on a similar path that the team had Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler on. Harvey was promoted in August, while Wheeler got the call in June.

    Syndergaard might take some time to adjust to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, which would make August more likely. If he comes out firing bullets and staying in the strike zone, a June call-up would be more likely.

    May would be the soonest possible arrival, but that is unlikely, as the Mets would be wise to let him work on his game while they get to save money and maintain an extra year of team control.

    Projection: July 2014.