5 Players Who Could Be the New York Mets' Next Elite Prospect

Sean Cunningham@@SS_CunninghamContributor IIJanuary 11, 2014

5 Players Who Could Be the New York Mets' Next Elite Prospect

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    Matt Reynolds (far right) could be the Mets shortstop of the future, but he needs to figure out what he's doing at the plate first.
    Matt Reynolds (far right) could be the Mets shortstop of the future, but he needs to figure out what he's doing at the plate first.Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Mets currently have a number of prospects on the cusp of making the major leagues, creating the question as to who will ascend in the Mets system and become the team's next potential star.

    The Mets have a number of prospects in the lower minors who have the tools to rise and become star talents but who have yet to harness their physical gifts and produce in the minors.

    The prospects listed in this column are worth keeping an eye on during the 2014 season to see if they can turn their tools into production on the field.

    These players are currently considered outside of the team’s top 10 prospects because they have failed to produce on the field yet, so statistics will hardly be used. They are not exciting because of their minor league production yet but because they have the physical tools to become stars.

    This list also excludes prospects such as Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini because they are already considered high-end talents within the system.

    As most prospects fail to reach their ceilings, the Mets would be lucky if just one of these players becomes a top prospect. However, that is part of what makes following the minor leagues so much fun as it is impossible to know for certain what to expect.

    Here are prospects in the Mets system who could be among the best in the system by the season’s end.

Ivan Wilson

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    Ivan Wilson is one of the more exciting prospects in the Mets system because of his massive ceiling, but there is still a lot he needs to figure out before he can be considered an elite prospect.

    A third-round pick in 2013, Wilson’s combination of speed and power is what makes him intriguing. Watching in 2014 whether he is capable of translating those skills onto the field should make him one of the season’s most intriguing prospect storylines.

    Part of what makes Wilson such an exciting prospect is that even with his elite tools, he isn’t as raw as some might expect. At the plate, he has a solid, compact swing with power to all fields, which you can see in the above video. He has yet to translate that power into games, but his swing is not full of hitches that need to be worked out before he can rise as an elite prospect.

    Wilson also has plus-speed that could allow him to stick in center field. It’s quite possible that he bulks up more which could slow him down, but if Wilson can utilize his speed and stay in center field, that further increases his prospect value. However, he is likely destined for a corner-outfield spot, which places more pressure on his bat to succeed.

    Another reason to be optimistic about Wilson is that prior to being drafted, he played football as well as baseball. Now that he is solely a baseball player and can focus on it year-round, the likelihood that he can translate his physical tools into baseball skills increases.

    Wilson should start the season in Brooklyn, but he could make his way to Low-A Savannah if the organization decides to be aggressive with him.

Casey Meisner

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    When the Mets drafted Casey Meisner in the third round of the 2013 draft, they did so because of his projectable frame that could make him a stud.

    The Texan righty stands at 6’7” but just 185 pounds, giving him a frame that scouts can dream on.

    In Meisner’s high school season before being drafted he showed inconsistent velocity, throwing in the low 90s early in the season before fading into the mid-80s by the season’s end. The Mets are hopeful that putting Meisner in a professional setting will cause him to add strength to his skinny frame, which would allow him to maintain consistent velocity with his fastball and potentially even reach the mid- to upper 90s at some point.

    2014 is an important season for Meisner but should not dictate his future completely. Even if he does add strength and velocity to his fastball, he still has work to do as a pitcher, needing to improve both his command and his inconsistent secondary offerings.

    Meisner is likely a long-term project, but he could be a monster and having a big year in 2014 would help his prospect status tremendously. He should start 2014 in short-season A-ball with Brooklyn.

Tomas Nido

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    The Mets drafted Tomas Nido in the eighth round of the 2012 draft and had to sign the catcher away from a commitment to Florida State.

    Jim Callis (formerly of Baseball America) called Nido the sleeper of the Mets’ 2012 draft class, as Nido boasts big power potential with a chance to stick behind home plate.

    Despite the early raves, Nido has struggled in his minor league career so far. Last year as one of the youngest players for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Nido hit a meager .185 while displaying an overly aggressive approach at the plate.

    Even with his poor performance thus far, Nido’s power and positional value as a catcher still make him intriguing as a prospect. 2014 is a big year for Nido, as he needs to show that he can translate his power into games as well as use a much more patient approach at the plate.

    Nido should begin the season in Low-A Savannah, playing in a stadium known to sap hitters of their power. If Nido is able to produce in Savannah’s Historic Grayson Stadium, it will be a great sign for his future and the future of the Mets’ organization.

Champ Stuart

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    Champ Stuart’s calling card as a prospect is his elite-level speed, which Baseball America dubbed as the fastest in the Mets system. He reportedly ran the 60-yard dash in 6.3 seconds in a pre-draft workout, an elite time for an athlete in any sport, let alone baseball. He is so raw as a prospect that there is no easily attainable video of him on the Internet, hence the draft recap video above.

    The Bahamas native turned 21 in October and lacks impact power, but as prospects like the Cincinnati Reds’ Billy Hamilton show, elite speed can put players over the top as they rise through a system. Stuart’s speed also gives him a high ceiling defensively, as he has the potential to play a tremendous center field if he develops the necessary defensive instincts.

    Whether Stuart becomes an elite prospect or not will depend on the development of his bat. One of the traits that makes Stuart so exciting as a prospect was the great approach at the plate he displayed in 2013, especially for a player considered raw. Playing in the Appalachian League, Stuart hit an unimpressive .240 but reached base at a .388 clip. If Stuart displays this patient approach throughout his ascension through the minors, he should be able to wreak havoc on the bases.

    2014 should be an interesting year for Stuart, as his advanced age for a raw player puts more pressure on him to hone his skills in the near future. He should start the season for Low-A Savannah but could begin in short-season Brooklyn if the Mets want to be patient with him.

Matt Reynolds

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    Matt Reynolds has had an interesting and unexpected career since he entered the Mets system.

    The Mets drafted Reynolds in 2012 out of the University of Arkansas with the hope that they could utilize his bat at shortstop, despite the fact that Reynolds mostly played third base in college. Reynolds doesn’t have a high upside bat, as he was a slap-hitter with some power in college, but if he could play shortstop, the bat would immediately become much more valuable.

    Reynolds has completely defied the team’s expectations as a prospect both with his glove and his bat. Since he entered the system, Reynolds has proved he can play an above-average shortstop, but he has hit just .234 in his two years for the Mets.

    Reynolds is now 23 and needs to figure out what he’s doing at the plate quickly, but the fact he has played an above-average shortstop has saved him as a prospect thus far. Reynolds has a track record of being a solid hitter at both the prep and college levels, so he is far from a lost cause at the plate. If he turns it around and becomes an above-average hitter in 2014, he could shoot up prospect lists because of his positional value as a shortstop.

    Reynolds should begin 2014 in Double-A Binghamton in what could be a make-or-break year for the former Razorback.

    All statistics courtesy Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.

    You can follow Sean on Twitter at @S_CunninghamBR.