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The 2015 New York Mets Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: For my analysis – including Ranking the Top 250 Prospects, Ranking the Farm systems, and in-depth commentary for over 900 minor leaguers – check out my book, The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, now available on Amazon!

 

For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.

 

 

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP

Born: 08/29/92 Age: 22 Height: 6-6   Weight: 240   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Robbie Erlin, Tyler Skaggs, Johnny Cueto, Danny Duffy, Andrew Bellatti
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 19 A 103.7 2.60 2.36 10.6 29.1% 2.7 7.4% 0.26 66.5%
2013 20 A+ 63.7 3.11 2.64 9.1 24.8% 2.3 6.2% 0.42 71.8%
2013 20 AA 54.0 3.00 3.36 11.5 32.2% 2.0 5.6% 1.33 74.8%
2014 21 AAA 133.0 4.60 3.70 9.8 24.9% 2.9 7.4% 0.74 67.2%

Background: Now that Travis d’Arnaud looks like he’s figured out big league pitching – he hit .272/.319/.486 from June 24th through the end of the season – and the Blue Jays still have yet to make it to the postseason, it’s pretty clear that the Mets are going to come out way ahead of the R.A. Dickey deal. Syndergaard once again flashed pure dominance as he moved up a level, this time to the hitter’s haven known as the PCL – not to mention playing half of his games in the bandbox known as Las Vegas. In 133.0 innings the big 6-foot-6 right-hander fanned 145, walked 43, and posted a nice enough 3.70 FIP. At the age of 21.

Projection: There’s really nothing to not like when it comes to the Texas-born hurler: ideal size, consistently dominant performances against much older competition, and control that’s already bordering on plus territory. Fronted by the likes of (a healthy) Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard, New York’s rotation looks like it has the makings of something special.  1969 Mets, anyone?

Ceiling: 5.0- to 5.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Mid 2015

 

 

2. Dilson Herrera, 2B

Born: 03/03/94 Age: 21 Height: 5-10   Weight: 150   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Rougned Odor, Nick Franklin, Eddie Rosario, Adrian Cardenas, Chris Bostick
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 18 R 227 .281 .341 .482 .823 .201 7.9% 18.1% 144
2013 19 A 503 .267 .334 .416 .750 .149 8.0% 23.1% 115
2014 20 A+ 309 .307 .355 .410 .765 .102 5.8% 14.2% 120
2014 20 AA 278 .340 .406 .560 .967 .220 10.4% 18.7% 166

Background: It really depends which side you’re sitting on – either Sandy Alderson pilfered the Pirates out of Herrera and hard-throwing right-hander Vic Black, or in their effort to end decades worth of  playoff futility Pittsburgh was willing to overpay for 115 plate appearances of Marlon Byrd and the warm-bodied backstop known as John Buck. Ultimately, Pittsburgh’s drought ended and the Mets (potentially) acquired their starting second baseman for the better part of decade. Herrera opened the year up with St. Lucie, where he batted a solid .307/.355/.410 in 67 games. The front office brass convinced that the then-20-year-old could handle the Eastern League promoted him mid-July and he saw a dramatic uptick in performance; he batted .340/.406/.560 en route to posting an absurd 166 wRC+. The Mets would call him up in late August and he finished out the year with a decent.220/.303/.407 triple-slash line.

Projection: Standing just 5-foot-10 and barely heavy enough to bear a sneeze from Andre’ the Giant – Google him, kids – Herrera’s power is likely tapped out at this point – solid average, capable of hitting a dozen or so homeruns in season. Throw in 15 or so stolen bases, average walk rates, and a stick capable of posting a .280 average and the Mets have a borderline All Star second baseman.

Ceiling:  2.5- to 3.0-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014

 

 

3. Michael Conforto, LF

Born: 03/01/93 Age: 22 Height: 6-1   Weight: 211   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Tyler Naquin, David Thomas, Ronard Castillo, Bryson Myles, Bradley Zimmer
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 21 A- 186 .331 .403 .448 .851 .117 8.6% 15.6% 153

Background: Arguably the most polished collegiate bat in last season’s class, Conforto capped off an incredible amateur career – and one in which he dominated since entering Oregon State despite not getting any professional looks in high school – by hitting .345/.481/.547 with 25 extra-base hits and an impressive 55-to-38 walk-to-strikeout ratio. And the tenth overall pick continued to mash once he entered pro ball, hitting .331/.403/.448 with 10 doubles and three triples in 42 games.

Projection: Certainly not a lock for stardom by any stretch of the means, especially since his homerun rate declined from averaging a touch over 13 per 60 games to 10 during his sophomore campaign to seven last year. He still hits for power, but it’s more of the doubles variety. His advanced approach makes him a candidate to move quickly. Conforto is likely to peak as a solid slightly above-average big league – nothing more – due to a lack of true plus tool.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  Late 2017

 

 

4. Rafael Montero, RHP

Born: 10/17/90 Age: 24 Height: 6-0   Weight: 185   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: David Phelps, Vin Mazzaro, Matt Garza, Kea Kometani, Andrew Heaney
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 21 A+ 50.7 2.13 2.47 10.0 29.0% 2.0 5.7% 0.36 77.4%
2013 22 AA 66.7 2.43 2.00 9.7 27.6% 1.4 3.8% 0.27 68.7%
2013 22 AAA 88.7 3.05 3.24 7.9 21.5% 2.5 6.9% 0.41 71.8%
2014 23 AAA 80.0 3.60 3.66 9.0 23.7% 3.8 10.1% 0.45 62.0%

Background: Like Kevin Gausman the previous year, Montero barely failed to qualify for the Rookie of the Year, which, in terms of this book, still makes him a prospect. After showing pinpoint accuracy in each of his first three seasons, Montero’s walk rate “ballooned” to a nearly four free passes every nine innings with Las Vegas and more than a half-of-a-walk higher during his 10-game stint in New York. In the end, Montero would throw 80.0 with Las Vegas, averaging 9.0 K/9 and 3.83 BB/9, and another 44.1 innings with New York (8.53 K/9 and 4.67 BB/9).

Projection: Montero showed a low-90s heater, slider, and a relatively hard changeup while in the big leagues. Given his lengthy track record of stinginess when it comes to walks, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume his control/command bounces back next season. Montero’s the type of guy you could plug into the back of a rotation, forget about him until he gets expensive, and then ship him off for some middle-tier prospects.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Risk:  Low

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014

 

 

5. Steven Matz, LHP

Born: 05/29/91 Age: 24 Height: 6-2   Weight: 200   B/T: R/L                                                          
Top CALs: Charles Brewer, Kea Komentani, Andrew Heaney, Matt Wright, Adam Kolarek
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 21 R 29.0 1.55 3.67 10.6 28.6% 5.3 14.3% 0.31 73.6%
2013 22 A 106.3 2.62 2.91 10.2 28.3% 3.2 8.9% 0.34 75.4%
2014 23 A+ 69.3 2.21 2.73 8.1 21.5% 2.7 7.3% 0.00 77.2%
2014 23 AA 71.3 2.27 2.64 8.7 24.0% 1.8 4.9% 0.38 75.8%

Background: In last year’s book I listed Matz among the breakout prospects for 2015 and the big lefty out of Ward Melville High School did not disappoint. After losing parts of three years due to arm woes, Matz has been nothing short of dominant, totaling 286 strikeouts, 90 walks, and a 2.32 ERA in 276 career innings. He split last year between St. Lucie and Binghamton, tallying 131 punch outs, 35 free passes, and a 2.25 ERA in a career-high 140 innings.

Projection: Prior to his breakout season last year I wrote,

“Still, though, the injury past is troublesome. He could be a mid-rotation guy, peaking as a #3 [type arm], or more likely a dominant reliever. For now, though, I’ll go with the former.”

Well, now Matz looks like a sleeping giant in terms of ceiling. Fantastic numbers, though they have mostly come against an age-appropriate level of competition, but dominance in the mid-levels of the minors leagues is a plus.

Ceiling:  2.5- to 3.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  Late 2015/Early 2016

 

 

6. Kevin Plawecki, C

Born: 02/26/91 Age: 24 Height: 6-2   Weight: 225   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Steve Clevenger, Charlie Cutler, Miguel Gonzalez, Ramon Cabrera, Bobby Wilson
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 22 A 282 .314 .390 .494 .884 .180 8.2% 11.3% 152
2013 22 A+ 239 .294 .391 .392 .783 .098 7.9% 8.8% 131
2014 23 AA 249 .326 .378 .487 .864 .161 6.4% 10.8% 140
2014 23 AAA 170 .283 .345 .421 .766 .138 8.2% 12.4% 99

Background: The former Boilermaker has shown little side effects of being thrust through the minor leagues. Plawecki, who began his journey as a first round pick in 2012, averaged about 60 games at each level beginning with Brooklyn. Overall, he’s hit an aggregate .295/.372/.439 with 70 doubles, one three-bagger, and 26 homeruns. Defensively speaking, he looks like a brick wall behind the plate, allowing only 15 passed balls in 242 games, and throwing out 26% of would-be base stealers.

Projection: Plawecki – for the time being, at least – is blocked by Travis d’Arnaud, so Sandy Alderson could either:

  1. Deal off the young backstop while his perceived value remains quite high or (B) plug him in the next time the inevitable injury strikes down d’Arnaud.
  2. With the signing of Michael Cuddyer, the club looks to be in a Win Now Mode and decent catching prospects are worth their weight in gold.

Peak-wise, Plawecki’s done everything you’d hope for in high round collegiate pick. But there’s really no true standout tool to speak of – average or slightly better hit tool, zero speed, and average-ish pop. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his defensive contributions outweigh his offensive ones either. One word of warning: CAL remains unimpressed.

Ceiling:  2.0- to 2.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2015

 

 

7. Marcos Molina, RHP

Born: 03/08/95 Age: 20 Height: 6-3   Weight: 188   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Mitchell Taylor, Andrew Bellatti, Michael Feliz, Carlos Vazquez, Eduardo Aldama
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 17 R 57.0 3.95 2.92 6.8 17.9% 2.4 6.3% 0.16 62.3%
2013 18 R 53.3 4.39 3.76 7.3 18.6% 2.4 6.1% 0.51 63.2%
2014 19 A- 76.3 1.77 2.34 10.7 30.7% 2.1 6.1% 0.24 77.4%

Background: Pitching with a certain guile that belies his teenage years, the Dominican-born right-hander continued his assault on the lowest levels of the minor leagues last season, whiffing 91 guys and walking just 18 in 76.1 innings for Brooklyn. Just how dominant was Molina? He led the NYPL in punch outs (24 more than runner-up Joe Musgrove and teammate Casey Meisner), strikeout percentage (30.7%), ERA (1.77), FIP (2.34) and the league hit a collective .169 against him.

Projection: Simply put, Molina’s the best pitching prospect you’ve never heard of – YET. Molina, who stands a solid 6-foot-3 and nearly 190 pounds, has improved his strikeout rate for the second consecutive season, going from a lackluster 6.5 K/9 in the DSL to 7.3 K/9 in his stateside jump in 2013 to a career-high 10.8 K/9 in the NYPL last season. What makes it even more impressive: his walk rate has essentially remained the same. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him ascend to the club’s top pitching prospect – or overall prospect, for that matter – as soon as next season (assuming Syndergaard is promoted). You’ve been warned.

Ceiling:  3.0-win player

Risk:  High

MLB ETA:  Late 2018

 

 

8. Matthew Bowman, RHP

Born: 05/31/91 Age: 24 Height: 6-0   Weight: 165   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Kyle Gibson, Josh Lindblom, Jeff Manship, Ben Snyder, David Rollins
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 22 A 30.7 2.64 2.27 7.6 21.0% 1.2 3.2% 0.00 72.7%
2013 22 A+ 96.3 3.18 3.54 8.4 22.6% 2.9 7.8% 0.75 76.8%
2014 23 AA 98.3 3.11 3.35 8.4 22.1% 2.5 6.5% 0.64 71.4%
2014 23 AAA 36.3 3.47 3.04 7.9 20.9% 2.2 5.9% 0.25 70.2%

Background: A fantastic find in 13th round out of the baseball powerhouse known as Princeton University (sarcasm certainly applies), Bowman’s quick ascension through the minor leagues reached its crescendo last season as the 6-foot right-hander toed the PCL rubber just two years after entering pro ball. Bowman began the year by making 14 starts in Binghamton – including a 12 strikeout, zero walk performance against the New Britain Rock Cats – before yo-yoing between the minors’ top two levels the rest of the way. He finished the season with 124 strikeouts and 36 walks in 134.2 innings of work. Oh, yeah, he’s sporting a career 58.4% groundball rate.

Projection: Another one of the club’s underrated arms, Bowman’s quick climb through the minors has gone largely unnoticed – despite fanning over 22% of the total batters he’s faced while walking just over 6%. In last year’s book I wrote:

“I’ve been called a nerd my entire life, so what I’m about to write is completely allowed. With his Ivy League background it’s not surprising to see Bowman do everything a pitcher needs to do to be successful. He’s not overpowering, but shows strong command and a ton of groundballs. And he’s going to surprise some people. Assuming he can stay healthy, I’d put some serious dough on Bowman having a 10-year big league career as a good #4.”

I’m still sticking with that assessment — highly, highly underrated.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Mid 2015

 

 

9. Michael Fulmer, RHP

Born: 03/15/93 Age: 22 Height: 6-3   Weight: 200   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Jeff Lyman, Giocanni Soto, Arquimedes Nieto, Nick Additon, Eddie McKiernan
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 19 A 108.3 2.74 3.65 8.4 22.3% 3.2 8.4% 0.50 77.6%
2013 20 R 12.0 3.00 1.79 9.8 27.7% 0.8 2.1% 0.00 63.6%
2013 20 A+ 34.0 3.44 3.86 7.7 19.9% 4.8 12.3% 0.26 74.0%
2014 21 A+ 95.3 3.97 3.77 8.1 19.8% 2.9 7.1% 0.66 70.1%

Background: Fulmer, a supplemental first round pick in 2011, spent all but one of his 20 starts in the Florida State League last season, posting decent underlying numbers – 19.8% K%, 7.1% BB%, and a 3.77 FIP. It was a nice rebound year for Fulmer, who lost the majority of the 2013 season due to a torn meniscus suffered early on. The 6-foot-3 right-hander did undergo a surgical procedure in early September to remove a bone spur in his throwing elbow.

Projection: Fulmer’s been quietly flying under the radar now for quite some time, even more so now thanks to missing so much time two years ago. But he’s continued to handle the club’s aggressive promotion schedule without showing any major hiccups along the way. He’s a very, very underrated young arm that could be poised to shoot up quite a bit in 2015. Fulmer’s another back-of-the-rotation caliber ceiling that could be capable of a bit more if everything breaks the right way.

Ceiling:  2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  Late 2016/Early 2017

 

 

10. Amed Rosario, SS

Born: 11/20/95 Age: 19 Height: 6-2   Weight: 170   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Nick Gordon, Milton Ramos, Cito Culver, Riley Unroe, GIoskar Amaya
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 17 R 226 .241 .279 .358 .637 .118 4.9% 19.0% 82
2014 18 A- 290 .289 .337 .380 .717 090 5.9% 16.2% 111
2014 18 A 31 .133 .161 .300 .461 .167 3.2% 35.5% 20

Background: Rosario made some history – of sorts – last season: the then-18-year-old became the first shortstop since 2006 (which is the first year FanGraphs’ MiLB database begins) to receive 200+ plate appearances and post a Weighted Runs Created Plus total above 100 in the New York-Penn League. After a largely underwhelming debut in the Appalachian League two years ago, Rosario rebounded to bat .289/.337/.380 with 17 extra-base hits in 68 games for Brooklyn.

Projection: A potential good, not great offensive player. Rosario’s career ISO stands at just .106, though he does make a lot of contact with an improving eye at the plate. At 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, the frame’s better than you would think given the lack of pop. Fringy everyday guy.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  2018

 

And as a bonus, of sorts, here’s fan favorite Brandon Nimmo: 

 

 

11. Brandon Nimmo, CF

Born: 03/27/93 Age: 22 Height: 6-3   Weight: 205   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Aaron Hicks, Robbie Grossman, Dan Brewer, LeVon Washington, Dalton Pompey
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 19 A- 321 .248 .372 .406 .778 .158 14.3% 24.3% 135
2013 20 A 480 .273 .397 .359 .756 .086 14.8% 27.3% 127
2014 21 A+ 279 .322 .448 .458 .906 .137 17.9% 18.3% 165
2014 21 AA 279 .238 .339 .396 .735 .158 12.9% 19.4% 107

Background: I wrote this in last year’s book, “Sorry, Mets fans. Nimmo is going to be another Sam Bowie. Or Steve Chilcott, the high school catcher the club picked instead of Reggie Jackson – whichever analogy you prefer of course. Nimmo has one above-average tool: his ability to walk. He hasn’t run at all, or hit for power, or hit left-handers.” Of course the former first round pick promptly went out and torched the Florida State League by hitting .322/.448/.458 before earning a midseason promotion to Binghamton.

Projection: Alright, maybe I was bit too harsh on the guy the Mets chose instead of Jose Fernandez, but let’s delve into the numbers a little bit deeper, ok? Nimmo started the year off as hot as Pete Rose walking through Hell wearing a gasoline suit – he hit .384/.508/.515 over his first 26 games – but he cooled dramatically afterwards, hitting .250/.361/.402 over his final 101 games – numbers more or less in line with his career norms by the way. (And that’s not including his chilly .202/.306/.238 performance in the Arizona Fall League, either.)

And, yes, he still walked at a tremendous rate. But the power was simply average for the majority of the year; he still ran rather infrequently (at least not enough to boost his value) and – here’s the doozy – he still can’t hit southpaws (.232/.347/.317 against them this year and .220/.331/.298 in his career).

So, I’m not backing off of my evaluation from last year. And CAL is suggesting that I could be right by listing Aaron Hicks, Robbie Grossman, Dan Brewer, and LeVon Washington as four of his top five comps. Fourth outfielder/solid platoon guy.

Ceiling:  1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk:   Moderate

MLB ETA:  Late 2016/Early 2017

 

 

 

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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