MLB.com released their 2012 Top 100 Prospects list on Wednesday -- compiled as always by MLB.com prospect expert Jonathan Mayo -- as part of a one-hour special on MLB Network. (Quick aside, if nothing else you've got to love what the network has done for mainstream prospect exposure.)
For those unfortunate enough to miss it Mayo included three Mets prospects on his list, THE three big Mets pitching prospects as we head into the 2012 season: Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia (in that order).
Specifically, Wheeler came in at no. 28, Harvey slid in ten spots below him at no. 38 and Familia trailed far behind at no. 90. Funny when you consider that in terms of 2011, it was Familia who pretty clearly posted the best line and did so at the highest level.
However, that's not what's in play here, because all of them posted impressive numbers in different ways. These rankings are more or less a referendum on secondary stuff. Now there are certainly other factors to consider -- Harvey features the sturdiest pitcher's build, Wheeler is a year younger on the development curve, Familia ran into some weird arm soreness last season.
But the fact of the matter is, each member of this trio possesses a plus, mid-90's fastball. All three possess good picher's builds. Each has dominated at some level and all three feature at least some semblance of a decent change-up. But what it all comes down to is that second pitch:
Wheeler features the best breaker of the three, a powerful, two-plane swing-and-miss curve that scouts have already labelled a plus pitch and Paul DePodesta called the farm system's "best wipeout stuff." Harvey's slider is next; also a potentially plus pitch with the ability to miss bats as well as drive lots of ground balls. He also features a strong curve but the slider has been more impressive thus far in his pro career. Finally, Familia's offering, also a slider, lags behind as an average pitch, flashing plus at times but decidedly less developed than the other two.
And this is why you see them ranked the way they're ranked. With two nearly major league plus-pitches at age 21, Wheeler has very real ace potential. Harvey might have two also but more likely is looking at 1.5 and more comfortably fits into the no. 2 slot in projections. As of now Familia realistically will likely only boast one plus pitch which brings that ceiling down a bit. Factor in a less natural-looking delivery and minor arm trouble and some like him more for the back of a 'pen.
It's certainly hard to argue with this approach. Though I will say that it seems to get lost in the shuffle that of the three Familia probably has the best fastball, featuring excellent sink and consistently working in the mid-90's while his peers regularly work a couple ticks below that. And again, he has had the most success in Double-A, which I feel should count for something.
But all in all, you can't really fault anyone for their perspective as it relates to these three. Any way you slice it the Mets have a heck of a big 3 emerging within their system and are damn lucky to have each one of them. And just in case you weren't already daydreaming enough, certainly doesn't hurt to hear DePodesta go on to draw comparisons to another big 3 that he oversaw in his time with Oakland. Now that's a daydream...