2012 Amazin Avenue Top 50 Mets Prospects: #20-16

We'll jump back into the rankings today and into the top 20, with nos. 20-16. For those that have missed them, you can catch part I (nos. 50-41) here, part II (nos. 40-31) here and part III (nos. 30-21) here.

Yes, I'm deviating from the standard model a bit as the profiles are getting a little meatier the higher we climb and the segments are suddenly looking a bit unwieldy as groups of ten. But not to worry, we'll wrap the rankings with nos. 15 down to through the almighty top ten next week!

But for right now, let's see what the rankings have in store for us today:

20) OF Cory Vaughn

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .286 68 245 33 70 14 2 4 30 100 36 64 8 5 .405 .408 .814
STL FSL .219 63 210 29 46 8 1 9 29 83 23 53 2 3 .308 .395 .704
Minors
.255 131 455 62 116 22 3 13 59 183 59 117 10 8 .362 .402 .764

The 21-yr old son of former big leaguer Greg Vaughn is at a crossroads after a 2011 which can honestly give ammunition to either side of the debate on his future. On the one hand, in the first half of the season in Savannah he picked up where he left off in 2010, hitting well, showing good walk rates and featuring the kind of all-around athleticism that had scouts dreaming of a plus right fielder in the bigs the minute they saw him in a pro uniform.

Conversely, he was far less impressive upon his promotion to St. Lucie. Specifically, for a college player Vaughn seemed surprisingly lost against A-ball pitching. That .219 mark was pretty damning, as was the continued increase of his K-rate up above 22%. And though you can give him a break for a BABIP below .250, you then must dock him for a mark above .350 with Savannah. There is some thought that his performance suffered thanks to a nagging heel injury, though Vaughn continued to play nearly every day so it’s tough to gauge. In short, there are certainly things to like about Vaughn as his combination of secondary skills and raw tools make it easy to envision an every day right fielder. But a decline in power as well as a K% bordering on unacceptable sinks his overall ceiling as well as the excitement he created during his pro debut with Brooklyn.

19) LHP Darin Gorski

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 11 3 2.08 27 21 3 0 1 138.2 109 40 32 11 29 140 0.86 .212

Of all the pleasant surprises in the Mets system in 2011, none was more impressive than the 24-yr old Gorski. The 6'4" lefty was nothing short of brilliant as he rode roughshod over the Hi-A Florida State League, posting a superb 9.09 K/9 and an even better 1.88 BB/9. Gorski was simply too good for the FSL for most of 2011 yet the organization curiously kept him there all season. Likely this was a result of a numbers game as Binghamton's rotation was crowded all season. Additionally, Gorski certainly didn't carry the kind of reputation of a Familia or a Harvey.

In fact, the '09 seventh rounder out of DII Kutztown University was just coming off a 2010 where he posted a 4.58 ERA bouncing between starting and relief for Savannah and looked like the epitome of org depth. But that's why you always keep an eye on big lefties; suddenly the big kid with the soft stuff began throwing harder. Reports had him in the low 90's by season's end, up from the 87-89 mph range from past seasons. That new-found differential was more than enough to make his already impressive change-up downright deadly. Moving forward it's still hard to place him with the upper echelon pitchers -- he was very old for the FSL -- but armed with spot-on command and improving stuff from the left side, Gorski suddenly put himself on the map as a potential back of the rotation guy or lefty out of the 'pen.

Gorskiera_medium

18) RHP Akeel Morris

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
KNG APP 3 2 3.86 11 11 1 0 0 51.1 30 28 22 5 38 61 0.69 .166

After flashing electric stuff in his pro debut with the GCL Mets in 2010, the former tenth round selection followed up by featuring some of the most dominant stuff in the entire Appy League last season. Morris dominated rookie league hitters with a mid-90’s fastball that touched 96 mph as well as a developing 12-to-6 curve that currently shows potential to be an average major league pitch. Even more impressive, for the second straight season he posted a 10+ K/9 while holding opponents to a completely ridiculous .166 average, by far the lowest mark in the league. You do not see dominance like that from a teenager often. However, the problem is Morris also posted a 6+ BB/9 for the second straight season, demonstrating the key issue for Virgin Islands native going forward.

Although the big question I have about the 19-yr old Morris is that if/when he does begin throwing more strikes – which he will have to do to take the next step and become a blue-chipper -- does he have the stuff to continue to baffle more disciplined hitters? Obviously we know that his stuff is very, very good; but it most certainly plays up as a result of inferior competition that will swing at pitches anywhere near the zone. When he reaches the point where the hitters stop swinging, will his fastball be as effective when he has to put it in the zone? Well the short answer is that unless he’s the second coming on Gooden it won’t. But how big of a hit will he take? The answer to that question will determine whether he truly does have a ceiling as a future star or if he’s just another hard-thrower whose suspect command derailed his career.

17) 3B Aderlin Rodriguez

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .221 131 516 59 114 23 2 17 78 192 29 106 2 1 .265 .372 .637

One of the bigger disappointments in the Mets farm system in 2011, ARod just didn't deliver on the promise he showed as an 18-yr old crushing Appy League pitchers in 2010. His already lacking plate discipline got even worse as he whiffed in nearly 20% of his at bats and while he maintained his so-so 5% walk rate, that kind of swing-and-miss against more advanced pitching cut into his power. Average-wise, he was barely able to stay above the Mendoza Line against lefties and even worse, his numbers only decreased following the ASB. Now some qualifiers: His power is still a plus-plus skill, as he continued to showcase massive raw strength while posting a good .153 ISO even in a bad year. Though it may tie to his messy approach at the plate, his .247 BABIP is due for some regression. Finally, he was nearly two years younger than the Sally League in 2011.

Now I've said before that there aren't many players in the system with a plus-plus major league tool right now and Rodriguez is one of them, even before his 21st birthday. And as such, it's still too early to drop him out of the top 20; there's still just too much raw potential there. However, he's a complete mess at the plate which will continue to cut into his power until he figures that out. And as those 44 errors attest, Rodriguez is almost definitely a first baseman long-term so there's little margin for error with the bat. He still definitely has a chance to be an impact hitter in the majors but suddenly he's looking a little too much like Wily Mo Pena.

Arodopsfld_medium

16) 3B Zach Lutz

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .000 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 .111 .000 .111
BUF INT .295 61 220 38 65 12 0 11 31 110 27 70 0 0 .380 .500 .880
Minors
.285 63 228 38 65 12 0 11 32 110 28 72 0 0 .371 .482 .853

I know I'm going out on a limb here, which I said I don't like to do. I also know I may be the last one on the Lutz bandwagon, but I still can't let go of his superior all-around offensive ability displayed thoroughly at the highest levels of the minors. I've said it before and it's still true today, the '07 fifth rounder has quietly become the best all-around hitter in the Mets farm system. The problem is that he just can't stay healthy, having surpassed 100 games in a season just once in his pro career.

But hear me out: While I more than most try to take players to task for poor health -- as the ability to stay on the field is indeed a skill -- 2011 was not his fault. Yes he missed time with a hamstring, but the errant foul ball that broke his finger in the dugout? The wild pitch that concussed him after he returned? The second wild pitch that concussed him just two weeks later? I can't penalize him for all that, especially since when he played he raked as usual, posting yet another .200+ ISO. It's going to be easy to forget about Lutz going forward and if you're concerned about the long-term effects of the concussions, that's completely fair. But if he's healthy, in my opinion he's an easy top ten prospect.

Why He's Here: At 25 I know Lutz is getting old, but that doesn't mean he still can't hit. The dude opened the season like gangbusters, posting a ~1.000 OPS in April/June before the freak injuries struck. Even after returning and playing with concussion-like symptoms to less impressive results, he still managed a nearly .900 OPS. I don't know what he did to deserve this awful luck but if he can ever stay healthy I remain confident that he can be a piece for the big club to build around. In fact, if he ever gets another shot -- he missed the six week window when Wright was shelved last year -- in terms of his ability as well as his rocky ascent to the show, I see a lot of the similarly overlooked David Freese in Lutz.

________________________________________________________________

Compiled Top 50 Mets prospect rankings:

16. 3B Zach Lutz

17. 3B Aderlin Rodriguez

18. RHP Akeel Morris

19. LHP Darin Gorski

20. OF Cory Vaughn

21. 3B Jefry Marte

22. RHP Domingo Tapia

23. SS Phillip Evans

24. SS Wilfredo Tovar

25. RHP Collin McHugh

26. OF Darrell Ceciliani

27. SS Danny Muno

28. LHP Josh Edgin

29. LHP Jack Leathersich

30. LHP Juan Urbina

31. RHP Erik Goeddel

32. RHP Chris Schwinden

33. RHP Josh Stinson

34. IF Robbie Shields

35. LHP Mark Cohoon

36. RHP Brett Pill

37. RHP Armando Rodriguez

38. RHP Logan Verrett

39. SS Juan Carlos Gamboa

40. SS Bradley Marquez

41. RHP Taylor Whitenton

42. RHP Greg Peavey

43. RHP Luis Mateo

44. RHP Rafael Montero

45. C Cam Maron

46. RHP Nick Carr

47. LHP Robert Carson

48. OF Travis Taijeron

49. OF Gilbert Gomez

50. RHP Ryan Fraser

51*. OF Javier Rodriguez

52*. RHP Brad Holt

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