2012 Amazin' Avenue Pre-Season Top 50 Mets Prospects

2012 Amazin' Avenue Pre-Season Top 50 New York Mets Prospects (originally printed Feb 2012)

*Click player names below in order to jump directly to each profile

1-10 | 11-20 | 20-30 | 30-40 | 40-50

1. RHP Matt Harvey

2. RHP Zack Wheeler

3. RHP Jeurys Familia

4. OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

5. RHP Jenrry Mejia

6. MI Jordany Valdespin

7. OF Brandon Nimmo

8. OF Cesar Puello (pictured)

9. 2B Reese Havens

10. OF Juan Lagares

11. SS Wilmer Flores

12. RHP Michael Fulmer

13. RHP Cory Mazzoni

14. C Albert Cordero

15. CF Matt den Dekker (pictured)

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 (pictured)

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. LHP Mark Cohoon

35. RHP Tyler Pill

36. RHP Armando Rodriguez (pictured)

37. RHP Logan Verrett

38. SS Juan Carlos Gamboa

39. SS Bradley Marquez

40. IF Robbie Shields

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 (pictured)

51. OF Javier Rodriguez

52. RHP Brad Holt

NOTE - For the record, I did NOT include Josh Satin in my final rankings -- though in hindsight I probably should have. Had I done so he would have fallen somewhere in the neighborhood of no. 20-25.

*Photos courtesy of Bryan Green

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1) RHP Matt Harvey

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 8 2 2.37 14 14 0 0 0 76.0 67 24 20 5 24 92 1.20 .238
BIN EAS 5 3 4.53 12 12 0 0 0 59.2 58 32 30 4 23 64 1.47 .254
Minors
13 5 3.32 26 26 0 0 0 135.2 125 56 50 9 47 156 1.32 .246

That leaves us with only one guy left, Mets 2010 first rounder and Connecticut native Matt Harvey. The 22-yr old electrified scouts and fans alike in his pro debut, posting a 10+ K/9 between Hi-A and Double-A while limiting opposing hitters to a .246 average. It was clear right away that the 6'4", 210 lb horse was too good for A-ball, surrendering just one unearned run through his first three starts. However, he scuffled a bit upon his promotion to Binghamton, giving up 13 runs in just his first three starts. But the good news? He'd allow just 17 more runs in his remaining nine starts, good for a 3.25 ERA with a .218 opponent's average over that span.

Like each member of the Mets top three, Harvey utilizes an electric fastball which features low-to-mid 90's velocity that he holds late into games very well. In addition, he features a very effective two-seamer that he uses to drive lots of ground balls (see, 1.47 GB:FB at Double-A). He also possesses two solid secondary offerings -- a curve and slider -- which flash plus potential but tend to look similar. Finally, his change-up showed a lot of growth in 2011, to the point that it's a strong weapon against lefties. Existing questions about his command re-surfaced a bit as his BB/9 with Binghamton jumped up to 3.47 and his lack of a consistently plus secondary pitch -- like Wheeler's -- limits his ceiling to a good no. 2 or 3. However, he's shown more at a higher level and the overall depth of his repertoire makes him closer to the majors today. And for that reason Harvey tops this list in 2012.

2) RHP Zack Wheeler

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SJ CAL 7 5 3.99 16 16 0 0 0 88.0 74 44 39 7 47 98 1.35 .224
STL FSL 2 2 2.00 6 6 0 0 0 27.0 26 6 6 0 5 31 1.09 .252
Minors
9 7 3.52 22 22 0 0 0 115.0 100 50 45 7 52 129 1.29 .231

The 21-yr old return for Carlos Beltran certainly endeared himself to Mets fans with an oustanding showing with St. Lucie down the stretch. In six starts he posted an even 2 ERA, with over a K/IP, under a hit/IP and best of all just five walks in 27 innings. And if the numbers were good, the stuff was great. Wheeler featured a plus fastball that works in the low 90's and touches 95-96 mph with good late movement. Additionally he features a slider and a power curve that he spots well and features excellent two-plane break. It is a true swing-and-miss offering and figures to be a plus pitch at the major league level. Like most pitchers his age his change-up lags behind his other pitches and will need a lot of work to become even an average pitch.

The real issue with Wheeler is that up until that six start preview, he had often battled control problems since he was drafted ninth overall by the Giants in 2009. In 2010 with the Giants' Lo-A affiliate he posted a 5.83 BB/9 and this season he was at a 4.81 mark in Hi-A before the trade. Fortunately he balanced those with a K/9 consistently above ten but that is still a concern for Wheeler, who at 6'4", 185 lbs has had questions about mechanics and release point. However, he is younger than the other two top pitchers and based almost entirely on the quality of his top secondary offering he boasts a higher ceiling -- if all breaks right I see shades of another first round prep pitcher from Georgia, Adam Wainwright. In terms of ranking him, we're slicing hairs at this point but any way you look at it the Mets were lucky to get this kid into the organization.

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3. RHP Jeurys Familia

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 1 1 1.49 6 6 0 0 0 36.1 21 7 6 1 8 36 1.16 .171
BIN EAS 4 4 3.49 17 17 0 0 0 87.2 85 43 34 10 35 96 0.91 .249
Minors
5 5 2.90 23 23 0 0 0 124.0 106 50 40 11 43 132 0.97 .228

Not a ton I can say about The 22-yr old Familia -- or any of the Mets big 3 pitching prospects -- that you haven't already heard. The 6'3" hard-throwing righty features a plus-plus electric fastball that he pushed into the mid-to-upper 90's in 2011. Combined with a strong slider and a inconsistent change and he flashes front of the rotation potential. And the results certainly agree to this point as he blew away A-ball with a sub-2 ERA before he was promoted to Double-A where he'd find similar success -- though some mildly concerning shoulder woes.

Now there are things to nitpick. For one, he allowed ten home runs in under 90 IP in Double-A while his BB/9 jumped back up to the mid-3's. Also his 3.96 FIP is a little less impressive than his strong ERA. But in his first shot at Double-A -- especially young for the level -- none of those things is very concerning. The real concern revolves around the inconsistency of his secondary stuff, leading to the idea of a late relief role long-term. In my view, though it is definitely a possilibility, it's still VERY early in his career to say that he can't/won't develop that facet of his game, as Keith Law recently posited. In fact, if Familia spent the next 2.5 years between Binghamton and Buffalo strictly working on his change-up, he'd still be at an appropriate age to make his big league debut. Call me a homer but I'm of the mindset that he shows just enough to make it work. In fact, I could very easily see Familia follow the path of the Rangers' Alexi Ogando, where he excels in both roles.

For the record, Familia at no. 3 was not a given by any means as various iterations of this list had him at no. 2 and even challenging for the top spot. I do not see the gaps between any of these three that others have indicated. In short, I'm basically working with a fluid top three.

4) OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BUF INT .298 53 188 33 56 17 2 6 14 95 32 59 5 2 .403 .505 .908

For the second straight season Nieuwenhuis garnered the no. four spot on this list. I let the cat out of the bag a bit the other day in the comments section with my defense of Capt. Kirk among the team's top center field prospects:

'...strike outs will always be an issue for him which means you can expect averages around .250-.270 early on. But he’s done some very good things with his walk rate and he’s posted an ISO at or near .200 at four of his last fives stops, which for a CF is great. Does he have the defensive chops to stick there long-term? Probably not, but the whole lack of tools discussion gets overblown; I’ve seen him in person many times and he has very good athleticism, he just doesn’t have any one standout tool. But even if he’s only there for his first few seasons, a cheap center fielder who boasts 20/15 potential (based on a track record at the highest levels, which shouldn’t be overlooked), coupled with an 11-14% walk rate is a very valuable thing. Hell that's a potential ROY candidate."

Now a Rookie of the Year award is obviously a bit of a long shot but the talent is absolutely there. Unfortunately, Kirk missed the final two-thirds of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, otherwise we likely would have seen his Mets debut in September. Nieuwenhuis recently voiced the frustration of stalling in the midst of a truly breakout campaign. However, if he can recapture the huge gains he was making in terms of his plate discipline while maintaining his good power from the left side, there's a good shot we see him stealing ab's from Torres by mid-2012.

Why He's Here: I'm higher on the 24-yr old than most but a kid with at least a decent shot to play center field with a varied offensive profile that has proven himself at the highest levels is a significant player in my view. And though I'd feel better about having him in the top five had he finished out the year strong on the field, with guys like Nimmo, Puello, Havens and Lagares behind him, all of whom either have minimal track records, serious warts or both, I don't realistically see any other choice.

Also, Nieuwenhuis kind of looks like the dude from 'Hung'.

5) RHP Jenrry Mejia

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BUF INT 1 2 2.86 5 5 0 0 0 28.1 16 10 9 1 14 21 0.88 .168

After Omar Minaya's lesson in how to mishandle a pitching prospect, Mejia began 2011 back where he belonged -- in the Triple-A rotation. And after his first couple of starts the bad memory of 2010 was fading away as Mejia had yet to allow an earned run in 12+ innings. However, by the end of April it was clear that something was wrong as his walks were up and his velocity was down. Then the news of Tommy John surgery dashed any hopes that the 22-yr old could recapture the momentum he had possessed one short year ago. Mejia is expected to hopefully get back on the field by mid-2012, though I'm not dinging him much for the injury as TJ rehab is bordering on routine at this point.

Unlike some of the other serious injury victims in the organization, Mejia is included on this list 1. because he actually appeared in 2011. And 2. because he's proven himself at the highest levels. That same reason explains his placement so high in the rankings. Despite the fanfare and hype for the Mets newly-crowned big 3, Mejia is the only pitcher in the Mets farm system to dominate at Double and Triple-A. The hard-throwing righty has a sub-3 ERA in 22 starts between the two levels, not to mention stuff on par with anyone in the organization. Mejia's electric mid-to-high 90's sinking fastball and developing 12-to-6 power curve give him the chance to carry that success to the next level, but it remains to be seen in which role. Sandy & Co. will likely put him back on track in the minors as a starter, but his max effort delivery, small stature (6'0") and durability questions stemming from the injury certainly lead some to believe he's a late reliever long-term.

6) IF Jordany Valdespin

2011 Season
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BIN EAS .297 107 404 62 120 24 3 15 51 195 21 68 33 14 .341 .483 .824
BUF INT .280 27 107 7 30 8 0 2 9 44 4 25 4 4 .304 .411 .715
Minors
.294 134 511 69 150 32 3 17 60 239 25 93 37 18 .333 .468 .801

2011 Offseason Leagues
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
LIC DWL .252 34 107 11 27 3 3 0 15 36 7 17 10 3 .304 .336 .641

Much like Juan Lagares (#10), the 24-yr old Valdespin is a bit of a polarizing figure thanks to his hit-or-miss skill set. Specifically, his awesome raw ability was on display big time in 2011 as he finally put together all of the tools that he'd only flashed in the past. He set career highs in doubles, homers, stolen bases, slugging and OPS and most impressively did so between Double and Triple-A. Using his quick, buggy whip-style stroke from the left side -- think Brett Gardner -- he was able to shoot balls to all fields while creating more than enough bat speed to pull them over the wall. In short, he showcased the kind of all-around offensive skill set that you just don't often see from middle infielders, minors or majors.

However, his dynamic style of play can tend to border on out-of-control and nowhere is that more clear than in the field. The highly athletic Valdespin possesses more than enough quickness and foot speed to handle short but thus far he's had a very hard time limiting the errors there or even from second, where he's seen a lot more reps. Additionally, as has been his issue in the past his plate discipline was not good. He walked in just 3.5% of his plate appearances with Buffalo while striking out over 22%. However, he did show a very solid improvement in both categories in his time with Binghamton, though he remained susceptible to good breaking stuff. Ultimately, I think of Valdespin like the anti-Tejada: He's old, not disciplined -- in the field or at the plate -- and isn't known for great makeup. However, he features the kind of all-around athleticism, broad skill set and subsequent production in the high minors that Ruben can only dream of. While his flaws can obviously undermine him, his realistic ceiling likely resembles the 2011 4.0 fWAR version of Erick Aybar.

Why He's Here: This ranking resembles the Juan Lagares ranking because once again, despite his flaws I find it very hard to look past the impressive performance Valdespin had against upper level pitching in 2011. You can make a laundry list of things not to like about his profile but the bottom line is that he flashed legitimate 20/30 potential, which is a lot more than can be said from most of the guys in this range and from a middle infielder is incredible as it is rare. He may not be able to bat you much above .270-.280 in the majors but as I pointed out, I was intrigued by the improvement he showed in plate discipline. Like Lagares the final numbers might not have looked great (4.8% BB-rate with Bingo) but the % improvement over 2010 did.

I've heard many cite Valdespin's advanced age when dismissing his development but it should be noted that he was a late-comer to pro ball, making his stateside debut at age 20. In terms of career plate appearances he's still only at 1555, compared to 1341 from the 20-yr old Cesar Puello. And while there's been limited research on the subject, it's clear that teenagers don't have the market cornered on the ability to improve. And that goes for defense as well, especially considering Valdespin's athleticism. Paul DePodesta broached that very subject, stating his firm belief that infield defense is one of the skills that can improve the most, the fastest with repetitions in the minors. Put it all together and you've got a dynamic MI prospect who can affect the game in a whole host of ways and while it might be a bumpy ride, that kind of ceiling from a player so close to the majors is extremely valuable.

7) OF Brandon Nimmo

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MTS GCL .241 7 29 5 7 0 0 2 4 13 3 9 0 0 .313 .448 .761
KNG APP .111 3 9 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 5 0 0 .333 .111 .444
Minors
.211 10 38 5 8 0 0 2 4 14 6 14 0 0 .318 .368 .687

There's not much I can tell you that hasn't already been hashed and re-hashed ever since the Mets made Nimmo their first round selection in 2011 (13th overall). The 18-yr old from Cheyenne, Wyoming possesses the kind of tools and raw athleticism that make scouts drool. Previously I said that Puello had a four-tool upside; well Nimmo is a potential five-tool guy, provided his bat develops like the Mets hope. There's not much -- or really anything -- to take from his brief ten game debut so all we can really go off of are the scouting reports.

Nimmo utilizes a very nice, quick swing from the left side and has been praised for excellent hand-eye coordination. He features a slight natural uppercut which when paired with his wiry, 6'3", 185 lbs frame definitely portends for legitimate power as he fills out. He has enough speed to allow him to man center for now, though a shift to right field is definitely a possibility as he's not a burner. Fortunately he also features more than enough arm strength for right. In terms of ceiling Nimmo has the kind of raw potential the Mets haven't seen in an outfielder this young since another wiry young lefty took the organization by storm. And while Nimmo doesn't have Strawberry upside -- frankly who does? -- he certainly does have a chance to be a star level talent.

In terms of his ranking, I'm holding him back a bit for now because 1. As I've made clear I'm very wary with track records this short and 2. Nimmo has even more risk associated to him thanks to the whole 'lack of competition' angle. The scouting reports are great and all but players this far already have the chips stacked against them and in this case there are even a few extra ones, making the chance to bust a bit too high to jump into the top five this soon. Just a little bit of success and an affirmation of scouting reports and he could be looking down on the entire system this time next year.

8) OF Cesar Puello

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .259 117 441 67 114 21 5 10 50 175 18 103 19 9 .313 .397 .710

For the second year in a row Puello ranks eighth on our list. However, that is not as much a commentary on his growth – or lack thereof -- as it is the growth of the system, namely some key additions at the top as well as breakout campaigns from a couple of others. Puello himself did indeed progress in a few areas in 2012, however not without some give-back in others. First and foremost, the Mets finally heeded our calls and moved Puello to center full-time, where he seemed to play well enough for his first extended look at the position. The shift up the defensive spectrum alone helps his value, a season or two proving he’s legit there would really give him a boost. Additionally, the 20-yr old made good on the promise of more in-game power that scouts had sworn was there since ’09. After posting an .067 ISO in 2010, Puello more than doubled that total -- in the pitcher-friendly FSL no less.

However, while the power was a very welcome sign he robbed Peter to pay Paul a bit there as he saw significant regression in both his walks (3.7%) and strikeouts (21.1%). He’ll have to prove that he can indeed hit with authority without selling out those other ratios. In addition, as I warned last winter the excellent stolen base speed from 2010 (45 sb’s) dropped in 2011 as an already bulky kid just continued to add muscle. As the speed declined so too did the BABIP (2010: .363 | 2011: .311) and subsequently so did the average.

Now ultimately, there is still more reason to be pleased here than not. Like Flores, Puello was one of the youngest players in the entire FSL and is one of a small handful of players that could hold his own as a 20-yr old. Additionally, though you wouldn’t see it in his K/BB he showed good growth in the second half of the season, adding nearly 50 points to his average and over 150 for an .800 even OPS. And in terms of ceiling, Puello gives you a legitimate shot for at least four of the five majors tools all from the center field position. Yet he’ll have to show even more with the bat in 2012 as he’s currently more tools than ability and as we’ve seen so many times before poor plate discipline can easily derail a young hitter before they ever hit their stride.

9) 2B Reese Havens

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .273 3 11 1 3 2 0 0 2 5 2 5 0 0 .385 .455 .839
BIN EAS .289 58 211 37 61 15 1 6 26 96 27 59 2 0 .372 .455 .827
Minors
.288 61 222 38 64 17 1 6 28 101 29 64 2 0 .373 .455 .828

What’s left to say about Havens? Once again he showed us he has a great approach at the plate, as evidenced by yet another 11+% walk rate. Once again he showed us he can hit for excellent power from the left side, thanks to another .150+ ISO. His average is still being held down by a highish K-rate but that’s nothing critical. He continues to project as an excellent mix of on-base skills, power and fair defensive ability at second base. But once again he failed to stay on the field, appearing in only 61 games which was unfortunately the second highest mark in his career.

Last winter he had a procedure done which was purported to eliminate the chronic oblique issues. Yet in 2011 he still missed time due to back problems -- thought to be associated with lingering conditioning issues. But he went into the offseason healthy. And now that he’s had his first winter sans rehab in quite some time and now that the major health issue is supposedly behind him, it’d be nice to see him reach the 100-game plateau in 2012. Especially since it would also likely lead to a major league call-up. But if that doesn’t happen and he indeed suffers more health woes, it’s time to start seriously questioning whether or not Havens will ever be durable enough to have a meaningful big league career.

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10) OF Juan Lagares

2011 Season
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .338 82 308 51 104 15 6 7 49 152 21 47 5 6 .380 .494 .873
BIN EAS .370 38 162 21 60 11 3 2 22 83 5 29 10 2 .391 .512 .903
Minors
.349 120 470 72 164 26 9 9 71 235 26 76 15 8 .383 .500 .883

2011 Offseason Leagues
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
PEJ AFL .303 15 66 8 20 4 1 2 18 32 4 10 4 1 .343 .485 .828
AGU DWL .125 9 16 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 6 0 0 .125 .125 .250

Let’s discuss the most divisive prospect in the system. The 22-yr old Lagares blossomed in 2011, opening eyes with an excellent performance where he batted nearly .340 in Hi-A and then topping it with a downright incredible showing in his Double-A debut where he batted .370 in 38 games. And if that wasn’t enough he went on to post very solid totals out in the prospect-studded Arizona Fall League. In short, it was an excellent season. And even shorter, it was unsustainable.

That’s because, as we all know, it is unlikely Lagares will match the .439 BABIP he posted in Binghamton. Or even the .379 he put up in St. Lucie. His sparkling average is in line for serious regression come 2012. And it doesn’t help that he’s never been known for his patient approach. But here’s why I buy in: First off, you don’t just bat .370 at Double-A, the level that most believe makes a big leaguer. No it wasn’t even 40 games, but then again you don’t just bat .340 at Hi-A. There was clearly luck involved but let’s not also pretend that scouting reports about an emerging hit tool don’t exist. Or that they didn’t exist even back in the days – before years of injuries and underperformance – that this kid was a very highly thought of IFA. Thanks to a rush job on par with FMart or Ruben Tejada as well as nagging injuries his skills haven’t had the chance to shine through. But now that he’s finally catching up to his context the highly athletic outfielder is either finally unleashing his excellent offensive ability or he’s getting very lucky. I’m going with the former. Now he doesn’t possess a ton of home run power and his speed is good but not great so his ceiling certainly isn’t through the roof. But I can still see a 15/20 athlete who can bat between .280-300 and capably handle center on most days, in the mold of the CardinalsJon Jay.

Why He's Here: As I stated, this didn’t just come out of nowhere. Even when rushed Lagares has always shown excellent contact ability. What’s more, he consistently showed a propensity to BABIP well over .300 (since ’09 he’s at a cumulative total around .340). And the scouting buzz jibes, focused around the bat speed his excellent line-drive stroke creates, especially as he’s added muscle to a long, athletic build. Even better was the significant jump he took in walks. 6.3% may still seem low by other standards but it represented a 200+% increase over his 2010 mark as coaches talked about the importance he placed on that aspect of his game. Add in the fact that he can capably handle all three outfield positions and it’s tough to hold him back in the rankings.

Frankly, beyond the big three pitchers there is still not a lot of proven top tier talent in this system. Yes there are guys with better fundamentals – Havens. Or higher major league ceilings – Nimmo or Puello. But are there that many guys that have proven themselves at a high enough level to displace one of the top athletes in the system coming off a season when he batted .350 against advanced pitching? In my opinion there are not and so flawed or not he’s a definite top ten guy for me.

11) SS Wilmer Flores

2011 Season
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .269 133 516 52 139 26 2 9 81 196 27 68 2 2 .309 .380 .689

2011 Offseason Leagues
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MAR VWL .301 41 133 16 40 6 0 2 10 52 17 26 2 0 .382 .391 .773

The 20-yr old Flores drops nine spots on this list -- and right out of the top ten -- for the simple reason that he didn't hit enough in 2011. Though I suppose that warrants a bit more discussion. Specifically, it has become clear by now that his defensive home will not be shortstop. This puts additional pressure on his bat to improve a lot in order to play to a position where more offense is expected, be that third base, left field, etc.* However, not only did he not improve a lot, he didn't really improve at all, which isn't really good even if he wasn't moving to left field.

Year (Level) BB% K% ISO XBH%
2010 (A/A+) 5.4 12.9 .135 8.4
2011 (A+) 4.8 12.2 .110 6.6

As you can see, he didn't regress -- at least not when you figure he played a full season at Hi-A instead of a half season in 2010. Instead he just looked like the same guy as 2010, which isn't ideal from any young player that hasn't yet reached his peak, let alone someone that needs to improve quite a bit. Now he's shown some things this winter -- namely much better plate discipline -- with his club in the VWL. But I've found that the more stock you place in winter league stats, the more you're going to find yourself disappointed. At this point there's too much good talent at the top of this system to continue to put such high hopes in the 'age vs level' prospects. That may have flown with guys like FMart and Gomez back when the system was weaker but not now. Especially lacking any plus-plus tool, now Flores needs to hit to earn his place. And to this point he's shown that he's an unathletic, rather slow player who can indeed make good contact but shows average at best power, a stagnating hit tool and may be able to handle third, if we're lucky (according to some scouts). In other words, a trumped up Danny Valencia.

The good news is that there is a road map in place for Flores to be better than that. I mean the list of 19/20-yr olds that have posted such respectable numbers in the pitching-friendly FSL -- or SAL for that matter -- isn't exactly long; I know I hated on the 'age v. league' stuff but it does carry at least some weight. And as I mentioned, his central strength at this point is the ability to make contact, which with additional strength can easily translate to harder contact, more power and with some luck better plate discipline. It's all feasible, though how plausible? That's a complete judgment call based on how much you buy into Flores. I'm going to be honest and say that having watched him enough I do see him taking a step forward with the bat in 2012, at least in the power department; enough to make up for the upcoming defensive move though? All I know is that when placed in the context of a new position the future definitely starts to feel murky, but it'd look a whole lot clearer if he'd just hit some more in 2012.

*People -- most recently the SNY Why Guys -- have supposed a move to second base for Flores based on his appearance there in the VWL. Yet, second demands nearly as much lateral quickness as short and so if he's not close to sticking there then he's probably not a good fit for the keystone either...at least not if you want some semblance of good infield defense. Once again, don't put too much stock into what happens in winter league baseball; it is a unique scenario where players from all levels are mashed together to form the best unit for that given 2-3 month period, with little or no regard to growth or development of the individual.

12) RHP Michael Fulmer

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 1 10.13 4 3 0 0 0 5.1 9 7 6 0 4 10 2.50 .346

Much like I group Pill and Verrett together due to similar ceilings/stuff, I group Fulmer along with the Cory Mazzoni(#12) in terms of overall ability and ceiling. Fulmer was the Mets 2011 supplemental selection (44th overall) in exchange for losing Pedro Feliciano to the Yankees. Drafted out of an Oklahoma high school, it cost the Mets just short of $1M -- well over MLB slot -- to sway Fulmer's strong commitment to the Univ. of Arkansas. Like Mazzoni, Fulmer signed just in time to get a little seasoning, though he was less successful in his four appearances with the GCL Mets. However, he too features a low-to-mid 90's heater and an advanced slurve for a prep product. Though like most prep pitchers his change-up lags far behind.

But unlike Verrett and Pill, Fulmer and Mazzoni have some bigger differences. Namely, the two are four years apart; and at 18 Fulmer certainly has some more time for growth. Additionally, at 6'3", 200 lbs the room for some projection is certainly there. Don't be surprised to see the OK City product add a couple ticks to his fastball before all is said and done. He also doesn't feature quite as much command, though again most high school pitchers don't. Basically, Fulmer features a similar -- if somewhat rawer -- overall package to Mazzoni though with more room for growth long-term, meaning a slightly higher ceiling -- a major league no. two if all works out. But just as youth/inexperience works as a positive, it also works against Fulmer in the sense that any teenage pitcher represents a tremendous amount of risk based on distance from the majors alone. That fact keeps him out of the top ten for now, but with a little bit of success the strong-armed righty could easily change that by the end of 2012.

13) RHP Cory Mazzoni

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 1 0 0.00 6 1 0 0 0 6.0 5 0 0 0 2 10 1.00 .238
STL FSL 1 1 2.57 6 0 0 0 0 7.0 7 4 2 1 1 8 0.63 .250
Minors
2 1 1.38 12 1 0 0 0 13.0 12 4 2 1 3 18 0.73 .245

The Mets' 2011 second round selection out of NC State signed just early enough to get his feet wet in pro ball, pitching in six games for the Cyclones as well as St. Lucie. In that short time he showed why many are excited about his future and why many -- like BP's Kevin Goldstein -- consider him a breakout candidate going forward. That's because the 22-yr old Mazzoni is the rare college pitcher that blends refinement, results and top shelf stuff yet was still on the board beyond the first round. First and foremost, Mazzoni's fastball reaches into the mid-90's -- touching 97 mph. Then pair the fact that he features pinpoint command and you're already talking about a very interesting talent. He also features a decent curve/splitter mix that is inconsistent but developing.

However, to be able to nab such a talent so late he of course must have flaws. Despite very good velocity he is known for a rather straight fastball. As our own Alex Nelson pointed out, his 3/4 delivery and lack of great height (6'1") precludes much downward movement, allowing hitters to get under his ball well. That's the whole reason behind the eight homers and the subsequent 3.32 collegiate ERA in 2011 despite dominant H/9 (.213 opp avg), K/9 (10.8) and BB/9 (2.26) marks. The 12 wild pitches look odd too. This is why some project Mazzoni as a late-inning reliever long-term, which would allow his fastball to play up in short stints. Either way, Mazzoni has the right mix of athleticism, arm strength and refinement to move quickly through this system regardless of his role. And with better coaching and more reps I'm optimistic that he'll be able to move up the ranks projecting nicely as a mid-rotation starter, though I'd like to see that growth before placing him in the top ten.

14) C Albert Cordero

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .286 104 385 38 110 15 2 6 44 147 15 69 1 1 .324 .382 .705

Obviously I’m a big fan of Cordero after his impressive 2011 season. Although, to be more specific I should say his wildly impressive second half. In fact, at the all star break the 21-yr old backstop was batting an anemic .219 with a .585 OPS and a K% nearing a brutal 23%. That’s when the Venezuelan native made some adjustments to his approach, utilizing a more conservative plan of attack at the dish. Suddenly he began making modest gains in walks while making much more significant cuts in strikeouts. This allowed his excellent natural power to begin coming through as his SLG rose each month as his K% fell. And while his all-around performance at the plate blossomed, his excellent defensive potential continued to shine through behind it. He would gun down 40% (24 of 60) base stealers while displaying excellent footwork/quickness.

Catchers have notoriously long lead times developing, yet Cordero is seemingly ahead of the curve. In just his first full season as a pro Cordero has already shown many of the skills to project as a big league regular. Now plate discipline will clearly always be something he must work at. In addition, at just 5'11", 175 lbs it is yet to be seen whether his surprising pop will become more gap-to-gap power at the highest levels. Yet, if he continues to develop at this rate his defensive proficiency and potent bat certainly fit nicely into the mold of a Carlos Ruiz/Yadier Molina-style big league catcher.

Why He's Here: I explained my style of ranking by saying that I’m placing values, not bets. Yet in the last ten I’ve admittedly taken two bets on guys that I like but who by all rights belong at least a little lower. The first was Lutz and in this case Cordero represents someone who I feel will really earn this ranking in the coming season. Perhaps the Mets complete dearth of catchers has colored my opinion a bit but I do feel that in many ways, his superb growth in 2011 and his enviable overall package of valuable skills and ability justify the aggressive bump, at least in my own mind. This sort of development is exciting at any level, even more so when you consider that it was from a catcher in his first go at A-ball who was actually young for the Sally League and playing in a poor hitting environment. Obviously I place a lot of value on a potential homegrown major league average catcher, as they come around so very rarely. And hey, what’s a prospect list without at a bet or two?

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15) OF Matt den Dekker

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .296 67 267 54 79 19 8 6 36 132 24 65 12 5 .362 .494 .857
BIN EAS .235 72 272 49 64 13 3 11 32 116 27 91 12 5 .312 .426 .738
Minors
.265 139 539 103 143 32 11 17 68 248 51 156 24 10 .337 .460 .797

Going back to that same old point, the highly athletic 24-yr old 2010 fifth rounder is one of only a handful in the system with a nearly fully developed plus-plus major league skill right now. According to scouts his center field defense is gold glove caliber today; having watched quite a bit of him with Binghamton in 2011 that jibes completely with what I witnessed. The surprise however was his bat, namely his power. After profiling as a light-hitting, glove-first prospect at the time he was drafted, den Dekker posted a nearly .200 ISO at both St. Lucie and Binghamton in 2011. Beyond that he is the rare player who contributes in all statistical categories, posting double-digits in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases last season.

The issue is that the same long swing from the left side that produced all those extra-base hits is also leading to a lot of strikeouts. More than a lot; in fact, den Dekker whiffed in a brutal 29% of his Double-A at bats last season, which even with a sustainable .305 BABIP pulled his batting average way down. Despite a very solid 8+ career walk rate, he will not have success at the highest levels with that amount of K's. Perhaps a change in approach is in order, less selling out for the long ball and more contact which is perfectly fine from a center fielder. Either way, while K's will always be an issue, if he can just bring them down to a more manageable level -- perhaps in the low 20's -- his solid on-base skills, athletic power/speed mix and sterling defense at a premium position give him the chance to be a major league starter in the mold of a Drew Stubbs. If not, he'll still make a quite valuable 4th-5th outfielder.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

21) 3B Jefry Marte

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .248 131 483 56 120 22 2 7 55 167 41 86 14 2 .313 .346 .659

At 20, the enigmatic third baseman continued to provide more questions than answers in 2011. Unlike most seasons, Marte started the year like a house afire, showing the kind of development in his plate discipline and power that made it look like he was finally putting it all together. By the end of May he was hitting .285 with nearly an .800 OPS. That's when things took a turn as he deviated from his typical trend and had an awful second half. Suddenly he wasn't hitting at all let alone hitting for power and his improved walk rate sunk like a rock. Ultimately, he ended up with a pretty ugly line which left 2011 looking like a step backwards.

Then a surprise call out to the AFL changed things. For four weeks he was one of the top hitters in the talent-heavy circuit, once again slugging the ball while posting a superb 1:1 K-to-BB rate against older more seasoned competition. Scouts marveled over his raw hitting ability and suddenly Marte's stock as a pure right-handed power hitter was once again rising. Unfortunately he broke his wrist before the end of the season but he'd already done enough to once again make people wonder. I'm still a little more on the short side with him right now as his fielding is still a question mark and I've got to see at least one full good season before I buy in; but even I will admit that the talent is clearly in there somewhere.

22) RHP Domingo Tapia

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
KNG APP 5 5 3.78 11 11 0 0 0 50.0 50 28 21 3 16 30 1.90 .258
BRK NYP 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 0 0 6.0 5 0 0 0 0 6 1.75 .227
Minors
6 5 3.38 12 12 0 0 0 56.0 55 28 21 3 16 36 1.89 .255

At 6'4", 186lbs, the 20-yr old Tapia looks the part of a horse. What's more, he learned to harness that build this year as his already intriguing sinking fastball blossomed into a truly plus, mid-90's offering and according to reports he was regularly hitting triple-digits. Even better, Tapia has a refined control of that pitch which affords him highly advanced command for someone so young and with so much stuff. That in and of itself drives Tapia up these rankings.

In fact, the rest of his repertoire is developing at best at this point, which is most evident in his shockingly low 5.40 K/9. Though it should be noted that his feel for a change-up is encouraging, as seen by the strong reverse-splits. However he still needs some sort of additional secondary offering to keep hitters off balance. This season, Appy Leaguers were clearly able to gear up for the fastball but based on sheer velocity and movement they still weren't making good contact; he won't be able to count on the same trends as he climbs. Yet the sky is the limit for an arm like this. The last pitcher to come through at this age with a build and a fastball like this was Familia.

23) SS Phillip Evans

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MTS GCL .333 4 15 3 5 2 0 0 1 7 2 3 0 1 .412 .467 .878
KNG APP .364 3 11 3 4 2 0 0 3 6 1 2 0 0 .417 .545 .962
BRK NYP .125 2 8 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .125 .125 .250
Minors
.294 9 34 7 10 4 0 0 4 14 3 5 0 1 .351 .412 .763

Speaking of draft steals, the Mets plucked this top round talent in the 15th round due to signablilty concerns based on a perceived strong commitment to SDSU -- ultimately inking him for $600k. The 19-yr old Cali kid is considered very advanced/polished for a high school product. He already shows a good idea of the strike zone while featuring very quick hands and a nice compact swing from the right side. In addition, his excellent athleticism and very strong arm give him every chance to stick at short long-term and though he's not quite a burner, he has the kind of quickness to take 15-20 bags a year. He's also been lauded for his high character and work ethic.

Now some feel that as he adds bulk to his already study frame (185lbs) he'll be forced to move to second base. His power has also come into question as he's listed at just 5'10" and for anyone who got to see him in his brief time with Brooklyn he looks even smaller in person. However, he's got some nice natural loft to his swing and he absolutely knows how to pull a ball. I've got to say that so much about Evans screams out Dustin Pedroia to me: Smallish infielder out of Cali, good strength/athleticism, excellent pull-side power, good quickness, great makeup. And while it's hard to project anyone to an MVP-level, I could definitely see Evans ceiling as a 20/20-type, with the requisite disclaimer about any and all high school players currently being worlds away from that ceiling.

24) SS Wilfredo Tovar

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .251 131 491 70 123 21 3 2 41 156 44 53 15 9 .318 .318 .636

Tovar was perfectly fine in 2011, heading back to Savannah and once again showing off the skills that put him on the map last season and move him up this list in 2011. Specifically the plus defensive abilities at shortstop, the excellent contact skills as well as an improving eye at the plate. Now he didn't make huge strides in any one area -- and he's still not hitting for any power -- but he was solid across the board this year. His average dipped a bit compared to his .281 mark in 44 games with Savannah last season, but it was mostly due to a drop in BABIP (.271).

As an added bonus, Tovar made a surprise appearance in the AFL and shined, showing off the kind of power in about 100 at bats that we've never seen from him before. In fact, he ranked second in the entire league in doubles, trailing only league MVP and Rockies top prospect Nolan Arenado. Yes, the AFL is an offense-friendly environment but that's exactly the kind of gap-power you want to see Tovar develop in the coming years. I'm always a big fan of Tovar as one of only a handful of prospects in this system with a true major league plus skill at his disposal right this minute (defense). And in my view there's no reason why he can't become a player very much like Ruben Tejada, just a little slower/less aggressive on the development curve.

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25) RHP Collin McHugh

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 1 2 6.31 9 6 0 0 1 35.2 47 27 25 3 14 39 1.63 .318
BIN EAS 8 2 2.89 18 16 1 0 2 93.1 78 32 30 2 32 100 1.00 .223
Minors
9 4 3.84 27 22 1 0 3 129.0 125 59 55 5 46 139 1.13 .252

After a slow start in St. Lucie, the 24-yr old righty got the call up to Double-A to pitch the back end of a doubleheader on May 31st and never looked back. He would go on to post a 2.62 FIP in Binghamton, absolutely dominating in the second half of the season and after hanging around the periphery of the prospect discussion before, he placed his name firmly in the discussion as a future big leaguer.

The '08 18th rounder showed an excellent mastery of his four-pitch mix, while featuring a little more velocity on a fastball that now sits around 91-93 mph with excellent movement. As always, his slider was an excellent weapon for him, inducing plenty of strikeouts and pushing his K/9 up to the mid-9's. Strong command and the ability to throw any pitch in any count give McHugh the chance to anchor the back end of a rotation in the mold of a Dillon Gee or provide excellent relief depth. Though he seemed to tire and scuffled a bit in the AFL, he figures to reach Buffalo at some point in 2012 and at this rate Citi Field won't be too far away.

26) OF Darrell Ceciliani

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .259 109 421 62 109 23 4 4 40 152 52 96 25 8 .351 .361 .712

One of 2010's most dynamic prospects, the 21-yr old Ceciliani found the Sally League a bit more challenging than his time with the Cyclones. The speedy lefty saw declines pretty much across the board, including most notably his 100+ point drop in BABIP. After posting a .430 mark last year we knew some regression was in order; the problem is even with a sort of high .327 mark in 2011, he was barely able to keep his average respectable. And while he was able to make some moderate strides being more selective in the second half, it came at the expense of some power.

Ultimately, he did boost his walk rate above the 10% threshold which isn't insignificant. And he did maintain an ISO above .100, which is solid for a center fielder. He also continued to show off his excellent speed while manning a good center field. Hamstring injuries bothered him once again but he managed to bounce back relatively quickly. The offensive potential he showed in 2010 paired with the fact that he falls high on the defensive spectrum keep him relatively high on this list. However, we may have to revise his offensive ceiling from Jacoby Ellsbury down to the still respectable Brett Gardner.

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27) SS Danny Muno

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .355 59 220 45 78 23 3 2 24 113 43 39 9 4 .466 .514 .980

To this point, it looks like the Mets got a steal in Muno, their 2011 eighth round selection who signed for just $10,000. The soon-to-be 23-yr old switch-hitter out of Fresno St. would go on to have one of the most impressive debuts of any player drafted in a season for the Cyclones reminiscent of Ceciliani's 2010. Muno would lead the league in average, OBP and doubles while ranking third in SLG. However, like Ceciliani Muno posted an unsustainable .435 BABIP; but his outstanding 16% walk rate will help cushion the blow as he regresses.

Though he has a strong arm there are questions if Muno has the lateral quickness to stick at short. Additionally, scouts don't see him developing a ton of power. And so some see him more as a utility infielder with good on-base skills, not unlike Royals utility man Chris Getz. He probably sports a little more power/overall hitting ability and while it's not the sexiest comp, for $10k it'd definitely be a win for Sandy and Co.

28) LHP Josh Edgin

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 1 0 0.87 24 0 0 0 16 31.0 14 4 3 0 10 41 2.53 .135
STL FSL 2 1 2.06 25 0 0 0 11 35.0 30 10 8 2 13 35 1.91 .233
Minors
3 1 1.50 49 0 0 0 27 66.0 44 14 11 2 23 76 2.16 .189

A bid-bodied lefty reliever, Edgin put his name on the map in 2011 with a definite breakout campaign. After reeling off an incredible run at Lo-A Savannah where he didn't allow a run seemingly for the entire first half, the 2010 30th round selection would go on to post an impressive 9.00 K/9 with a .184 opp. average against lefties at Hi-A St. Lucie. Edgin did slow a bit down the stretch -- including an August where he gave up more runs than the rest of his season combined. Though that's not entirely surprising considering he doubled his pro inning count from 2010. At 25, he's also a bit old for A-ball though that's probably due more to wasted time thanks to a collegiate transfer.

If Jack Leathersich (#29) is sturdy, then at 6'1", 225 lbs Edgin is downright stocky. Ultimately, Edgin's strong low 90's fastball and excellent low 80's slider as well as his solid command are what give him a chance to move fast. Paul DePodesta even hinted that we could potentially see Edgin in Queens in 2012 if things break right. He'll begin the season in Bingo and we should know relatively quickly whether or not we're looking at a potential power LOOGY.

29) LHP Jack Leathersich

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 0 0 0.71 9 0 0 0 1 12.2 6 1 1 0 3 26 1.00 .136

The Mets 2011 fifth rounder selection out of DII UMass-Lowell, Leathersich absolutely blew away the competition in his short pro debut. Yes you're reading those numbers right, he struck out 26 of the 47 batters he faced. 55% of them. That's an otherworldly 18.47 K/9. Obviously 12+ innings is a short sample and we can't get too overexcited but that's pretty much best case scenario for any short debut. And that was after striking out 126 in 89 innings this spring as a junior.

Leathersich is a 21-yr old lefty who isn't exactly the tallest but has a sturdy 5'11", 205 lbs build. He is known for a his mid-90's heat as well as a bit of an unorthodox delivery -- like many undersized lefties with such velocity. He also throws an inconsistent yet promising curve. Before bolting for San Diego, Mets former scouting director Chad Macdonald stated that though he made his debut in relief the team will consider Leathersich as a starter based on the promise of his secondary offerings. I'd say it's probably doubtful that he sticks as a starter long-term but it's not hard to imagine Leathersich in a role similar to Kansas City rookie reliever Tim Collins.

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30) LHP Juan Urbina

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
KNG APP 4 6 5.95 12 12 0 0 0 56.0 68 43 37 9 20 49 0.65 .300

At no. 30, Urbina drops 19 spots from last year's list. That's because after an unspectacular but albeit forgivable pro debut, Urbina followed with an outright bad sophomore season in the rookie level Appalachian League. Add in the fact that the organization added a lot of minor league talent in 2011 and here we are. The 18-yr old lefty saw regression across most of his key indicators and the scouting reports didn't take the step forward that one would like for someone his age. Namely, his velocity did not jump up -- at least consistently -- from the 87-90 mph levels we saw last season. Now it should be pointed out that at times he flashed 93 but again, not consistently.

Yet more concerning to me was the fact that the league batted a robust .300 off Urbina, something that you don't really want to see at any level, but especially not against some of the rawest hitters in pro ball. And not when he posted a similarly high number last year (.284). He was still over a year younger than the league for 2011 but take fellow teenager and Kingsport starter Akeel Morris, who held Appy league hitters to a .166 mark. The league as a whole batted .261, a heck of a lot lower than they did against Urbina. In short, Urbina hasn't blown us away with his stuff nor his results. Obviously reports about an advanced change-up and very good pitching IQ are nice but typically when you've got a potentially special future starter you can see it in dominance against inferior competition. For me, he's going to have to earn his ranking going forward.

Why He's Here: I said I want to him to earn it; let me clarify. I was fine to boost him based on scouting reports, reputation and potential before his pro debut. I was fine to do it again last season even after a so-so first season. But at this point, considering that he hasn't taken any big steps forward in any major category, I can't let him slide on promise alone. Frankly, I wonder what his stock would look like were his last name not 'Urbina'. I would personally rather have him earn his way back up the rankings with further development than have him sink his way further down with continued stagnation.

And I know "stagnation" from an 18-yr sounds funny; it sometimes isn't even stagnation as much as slow growth. But let's do another comparison, this time a more apples-to-apples comp with another young IFA lefty also heralded for his advanced make-up and plus change, Yankees uber-prospect Manny Banuelos. At 18 Banuelos was holding Sally League hitters to a .219 average; that's a level above the Appy League. Additionally, his velocity was already described as an 'easy 92' with more on the way according to Scouting the Sally's Mike Newman. That is what a potentially special lefty looks like at that point. That's not to say Urbina can't or won't get there; but like I said I'm at the stage where I'd like to see him earn his way up the rankings with some development rather than the other way around.

31) RHP Erik Goeddel

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 0 1.50 3 3 0 0 0 6.0 5 1 1 0 0 2 2.20 .217
SAV SAL 3 5 3.39 15 13 0 0 0 71.2 58 29 27 5 24 67 0.97 .220
Minors
3 5 3.24 18 16 0 0 0 77.2 63 30 28 5 24 69 1.05 .220

The 2010 24th round steal out of UCLA was very good in 2011, flashing the kind of front of the rotation potential that had many scouts thinking he would have been an early round talent had he stayed another year. His low-to-mid 90’s heat paired with an advanced curveball gives him plenty of swing-and-miss while his change-up is passable and his command is solid enough for now. When everything was working he looked flat-out dominant as a member of the Savannah rotation. However, health has been his biggest weakness at both the collegiate and pro levels and he continued to suffer from nagging injuries last season which limited him to just 72 innings. While he’ll get every chance to stick in the rotation, most see Goeddel as a late inning reliever long-term due to the durability issues as well as a slight frame and his 2012 campaign will go a long way in settling that debate.

32) RHP Chris Schwinden

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 0 0 3.0 2 0 0 0 0 5 0.00 .200
BUF INT 8 8 3.95 26 26 0 0 0 145.2 138 71 64 14 48 134 0.67 .250
Minors
8 8 3.87 28 26 0 0 0 148.2 140 71 64 14 48 139 0.66 .249
MLB
0 2 4.71 4 4 0 0 0 21.0 23 13 11 1 6 17 0.92 .274

The 25-yr old one-time 22nd rounder was a very pleasant surprise in 2011, considering that at this time last year he wasn't viewed as much more than organizational filler. Yet he not only showed that he could make the adjustment to more advanced minor league hitters -- after struggling in Double-A in 2010 -- he even held his own against major leaguers in his four starts in September. Schwinden looks sort of like Dillon Gee in the stuff department, sporting a solid four-pitch mix and spotting each of those pitches very well. Also like Gee Schwinden employs an effective cutter to keep his ball down and induce weak contact, throwing the pitch over 20% of the time -- though Gee uses his power change as his default secondary offering.

The issue here is that after having the first half of his life in 2011, he looked a heck of a lot less effective after the break (see, 5.54 ERA with a .310 opp. avg vs. 3.07 and .213 pre-ASB). His breakout season at such a high level certainly gives Schwinden a sudden and rather unexpected chance to have an meaningful big league career; though chances are he falls somewhere between the potential no. 5 he showed in the first half and the minor league depth he showed in the second as a swingman/bullpen depth-type.

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33) RHP Josh Stinson

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BUF INT 3 7 7.44 13 13 0 0 0 61.2 77 54 51 7 33 32 1.20 .312
BIN EAS 4 3 3.99 27 2 0 0 6 47.1 46 22 21 1 16 39 1.56 .257
Minors
7 10 5.94 40 15 0 0 6 109.0 123 76 72 8 49 71 1.34 .289
MLB
0 2 6.92 14 0 0 0 1 13.0 14 10 10 1 7 8 1.33 .286

The 23-yr old former 37th rounder stepped into the limelight as a legitimate major league relief prospect in 2011, making the climb from Double-A all the way up to the show. Though he continued to bounce between the bullpen and rotation as needed in the minors, the Mets used him strictly in middle relief which is most definitely his long-term home going forward. And while he didn’t quite put up the prettiest numbers in Queens – or in Buffalo for that matter – the 6’4" righty did showcase the kind of stuff that gives him every chance to stick in the Met ‘pen long-term. Namely, Stinson features an excellent hard-sinking fastball which he can regularly dial up to the mid-90’s when he pitches in short spurts. While his secondary offerings -- namely a slider/curve mix --are rather pedestrian, his fastball alone has driven superb ground ball rates at virtually every level. As we saw in his 13 big league innings last September, command is certainly something that he’ll have to sharpen but the stuff is definitely there for Stinson to become a key contributor by the end of 2012.

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34) LHP Mark Cohoon

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 1 3 3.81 9 9 0 0 0 52.0 59 31 22 7 17 44 1.38 .284
BUF INT 4 11 6.11 18 18 0 0 0 94.1 120 68 64 11 38 51 1.11 .321
Minors
5 14 5.29 27 27 0 0 0 146.1 179 99 86 18 55 95 1.19 .308

Rough year for the soft-tossing lefty as he learned the hard way that finesse stuff doesn't play nearly as well at the highest levels. His once pinpoint command continued to degrade as he's been forced to nibble thanks to his mediocre stuff. Meanwhile his K-rate dropped under five this season and hitters had no problem squaring him up as they posted a .321 opponent average off him in Triple-A .

Now Cohoon is a very smart pitcher who showed a lot the last couple seasons especially the ability to improve over time, doing so at each level of the minors. So I do expect some gains next year in Buffalo; the question is will he be able to show enough after getting blasted by minor leaguers to once again give confidence that he can do it consistently in the majors? The ceiling of a serviceable no. 5 is still there but at 24 the less attractive career as a quad-A journeyman a la Pat Misch or Chuck James is suddenly becoming a lot realer

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35) RHP Tyler Pill

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 0 4.50 2 0 0 0 0 2.0 3 1 1 0 0 1 0.33 .375
BRK NYP 1 0 3.86 7 1 0 0 0 7.0 4 3 3 0 3 9 9.00 .174
Minors
1 0 4.00 9 1 0 0 0 9.0 7 4 4 0 3 10 2.50 .226

Drafted in the fourth round out of Cal-State Fullerton, Pill is a pitchability guy in the mold of 2010 draftee Greg Peavey. The 21-yr old righty features average fastball velocity at best, but also boasts excellent command as well as good deception in his delivery. At 6'1" he's not oozing with projectability so don't expect a huge bump in velocity but he's also extremely athletic and has demonstrated a very good ability to use his advanced cutter to put hitters away.

What Pill has that the aforementioned Peavey does not is an excellent ability to miss bats; he showed this in his brief debut with the Cyclones. However, deception without great stuff doesn't always translate at the higher levels so the sustainability of that skill as he climbs will determine his long-term success. And though BA's Ian Kennedy comp may be a bit too lofty at this point, pre-2011 Kennedy is certainly something reasonable to hope for.

36) RHP Armando Rodriguez

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 4 4 3.96 16 16 0 0 0 75.0 60 38 33 11 29 74 0.58 .218
Minors
4 4 3.96 16 16 0 0 0 75.0 60 38 33 11 29 74 0.58 .218

Remember two springs ago when Omar Minaya compared the soon-to-be 24-yr old Rodriguez to Jenrry Mejia? Sounded stupid then and sounds even stupider now. Not to say that Rodriguez isn't any good but the competition certainly began to catch up to the strong-armed righty in in 2011 as he post a nearly 4 ERA and an even worse 4.49 FIP in Hi-A. I must point out though that his excellent .218 opp. average does give me hope that he's got the stuff to get more advanced hitters out.

Now he's currently active down in the DWL and it doesn't hurt that he's having a good amount of success, racking up over a K an inning there. But it's important to note that he's doing so strictly in relief, a role that the Mets may be wise to try him in. His secondary repertoire just isn't developing as planned. With his superb mid-90's fastball he could potentially dominate the late innings and at 6'3", 250lbs there's a good chances he adds a tick or two in short stints. He may warrant a bit more time as a starter as an oblique injury derailed him from the get-go last season, but with the recent influx of pitching talent into the organization I wouldn't wait long.

37) RHP Logan Verrett

21-yr old Mets 2011 fourth rounder Logan Verrett resembles the aforementioned Pill in that he boasts a less than stellar fastball -- typically working around 90-91 mph. But what Verrett has going for him is that he also features good command and at least one extremely well-developed secondary offering. In fact, according to reports some within the Mets organization have Verrett's slider as the best breaking pitch from any pitcher they drafted in 2011. Additionally, he flashes a major league average change and at 6'3" he possesses at least some projectability. Though I will say that I would have liked to see a bit more swing-and-miss from him at the college level. To me, Verrett could easily follow the path of another mid-sized righty with an ok fastball, but very strong slider in Collin McHugh as a potential mid-to back of the rotation piece down the line.

38) SS Juan Carlos Gamboa

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MEX MEX .265 21 49 13 13 4 0 2 9 23 3 11 1 0 .302 .469 .771
MTS GCL .340 17 53 10 18 4 0 0 3 22 9 15 0 0 .435 .415 .851
KNG APP .256 19 78 12 20 4 0 3 10 33 6 15 4 2 .302 .423 .725
SAV SAL .455 4 11 1 5 1 1 0 3 8 2 0 0 0 .538 .727 1.266
Minors
.293 61 191 36 56 13 1 5 25 86 20 41 5 2 .355 .450 .805

I've made it no secret that I'm high on the relatively unknown 20-yr old infielder from Mexico. In his first pro season in the States all the little lefty did was post an .800+ OPS while showing the kind of lateral quickness and ability with the glove to legitimately project as a major league shortstop defensively. Despite the fact that his stature (5'7", 150lbs) makes Ruben Tejada look like huge, he shows surprising pop thanks to a pretty big stroke from the left side. Add in the fact that he balances that swing with highly advanced walk rates that regularly fall in the mid-teens and you're talking about a kid who could easily be a household name -- among Mets prospects -- by this time next year.

39) SS Bradley Marquez

The Mets' 16th round selection in 2011 out of Odessa High School in Texas,19-yr old Brad Marquez is first and foremost an athlete. In fact, he hasn't played an inning of pro ball yet and he may already be the top athlete in the entire system (that includes the fastest). That's why he in addition to beginning his pro career, Marquez will also be playing football for the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, where he just completed his freshman season and is already committed for at least a sophomore campaign.

It's not ideal but clearly the Mets had to be flexible to add such a dynamic player to their system -- it's not often that this kind of ceiling comes along so late. However, it should be pointed out that Marquez is already very raw and light years from the majors, even without the distraction of a second sport. In addition, scouts have come away unimpressed with his defensive chops and it sounds like nearly a sure thing that he'll be moving to center field at some point to take full advantage of his plus speed.

Why He's Here: I've seen Marquez far higher on some other lists but tying back to my earlier discussion about projection vs. performance, he is a perfect example of a player with all of the talent in the world but an almost equally massive amount of associated risk to bust. And to me, you have to balance those two aspects almost equally despite the temptation that we all feel to err on the side of the tools. It's easy to get excited about a talent like Marquez but let's wait to see if he can actually play baseball at a competitive level before we start projecting the next Jose Reyes. Obviously the sky is the limit for him but the low minors are littered with stud athletes whose actual baseball skills never really materialized. The ability to consistently hit a baseball is probably the hardest, most specialized skill in all of sports, and athleticism is not always a key to success. More often than not -- while growth is possible -- either you can do it at a major league level or you can't, and as of now we know very little about Marquez' actual skills.

40) 2B Robbie Shields

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .274 60 226 30 62 20 4 2 26 96 29 36 9 4 .354 .425 .779
STL FSL .269 20 67 14 18 5 0 1 12 26 8 9 0 0 .338 .388 .726
Minors
.273 80 293 44 80 25 4 3 38 122 37 45 9 4 .350 .416 .76

It was just a couple of drafts ago that Shields was a somewhat high profile third round draft pick with a nice offensive mix and enough glove to stick in the MI. Unfortunately, injuries -- namely TJ surgery -- changed his trajectory quite a bit. However, he proved last season between Savannah and St. Lucie that he's still got the kind of offensive upside that bears watching. In a way he's like a poor man's Reese Havens.

While he ultimately may not have the kind of power to profile as a serious home run threat in the bigs, he was the team leader in doubles in his time with Savannah and has real gap power. What's more, he also maintained his excellent 10+ BB% upon his move to Hi-A, greatly improving his K:BB rate from his first couple of seasons. Now he's unfortunately lost a ton of time the DL so age is clearly working against the 24-yr old Shields who was old for both leagues in 2011. However, I think it's very fair to say that if he stays on the field, he could at the very least fill a similar role as a Justin Turner in the bigs -- making a similar mid-to-late 20's debut. Not the kind of flashy talent you hope for with a high pick but certainly not without it's value.

#41) RHP Taylor Whitenton

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 5 5 2.49 26 22 1 0 1 112.0 77 39 31 6 48 119 0.79 .193

The 23-yr old former 39th rounder emerged in 2011 as a legit prospect based on one of the most dominant pitching lines in the entire system. As evidenced by his 9.56 K/9 -- which was right in line with his career marks -- as well as his SAL-leading .193 opp. average, hitters just don't pick up the ball well out of the 6'3" righty's hand. Additionally, he cleaned up his control quite a bit in 2011 posting a 3.86 BB/9 compared to a career mark above 5.

In short, Whitenton has proven that he has a very strong, major league-caliber arm; what role he fills is still up for debate as his low-mid 90's fb/sharp slider mix would translate very well to late relief. However, late season struggles in the AFL (see, 4.76 ERA) serve reminder that he was a bit old for the SAL and was pitching in a very forgiving home park in 2011. He'll have to continue to sharpen that command to stay successful as he climbs and remain on the big league radar moving forward.

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#42) RHP Greg Peavey

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 6 2 3.12 14 14 0 0 0 78.0 75 31 27 3 11 69 1.21 .256
STL FSL 5 4 3.97 13 10 1 0 0 59.0 66 31 26 1 15 39 1.38 .289
Minors
11 6 3.48 27 24 1 0 0 137.0 141 62 53 4 26 108 1.29 .271

The 2010 sixth rounder out of Oregon St. lived up to his reputation as a cerebral pitcher with good command of a solid four-pitch mix during his pro debut in 2011. In his initial assignment with Savannah, the 23-yr old righty proved -- with a 2.62 FIP and just 11 walks in 78 IP -- that he was too advanced for Sally leaguers. However, his less than dominant strikeout total was rather conspicuous. And that trend continued in his move to the FSL where good command of average stuff wasn't as effective, as his walks were up and worse he saw his K/9 drop down below 6.

Peavey may be the rare case of a pitcher who throws too many strikes -- at least hittable ones. For someone with a definite lack of swing-and-miss stuff, it would behoove Peavey to work around the fringes of the zone more and perhaps accept an additional walk here and there. Either way, he seemed to show improvement down the stretch with St. Lucie and if he can continue to make adjustments, he has enough secondary stuff and pitching smarts to continue to profile as a strictly back of the rotation starter.

#43) RHP Luis Mateo

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
DSL MET DSL 6 1 2.00 13 13 0 0 0 63.0 44 17 14 1 5 80 1.45 .194

Mateo was originally signed by the Giants but failed his physical. He rehabbed, then signed with San Diego...but that also fell through when MLB suspended him for lying about his age. Regardless, the Mets stayed on him and ended up paying only $150k for a kid who has a seriously big arm. Though he's 21 -- not 19 -- he still tops out at 97mph with a sharp slider and gets great downward action thanks to a long, athletic 6'3" frame. And look at those results: Five walks in 63 innings. Seriously? And 80 K's? That's nuts from a kid with his stuff making his pro debut. Yes he may have been a little old for the DSL, but with a top-flight pedigree and the stuff to match there's reason to be excited about a potential steal here. Get ready to hear this name a lot more this year, he could fly up this list in 2012.

Why He's Here: Fellow Dominican righty Rafael Montero may have gotten more ink this season -- jumping all the way up to Brooklyn during their playoff run and earning the final spot in BA's top 20 in the GCL. But to me, Mateo's extended -- and incredible -- performance in the DSL wasn't far behind Montero's excellent 2011. Add in a couple more ticks on the fastball, a better pitcher's build and a better pedigree and Brooklyn or not, I'm more taken with Mateo going forward. Tempting to rank both guys higher on this list based on some outstanding numbers but I'm waiting for results against age-appropriate competition before I really get excited.

#44) RHP Rafael Montero

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
DSL MET DSL 1 1 1.00 4 4 0 0 0 18.0 7 2 2 1 0 20 1.00 .119
MTS GCL 1 2 1.45 7 4 0 0 1 31.0 28 11 5 0 6 32 0.63 .228
KNG APP 2 1 4.24 4 4 0 0 0 17.0 17 8 8 2 6 9 0.90 .258
BRK NYP 1 0 3.60 2 0 0 0 0 5.0 3 2 2 1 1 5 0.80 .176
Minors
5 4 2.15 17 12 0 0 1 71.0 55 23 17 4 13 66 0.78 .208

Like Mateo, the 21-yr old Rafael Montero signed a little late to pro ball but he certainly made up for lost time. Montero used a pinpoint low 90's heater to carve up DSL hitters early in the year (see, 0 walks vs. 20 K's) and for whatever reason, he was promoted forward while Mateo was not. Montero went on to post more gaudy totals -- including a combined .208 opp. average -- as he rocketed up four levels, right into the Cyclones 'pen in the heart of a playoff run. Pretty incredible, even before you realize that this was all during his pro debut. While he had age on his side, his combination of stuff and command are very impressive. I'd LOVE to see what he could do alongside Mateo in the Gnats rotation in 2012.


#45) C Cam Maron

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
KNG APP .318 58 201 38 64 8 1 3 24 83 38 34 4 2 .434 .413 .847
SAV SAL .250 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 .250 .250 .500
Minors
.317 59 205 38 65 8 1 3 24 84 38 36 4 2 .431 .410 .841

The 20-yr old Long Island native is living the dream right now. As a lifelong Mets fan, it was enough that he was drafted by his childhood team in the 34th round in '09. But now he's suddenly making a name for himself as one of the club's better young prospects after impressing in his first full-ish season in 2011. After a couple of seasons spent mostly in instructs -- capped with a couple weeks in the GCL each time -- Maron made the rookie-level K-Mets last year and showed the kind of promise he featured in brief glimpses in previous years.

Specifically, Maron has a highly advanced eye at the plate, as evidenced by his ridiculous 15.3% walk rate. Now his swing doesn't project for a lot of power so in many ways he could be a righty-hitting version of Josh Thole at the dish. However, he's posted a career ISO over .100 in 205 career ab's so let's not rule it out completely. Additionally, his good athleticism and strong fundamentals suggest he could develop into a good defender as he climbs. In a catching-starved system, Maron is already nearing the top of the heap and could jump up this list next year with a repeat performance in Lo-A Savannah.

#46) RHP Nick Carr

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 0 0.00 2 2 0 0 0 2.0 2 0 0 0 1 2 4.00 .250
STL FSL 3 0 2.40 22 0 0 0 8 30.0 26 8 8 3 14 34 0.77 .236
BRK NYP 0 0 2.35 6 0 0 0 1 7.2 7 2 2 0 5 5 1.14 .269
Minors
3 0 2.27 30 2 0 0 9 39.2 35 10 10 3 20 41 0.95 .243

Carr placed no. 41 on this list last season and around the end of April he looked like a lock to make a big move forward in 2012. Armed with the high-90's heat that has always made him dangerous, he finally looked to be turning the corner as his command was straightening out and he'd dominated the competition in the FSL. That's when the injury bug returned and curtailed his season. He continued to miss bats upon returning but his control reverted back to 4+ BB/9 levels and he now once again resembles quite a question mark moving forward. As always he has the stuff to move extremely fast -- I'm talking Citi Field by September fast -- but he's got to stay healthy and improve the command, despite a violent delivery which works against him on both fronts.

#47) LHP Robert Carson

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 4 11 5.05 25 24 0 0 0 128.1 154 88 72 14 55 91 0.76 .299

Obviously I'm off the bandwagon. Now was I happy to see the AFL radar gun hitting 97mph this fall? Of course. Do I love his combination of size and power stuff from the left side? Who wouldn't. Am I being overly harsh on him with this ranking? Probably. But ultimately, Carson has got to do something to stay up on these lists and frankly, in the past three seasons he hasn't. While it's fair to say that he was likely moved too fast, a couple of 5+ ERA's the last two years paired with consistently high walk rates, surprisingly low K-rates and ballooning opp. averages doesn't add up to a top prospect regardless of velocity or handedness.

The ease with which lower level hitters have consistently hit him is what concerns me the most as hittability doesn't discriminate between the rotation or the 'pen. I mean maybe his stuff plays up in shorter stints which would help but in ten relief appearances out in the AFL in October the league batted .309 off him; not a good sign. Add in the fact that his secondary offerings haven't developed nearly as planned and it's hard to stay high on a guy who is pretty much hanging his hat on one superb season in rookie-ball almost five years ago.

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#48) OF Travis Taijeron

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .299 56 194 24 58 13 5 9 44 108 22 64 0 0 .387 .557 .943

Taijeron (pronounced like 'Tyrone') was the Mets 2011 18th rounder selection out of Cal Poly Pomona. As the center fielder for the Tritons, the sturdy-built Taijeron (6'2", 200lbs) showed off his powerful game with 16 bombs and a ridiculous .744 SLG as he battled for Div. II Player of the Year honors. And he kept right on hitting in pro ball, leading the NYPL in slugging and ISO (.258) while placing third overall in home runs in 56 games.

It's become very clear that Taijeron possesses plus-power potential. The problem is that he strikes out...a lot. He'll have to improve that 28.5 K% if he's going to have success at the higher levels though his long swing from the right side will likely always lead to high K-rates and low averages. He does help negate that with solid plate discipline (see, 9.8 BB%). And though the athletic 22-yr old played some center for the Cyclones he profiles as a corner guy. But based on his very real raw power alone he was a very nice mid-round value and remains worth watching come 2012.

#49) OF Gilbert Gomez

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MTS GCL .248 38 141 16 35 9 0 2 22 50 13 39 4 2 .323 .355 .677
STL FSL .307 22 75 9 23 4 1 4 10 41 9 17 4 0 .388 .547 .935
Minors
.269 60 216 25 58 13 1 6 32 91 22 56 8 2 .346 .421 .767

Gomez is a 19-yr old physical specimen who stepped into the prospect spotlight in 2011 thanks in large part to one heck of a seized opportunity. Gomez has always been interesting thanks to his excellent athleticism, but as of late July of this summer he was still just another teenager in Rookie-ball with good tools and not a ton to show for them. That's when he was called up to Hi-A.

The St. Lucie Mets -- who share the same complex with the GCL club -- came looking for an outfielder and Gomez was called across the complex with the intent of getting a few innings of fill-in work while some outfielders were on the mend. The funny thing is that he raked. In 70 ab's he hit .307 with four homers and four stolen bases, while playing good defense -- though disappointingly mostly in the corner OF. Gomez was already worth watching thanks to his long, athletic frame but much more so now thanks to his surprising performance jumping up four levels to Hi-A.

#50) RHP Ryan Fraser

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 7 9 3.58 28 21 0 0 1 138.1 140 64 55 13 63 90 1.13 .271

For Fraser, 2011 meant a shift in roles as he went from a dominant Brooklyn closer in 2010 to a mainstay of the Savannah rotation this season. And though he proved capable at a higher -- full-season -- level, he still drops five spots from last year's rankings due to one number: 5.86. That was his K/9 in 2011, down from 11.20 in '11. Now that wasn't the only reason but it tells a lot of the story. Basically, Fraser was far less effective against Lo-A hitters as his .271 opponent average will attest. As does his FIP (4.75) which ended up over a run higher than his ERA. I said that he resembled Bobby Parnell last year and I'll stick with that statement as he will pick up steam and once again profile as a big leaguer if the organization moves him back to his long-term role in relief.

Bonus Prospect: #51) OF Javier Rodriguez

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .209 26 86 10 18 3 1 4 4 35 9 15 0 1 .284 .407 .691
BRK NYP .257 67 249 32 64 22 2 4 43 102 34 62 5 0 .349 .410 .759
Minors
.245 93 335 42 82 25 3 8 47 137 43 77 5 1 .333 .409 .742

The '08 second rounder hasn't quite lived up to expectations, but after a slow start in 2011 he managed to get things back on track in Brooklyn. Specifically, after posting a .209 average through 26 games with the Gnats, Rodriguez was demoted to short season A-ball. From there he'd go on to rank among the NYPL league leaders in doubles and total bases while boosting his BB% to a very impressive 11.6. While inconsistent offensive results, waning speed and a subsequent move to right field have hurt his value, he's posted very solid ISO rates each of the past three seasons. And at 21 he's still quite age appropriate for his current level. He may not be the power/speed threat and future star the Mets hoped for when they drafted him but he's still got an outside chance to be a major leaguer in some capacity, especially if he continues to develop that power.

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Bonus Prospect: #52) RHP Brad Holt

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 8 8 4.71 34 13 0 0 0 93.2 75 57 49 7 57 74 0.70 .211

How the mighty have fallen. The '08 supplemental pick and former top prospect is now a shadow of the dominant pitcher who streaked through A-ball over three years ago. 2011 saw the 25-yr old continue to struggle in Double-A before making a full-time move into relief in mid-June. And his splits (Starting ERA: 5.04 | Relief ERA: 4.09) indicate that he didn't see a huge improvement.

Now his peripherals do provide some hope -- his troublesome BB/9 dropped by over two full points in relief while his 5.8 K/9 skyrocketed to 9.5. And after allowing an opponent's average of .336 in 2010, he held Eastern League hitters to an anemic .197 as a reliever, though the .242 BABIP isn't a great sign. But what that means is that -- as many scouts insist -- his stuff is still decent. The problem is that he's still not throwing enough strikes to take advantage of it. If he can continue to improve in that aspect he may still have a chance as a middle reliever, but at this point -- in the midst of a serious long-term decline -- even that's a long shot.

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