Most of us are rightfully excited by a farm system that boasts more top tier talent than it has in ages. It's hard not to dream that we'll soon be dominating the All-Star game as today's Top 5 prospect grows into tomorrow's impact big leaguer.
It's a fun time to follow the farm but what are the odds of these guys delivering on their promise? If John Sickels grading system is used as a barometer we may want to keep an open mind about pursuing all avenues of acquiring talent.
Right now the club's "Big 3" of D'Arnaud, Wheeler & Syndergaard share more than carrying the hopes of a long-suffering fan base - they also get Sickels grades of "A-/borderline B+". While past performance doesn't guarantee future results, I decided to take a look at the history of similarly graded Mets prospects.
In digging out old Sickels lists I didn't see the "borderline" reference for previously highly ranked Mets. I don't know if he just started using it or if the guys I looked at had "clean" enough grades for him not to need it. I also couldn't find lists prior to 2006 though he did separately reference Paul Wilson who I include in this analysis. With those disclaimers here are other recent Mets prospects that received grades of B+ or higher.
Jose Reyes - received an A and lived up to his billing as a teacher's pet.
David Wright - couldn't find him referenced but no matter what grade he received he either met or exceeded it.
Lastings Milledge - peaked at A- and was ranked Sickels 17th best hitting prospect before moving to Japanese baseball. Everyone's favorite HardBall Rapper notched 1.2 fWAR.
Mike Pelfrey - also peaked at A- and was Sickels 8th best pitching prospect before racking up 9.2fWAR/4.50 xFIP to date.
Scott Kazmir also peaked at the coveted A- while gaining Sickels nod as the top lefty prospect in the game. Scott's currently trying to resurrect his big league career after posting 16.4 fWAR/4.30 xFIP.
Phil Humber peaked at B+ after 2006 then dropped to B- with Sickels writing "He should be an average major league starter in time, above average if he can improve his command from good to excellent." He wasn't and he didn't though he was Perfect one night but he's only managed 3.4 fWAR/4.33 xFIP thus far.
Deolis Guerra peaked at B+ and never made it past AAA.
Yusi Petit also peaked at B+. The 4 big league innings he hurled last season were his first since 2009. 0.3 fWAR/4.76 xFIP
Aaron Heilman peaked at B+. 3.7 fWAR/4.12 xFIP thus far.
We have to go a little further back to find our only other "clean" A student - Paul Wilson who went on to post 8.7 fWAR over his career.
Useful players who didn't ever hit B+ include Niese (B), Tejada & Duda (C+'s), Dillon Gee/Thole (C).
And I can't ignore the prospect who gave me the thrill of seeing a no-hitter in person on Father's Day. The one. The only. The long forgotten Gaby Hernandez who accomplished the feat for the Hagerstown Suns and notched a B from Sickels.
So what are the take aways? Of the 10 most recent prospects to grade out at A-/B+ from Sickels, the only guys it wouldn't have made sense to include in a package for a Justin Upton type are Wright, Reyes and maybe Scott Kazmir though Upton has already eclipsed Kazmir by the fWAR metric.
If you had put together a package including all of the other seven you would traded away 26.5 fWAR.*
That's pretty scary. Though maybe that just means we're overdue to have our current "Big 3" pan out big time. I sure hope so.
* Pelfrey, Humber and Heilman might increase that total in future years.