With round one in the books, today we'll look at the next tier of Mets top prospects. As I teased, this is a group dotted with players that we've seen or heard from at the big league level before. And as I mentioned yesterday, while we often gravitate towards the shiny new toys in the system, it's important to remember that not all prospects have a linear route to the show, free of speed bumps or obstacles. The example I always like to use is David Freese, who first established himself as a 27-year-old, only after he had tumbled way down most Cardinals prospect sheets.
With that, let's take a look at the thirties:
40. OF Gilbert Gomez
The athletic 20-year-old continued to showcase a strong mix of skills and tools in 2012. Specifically, a walk rate that was already very strong climbed to an exceptional 14.3% while he maintained the same 20% strikeout rate — a figure that's high but palatable from a toolsy center field prospect. In the field Gomez showed off a strong glove manning Savannah's spacious outfield, though just-okay foot speed may mean a corner role long-term. There's a good case that his less than common profile warrants a higher rank; for me, though, until he shows a bit more with the hit tool and/or cements a center field profile I'm satisfied to stop short at calling him one of the top sleepers in the Mets farm system.
39. INF Josh Satin
In his first full year at Triple-A, Satin did what he always does, posting his same-old excellent 14% walk rate, troubling 20% strikeout rate, moderate .150 ISO and batting somewhere around .300. It's a decent offensive profile, but based on his defense, it's not enough. In short, Satin's most realistic major league profile is a righty off the bench with some pop and some patience, zero speed, who can fake it at a number of positions in a pinch. Unfortunately, it's a not an ideal skillset, and the fact that he's already 28 doesn't help. Based solely on the merits of his 2012 in a vacuum, Satin's prospect stock remains unchanged. There's still little doubt that he could help a major league team in some way, shape, or form right now. However, he isn't in a vacuum; he's in the minors, among many other players, most of whom are younger, which means his standing still is moving backwards.
38. 2B Reese Havens
2012 was a very damning season for the Mets' one-time second baseman of the future. Despite struggling with more back woes, he reached 90 games played for just the second time in his career. However, in what was a highly discouraging development Havens floundered badly at the plate. While his characteristically high walk rate was true to form (14.9%), his disastrous 29% strikeout rate ranked second-worst in the Eastern League, short-circuiting the rest of his batting line. It's still not an impossibility for Havens to become the impact player we all envisioned. However, at age 26, five summers after that fateful first round when Havens was selected, it's becoming harder and harder to imagine every day. He'll be singing for his supper in 2013.
The 22-year-old Ceciliani lost just about a full season of development in 2012 after struggling with hamstrings for the majority of the year — again. The good news is that when he played, he was effective. His walks remained high (10.2%) and strikeouts were way down (13.3%). He was riding the unsustainable BABIP train again (.370), though he's still showing the speed to warrant some of that. Overall, I'm still a fan of his talent -- especially in center field — but the inability to stay healthy has become a serious long-term concern, which -- as I've pointed out before -- we can't just ignore.
36. LHP Darin Gorski
After a breakout 2011 in the FSL, the '09 seventh rounder came back to Earth against more age-appropriate competition in 2012. He posted an all-around average pitching line, made worse when you consider his 4.53 FIP. Now it wasn't all bad: A 7.60 strikeout per nine coupled with a .244 opponent average certainly doesn't point to a complete flame out. However, for a guy that features an average fastball and lacks a true putaway pitch, a homer per nine that was fourth-worst in all of Double-A baseball is not a good sign -- especially for a decidedly flyball pitcher. At 25, I still think Gorski could help a major league team in some capacity, but as I've said before, when I look at him I can't help thinking.
35. LHP Steven Matz
The good news is the stuff looked great. His special, high 90s fastball from the left side blew away Appy League hitters as he posted a .158 opponent average over his first 29 pro innings. The bad news? After a spring marked by discomfort in his surgically-repaired arm, Matz was ultimately shut down early due to tightness in his pitching shoulder. In a vacuum he's an easy top ten talent. The key here, however, is that it doesn't matter how talented he is if he can't stay healthy, and that is something that -- though it is tempting -- we cannot ignore. Typically arm injuries portend bad things down the road, not the other way around. For that reason Matz is going to have to prove that he can handle even a light workload before I can give him a ranking worthy of his premium stuff.
34. RHP Rainy Lara
While Lara might not get as much play as Mateo or Robles, the 21-year-old is a serious prospect in his own right. At 6'4", 180 lbs Lara possesses a near-perfect pitcher's build with plenty of projectability. Along with a good low-90s fastball, he already floats an excellent change-up — a good sign for his chances to remain a starter long-term. In 12 starts for the Cyclones in 2012 Lara posted a sub-3 ERA and placed third among NYPL starters in strikeouts per nine (10.19). Additionally, Lara showcased pinpoint command, posting a 1.59 BB/9, incredible when you consider how many bats he missed. If he can add a tick to that fastball we'll likely be talking about another top shelf pitching prospect here.
The Mets' 2012 second-round selection out of the U. of Arkansas was solid, if unspectacular, in his pro debut. However, in a lot of ways, that's probably the best way to characterize Reynolds as a player. He exhibits a good idea at the plate, makes plenty of contact, and can run a little bit. He doesn't possess the power or hit tool required of a corner player, but he'd profile just fine at short. Whether he has enough glove to hang there remains to be seen -- but obviously the Mets think he can based on the early selection and the immediate move back to his defensive home. All in all, he balances his lack of ceiling with a conversely high floor; it's not hard to imagine Reynolds as a middle infield utilityman -- a la Danny Muno -- long-term.
Despite an odd journey on the waivers merry-go-round last summer, the thing about Schwinden's season is that it shouldn't really change our opinion of the solid, if unspectacular, 26-year-old right-hander much. Nothing has changed from last winter when his repertoire drew comparisons to Dillon Gee. He wasn't as strong in his second big league trial, but that was just three games after all. I'd pay more attention to the 2.45 ERA with just a shade under eight strikeouts and roughly two walks per nine over his last 11 starts with the Bisons. Ultimately, Schwinden entered the year with a ceiling at the back-end of a big league rotation and a floor as a Taxi Squad spot starter and both parameters remain true today.
This may seem a little low for a lefty who showed the ability to overpower major league hitters with a high 90s fastball in 2012. However, my gripe with Carson is unchanged from last year, or the year before that: He's struggled to limit the hits at every level since Rookie-ball -- and 2012 was no different. In Binghamton, opponents batted .300 against him, in Buffalo they batted .276. Taking a peek at his big league service time, major league lefties batted .286 against him with an .875 OPS. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Carson has a rare arm, but ultimately the lack of a credible secondary pitch makes the fastball a lot less fearsome, no matter how hard he throws it.
30. 3B Zach Lutz
The name may be getting stale but the bat is not. More of the same from the 26-year-old who, as always, beat up on high-level pitching in between stints on the mend. However, 2012 was notable in that the '07 fifth rounder didn't miss nearly as much time as he has in the past and he even made his major league debut in April. Still, there's not a ton to glean from Lutz's latest campaign -- aside from the consolation that comes from effectively bouncing back from multiple concussions. We know the guy can hit; 2012 marked the third straight season that he posted an OPS at or near .900 in Triple-A. I tend to think the quality of his bat could warrant a starting role but at this point, he needs to be tested against major leaguers to find out -- and unfortunately it's become clear that probably won't happen with the Mets.
Check back tomorrow as we'll review the 20s. Also, be sure to take part in the ongoing AA community prospect rankings going on currently in the FanPosts section.