I have read a good deal of insightful assessment of the Mets' farm pitchers on various threads over the past few weeks, and I'd like to channel that commentary into one thread. I intend this not as a thesis I wish to defend, but as a starting point for discussing what should happen and forecasting what will happen. I am putting all the names on the big board, and you get to move them around.
AAA: Hefner, McHugh, Mejia, Familia, Schwinden, Wheeler, Gorski, Germen, Owen, Cohoon
Yep, that's ten. We don't still have Garrett Olson, do we? Now, most of us know Wheeler's situation. Barring unexpected circumstances, he's logically slated to start the season in Las Vegas. He would qualify as their ace; he will certainly be their marquee rotation name. But the order I've listed does constitute a kind of depth chart with regard to proximity to the majors.
Without an addition (e.g. Chris Young), the one of the first five listed who pitches best in spring training would be named the Mets' fifth starter. One or two of the other four would contend for a bullpen spot in the majors. At this point I don't see why you would try to "preserve" starter status at AAA for any of the first five listed at the expense of using the best of the group for major league bullpen work. The depth of prospective starters at the lower levels justifies this aggression. In the best case scenario, one of them grows into his potential in short-term, intelligently deployed usage and follows the path of Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando to earn his way into rotation consideration in a subsequent season.
Schwinden could be released, his retention likely depending on the health of those listed near him. As could Owen or Cohoon. I would assign each of these two to AAA relief work to start the season: success or bust. It's worth noting that Cohoon is only a month older than Gorski and produced better (end) results as a starter at AA. His strength is a low walk rate (1.9/9 in 2012), and an early step toward success as a lefty reliever is not walking the first guy you're brought into the game to face.
Gorski's decent K rate, and his demonstrated competence at AA immediately following excellence a level below, convinces me to keep his window as a starter open for a half season. But the depth makes me want to see it at AAA. Should he fail, he can take the place of the released Cohoon to try relief. Germen is a similar case. He started at AA, proved mediocre, and he's not needed there now. Let's see how his arsenal plays in short stints.
AA: Peavey, Mazzoni, Huchingson, Cuan, Goeddel, Almonte, Pill, Montero, Verrett, DeGrom
Ten again. Ranked in order of experience, roughly, with weight given to AA innings. So who transitions to relief work first? Peavey and one of the lefties, I say. Given suggestions that relief work could maximize Mazzoni's strengths, this rotation could be Goeddel-Montero-DeGrom-Verrett-Pill before the AS break. Does anybody here get sent down to the FSL for refinement, or as depth?
Advanced A: Syndergaard, Fulmer, Tapia, Panteliodis, Camarena
Let the good times roll with that first three. The other two are at least interesting. Depth could come from above or below.
A: Mateo, Robles, Ynoa, Cessa, Lara, Hilario
At Savannah we hope and expect to see the five Cyclones we've discussed with great enthusiasm on the prospect ranking threads. Hilario doesn't often pop up in those threads, but he had a good season at Brooklyn and should be fitted for a Gnats uniform along with his teammates from last season. It is encouraging that we're looking forward--with good reason--to five full-season debuts. Further depth at this level could come from anywhere. Dare I suggest Matz, if healthy, gets a SAL start before Brooklyn's season begins?
Did I miss any starting pitcher you're looking forward to seeing?
Do I promote too aggressively?
Have at it!