It's not the most thrilling crop of names. Nor is our sample as large as we'd like. However, with over a month of games down it's about time to check in on the Mets players that are still active in the various offseason leagues. Namely, we're talking about the Arizona Fall League, the Dominican Winter League, the Venezuelan Winter League, the Mexican Pacific League, and the Puerto Rican Winter League -- all of which the team has at least one participant.
Chasen Bradford, RHP
The 24-year-old Bradford has emerged on the prospect scene over the last 12 months and his time in Arizona has been the icing on the cake. After posting an outstanding 0.71 ERA in 20 appearances with Binghamton -- his first exposure to Double-A baseball -- the 2011 35th-round selection is one of just five pitchers left in the AFL with a 0.00 ERA (min. five games). According to Pitch F/X he's worked his fastball in the 90-92 MPH range and has maxed out at 93 MPH -- not outstanding but certainly enough for mention as a potential middle relief piece.
Marcos Camarena, RHP
The 23-year-old righty is currently pitching for his hometown Culiacan Tomateros and thus far he's been excellent -- note the 12:1 K-to-BB rate. He's always been something of a useful longman/spot-starter in the Mets system, most recently posting a 3.47 ERA in 17 appearances (ten starts) for Savannah in 2013. That said, the well-built Camarena (6'3", 200 lbs) doesn't feature great stuff -- he works his fastball in the high-80s -- and most likely figures as an organizational arm.
The 2011 14th-rounder out of Ike Davis' alma mater has quietly been a nice little story in the Mexican League, where he's currently batting .310/.359/.397 as the everyday catcher for Mexicali. He's not really much of a prospect as evidenced by his career .603 minor league OPS; however, he did unexpectedly hit .296 in 34 games at Double-A in 2013 -- and for a catcher that counts as relevant.
Miller Diaz, RHP
The 21-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela is making his second appearance for his hometown team. He's been solid this fall, allowing just one run over six appearances -- though it seems he's likely been bumped out of the mix now that the veterans have arrived. Either way, it's clear that the 2013 NYPL strikeouts king has a good arm, working his fastball up to 94 MPH at times; but he's going to have to shore up the command and/or sharpen the slider to avoid the fate of many relievers stalled in the upper minors, like Armando Rodriguez for example (who, as a minor league free agent, is technically no longer employed by the Mets).
Allan Dykstra, 1B
The 26-year-old former first-rounder just keeps doing his thing down in Venezuela. Specifically, that means walk a lot and hit for solid power. Don't pay much mind to the .400+ average; the plate discipline and the slugging are the repeatable skills here. You have to feel a bit for Dykstra who just keeps toiling away playing inconsequential baseball, awaiting that golden opportunity. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if he could replicate Lucas Duda's major league track record (.246/.342/.424) if given the chance -- the problem is that's not all that good.
Jeurys Familia, RHP
After making his big league debut at the end of 2012, the 24-year-old is back amongst the ranks of prospects after a disappointing 2013 that saw him miss most of the season due to elbow surgery. It was a shame as the former top prospect had finally seemed to find his niche, featuring high-90s velocity and posting a 2.03 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 13 spring training innings as the de facto setup man before the elbow trouble kicked in.
To this point, he hasn't been overly successful out in Arizona allowing at least one earned run in five of his nine appearances (including the AFL Fall Stars game). That said, the results aren't nearly as important as the process for Familia as he works back from the injury. And thus far the velocity has been there as he's regularly worked in the 94-96 MPH range on the fastball and has touched 97 MPH on numerous occasions.
Though he probably shed the prospect tag a year or two back -- if he ever wore it at all -- JCG seems to be that brand of minor league fool's gold I just can't quit as he's once again putting up big numbers in a non-domestic league. That said, if you post sub-.200 averages for two straight seasons in Brooklyn, you're pretty much cooked.
Gonzalez Germen, RHP
After opening some eyes in his big league debut with a stellar change-up and a decent 3.93 ERA in 29 games, Germen is back for a repeat appearance in his native Dominican Republic. The good news is that he's yet to allow a run over four appearances, though the 1:4 K-to-BB rate certainly leaves something to be desired. The 26-year-old will have to showcase the kind of fastball command that was characteristic earlier in his minor league career if he wants to resemble anything more than bullpen filler in '14.
Juan Lagares, OF
Though he was robbed of any Gold Glove attention, the Mets newest young everyday player certainly isn't pouting about it down in the Dominican. While we already know about his glove, Lagares is showing off the same hit tool that led to a .346 average in Triple-A, as well as one of the longer Mets rookie hit streaks in recent memory in 2013. That said, he's managed just one walk this fall, a telling fact that major league pitchers will be sure to exploit in 2014 -- though I do think there's more average in that bat than what he showed in his debut.
Cam Maron, C
We haven't learned much that we didn't already know about the 22-year-old Long Island native. In short, he has a very good eye at the plate...and the discipline to use it. He's currently walked in 25% of his plate appearances -- that is, 12 walks against just 11 strikeouts. Unfortunately, that may be his only useable tool/skill as Maron just doesn't seem to have the kind of bat -- or glove -- to make that profile work. He's currently batting .217 with a pair of extra-base hits, after a season where he hit .235/.327/.295 in St. Lucie.
Everyone's favorite winter league catcher is back for what seems like his tenth season behind the plate in the DWL. Very little new ground to cover here as he's showcasing his typical suspect bat, suspect defense approach. As a minor league free agent this year there's a non-zero chance the Mets let him walk, though it must be noted that a .202 ISO at Triple-A -- albeit in Las Vegas -- deserves some recognition after it looked like he didn't have much left to offer.
Cesar Puello, OF
After a breakout campaign where the 22-year-old finally made good on the long-awaited promise of his major league tools, Puello has more to prove this winter than most thanks to an untimely cameo in the Biogenesis melodrama -- and a subsequent 50-game suspension. Lest we forget, Puello batted a stellar .326/.403/.547 with 16 home runs and 24 steals in his first season in Double-A, looking every bit the part of a future big league right fielder.
Unfortunately, questions now hang over the legitimacy of those numbers as he attempts a fresh start in the DWL. The bigger question for me is not about the tools, because again, they're the real deal; instead it's whether he can regain the developmental momentum he had exhibited in Binghamton -- especially in terms of the markedly improved plate discipline. Unfortunately, returns thus far are not very good as Puello has managed a single walk in 17 games while striking out in about a quarter of his plate appearances.
Hansel Robles, RHP
It's been a so-so offseason for the 23-year-old Robles thus far. On the one hand, he's managed over a strikeout an inning and he's allowed one or fewer runs in four of his six starts. On the other, his stuff (still) hasn't looked as sharp as his breakout 2012 and after a rough appearance on Monday his ERA has climbed to four. The biggest concern has to remain the low-90s (if that) velocity that he's had on his fastball after a season where he suffered numerous minor injuries. If this is indeed an audition for his own 40-man spot, he could easily end up on the outside looking in.
Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B/3B
It's been a brutal fall for the big-bodied 22-year-old. Not only is he hitting .191 with zero home runs in 18 games, he's been pretty much moved off of third base (over to first) after making a handful off errors there to start the campaign. To make matters worse, he's got just two extra-base hits in those 18 games with zero walks and 17 strikeouts. All in all, it's been a poor cap to a poor season for the player who has probably seen his stock drop the furthest among Mets minor leaguers in 2013.
Cody Satterwhite, RHP
Despite being one of the oldest players in the league, the 26-year-old has been impressive thus far out in the desert. For those that don't remember his story from our AFL preview, Satterwhite was drafted out of the Univ. of Missisippi in the second round by the Tigers in 2008. As a big-bodied, flamethrowing reliever he shot through their farm system until his shoulder blew up in 2010 and cost him the better parts of the next three season, not to mention his high-90s velocity. The Mets picked him up out of the independent American Association in the middle of last summer and despite the diminished stuff he was very solid -- and continues to be for Scottsdale currently posting a 1.64 ERA with ten strikeouts versus zero walks in 11 innings. The former flamethrower has worked in the 90-92 MPH range and has even flashed as high as 94 MPH on occasion. Pay attention to Satterwhite in 2014.
It's been a strange fall for the polarizing Valdespin, who is currently batting .185 yet features a very surprisingly impressive 1:1 strikeout-to-walk rate through 16 games. It's been clear as early as last season at this time that JV1 has been working hard to improve that plate discipline. However, if he doesn't hit -- as he did not in his 2013 time with the big club -- it won't really matter. On the heels of the Biogenesis suspension as well as the reported clubhouse issues, it's hard to imagine that he's still a central figure in the club's plans for 2014. There's a good chance he'll lose his 40-man spot and, unless he's plucked by another organization, he'll have to work his way back into the fold from Triple-A.
Cory Vaughn, OF
Vaughn has been the spitting image of Cory Vaughn this fall. That is, he's again showcased the kind of power/speed mix that entices future fantasy owners while showcasing a mediocre hit tool and striking out a ton (26% of his plate appearances). At 24, the Vaughn has pretty well shown his shortcomings at this point and despite some very real tools doesn't likely project as a future everyday player at the highest levels.
While there's every chance the club sent him to Arizona to get more reps after he missed over two months last summer, there's also the likelihood that they wanted to give the former fourth-rounder one last extended look before deciding whether to make him available for the Rule 5 draft this December. At this point I'd be surprised if he garners a 40-man spot, and even more surprised if some other team decided to give him a shot on a major league roster.