WIth the first half of the Minor League season complete, here's my new Top 50 prospect list, assuming all the draft picks sign:
1. Zack Wheeler, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 1 Current Level: AAA
Wheeler will disappear as the No. 1 prospect next week, where he's been listed for the better part of two years (for those who had him above Harvey). He's set to make his Major League debut Tuesday in his home state of Georgia against the Braves.
2. Cesar Puello, OF
Preseason Ranking: 9 Current Level: AA
Puello has exploded over the past month, hitting .515 in the month of June. For the season, the Dominican is now hitting .330 with an OBP above .400 and a SLG percentage above .600. Puello has always been ranked fairly high purely on potential, but seems like he's finally put it all together at the plate. Sandy Alderson called him a 5-tool player last week on WFAN, as Puello has always had a large physique with the ability to run, having stolen 17 bases already this season. It could be time for people to consider Puello as the next big Mets star.
3. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 3 Current Level: High-A
Noah continues to log innings in the middle levels, continuing to show he has the ability to be a legit Major League Starter. He has a 3.11 ERA but his strikeout and hit numbers are where they should be (64 Ks and 61 hits in 63 IP)
4. Travis d'Arnaud, C
Preseason Ranking: 2 Current Level: AAA
d'Arnaud has missed almost the whole season so far with a broken bone in his foot. He should be back in a couple weeks but his stock has fallen as he continues to fight injury problems on an annual basis. His debut has been pushed back at least two months as a result.
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF
Preseason Ranking: 7 Current Level: A
The 2011 first round pick out of Wyoming has passed all the tests in his first full Minor League season. Nimmo is batting over .300 with Savannah, drawing tons of walks as usual. Strikeouts are still a problem for him (42 in 38 games) but his potential remains enormous.
6. Rafael Montero, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 6 Current Level: AA
Montero continues to impress after bursting on the scene last year. He's given up just 51 hits in 66 innings and has a ridiculous 7.2 K/BB ratio. Sandy Alderson hinted that he could be up by September, and could skip right over Triple-A Las Vegas. Hard to believe he was a free agent looking for a team just three years ago, and is now the #6 prospect in the system and ready to begin a Major League career.
7. Wilmer Flores, INF
Preseason Ranking: 5 Current Level: AAA
It's not that Flores' play has caused him to drop (he's batting .314 and leads the world in doubles with 22), it's just that Nimmo and Montero have performed so well. Flores is still a legit prospect with all the hit tools necessary to be a Big Leaguer. However, he is still looking for a position, and the two he plays (2B and 3B) happen to be the only ones taken on the Mets roster.
8. Kevin Plawecki, C
Preseason Ranking: 13 Current Level: A
The Purdue grad has lit up the South Atlantic League, batting .322 with 30 extra-base-hits in 62 games. He can handle a pitching staff and is a complete hitter, which could make him quite the combo with Travis d'Arnaud one day.
9. Rainy Lara, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 23 Current Level: High-A
It was a crapshoot to see which of the five dominant NYPL starters from 2012 would succeed most at the next level. Well the answer right now is Rainy Lara, who has posted an ERA south of 1.60 in 11 starts at two levels of A-ball.
10. Domingo Tapia, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 11 Current Level: High-A
The results continue to improve for Tapia, who has a 3.30 ERA with St. Lucie, only giving up 30 hits in 43 innings. The only concern in that he's lasting less than five innings per start, which could indicate that his inevitable move to the bullpen may be coming soon.
11. Cory Vaughn, OF
Preseason Ranking: 20 Current Level: AA
Vaughn was just put on the DL, but before that, he was having the best season of his pro career. A career .255 hitter with a world of potential, Vaughn has been right around .300 all season long. Considering his raw power and the Mets need for corner outfielders, Vaughn jumps 9 spots thanks to his speed and power combo (8 SB for a power hittter).
12. Michael Fulmer, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 12 Current Level: A
Fulmer hasn't pitched this year due to a torn meniscus, but given that his injury shouldn't affect his future, he holds pat at number 12. The Oklahoma native is a bulldog on the mound and has the makeup to be a Major League starter.
13. Jack Leathersich, LHP
Preseason Ranking: 35 Current Level: AAA
Leathersich was promoted to Triple-A yesterday, thanks to the most absurd strikeout numbers you'll see. He stuck out 55 batters in 29 innings of relief for Binghamton and should be next in line if Josh Edgin or Scott Rice falters. Leathersich is a testament to scouting, as the Mets found him pitching for Division II UMass-Lowell, where they took him in the 5th round in 2011.
14. Dominic Smith, 1B
Preseason Ranking: N/A 1st Round Pick in 2013
The Mets took the California native with the eleventh pick in the draft, the highest pick they had since they took Matt Harvey in 2010. Reports say Smith should be signing soon, and he immediately jumps to number 14 in the system. A Ryan Howard clone, many called Smith the best pure high school hitter in the entire draft.
15. Jayce Boyd, 1B
Preseason Ranking: 38 Current Level: A
The former Florida State Seminole jumps 23 spots after dominating the pitching-heavy South Atlantic League. Boyd is batting .335 and has already drawn 29 walks. He is the opposite of Ike Davis, a righty who hits for average. And he just might be Ike's replacement.
16. Gavin Cecchini, SS
Preseason Ranking: 8 Extended Spring Training
Cecchini drops 8 spots simply because he's been hidden in the back fields of Port St. Lucie. The 19-year old has not generated the buzz that most first round picks will, but that's not to say he can't be a long-term option at shortstop. Look for him to open his season in Brooklyn next week, as he finally will get a chance to show what he can do.
17. Matt Bowman, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 37 Current Level: High-A
Bowman is looking like the steal of the 2012 draft. The 13th-rounder out of Princeton has consistently pitched deep into games, posting an ERA in the mid-2s. The 165-pounder is proving that size doesn't matter.
18. Ivan Wilson, OF
Preseason Rank: N/A 3rd Round Pick in 2013
If the Mets can sign Wilson, he will have as much ability as anyone in the system. The Louisiana high schooler already has a big league frame (6-3 / 220), and features plus tools across the board. He's a long way away, but if the Mets' coaches develop him correctly, Wilson can be a superstar.
19. Travis Taijeron, OF
Preseason Ranking: 33 Current Level: AA
After a slow start, Taijeron has warmed up since the calendar hit May. He hit over .300 with St. Lucie before being promoted to Binghamton. Travis has 11 home runs and 23 doubles already. Like Leathersich, Taijeron is another testament to scouting, being drafted from Cal Poly Pomona.
20. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 29 Current Level: A
When Ynoa is on, he rolls through innings in record time, as evidenced by his 0.96 WHIP this season. He's walked just 9 batters over 11 starts. It remains to be seen whether he can afford to pound the zone at the upper levels, but for now Ynoa is as dominant as anyone in the system.
21. Armando Rodriguez, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 15 Current Level: AAA
Rodriguez has fallen victim to the high altitude of the Pacific Coast League, giving up eight home runs in 32 innings, contributing to an ERA above five. Armando throws hard and I still think he can be a successful Major League reliever. Hopefully the PCL experience won't crush his confidence.
22. Jacob DeGrom, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 10 Current Level: AA
After DeGrom dominated A-ball last year with his mid-90s fastball, his success has halted in Double-A. His 4.80 ERA over 10 starts and high hit numbers indicate that he needs more time to develop the off-speed stuff.
23. Luis Cessa, RHP
Preseason Ranking: 26 Current Level: High-A
In his first experience in the South Atlantic League, Cessa has pitched well, recording a 3.32 ERA over his first 10 starts. However, he's given up too many hits. His low walk total shows he needs to expand the zone, as he has the stuff to miss bats.
24. Darrell Ceciliani, CF
Preseason Ranking: 46 Current Level: AA
The Oregon native has bounced back nicely from an injury-plagued season in 2012. After just 23 games at High-A, Ceciliani has batted .275 with 18 extra-base hits in his first AA experience. He's stolen 14 bases and plays good defense as well. Problem is he has two players of the same mold in front of him in Matt Den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who will both get a shot before Darrell does.
25. Andrew Church, RHP
Preseason Ranking: N/A 2nd Round Pick in 2013
Church is the best pitching prospect to come out of a 2013 draft that saw the Mets take position players with 8 of their first 11 picks. His delivery is fluid as he already features a four-pitch mix. His fastball exceeds 90 mph. at just 18 years old.
26. Dustin Lawley, OF
Preseason Ranking: 31 Current Level: High-A
Despite his .223 average, Lawley has slugged the snot out of the ball this year, stroking 34 extra-base hits, including 12 home runs. The Mets moved him to the outfield last year because a right-handed power bat is exactly what they need.
27. Cory Mazzoni, RHP
Preseason Rank: 22 Current Level: AA
The NC State grad has missed a few starts due to injury and has only performed O.K. when healthy. He's given up more hits than innings pitched and has an ERA in the 4's. However, Mazzoni is still getting strikeouts with his mid-90s heater and could eventually contribute to the Mets bullpen.
28. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B
Preseason Rank: 16 Current Level: High-A
Aderlin's stock has dropped simply because David Wright signed a long-term deal this offseason. If he hits at the upper levels, the team could move him to right side of the infield like they did with Wilmer Flores. But his progress has been slow and steady so that decision could come later. Rodriguez has a respectable .260/.295/.427 line with St. Lucie at the moment.
29. Logan Verrett, RHP
Preseason Rank: 30 Current Level: AA
The former Baylor righty has been the workhorse of the Binghamton staff and has thrown some gems in 2013. Verrett has only walked 18 batters in 78 innings and has an ERA below 4, but many believe his stuff won't hold up in the Majors.
30. Matt den Dekker, CF
Preseason Rank: 14 Current Level: AAA
Den Dekker has missed the entire season with a broken wrist and has been passed up by Juan Lagares on the depth chart. With Nieuwenhuis, Lagares and Collin Cowgill already competing for centerfield, den Dekker is going to have to light it up in Las Vegas in order to get a shot. His defense is outstanding, but a .220 average in Buffalo last year shows he could need more time.
31. Hansel Robles, RHP
Preseason Rank: 25 Current Level: High-A
After the Mets gave Robles a look in the bullpen in Spring Training, the Dominican has pitched very well in his return to the rotation. Robles has only given up 27 hits and 13 walks in 34 innings and is boasting an ERA in the low-3s.
32. Jared King, OF
Preseason Rank: N/A 5th Round Pick in 2013
King is a switch-hitter out of Kansas State who can flat out hit. He has fabulous bat speed and can hit for both average and power. However, being a junior and playing for a good program, he is likely to be a tough sign.
33. Casey Meisner, RHP
Preseason Rank: N/A 3rd Round Pick in 2013
Committed to Texas Tech, Meisner is 6-foot-7 at just 18 years old. The righty can touch 94 and is the definition of projectable. Between his clean arm action and 3-pitch mix, there is a lot to like in Meisner's game, although there is a long way to go for the Texan.
34. Steven Matz, LHP
Preseason Rank: 19 Current Level: A
You might say a 15-spot drop for a guy with 3.22 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched might be a bit harsh, but Matz is 22-years-old in a low-level league and is a lefty who throws 98. He should be flat out dominating, not giving up 45 hits in 44 innings. However, the stuff is still there for the New Yorker, and he has every chance to return to the area down the road.
35. Francisco Pena, C
Preseason Rank: 63 Current Level: AAA
Pena has flourished since arriving to the Pacific Coast League a few weeks ago. He's hit five home runs over his first 19 games and has a .328 average. Despite the small sample size, he rises 28 spots on the list because he is now the Mets' third catcher and could be promoted if John Buck or Anthony Recker go down before d'Arnaud is ready.
36. Beck Wheeler, RHP
Preseason Rank: 71 Current Level: A
Despite some rough numbers last year, the other Wheeler has always shown impressive stuff since being signed as an undrafted free agent last year. Well, his luck has changed in 2013. He's struck out 37 batters in 25 innings and posted an ERA of 1.42. Wheeler didn't give up a run until May and is one of the best relief pitching prospects in the system after his start this year.
37. Eric Campbell, OF
Preseason Ranking: 57 Current Level: AAA
Campbell has often been overlooked by evaluators of the Mets' system. Three years in Double-A will do that. But Campbell is putting together his best offensive season since 2010 in Las Vegas (.292/.391/.500). He just started playing the outfield for the first time in his career, which could be the only thing keeping him from Flushing.
38. Adam Kolarek, LHP
Preseason Rank: 32 Current Level: AA
Kolarek is having another stellar season in Double-A, sporting a sub-2 ERA. He's still likely to be a Major Leaguer at some point, but for now he's stuck in Binghamton after being passed up by Jack Leathersich and failing in a brief stint with Vegas.
39. Chase Huchingson, LHP
Preseason Rank: 47 Current Level: AA
Huchingson has flourished in his first full season as a reliever. His ERA is 2.14 and his strikeouts are up, as he makes his case to join the list of lefty relief prospects behind Josh Edgin, Jack Leathersich, Rob Carson and Adam Kolarek.
40. Luis Mateo, RHP
Preseason Rank: 18 Current Level: AA
Mateo is on the shelf after going down with an elbow injury in his Double-A debut. The prognosis doesn't look good for a guy that jumped up prospect lists last year. When he's right, his fastball touches 96.
41. Matt Oberste, 1B
Preseason Rank: N/A 6th Round Pick in 2013
The Oklahoma first baseman has produced as a power-hitting righty. He features a crouched stance and has good pop from the right side.
42. Jim Fuller, LHP
Preseason Rank: N/A Current Level: High-A
Fuller missed the second half last year after surgery, but has utterly had his way, looking healthy as ever this season. He's given up just 15 hits in 31 innings and has a 0.84 ERA. The only reason Fuller is listed this low is because he's 5-10 and 26 years-old and still pitching in A-ball. Technically, he doesn't even qualify as a prospect at his age.
43. Matt Reynolds, INF
Preseason Rank: 52 Current Level: High-A
The former Arkansas Razorback has struggled in his first full year in the Minors. He may have been rushed to the FSL and Reynolds is still trying to find a home on the infield. The guy put up gaudy college numbers in the best league in college baseball, so you'd think he'll figure it out at some point.
44. Danny Muno, MIF
Preseason Rank: 21 Current Level: AA
Muno's numbers have slacked since reaching the upper levels. The bad news is he's batting .224. However, the Fresno State product is still producing runs (38 RBIs) and slugging (19 XBH) at a strong rate.
45. Alonzo Harris, OF
Preseason Rank: 42 Current Level: AA
Harris has also struggled in his first dose of Double-A baseball, with an average at .234. His speed (13 SB) and power (4 HR) combo is decent enough to keep him in the top-50, but his struggles show that he is still a good two years away.
46. L.J. Mazzilli, 2B
Preseason Rank: N/A 4th Round Pick in 2013
The son of Lee, the UConn grad can flat out hit, posting a .364/.419/.534 line with the Huskies this year. People have criticized his defense and lack of home run power, but the younger Mazzilli has a chance to be a legit Big League hitter. Call him a right-handed Daniel Murphy.
47. Matt Koch, RHP
Preseason Rank: 41 Current Level: A
Koch continues to give up hits (61 in 51 IPs), but his strikeouts and mid-90s fastball will keep him in the top-50. If he can ever figure out how to get swings and misses out of his secondary stuff, Koch can be big-time.
48. Robert Gsellman, RHP
Preseason Rank: 75 Current Level: A
Gsellman has been a rover between St. Lucie and Savannah and is now on the Brooklyn roster, but the Santa Monica native has pitched well at every stop. He is very athletic for a 6-6 guy and so his potential is great, despite a fastball that is right around 90. At just 19-years old, his success in the Florida State League is staggering, as Robert appears to be well ahead of schedule.
49. Champ Stuart, CF
Preseason Rank: N/A 6th Round Pick in 2013
Growing up in the Bahamas, Stuart didn't play much baseball until the last few years. While he's still learning the game, his ceiling is immense. He was drafted on one thing: speed. Stuart was the fastest player in the 2013 draft, and instantly becomes the fastest player in the system assuming he signs. He will need several years to learn how to hit professional pitching, but he could bring the wheels the Mets have been lacking since Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan left.
50. Ricky Knapp, RHP
Preseason Rank: N/A 9th Round Pick in 2013
The son of former Detroit Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp Sr., the Florida Gulf Coast righty could progress quickly if he signs. He doesn't have the ceiling of a Church or Meisner, but Knapp is a pitcher. He throws four pitches regularly and with command. He can manipulate his fastball in many ways depending on a hitter and adds and subtracts velocity as necessary.
Dropped from Rankings: Phillip Evans (24), Taylor Whitenton (34), Cam Maron (36), Juan Centeno (39), Miller Diaz (40), Wuilmer Becerra (43), Darin Gorski (44), TJ Rivera (45), Wilfredo Tovar (48), Gilbert Gomez (49), Chris Flexen (50)
Added to Rankings: Dominic Smith (14), Ivan Wilson (18), Andrew Church (25), Casey Meisner (33), Matt Oberste (41), Jim Fuller (42), L.J. Mazzilli (46), Champ Stuart (49), Ricky Knapp (50)