We've officially reached the unofficial midpoint of the 2013 season. As such, we've compiled a reasonably large enough data set to start making judgments based on what we've seen -- without having the words 'small' and 'sample' thrown back at us. And perhaps more interesting than the major league implications is the fact that we're a half-season closer to revealing the true identities of the organization's minor league talent.
As a qualifier, I am not inherently predisposed against mid-season rankings, as some are. Surely if a full season is enough to make outright judgments then half of that should be enough to at least begin formulating opinions. That said, I do accept that mid-season lists have some limitations -- mostly the fact that it's too early to evaluate short-season players and recent draftees based on what they've done in 2013.
For that reason I've limited this ranking to the top 25, mostly ignoring those players who reside below full-season ball -- with a couple of exceptions, most notably the Mets' most recent first-round selection Dominic Smith about whom there was a disproportionate amount of scouting information available to evaluate.
Above you'll find a gallery of the mid-season top 25 prospects, complete with fancy color photos of (almost) every prospect on the list. Down below you can find the same rankings along with season-to-date stats and commentary. And if you'd like to compare, the preseason Top 50 can be found here.
After announcing his presence in the system with a very strong run in Port St. Lucie, the 6'6", 240 lbs righty has doubled down with a flat-out dominant start to his Double-A career. What's more, scouting reports match the results as evaluators have grown increasingly impressed with outstanding command of a repertoire that includes high-90s velocity and a potential plus curve. In short, the 20-year-old's performance thus far has validated his status as a potential front-of-the-rotation horse every bit the equal of Zack Wheeler, if not the great and powerful Harvey.
Unfortunately, the story of d'Arnaud's 2013 starts and ends with a broken right foot that has sidelined him for most of the campaign. Aside from a 12-game preview -- in which he certainly showcased his offensive potential -- Mets fans have been forced to delay their hopes for the organization's next franchise catcher. While injuries have been an issue in the past, it's hard to knock the 24-year-old for an errant foul ball -- though the missed development time is starting to pile up.
3. Wilmer Flores, 2B — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on August 6th, 2007.
The 21-year-old Flores has put on a show with the bat in his first season at Triple-A, pacing the Pacific Coast League in RBIs and doubles while proving tolerable at second base. He's posted numbers equal to that of nearly any top prospect in Triple-A, though to be fair -- based on a healthy home-road split -- he's enjoying the hitter-friendly confines of Las Vegas. However, even the .288/.333/.440 road line is pretty impressive for one of the five youngest players in the circuit.
4. Rafael Montero, RHP — Signed by the Mets as an international free agent on January 20th, 2011.
The 22-year-old quickly showed that his special command of good stuff was too much for Double-A hitters, posting a 1.88 FIP -- not to mention the third-best strikeout and third-best walk rates in the EL -- during his first 11 starts at that level. Triple-A has proven a stiffer test, and though the walks are up quite a bit there's still little reason to doubt Montero's ability to comfortably slot into the back half of the Mets rotation -- and soon.
5. Cesar Puello, OF — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on July 2nd, 2007.
After years of tantalizing with his raw ability the 22-year-old experienced a breakout first half in his first exposure to Double-A pitching. His name is splashed all over Eastern League leaderboards, including second in slugging and average and fourth in stolen bases. Now it's worth mentioning that his .393 BABIP points to a batting average significantly lower than the .330 mark he's currently sporting. The question is can he keep it high enough -- despite continued poor plate discipline -- to stay on the field enough to showcase his premium tools as a big leaguer?
6. Michael Fulmer, RHP — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
Despite missing the first two months of the season due to a torn meniscus in his right knee, the 20-year-old 2011 first-rounder maintains his premium ranking based on a spectacular professional debut in 2012 where he posted one of the five best ERAs in the South Atlantic League as one of its five youngest pitchers. His combination of projectability and raw stuff make him one of the most exciting young arms in a system full of them.
7. Kevin Plawecki, C — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
After a strong professional debut in 2012, the former first-rounder from Purdue has been even better in 2013 posting a nearly .900 OPS while showcasing some of the best plate discipline in the entire system. After tearing through the South Atlantic League, he's off to a very hot start in the more age-appropriate Florida State League. Pair that with numerous reports about his improving game behind the plate and suddenly the Mets have a second catching prospect in their top ten.
8. Domingo Tapia, RHP — Signed by the Mets as an international free agent on February 16th, 2009.
The flame-throwing righty drops a few spots based on an uneven 2013 where he's flashed more of perhaps the best fastball in the system, but has also seen his walk rate skyrocket (12.5% compared to 7.1 in '12). It's a relatively disappointing turn of events as he's always boasted surprisingly strong command despite a raw profile and certainly pushes the needle towards a long-term reliever.
9. Dominic Smith, 1B — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft.
As stated previously, Smith is one of the few short-season players with enough readily-available scouting information to be ranked on this list. And the premium ranking clearly indicates the kind of upside the 17-year-old possesses, considered perhaps the top overall bat in a draft that included some very good ones.
10. Steven Matz, LHP — Drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
The oft-injured lefty from Long Island is finally cashing in on his promise as one of the system's most dynamic arms. In 15 starts for the Sand Gnats he has showcased mid-90s velocity with a much-improved changeup that he works in the low 80s. In short, he's been one of the most dominant pitchers in the SAL and, if he can maintain his health, based on stuff/handedness alone he's a top ten talent and a potential top 100 player by this time next year.
11. Brandon Nimmo, OF — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
Following a first month where he hit .322/.421/.433, Nimmo suffered a hand injury that has sent him on a decidedly downward trajectory. Specifically, his work against lefties (.196/.281/.218) as well as a nearly 30% strikeout rate are the biggest red flags -- and to be honest these were issues last year as well. It's still very early to get too down on the 20-year-old; however, I must say that it's not the very best sign that the more we see of him the lower his realistic ceiling seems to get.
12. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on November 9, 2009.
The 20-year-old has been a revelation for the Sand Gnats this season, posting a sub-three ERA and the league's best K/BB mark. Pair that with a fastball he can run into the mid-90s, an advanced change, and a quickly improving slider -- not to mention pinpoint command -- and you're suddenly looking at one of the best combinations of youth, stuff, and results in the system.
13. Cory Mazzoni, RHP — Drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
Currently on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. Don't worry too much about that ERA -- his FIP is currently 2.72. Additionally, the 23-year-old has seen his strikeout rate jump of late -- 20 strikeouts in his first five starts, 50 over his last six -- amidst reports of a bump in fastball velocity up into the 96 MPH range. Scouts are still undecided whether he'll stick as a starter but a late-inning relief profile works too.
14. Gavin Cecchini, SS — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
Just over 200 plate appearances into his pro career, it's still very early to be evaluating the 19-year-old based on the numbers. Regardless, after he was held back in extended spring training he hasn't really blown anyone away with a reportedly plus hit tool and unfortunately he's currently on the shelf for the second time in his short career. Basically, this is what a low ceiling/high floor player looks like as a teenager.
15. Jacob deGrom, RHP — Drafted by the Mets in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
The 25-year-old slides a bit from the preseason list, based more on risers around him than his own performance. While he was just allright in ten starts at Double-A, he's been much stronger in five starts for Triple-A Las Vegas. If there's one nit to pick it's the continued so-so strikeout numbers in 2013, which make it hard to see a starter at the next level but a hard-throwing reliever is plain to see.
16. Rainy Lara, RHP — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on October 31st, 2009.
The least-heralded of the famed 2012 Brooklyn foursome, Lara has been one of the biggest risers in the Mets system in 2013. After rising to the top of the SAL leaderboards, the 22-year-old righty has been nearly as effective since being promoted to the FSL. More importantly, Lara has showcased the strong fastball/slider combo to project a floor as a major league reliever.
17. Luis Cessa, RHP — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on June 9th, 2008.
Cessa is another member of that 2012 Brooklyn rotation who is on helium watch in 2013 -- in fact, I'd consider Lara and Cessa interchangeable in the rankings at this point. The selling point on Cessa is that he's a year younger (21) with more velocity on his fastball (93-95 MPH). Conversely, the results haven't been quite as impressive, though as a converted infielder there's hypothetically more upside there.
18. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B/1B — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on July 2, 2008.
The 21-year-old masher has been very up-and-down in 2013. After posting a .556 OPS in April, Rodriguez broke out to the tune of a .953 OPS in May -- only to fall back to .533 in 12 June games. Since then he's been on the disabled list with a thumb injury sustained making a tag. The good news is that the strikeouts are way down (16.2%) since peaking in early 2012 (20.2%).
19. Hansel Robles, RHP — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on August 21st, 2008.
The 22-year-old Robles has had a hard time getting on track in 2013. After missing time with an oblique injury suffered during his first start, he is currently laid up with another back-related strain. In between the hard-throwing righty managed to maintain the strikeouts but hasn't had nearly as much luck limiting the hard contact against FSL hitters as he did in Brooklyn when he posted a .184 opponent average in 2012.
20. Matt den Dekker, OF — Drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Very little to report from den Dekker who only recently returned to action after breaking his wrist this spring. Should be interesting to see where he fits in in the second half as the combination of Nieweunhuis and Lagares seem to have the defensive specialist/lefty-off-the-bench roles pretty locked up.
21. Jack Leathersich, LHP — Drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
After looking nearly unhittable for Double-A Binghamton, the Leather Rocket has been equally as bad for Triple-A Las Vegas. The good news is that Pacific Coast League hitters still haven't found him all that easy to hit. The bad news is that after flirting with control problems throughout his career, they've exploded since the promotion (see 19.1% walk rate).
22. Cory Vaughn, OF — Drafted by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
After a nice start to the season where he batted .285/.366/.442, the 24-year old has been on the shelf with an elbow injury. While it was nice to see a far more palatable average from Vaughn -- not to mention further evidence of his excellent power/speed mix -- his BABIP stood at .371 while his strikeout rate was still around 25%. So I wouldn't consider him through the woods yet. Currently rehabbing with the GCL Mets, the 2010 fourth-rounder will have to keep it up upon return.
23. Wilfredo Tovar, SS — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on October 12, 2007.
Obviously the glove is still great, but the overall line just doesn't point to a major league-caliber bat. But to his credit, after batting .232/.268/.271 with four walks against 24 strikeouts before June, he's up to .254/.341/.322 with 14 walks against 13 strikeouts since.
24. Luis Mateo, RHP — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent in May 2011.
Unfortunately, the 23-year-old flamethrower fell victim to the Tommy John monster after making just four appearances in 2013. Obviously not a death sentence but it certainly dumps cold water over the very positive reports we were hearing this spring -- epsecially considering his history of arm issues.
25. Wuilmer Becerra, OF — Acquired from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto in December 2012.
Like Dominic Smith, Becerra doesn't have a long track record to point to -- and his line thus far in 2013 reads quite strangely. However, as the third piece in the Dickey trade, numerous scouting reports cited outstanding athleticism and the kind of upside to potentially make the 18-year-old outfielder a central piece of the deal.