Today we'll kick off our annual, week-long excursion into the wonderful world of Mets prospects. Specifically, we'll break down ten players each day through Friday, when we unveil the top ten. Each player will include a brief write-up as well as a link to his MiLB player page. As always, I encourage plenty of lively discussion and debate while keeping in mind that — especially outside of the top 20 to 25 — this is a highly subjective exercise.
I address this every year, but a quick qualifier about my own biases, tendencies, and aims as a prospect evaluator: First and foremost I treat my prospect rankings as a valuation sheet. In other words, I (mostly) like to look at players in terms of their current value to the major league club. I'm aiming to create a list that would resemble what Sandy Alderson might come up with if asked to rank his farm system in terms of what each player would return by trade in a vacuum.
Additionally, very rarely am I trying to bet on guys who I think are going to make huge jumps next year, though I'll obviously highlight players who I feel are underrated/undervalued. That method is in contrast to the more upside-based methodology where evaluators tend to ignore a guy like, say, Josh Satin based on his relatively low ceiling, perhaps in favor of a teenager in the DSL with a dozen innings to his name but a much higher perceived ceiling. Most rankings tend to be a hybrid of both methods.
Furthermore, as something of a John Sickels disciple, I tend to weigh past performance a little heavier than most in striking the upside vs. performance balance. Obviously upside has its place, especially when talking about potential impact players. Being an analytically-minded person, however, I'm heavily influenced by the sheer volume of attrition that takes place in minor league baseball on an annual basis, which dictates that most players — even ones that look like they shouldn't — will fail in their journey to big league stardom. Even players that experience success in the minor league are not immune to this effect.
Again, that's just me; there's really no right or wrong to this. Without further ado, let's begin the 2013 Amazin' Avenue Top 50 Mets Prospect List:
50. RHP Logan Taylor
The 6'5", 240-pound righty features low-90s heat and a well-developed 12-to-6 breaker, and he posted a 0.93 ERA in his pro debut. In doing so, he exhibited a surprising combination of polish, size, and stuff for a junior college player taken in the 11th round in 2012. He was available thanks to command woes in college, but he took to pro instruction very well, walking just two batters in 19.1 innings out of the Cyclones' bullpen. He could be a very nice coup for Paul DePodesta and company.
49. OF Alonzo Harris
The 2007 39th-round shortstop-turned-outfielder's prospect stock was on life support after it took him three tries to conquer Single-A Savannah. However, in his first assignment to High-A in 2012, Harris surprisingly thrived. That includes an extremely promising walk rate (8.9%), a drastic decline in strikeouts (13.4%) , and a stolen base total more than twice his previous career high (40). He still profiles as a speedy fourth outfielder at best, but when a player this athletic exhibits such impressive growth in secondary skills — especially against somewhat advanced pitching — it's unwise to ignore it.
48. RHP Luis Cessa
Overshadowed as a member of the stellar Cyclones rotation, the 20-year-old quietly posted a 2.49 ERA in 13 starts in 2012. Though his 5.47 strikeouts per nine left a lot to be desired, at 6'3", 190 pounds, Cessa may possess more projectability than anyone else on that staff — already touching the mid-90s along with a surprisingly advanced three-pitch mix.
47. RHP Matthew Koch
A 2012 third rounder out of Louisville, Koch lacks the upside of other high-end arms drafted after him as the Cardinals' closer is almost certainly a pro reliever long-term. Regardless, he features high 90s velocity, and, despite an underwhelming pro debut in Brooklyn, earns his spot based on the fact that the starter-turned power-armed, late-inning reliever profile is one that has the potential to move very fast, a la Bobby Parnell.
Here is a case where I'm inclined to defer to the organization in all of its wisdom. The 25-year-old has moved up the chain thanks mostly to the combination of a very strong fastball and very good command of said fastball — and not a ton else. It's not a mind-blowing profile, but it's also not hard to see him contribute to the big club as bullpen depth very soon, especially given that he was added to a somewhat crowded 40-man roster this winter.
45. SS T.J. Rivera
Another year, another chance to prove the critics wrong for the 24-year-old undrafted free agent from the Bronx. He followed up a very strong .326 average in his pro debut with a .333 mark for Savannah in 2012. Lacking any one plus tool, Rivera does just enough of everything to make himself interesting. Make no mistake, he's certainly no top prospect, and his .350-plus BABIP could easily be a mirage. But the thing is he's done it at four straight levels now. So if he can find a way to replicate his success in Double-A and continue to showcase a strong, flexible glove around the infield, he's at least got an outside shot as a scrappy infielder in the mold of Daniel Descalso in St. Louis.
44. RHP Miller Diaz
The 20-year-old Venezuelan led the Kingsport staff in innings, ERA, and strikeouts before winning that level's Sterling Award. The solidly built 6'1" righty features a very good fastball that he runs into the mid-90s, which was just too much for hitters in the Appy League. He'll have to further develop his secondary repertoire as a strong fastball with good, but not great, command won't be enough if he's to remain a starter. As he progresses it's easy to imagine a hard-throwing starter-turned-reliever in the mold of Armando Rodriguez.
43. RHP Erik Goeddel
It was a solid 2012 season for the former 2010 24th -round steal out of UCLA. It's tough to complain about a 3.09 FIP and an 8+ strikeouts per nine in his first exposure to High-A. Still, the slender righty left a little to be desired, especially in the second half when he posted a 4.14 ERA. The strikeout totals were still there, and his control is fine; the main issue is inconsistency, as his strong slider/curve combo disappeared at times. Even worse, a fastball that flashed mid-90s as a collegian was regularly in the 89-92 mph range for the Mets. To me, Goeddel's profile screams future reliever as he flashes the ability to blow away hitters with a very polished repertoire but seems to lack the build/durability to be able to hold his stuff over the course of a full season.
The former starter finally made the full-time move to relief and took to it well. Not surprisingly, the strong-armed righty looked more dominant than ever, even against the more advanced competition of Double-A. In fact, he maintained a strikeout rate above nine and, even better, a walk rate around 2.60. With an opponent average that hovered around .215 all season, it's not a stretch to think that he could be effective against major leaguers very soon, though he'll have to rein in his high home run rate. Expect Rodriguez to get a fighter's chance in spring training, but more likely he'll serve as the first line of relief depth, much like Elvin Ramirez last season — except with better command.
41. RHP Chris Flexen
The Mets' 2012 14th rounder reportedly featured fifth-round talent, but slid due to second-round bonus demands. The Mets paid up, and in doing so may have quite a steal on their hands. Flexen was the second-youngest pitcher in the Appy League in 2012 and though he only turned 18 in July, the 6'3", 215-pound righty is already touching 94 mph on the gun. Despite so-so results in six starts for Kingsport, he also seemed to find his stride in August allowing just one earned over his last 11 innings pitched. An argument could easily be made for a higher ranking, but for now I'll simply flag Flexen as a definite early candidate to leap up these rankings in 2013.
Names that just missed the cut:
RHP Matthew Bowman
C Cam Maron
LHP Adam Kolarek
C Juan Centeno
RHP Akeel Morris
RHP Brandon Welch
C Albert Cordero
C Tomas Nido
Check back tomorrow as we'll review the 30s. Also, be sure to take part in the ongoing AA community prospect rankings going on currently in the FanPosts section.