2013 Amazin' Avenue Mets Top 50 Prospect List
Click player names to jump directly to each profile or numbers to jump to segment.
*NOTE - I made a handful of slight adjustments based on good feedback that had me re-evaluate a few players. Those players are marked along with original ranking.
1-10 | 11-20 | 20-30 | 30-40 | 40-50
10. RHP Luis Mateo
12. RHP Jacob DeGrom
13. C Kevin Plawecki
16. RHP Cory Mazzoni
18. RHP Gabriel Ynoa
19. SS Phillip Evans* (21)
20. SS Ahmed Rosario
23. OF Cory Vaughn
24. OF Juan Lagares
25. INF Danny Muno
26. OF Vicente Lupo
27. OF Cesar Puello
29. RHP Tyler Pill
31. 3B Zach Lutz
35. RHP Rainy Lara
36. LHP Darin Gorski* (37)
37. LHP Steven Matz
39. RHP Erik Goeddel* (43)
40. 2B Reese Havens
41. INF Josh Satin
42. OF Gilbert Gomez
43. RHP Chris Flexen
45. RHP Miller Diaz
46. SS T.J Rivera
48. RHP Matthew Koch
49. RHP Luis Cessa
50. OF Alonzo Harris
51. RHP Logan Taylor
51. RHP Logan Taylor — Drafted by the Mets in the 11th round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
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.
50. OF Alonzo Harris — Drafted by the Mets in the 39th round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.
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.
49. RHP Luis Cessa — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on June 9th, 2008.
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 — considering he's only in his second season of pitching as a pro since making the conversion from the infield. Thanks to a fastball that is already touching the mid-90s along with a surprisingly advanced three-pitch mix the Mexican righty has the chance to move up this list quickly in 2013.
48. RHP Matthew Koch — Drafted by the Mets in the third round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
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.
47. RHP Gonzalez Germen — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on October 10th, 2007.
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.
46. SS T.J. Rivera — Signed with the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 2010.
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.
45. RHP Miller Diaz — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent in February 2009.
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.
44. RHP Armando Rodriguez — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on June 6th, 2008.
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.
43. RHP Chris Flexen — Drafted by the Mets in the 14th round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
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.
42. OF Gilbert Gomez — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on October 10th, 2008.
The athletic 20-year-old continued to showcase a strong mix of skills and tools in 2012. Specifically, a walk rate that was already very strong climbed to an exceptional 14.3% while he maintained the same 20% strikeout rate — a figure that's high but palatable from a toolsy center field prospect. In the field Gomez showed off a strong glove manning Savannah's spacious outfield, though just-okay foot speed may mean a corner role long-term. There's a good case that his less than common profile warrants a higher rank; for me, though, until he shows a bit more with the hit tool and/or cements a center field profile I'm satisfied to stop short at calling him one of the top sleepers in the Mets farm system.
41. INF Josh Satin — Drafted by the Mets in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.
In his first full year at Triple-A, Satin did what he always does, posting his same-old excellent 14% walk rate, troubling 20% strikeout rate, moderate .150 ISO and batting somewhere around .300. It's a decent offensive profile, but based on his defense, it's not enough. In short, Satin's most realistic major league profile is a righty off the bench with some pop and some patience, zero speed, who can fake it at a number of positions in a pinch. Unfortunately, it's a not an ideal skillset, and the fact that he's already 28 doesn't help. Based solely on the merits of his 2012 in a vacuum, Satin's prospect stock remains unchanged. There's still little doubt that he could help a major league team in some way, shape, or form right now. However, he isn't in a vacuum; he's in the minors, among many other players, most of whom are younger, which means his standing still is moving backwards.
40. 2B Reese Havens — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.
2012 was a very damning season for the Mets' one-time second baseman of the future. Despite struggling with more back woes, he reached 90 games played for just the second time in his career. However, in what was a highly discouraging development Havens floundered badly at the plate. While his characteristically high walk rate was true to form (14.9%), his disastrous 29% strikeout rate ranked second-worst in the Eastern League, short-circuiting the rest of his batting line. It's still not an impossibility for Havens to become the impact player we all envisioned. However, at age 26, five summers after that fateful first round when Havens was selected, it's becoming harder and harder to imagine every day. He'll be singing for his supper in 2013.
39. RHP Erik Goeddel — Drafted by the Mets in the 24th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
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.
38. OF Darrell Ceciliani — Drafted by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
The 22-year-old Ceciliani lost just about a full season of development in 2012 after struggling with hamstrings for the majority of the year — again. The good news is that when he played, he was effective. His walks remained high (10.2%) and strikeouts were way down (13.3%). He was riding the unsustainable BABIP train again (.370), though he's still showing the speed to warrant some of that. Overall, I'm still a fan of his talent -- especially in center field — but the inability to stay healthy has become a serious long-term concern, which -- as I've pointed out before -- we can't just ignore.
37. LHP Steven Matz — Drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
The good news is the stuff looked great. His special, high 90s fastball from the left side blew away Appy League hitters as he posted a .158 opponent average over his first 29 pro innings. The bad news? After a spring marked by discomfort in his surgically-repaired arm, Matz was ultimately shut down early due to tightness in his pitching shoulder. In a vacuum he's an easy top ten talent. The key here, however, is that it doesn't matter how talented he is if he can't stay healthy, and that is something that -- though it is tempting -- we cannot ignore. Typically arm injuries portend bad things down the road, not the other way around. For that reason Matz is going to have to prove that he can handle even a light workload before I can give him a ranking worthy of his premium stuff.
36. LHP Darin Gorski — Drafted by the Mets in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
After a breakout 2011 in the FSL, the '09 seventh rounder came back to Earth against more age-appropriate competition in 2012. He posted an all-around average pitching line, made worse when you consider his 4.53 FIP. Now it wasn't all bad: A 7.60 strikeout per nine coupled with a .244 opponent average certainly doesn't point to a complete flame out. However, for a guy that features an average fastball and lacks a true putaway pitch, a homer per nine that was fourth-worst in all of Double-A baseball is not a good sign -- especially for a decidedly flyball pitcher. At 25, I still think Gorski could help a major league team in some capacity, but as I've said before, when I look at him I can't help thinking Pat Misch.
35. RHP Rainy Lara — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on October 31st, 2009.
While Lara might not get as much play as Mateo or Robles, the 21-year-old is a serious prospect in his own right. At 6'4", 180 lbs Lara possesses a near-perfect pitcher's build with plenty of projectability. Along with a good low-90s fastball, he already floats an excellent change-up — a good sign for his chances to remain a starter long-term. In 12 starts for the Cyclones in 2012 Lara posted a sub-3 ERA and placed third among NYPL starters in strikeouts per nine (10.19). Additionally, Lara showcased pinpoint command, posting a 1.59 BB/9, incredible when you consider how many bats he missed. If he can add a tick to that fastball we'll likely be talking about another top shelf pitching prospect here.
34. 3B/SS Matt Reynolds — Drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
The Mets' 2012 second-round selection out of the U. of Arkansas was solid, if unspectacular, in his pro debut. However, in a lot of ways, that's probably the best way to characterize Reynolds as a player. He exhibits a good idea at the plate, makes plenty of contact, and can run a little bit. He doesn't possess the power or hit tool required of a corner player, but he'd profile just fine at short. Whether he has enough glove to hang there remains to be seen -- but obviously the Mets think he can based on the early selection and the immediate move back to his defensive home. All in all, he balances his lack of ceiling with a conversely high floor; it's not hard to imagine Reynolds as a middle infield utilityman -- a la Danny Muno -- long-term.
33. RHP Chris Schwinden — Drafted by the Mets in the 22nd round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.
Despite an odd journey on the waivers merry-go-round last summer, the thing about Schwinden's season is that it shouldn't really change our opinion of the solid, if unspectacular, 26-year-old right-hander much. Nothing has changed from last winter when his repertoire drew comparisons to Dillon Gee. He wasn't as strong in his second big league trial, but that was just three games after all. I'd pay more attention to the 2.45 ERA with just a shade under eight strikeouts and roughly two walks per nine over his last 11 starts with the Bisons. Ultimately, Schwinden entered the year with a ceiling at the back-end of a big league rotation and a floor as a Taxi Squad spot starter and both parameters remain true today.
32. LHP Robert Carson — Drafted by the Mets in the 14h round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.
This may seem a little low for a lefty who showed the ability to overpower major league hitters with a high 90s fastball in 2012. However, my gripe with Carson is unchanged from last year, or the year before that: He's struggled to limit the hits at every level since Rookie-ball -- and 2012 was no different. In Binghamton, opponents batted .300 against him, in Buffalo they batted .276. Taking a peek at his big league service time, major league lefties batted .286 against him with an .875 OPS. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Carson has a rare arm, but ultimately the lack of a credible secondary pitch makes the fastball a lot less fearsome, no matter how hard he throws it.
31. 3B Zach Lutz — Drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.
The name may be getting stale but the bat is not. More of the same from the 26-year-old who, as always, beat up on high-level pitching in between stints on the mend. However, 2012 was notable in that the '07 fifth rounder didn't miss nearly as much time as he has in the past and he even made his major league debut in April. Still, there's not a ton to glean from Lutz's latest campaign -- aside from the consolation that comes from effectively bouncing back from multiple concussions. We know the guy can hit; 2012 marked the third straight season that he posted an OPS at or near .900 in Triple-A. I tend to think the quality of his bat could warrant a starting role but at this point, he needs to be tested against major leaguers to find out -- and unfortunately it's become clear that probably won't happen with the Mets.
30. RHP Logan Verrett — Drafted by the Mets in the third round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
The 2011 third rounder has the type of polished college repertoire to dice up lower level hitters by hitting every spot with all three of his pitches -- and he did just that in 2012. But while his stock ticks up based on very strong results in his debut, the main sticking point here is that Verrett saw his strikeout rate plummet from above nine in Savannah down to just over six for St. Lucie. While he showcased more velocity on his low 90's fastball than was expected, Verrett is still shorter on stuff for a right-handed starter -- and strikeout attrition before Double-A is not a great sign. The ceiling is still a back-end starter, but an eventual move to the bullpen is certainly foreseeable.
29. RHP Tyler Pill — Drafted by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
In his first full season the 2011 fourth rounder from Cal. State-Fullerton took a step forward in terms of missing bats, posting a strikeouts per nine mark of 8.4 between Savannah and St. Lucie. This is important for Pill as he does not currently possess the kind of stuff to comfortably project as a major league starter. Namely, his high-80s, low-90s heat from the right side just doesn't give him much margin for error -- nor does it profile well in relief. Now as we've seen with guys like Dillon Gee and Collin McHugh, it can work -- but only if Pill can maintain his pinpoint command and continue to refine his already strong secondary offerings.
28. RHP Hansel Robles — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on August 21st, 2008.
Of all the Brooklyn starters, none was more successful in 2012 — or perhaps unexpected — than Robles. The 22-year-old led the NYPL in ERA (1.11) and placed top three in FIP (1.86), BB/9 (1.06), and opponent average (.184). The strong-armed righty allowed more than one earned run just once in twelve starts and finished the season by allowing zero earned over his final 45 innings. A smallish/stocky build (5'11", 185 lbs) allows him to very effectively repeat his delivery -- however it also leads some to see a reliever long-term. Either way, a mid-90's fastball as part of a solid four-pitch mix will play in the bigs -- as evidenced by his surprising addition to the 40-man this winter.
27. OF Cesar Puello — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on July 2nd, 2007.
So-so 2012 campaign for the 21-year-old as he battled injuries for much of it -- something that is becoming a serious concern. When he was on the field, he played moderately well, posting a career-high .163 ISO and stealing bases much more effectively. However, the plate discipline is still awful; his walk rate dropped to a career-low 2.8% while the strikeouts jumped to an alarming 23%. Despite excellent all-around tools, Puello does not have the kind of hit tool to absorb such a glaring deficiency -- which means he'll have to make enormous strides if we're ever to believe he can have prolonged success in Double-A, let alone the majors. He's still young, but not so young that we can continue overlooking the major issues with plate discipline -- not to mention injuries -- that threaten to stall his development.
26. OF Vicente Lupo — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on July 8th, 2010.
Lupo is quickly becoming one of the more buzzed-about names in the Mets system after a 2012 campaign where he posted straight-up video game numbers. Obviously stat lines from the DSL -- or any short-season level -- are taken with a grain of salt; however it's hard to ignore the combination of outstanding power, patience, and raw hitting ability he featured in posting a 1.108 OPS with more walks than strikeouts (46:45). The just-turned 19-year-old Venezuelan possesses some speed, though he profiles as a corner outfielder thanks to a stocky, 6'0", 180 lbs build. Either way, scouts are very high on his offensive potential and if he can approximate that performance in a stateside league, he'll fly up this ranking in 2013.
25. INF Danny Muno — Drafted by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Despite being suspended for 50 games after testing positive for anabolic steroids, the 2011 eighth rounder's profile really doesn't change much in the wake of his 2012 season. As expected, he shifted off of short for good and still looks like a solid bet as a cheap utility infielder who makes a lot of contact, gets on base a ton and steals some bases (I say cheap because he signed for a ridiculous $10,000). His true test will come in Double-A as we already knew his plate discipline was advanced beyond High-A — his 13.7% walk rate in 2012 was third-best among qualified FSL hitters.
24. OF Juan Lagares — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on May 5th, 2006.
Despite quite different results, the 23-year old Lagares wasn't a drastically different player than the version that hit .350 in '11. Very similar strikeout rate (17%), similarly improving walk rate (6.8%) and good speed on the basepaths (21 sb's). Now a few more homers dropped in for doubles this season, but the main difference was a drop in BABIP from an unsustainable .399 mark in 2011 down to .337 in 2012 -- much more in line with his .329 career mark. Not to mention improved defensive play in his new home in center. In fact, after playing the majority of his games in center in 2012, that storyline will be the key for Lagares' prospect stock going forward. While he's shown the ability to hit some against advanced pitching, he doesn't feature a corner outfield profile due to a lack of home run power.
23. OF Cory Vaughn — Drafted by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Despite a strong skillset and a major league toolbag there are reasons to pause when discussing the 23-year-old outfielder. Most notably, his .236 career average at High-A. Additionally, his strikeout rate continues to reside well above 20%. Vaughn's other rate stats remain strong: The .219 ISO in 2012 is outstanding, as is the 12% walk rate. All in all, Vaughn seemingly possesses all of the tools needed to project a major league career — from a top tier power/speed mix to a strong eye at the dish — except for perhaps the most important one: his hit tool. Without some major improvement in that area, he just doesn't consistently barrel the ball enough to project as a guy who'll ever hit for much average at the highest levels.
22. LHP Jack Leathersich — Drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
After posting an outstanding 13.88 strikeouts per nine in Savannah in '11, the 22-year old lefty led all qualified Florida State League pitchers with an eye-popping 14.25 mark for St. Lucie in 2012. However, the major difference between the seasons was his overall effectiveness, as he was far more hittable in '12 and even surrendered the first three homers of his career. Now his overall numbers still weren't bad -- subbing out that ugly ERA 4+ with a 2.66 FIP. But the question here is that for a guy known less for his stuff and more for his deceptive delivery, can he make those swing-and-misses translate to the highest levels?
21. OF Wuilmer Becerra — Acquired from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto in December 2012.
Becerra was the third player acquired from Toronto in the Dickey trade. He is a 17-year-old international free agent, signed by the Blue Jays back in 2011 for the tidy sum of $1.3M -- tied for the largest bonus ever given to an IFA by the Mets to that point (Fernando Martinez, '05). Aside from being considered by many as one of the top righthanded bats in that class, scouts consider him a potential five-tool outfield prospect, featuring plus-plus speed, an advanced offensive feel, and good raw power. Unfortunately, his pro debut was cut short last summer as he was hit in the face with a pitch. However, it's clear that there is a ton of upside here; in fact, some have even opined that Becerra, not d'Arnaud or Syndergaard, could ultimately be the coup of that deal.
20. SS Ahmed Rosario — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on July 2nd, 2012.
In July the Mets signed the 16-year old Dominican shortstop to a club-record $1.75M deal. That's equivalent to a late-first round June draft selection and is actually more than they paid 2012 draftee Kevin Plawecki. IFA and draft dollars aren't exactly one-to-one; however it's clear that Mets brass values Rosario as a premier talent. Fortunately, scouts agree, considering him potentially the top prospect in the DR at the time of the deal. He's viewed as a highly athletic player with a very strong build, good speed, and a potentially impact bat at short -- though his long, lithe frame may ultimately push him to third. In America he'd be a high school junior so obviously he's far away, but based on early reports Rosario could be the top all-around infield talent the Mets have acquired in the international market since Jose Reyes.
19. SS Phillip Evans — Drafted by the Mets in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
The 20-year-old '11 15th-round steal showed a lot of the skills that excited people following the draft, including good pull-side strength, good contact skills (14.6 K%), and an excellent eye (9.4 BB%) -- not to mention solid enough range (for now) and plenty of the arm strength needed to stick at short. Going forward he's going to have to not only smooth out the peaks and valleys he experienced this year, but he'll have to translate the strength in his stout frame into more extra-base hits—he had only 14 in 73 games. Additionally, he'll have to continue to prove his range at short at every level as he adds bulk and find a way to take advantage of the right side of the field, as he's been almost entirely a pull hitter to this point.
18. RHP Gabriel Ynoa — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on November 9, 2009.
In his first exposure to A-ball, the 6'2", 158 lb. teenager was nothing short of masterful, striking out six guys for every one walk and allowing just a single home run all summer. What's more, his .213 opponent average was one of the top marks in the NYPL and most impressively, he did all this as one of the five youngest pitchers in the league (For reference, Ynoa is actually two months younger than Brandon Nimmo). Despite the fact that this beanpole righty still offers a lot of projection, he is already touching 93 mph with his pinpoint fastball and features a highly advanced change-up. While Michael Fulmer gets the nod as the Mets best teenage pitcher, Ynoa is the clear choice for second.
17. OF Matt den Dekker — Drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
2012 was a tale of two seasons for the former Gator. Upon return to Binghamton den Dekker absolutely tore apart Double-A pitching to the tune of a .960 OPS. However, upon promotion to Triple-A Den Dekker would go on to lose over .300 points off that OPS -- while watching his strikeout rate skyrocket. He was able to maintain some home run power (.153 ISO), though well below his career norms. Many prospects struggle in their first exposure to a new level; but as a 25-year old, den Dekker has little margin for error -- especially when a nearly 30% strikeout rate indicates a fundamental flaw. On the bright side, his defensive value in center means that he will have an impact on the big league team in some way, shape or form. But at this point the needle is shifting more towards good defensive replacement than everyday outfielder.
16. RHP Cory Mazzoni — Drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
It was a somewhat disappointing full season debut for the 23-year-old out of NC State. While a 3.93 ERA in 26 starts might not look awful, underwhelming key indicators -- like an extremely pedestrian strikeout rate and far too many hits allowed -- were not what we expected from a second round selection with mid-90s heat. The good news is that thanks to his excellent command of premium velocity, Mazzoni does profile well as a late-inning reliever. Unless he begins missing a lot more bats very soon, the natural move may be to transition the smallish righty to the bullpen, where he has the chance to help as early as the 2013 season.
15.3B Aderlin Rodriguez — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on July 2, 2008.
Spending the first half of 2012 back in Savannah, the 21-year-old saw offensive improvements across the board. Specifically, his BABIP rose by over 50 points as he squared up balls much more regularly, allowing for large gains in average and power (see .223 ISO). Perhaps even more promising was the fact that he pushed his walk rate up above 8%, a very good sign for a kid with a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. The fact that he maintained an ISO just below .200 upon promotion to High-A speaks to the quality of his raw power, which is the best in the system. What position he'll play is up for debate as humble defensive gains at third have given way to playing time at first. Regardless, if the 6-3, 210-pound righty can continue to build on the strides he made, he should have more than enough bat for either position at the highest levels.
14. SS Wilfredo Tovar — Signed with the Mets as in international free agent on October 12, 2007.
2012 was yet another quietly solid campaign for the 21-year old shortstop. In his first extended exposure to High-A he acquitted himself very nicely, posting career highs in both strikeout (6.6%) and walk (11.3%) rates. Following the mid-season promotion to Double-A Tovar scuffled a bit against the more advanced competition as one of the five youngest players in the league but steadied himself by end of year. However, as always, the story with Tovar is about a glove that profiles as a plus major league tool right now -- something that you don't often say about any minor league position player -- especially not at age 21. The only question remaining is whether the bat will allow him to be a valuable everyday player in the mold of Ruben Tejada or a top-notch defensive specialist in the mold of Philadelphia's Freddy Galvis.
13. C Kevin Plawecki — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
By season's end the 2012 first round selection — 35th overall — had clearly showed why the Mets valued him so highly. Reports of an advanced approach at the plate came to fruition as he ultimately walked more than he struck out in 2012; his 9.9 BB% was impressive while the 9.5 K% was among the league leaders. Additionally, he balanced that patience and contact with good home run power, leading the Cyclones with seven bombs. He'll need to get some more gap power out of his sturdy 6'2", 205 lb. frame as he knocked just eight doubles all season and slugging just .384, but he shows excellent offensive potential. Additionally, while he's got a decent arm (14/44 CS) he's still got work to do defensively to profile as an everyday catcher at the highest levels in terms of footwork and overall catching mechanics.
12. RHP Jacob DeGrom — Drafted by the Mets in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
The former 2010 ninth rounder was, simply put, the biggest surprise in the Mets farm system in 2012, bursting onto the scene as one of the system's most talented arms. DeGrom was already late to pitching after converting from shortstop in college. Add a Tommy John surgery and he was far behind the development curve. Yet upon returning in 2012 DeGrom didn't miss a beat, posting a 2.43 ERA in 19 A-ball starts. Taking full advantage of his athletic 6'4" build, DeGrom possesses a special fastball that he spots extremely well and lives in the low-to-mid-90s, velocity he holds deep into games. He also possesses a useable slider/change combo, which gives him a chance to start long-term. However, should he falter in the slightest as a starter he could be an asset to a big league 'pen almost immediately.
11. SS Gavin Cecchini — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft.
In 53 games for Kingsport the 2012 12th overall pick showed flashes of his solid all-around ability, mixed with the rawness one would expect from a high school draftee. For that reason there's probably not too much we can, or should, glean from the Louisiana prep product's debut. (This is a case where it pays to acknowledge our lack of data and, to a degree, defer to the organization's choice to pay the kid $2.3M). Cecchini doesn't project as a future standout in any one area of the game -- atypical of such a high selection. Instead, scouts feel that as a true shortstop prospect he's as good a bet as anyone in his age-group to reach the show -- balancing the relatively low reward with less risk as well.
10. RHP Luis Mateo — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent in May 2011.
The 22-year-old was outstanding for the Cyclones in 2012. His name was splashed all over the NYPL leaderboards, leading the circuit in strikeouts per nine (10.43) and placing sixth in walks per nine (1.10). In fact, the Dominican right-hander was the only pitcher in the league who ended up in the top ten in both categories. Simply put, Mateo has a special fastball, on par with some of the best in the system. He regularly worked in the mid-90s and could even dial it up for a few more ticks if need be, showing a plus-major league offering. Paired with a solid high-80s slider, Mateo dominated even when his command was not at its best. Now, his lack of a useable change-up has many forecasting a future late-inning reliever — a role he could fill extremely quickly. Yet, despite a somewhat advanced age due to some drama in his past, the kid has made 25 regular season starts as a professional so I'm not going to put a cap on his long-term role just yet.
9. RHP Jeurys Familia — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on July, 13th 2007.
The 23-year-old made his major league debut in 2012, showcasing an outstanding, sinking fastball and excellent -- as well as inconsistent -- secondary stuff in an eight-game preview. While he flashed dominance his central issue was the same one that plagued him in Buffalo, that being command. After watching his walks per nine jump above 3.5 at Double-A in 2011, it continued to rise to an ugly 4.80 mark in 28 Triple-A starts. Otherwise, his final numbers were very promising, including 8.4 strikeouts per nine, a solid 3.78 FIP and one of the strongest starter's groundball rates in the IL. Going forward, Familia's role -- for 2013 and beyond -- remains clouded. His swing-and-miss stuff seemed to translate exceptionally well to relief. Oftentimes I've compared him to the Rangers' Alexi Ogando based on the quality of his fastball/slider mix, as well as the inferiority of his change-up. I could easily envision Familia in a similar role for the Mets, though I'd personally rather see him in Las Vegas to work out the command woes in 2013..
8. RHP Rafael Montero - Signed by the Mets as an international free agent on January 20th, 2011.
The 22-year old was a revelation this season, dominating SAL competition by utilizing his trademark surgical command (see, 1.01 walks per nine). Then in eight starts with St. Lucie he got even better, posting a strikeout per nine just a shade under ten. In short, Montero is a highly advanced pitcher who seemed to get better by the day. And I'm not talking about his stuff -- though his low 90's fastball is enough, his slider is useable, and his change-up is already a plus offering. The key is that he has a tremendous feel for mixing his pitches and will truly throw any pitch in any count, showing polish beyond his years. Remember, this kid won an Organizational Sterling Award in the Gulf Coast League in 2011. Some scouts see him as a reliever long-term thanks to his diminutive build (6', 170 lbs is generous). However, while he may not profile as a future ace, I fully expect that he'll continue having success as a starter all the way up the chain.
7. OF Brandon Nimmo — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
The 19-year-old showed off the kind of natural offensive ability in 2012 that justifies the first round selection. Namely, he posted an extremely impressive 14.3% BB rate (fourth among qualified NYPL batters), especially when paired with his ability to drive the ball in a tough lefthanded power environment (see, .158 ISO). In fact, he was one of the circuit's youngest position players for most of the season yet placed fourth in doubles and third in extra-base hits. He did exhibit some expected rawness, namely a very high 24.3% strikeout rate and a .191/.296/.298 mark against lefties. Big, loping strides gave him enough speed for center, however that speed did not show up on the basepaths and some scouts envisioned a long-term move to a corner. Nonetheless, many scouts were enamored with the mix of tools and polish Nimmo showed in his first full season as he solidified his early billing as a potential impact player in the making.
6. 3B Wilmer Flores — Signed with the Mets as an international free agent on August 6th, 2007.
In 2012 the 21-year-old demonstrated one of the most advanced hit tools in the entire minors, let alone the Mets farm system, while showcasing the power game we've long awaited as one of the youngest players in Double-A. He continued to make outstanding contact (11% strikeout rate) which, when paired with strong walk rates (7%), consistently put him in good spots to drive the ball. In fact, of any player in Double-A with as low a strikeout rate, Flores ranked second in ISO (.174), trailing only Cardinals uber-prospect Oscar Taveras. The re-emergence of Flores' outstanding bat couldn't have come at a better time as it helped to counteract the continued decline of his defensive value. Finally moving off of shortstop for good, Flores shifted all over the Binghamton infield getting reps at first, second, and third. He'll never offer much in the way of defense, but the good news is that his bat looks like it will play regardless. It's not a huge stretch to imagine Flores as one of the club's better offensive threats by this time next year.
5. RHP Domingo Tapia — Signed by the Mets as an international free agent on February 16th, 2009.
2012 saw the 20-year-old take the next step as his historically pedestrian strikeouts per nine figure ticked up to a very strong 8.39, thanks to increased reliance on a four-seamer that regularly hit triple-digits. Paired with his Mejia-esque low-to-mid-90s two-seamer -- perhaps the single best fastball in the system -- the 6'4", 200 lbs righty baffled SAL hitters as he notched the fourth-best swinging strikeout rate in the league among starters. And don't be fooled by the so-so 3.98 ERA; Tapia posted the second-best FIP in the SAL (2.68). He was able to do so while maintaining the league's top ground ball rate and the best part was that he maintained his characteristically strong command (2.65 walks per nine). The only problem is that lagging behind the rest of his repertoire was his slurvy breaking ball, which will have to continue to improve if he's to hold onto a starting profile. The good news is that he's still just 20, absolutely oozes projection, and looks like a high-impact major league arm, whatever the role.
4. RHP Michael Fulmer — Drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
The 19-year old from Oklahoma was nothing short of spectacular in his first full pro season, posting the fourth-lowest ERA as well as the third-lowest opponent average among qualified starters in the SAL. Oh, and did I mention he was among the five youngest players in the circuit for most of the season? Utilizing a special fastball that works in the low-to-mid 90s — and even touched 97-98 MPH at times — Fulmer overpowered hitters who were on average two years his senior. What's more, the further development of a sharp, mid-80s slider gave him a second potential plus-pitch and an excellent put-away option. The dynamic mix of stuff, youth, and success makes the 6'3", 200 lbs righty one of the biggest stories in the system in 2012 and one of its best prospects going forward.
3. RHP Noah Syndergaard — Acquired from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto in December 2012.
The 20-year-old Texan was almost universally viewed as Toronto's second-best prospect and immediately gave the Mets system a jolt of high-upside pitching talent. Utilizing a mid-90s heavy sinker, a four-seamer that hits 99 MPH and an overhand curve scouts already consider a major league average offering, 6'5", 200 lbs righty has blown away the competition as a pro. In his first full season at Class-A Lansing in 2012, he posted a 2.60 ERA along with a 10+ strikeouts per nine mark and, perhaps most impressively, a sub-3 BB/9 mark; Syndergaard was the only qualifying starter in all of Low-A to do that. As impressive as Michael Fulmer's 2012 season was in Low-A at 19, Syndergaard posted a FIP over a full run lower (2.21) at the same level, also at age 19. Paul DePodesta may have said it best, "You just don't see many guys [Syndergaard's] size at his age command the strike zone the way he has as a professional, especially with big velocity." Syndergaard is on par with Zack Wheeler in terms of his long-term potential.
2. C Travis d'Arnaud — Acquired from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto in December 2012.
The Mets newest blue-chipper, the 23-year-old catcher gives Mets fans many reasons to be excited. Offensively, he boasts the kind of power and hitting ability that you rarely see from a catcher. In 2012 he batted .333/.380/.595 with 16 home runs in just 67 games in Triple-A, good for a .262 ISO. The strikeout rate remains around the 20% mark, but with that kind of plus-power it's forgivable. Defensively, he's highly mobile taking advantage of an athletic frame and he's nailed an impressive 30% of runners over the last two seasons. The main issue is the semi-serious back and knee issues he's struggled with as a professional. However, In short, d'Arnaud projects as a future organizational cornerstone behind the plate at the major league level. In many ways he's the perfect fit for this organization in that he immediately addresses a number of deficiencies within the system: The absolute dearth of catching talent, right-handed hitting and premium power. What's more, he should be pushing for a major league role by mid-season in 2013.
1. RHP Zack Wheeler — Acquired in the trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants in July 2011.
In his first full season since the trade that brought him east, the 22-year old showcased the kind of stuff that makes scouts drool. Blessed with a top shelf curve, Wheeler possesses the kind of consistently plus, swing-and-miss secondary offering that most pitching prospects only dream of. Further, his easy, mid-90's fastball has the kind of natural movement that just can't be taught. An 8.45 strikeouts per nine coupled with a .205 opponent average in Triple-A tells you that he could get major league hitters out today. That said, I'd still try to give Wheeler as much of the 2013 season in Las Vegas as possible to try to tighten up that command a bit and continue to firm up the change. However, it's going to be tough to hold him back once he gets going. And that's ok as pitchers with this kind of stuff warrant some degree of learning on the job. I expect we'll see him around the same time we saw Harvey in 2012, around late July to early August.