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2013 Minor League Season in Review: St. Lucie Mets

Despite some injuries and sub-par performance, the St. Lucie Mets were an interesting bunch to watch in 2013.

2011 first-rounder Kevin Plawecki had a breakout year between Savannah and St. Lucie in 2013.
2011 first-rounder Kevin Plawecki had a breakout year between Savannah and St. Lucie in 2013.
(Photo Credit: Bryan Green)

Our 2013 minor league season in review series rolls on as we take a closer look at the Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets -- more or less the flagship franchise within the Mets minor league system.

For a higher level look at the club and more on their up-and-down 2013 campaign, check out our affiliates overview. However, here we'll take a more player-centric look at the various prospects that played in St. Lucie last summer:


Jayce Boyd, 1B

2013 was a very big year for Boyd who stamped his ticket as a legitimate prospect in the system. After batting .361 as one of the best hitters in the South Atlantic League in the first half, Boyd went on to post a .292/.372/.421 line in 58 games for St. Lucie. Just as in his pro debut, the 23-year-old continued to feature an outstanding eye at the plate (10.8% walk rate) and premium bat control (12% strikeout rate) which together give him some of the better plate discipline in the Mets entire system. Lacking much footspeed he doesn't profile at any other positions, though his glovework at first is strong. The bigger issue is that he hasn't featured the kind of over-the-fence pop required of a first baseman, knocking nine longballs in 2013. He'll hope to climb the chain as a patient hitter in the Lucas Duda mold -- though he's a righty -- ideally picking up some pop along the way as the big lefty did.

Gilbert Gomez, OF

The 21-year old outfielder took a big step back in 2013, unable to live up to the promise he showed in his first brief exposure to the Florida State League two seasons ago. Despite garnering over 300 more plate appearances he still struggled to match the eye-opening performance of his impromptu 22-game promotion in 2011 where he knocked four home runs and stole four bases while batting .307. This time he managed just one home run with four more stolen bases while hitting just .216. Despite maintaining a strong walk rate, his true talent level likely resembles the hitter overwhelmed by advanced pitchers more than the teenager who flourished against them.

Dustin Lawley, OF

The 24-year-old outfielder was an interesting case in 2013. Though not considered a serious prospect despite showing decent pop in the past, Lawley went ahead and paced the Florida State League with 92 RBIs and 25 home runs -- only the second player to hit that many at that level since 2008. In short, he harnessed a very legit raw power tool that could conceivably play at any level on his way to the league's Player of the Year award -- only the fourth Mets prospect to achieve that honor and the first since 1993.

The question is whether or not the holes in his swing will let that tool play as he advances and begins to see competition closer to his own age. The good news is that while strikeouts are an issue (21.6%), they're not quite out of hand. Additionally, at 7% his walk rate has remained pretty solid. While he still has a lot to prove at the upper levels, there's enough here to entertain a discussion about a potential major league contributor along the lines of an Andrew Brown.

Cam Maron, C

How far we've come since the days when the Long Island product represented the top tier of catching talent in the system. That is no longer true for two reasons: An influx of impact talent and a skills erosion on the part of Maron. Specifically, the bat just hasn't held up as he's climbed the ladder, as evidenced by the .235 average with zero home runs in 2013. He didn't look any better in a postseason run in the Arizona Fall League where he batted .216 with a .255 slugging percentage either. The high-walk, high-contact approach has remained intact; yet there's only so far plate discipline alone can carry you, especially when the defensive skills are also a question mark.

Kevin Plawecki, C

The 2012 first-rounder continued his growth on both sides of the ball in 2013, ultimately ending the season as a sure top ten prospect in the system. After a very strong run with Savannah, the 22-year-old batted .294/.391/.392 in his first shot at Advanced-A, featuring his customarily excellent strikeout-to-walk rate (21:19). Additionally, he received praise for his improved work behind the plate, including better footwork as well as game-calling skills while maintaining about a 30% caught stealing rate.

Though he'll likely never win any Gold Gloves, Plawecki is effectively shaking off questions about his long-term defensive home. And though his power projection may never resemble the current 'catcher of the future', Travis d'Arnaud, his high contact, high on-base profile bodes well for a meaningful career at the highest levels. It remains to be seen whether he'll top out as a major league backup or continue to develop the kind of offensive skillset to justify regular at bats; likely his burgeoning hit tool will tell that story. In any case it's refreshing to declare that the club has a couple of major league-caliber catching prospects for a change.

Matt Reynolds, SS

In short, the 2012 second-round selection has yet to show very much to warrant that selection. Despite proving himself capable, if unspectacular, upon moving over to short the offensive skills just haven't been there. After a relatively mediocre professional debut in Savannah, the 23-year-old posted an even less inspiring .226/.302/.337 line for St. Lucie in 2013. The presence of decent plate discipline and the ability to handle a premium position will keep him afloat as he navigates the lower levels. However, the lack of any impact tools means that he'll really have to consolidate those skills if he wants to avoid getting lost as he ascends. A utility profile is probably already the ceiling here.

Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B

The 21-year-old infielder had a mediocre season in 2013, spending much of the first half struggling to get on track and then missing the entire second half with a wrist injury. The good news is that he continues to showcase the top-tier power that put him on the map in the first place. While he didn't quite mash the way he did in Savannah in 2012, his .167 ISO for St. Lucie was fine. Additionally, he managed to continue to cut down on the strikeouts (16.3%), though the walks came down as well (4.2%) -- a trend that continued into his poor showing in the AFL. The bigger problem is that the already-suspect defense at third grew worse in 2013, making a long-term move to first base inevitable. Though he possesses the requisite power for the position, he'll have to show more in the way of a hit tool to project the kind of offensive production he'll need to succeed up the chain.

TJ Rivera, 2B

Like any player two-to-three years older than league average, Rivera's production has to be taken with a grain of salt. That said, the 25-year-old former undrafted free agent posted yet another solid season in 2013, batting .289/.348/.351 in 125 games for St. Lucie and making his second-consecutive all star team. Now the pair of home runs and his six stolen bases will tell you that the Bronx product doesn't possess much in the way of tools. However, he's showcased the ability to make lots of hard contact at each level he's played in, which for a guy that can capably handle both middle infield positions means we can't completely rule out an appearance in the show. Still, safe money is on an organizational filler-type who gets to know Binghamton very well.


Matthew Bowman, RHP

The former 13th-rounder has performed excellently since being drafted in 2012. After posting a 2.45 ERA in his professional debut for Brooklyn, the Princeton graduate parlayed a hot start in Savannah into a quick promotion to St. Lucie in 2013 where he posted a 3.19 ERA in 16 starts. The 22-year-old showcased the same well-rounded repertoire that we've come to expect, utilizing his strong secondary mix to continue to fool low-level hitters while featuring solid command. That said, he's still an under-sized righty (6', 165 lbs) that works his fastball at or around 90 MPH, which isn't necessarily a recipe for success at the highest levels. Expect the strikeout numbers to come down once he hits Double-A, which may mean an ultimate move to the bullpen could give him the best shot at a major league career.

Angel Cuan, LHP

The little lefty continues his slow, but sure climb up the organizational ladder -- posting a solid 3.57 ERA in 27 appearances in the familiar role of swingman for St. Lucie. As always, his slight stature (5'11", 150 lbs) limits his stuff and his overall ability to miss bats. While he's proven skeptics wrong to this point, the ceiling just isn't terribly high despite the fact that he hits all of his spots. The key to his future is the fact that he's still dominating left-handed hitters, holding them to a .196 average with one home run and just two walks in 2013. If he can keep up that level of production his ceiling as a potential LOOGY remains intact.

Michael Fulmer, RHP

It was something of a lost year for the 2011 first-rounder, who started the season late due to a spring training surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee and shut it down early due to a shoulder injury suffered on a comebacker in August. There was also the mention of a biceps strain around the time he made his final start, though in short it's pretty clear that the 20-year-old just could never get on track in 2013 and the club decided to pull the plug before anything worse happened. Despite that, he remains one of the more exciting young arms in the Mets system with perhaps the highest upside of anyone not named Harvey, Wheeler, or Syndergaard.

Rainy Lara, RHP

Of the outstanding 2012 Cyclones rotation, few would have guessed that it would be Lara that might have the best season in 2013 -- though Gabriel Ynoa may beg to differ. In any case, the 22-year-old Lara posted an outstanding 1.42 ERA in eight starts for Savannah before making the jump to St. Lucie where he'd post a 3.76 ERA in 14 games -- 13 starts. Lara had a stellar stretch with three earned or less in 17 of his first 18 starts before he clearly ran out of gas down the stretch -- after nearly doubling his previous career high in innings.

In any case, the long, lanky righty (6'4", 180 lbs) showcased the same lower-90s heater, developing slider, and excellent command that opened eyes in Brooklyn, though it's worth noting that his strikeout rate did drop a healthy amount upon reaching Advanced-A. He also allowed far more hard contact against better hitters, which opens the door to the idea that a future in relief may be in the cards unless he can makes some adjustments. In any case, Lara continued to open eyes in 2013 and pretty much cemented the idea that he's a major league arm in some capacity.

Luis Mateo, RHP

Like Michael Fulmer, Mateo had a disappointing lost season in 2013. However, in Mateo's case he was shut down after experiencing a major arm injury -- specifically the right elbow ligament tear that required Tommy John surgery after just two starts, including his Double-A debut. He'll likely miss most of the 2014 season, though we'll hopefully get a look at how his stuff bounces back before the end of the summer.

Alex Panteliodis, LHP

The Mets ninth-rounder out of the University of Florida in 2011 hasn't really blown anyone away since turning pro -- as evidenced by his 4.18 ERA in 41 career starts. However, he managed to remain interesting after a big second half for Savannah in 2012, but he just couldn't keep that momentum as he went on to post a 4.75 ERA in 19 starts for St. Lucie in 2013. In short, the 23-year-old lefty just doesn't feature the kind of stuff to project as a starter in the long-term. His fastballs ticks above 90 MPH, but mostly works in the high-80s and his curveball can be an effective weapon but is hardly a major league caliber offering. To make matters worse, despite throwing across his body he doesn't have much of a platoon split, meaning a move to the bullpen may not help.

Hansel Robles, RHP

It was a pretty forgettable 2013 campaign for the 23-year-old Robles as he battled injuries and inconsistency for much of the season in posting a 3.72 ERA in 16 appearances -- 15 starts -- for St. Lucie. His strikeout rate dropped (7.02) and his walks jumped (3.08) while scouts noted that the stuff just didn't look as sharp as it had during his breakout 2012. It's fair to say that the diminutive righty (5'11", 185 lbs) has squandered much of the momentum that he generated two summers ago as he's lost his spot on the 40-man roster and no longer seems ticketed to impact the big club in the near term. That said, he created so much buzz based almost entirely on a mid-90s fastball that he could spot with near-surgical precision. If a better stretch of health in 2014 can revive the heater there's no reason why Robles can't figure back into the long-term plans, though most likely as a late reliever.

Domingo Tapia, RHP

The 22-year-old Tapia had a mediocre season in 2013, succumbing to his rawness in posting a disappointing 4.78 ERA in 22 starts for St. Lucie. After some early-season stops and starts due to injury, the big righty never seemed to find his groove as he only managed to post an ERA below four in one out of five months. The problem was almost exclusively that he effectively doubled his career walk rate (5.65) -- a surprising regression in an area of his game that once looked like a strength. The good news is that the boring, mid-90s fastball looked fine and opposing batters managed just .231 with three home runs against him. While the continued stagnation of a secondary repertoire throws more cold water on a long-term career in the rotation, Tapia is a consolidation year where he figures out how to limit the free passes away from regaining the steam that made him a top five arm in 2013.