It's that time of year again. The minor league seasons have wrapped up, the Arizona Fall League is in full swing, and prospect writers everywhere begin to turn their attention towards making lists. Last year I did a more comprehensive report on each prospect I saw in 2013 at the end of the season. This year since I was writing up most of these guys as I went along, I will include just some additional notes and that all-important ordinal ranking. If I wrote a fuller report on a player, the link is in their name.
We will keep the usual disclaimer:
This is a ranking of the best Mets prospects I saw in person this year. This is not a comprehensive Mets prospect list. I did not see Las Vegas, St. Lucie or the GCL team this year. If a player is not on the list, it is most likely because I did not see him. Otherwise, all rankings are roughly consistent with how I would order the players within the Mets system right now, although that may change between now and when I actually lock down my 2015 list. Oh yeah, I am not a scout.
15. Eudor Garcia
The Mets fourth round pick this year out of El Paso Community College was drafted on the strength of his bat, but I am a bit ambivalent about the long-term offensive profile here. Garcia has some natural bat-to-ball ability, but it's tough to project a ton of power, as he doesn't really use his lower half or feature much of a hand load. He also starts with an open stance and uses multiple toe taps to close and stride, which caused his timing to get out of whack at times. He would end up swinging with just his arms and lunging a bit. Later in my look, Garcia did a better job keeping the swing together and showed some ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap. Generally, I will give a lot of leeway to guys in their first professional summers, but I had hoped to see a bit more potential power given the defensive limitations.
Garcia only played third base in my look, but that is not likely his long term position. He can handle the stuff hit near him, and while the arm is short overall, if he has time to set, he'll give you a solid, accurate throw. However, Garcia showed step-and-a-dive range, and had issues coming in on balls, both due to his lack of foot speed and his issues getting enough mustard on his throws while moving. Pre-draft, there was speculation he would move to left field, but he's a true 20 runner who is probably an inch shorter and twentyish pounds heavier than his listed height/weight. Garcia's probably better off staying at third for the medium-term, and if you are feeling optimistic, could eventually give you a shift there on occasion in the majors. He'll be in the mix for the back end of my Top 25, but it's a problematic profile until I see him hit against against higher level arms.
14. Jeff McNeil
Jeff McNeil's breakout this year was personally instructive. I saw McNeil for four games in the Appalachian League in 2013. I can assure you I did as easily as I can assure you I took zero notes on his performance. It was easy to overlook a skinny 12th round college kid playing second base in rookie ball, especially when you are zeroed in on on a Dominican teenager that just got seven figures. I started to hear some rumblings that there was a bit more to McNeil early this season, and it took just one batting practice session in Lakewood to sufficiently chastise me for my #slack. It's a pretty swing from the left side and there's some athleticism in the profile as well. I'd even argueargue he should be getting more middle infield reps. He was blocked by Cecchini and Mazzilli this year, but he's a better athlete than Mazz for certain, and I'd like to see what McNeil could do with a once a week look at short this year (he played there in college; I know, so did everybody). The major league future is a super-utility type, as he's older and the swing falls apart a bit against spin, but he's a nice little find for the organization. And I learned my lesson. This year I wrote a bunch of notes on Oswaldo Caraballo and Zach Mathieu that I will likely never use, but I have them.
13. Matt Reynolds
Reynolds is the one guy in this quintet that could be a major league contributor in 2015, but I wonder exactly how he fits into the Mets plans. The organization has always liked his defense at short far more than me (this is a trend apparently), but he could be a once-a-week guy there, and he'd be solid at second or third. Combine that with a good approach and the ability to hit .260-.270, and you have a very useful bench piece. However, he's currently (temporarily?) blocked by Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores. Tejada has a major league track record and is a passable major league shortstop, which is important if the Mets actually plan on rolling with a Flores/Murphy double play combo next year. Tejada could be a late-inning caddy for Flores, and has enough of a platoon split to give Murph a day off against the occasional tough lefty. So I don't see the Mets carrying the Reynolds over Tejada because of the defensive gap. Outside of Dilson Herrera and Rafael Montero, no Mets prospect might be as affected by the team's offseason plans as Reynolds.
12. Blake Taylor
Not much more to add on Taylor from my original report, other than that he probably won't be the twelfth best prospect I see in 2015, one way or the other.
11. Champ Stuart
When people who don't follow the Mets system as deeply as our commentariat ask me about "sleepers" in the organization, I usually default to three names: Wuilmer Becerra, Jhoan Urena, and Stuart. Stuart is the most exciting of the three for sure, and he probably has the highest floor of the group, but he is here, while you will have to wait a bit longer for Urena and Becerra. Stuart carries an plus centerfield projection. His routes have improved with experience, he shows an above-average arm, and even when the jumps aren't perfect, he has the speed to run most balls down in a very big park. I just have too many questions about the bat right now to hop him over the other two. He certainly doesn't have the same power projection as Becerra, and he doesn't have Urena's approach or bat control. He won't have to hit as much as those guys, but he will have to hit. There's really not much that separates the three as prospects, and this may look silly in a year (full-season ball is a pretty big jump that Becerra and Urena haven't made yet), but as much as I love watching Stuart, I can't quite pull the trigger on him yet.
Up Next: We hit the top ten, featuring five guys I probably don't need to obliquely introduce here.