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.
10. Wuilmer Becerra
Not a ton to add here on Becerra, other than I think he should get the bump to Savannah in 2015, and then we will really see how the swing mechanics and approach changes hold up.
9. Jhoan Urena
Sometimes you want to be a year early on a guy you think will breakout. Jason Parks and I chatted about this last offseason w/r/t Marcos Molina after the Baseball Prospectus Mets Top 10 list dropped. As Molina will be in my top five here (and certainly top ten overall in the system), when it works out you look like a genius. On that note, I think there is a really good argument for Jhoan Urena as a top ten prospect in the system. Dude is a switch hitter with a solid approach and some hit tool from both sides. He's a good athlete for his size, and looks to me like a major league third baseman. I think he'll develop average power in time. He's far away, and the body will be a fight, but that is a heck of a prospect. He's been overlooked some because of the sexier names on the Cyclones, but the gap between him and Rosario for example is almost all positional advantage at this point. So yeah, it's probably a year too early, and the three guys in front of Urena here are all 'safer' bets for your top 10 list, but I wouldn't be surprised if he hops them all for 2016.
"Say something nice about Dom Smith, Jeffrey, gawd."
Dom Smith is a good prospect. Dom Smith likely has a major league future. Dom Smith showed advanced bat control and approach for a 19-year-old in full season ball. The fact that he is this low on my list is in large part a testament to the overall strength of the Mets system.
Dom Smith is also a first baseman. First basemen in the National League last year hit .257/.330/.430 (112 wRC+) with 20 bombs per 600 plate appearances. Can Dom Smith do that? Maybe. High school first baseman are a tough profile. The best of the recent ones (as a draftee/prospect) was Eric Hosmer, and he is a potential non-tender this offseason. Hosmer also showed far more power potential in the minors than Smith has so far.
I don't have any natural scouting ability to be frank. Anyone can do what I do if they put in the reps and spend time talking to people who know more. And I don't want to turn this into a plea for sympathy, because I really enjoy doing what I do, but I spend a lot of the Spring and Summer away from my wife (and mostly in sketchy hotels) because I think putting eyes on these guys is important, that it really adds something to the conversation. And guys like me are all coming to similar conclusions here. I saw a 19-year-old that let his body get away from him this season, had heavy feet in the field, struggled to stay in and pull Sally league fastballs or really put any charge into any baseball, and even was tentative in BP. Guys that saw Smith this year, people whose opinions I trust, saw the same thing. That should be worrying. This list is a snapshot in time, and next year is another eternity in the career of a young ballplayer, but this is where I am on Smith right now, and I stand by it.
6. Amed Rosario
Two shortstops who impressed me a lot more in 2014 than 2013 despite wildly different profiles as prospects. Rosario is still all projection. He'll show off more impressive physical tools at short than Cecchini, but the speed of the game in the Penn League was a problem for him, and he would often rush his actions or try to do too much. Cecchini is more polished at the position. It's nothing flashy, but he can play there for me. At the plate, Rosario is able to get more out of a quieter swing due to very quick wrists for a guy his size, while Cecchini uses a high leg kick to help him drive the ball into the gaps. With that big leg kick, Cecchini's timing can fall apart against offspeed, while Rosario is over-agressive against spin, but overall both looked better at the plate this year.
The two are very close in my mind and will probably end up back-to-back on my final 2015 list as well. Do you want take the higher floor Cecchini who will start in Double-A and contribute to a major league team in some capacity in the near future? Or do you want to dream on Rosario, who might not get out of the Eastern League and might not be a shortstop when he gets there? I think Rosario will be higher on most sources' lists; after all, my colleagues and I love projection. I don't disagree with that call, but there is still enough risk in Rosario's profile (and in a still rather foggy major league projection) to give me a bit of pause.
Up Next: The top five Mets prospects I saw this year and my personally most difficult ranking decision.