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New York Mets Prospect Hot Sheet: May

Catch up on all of the hottest starts around the Mets farm system so far in 2014!

Savannah third baseman Jeff McNeil has been one of the bigger surprises in the Mets system so far in 2014.
Savannah third baseman Jeff McNeil has been one of the bigger surprises in the Mets system so far in 2014.
(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)

With over a month in the books down on the farm, we're still not quite at the point where we can start adjusting our long-term expectations based on the early-season streaks and slumps.

However, snap judgments on prospects based on small samples? Yeah, we can do that. So let's take a look at some of the Mets top minor league performers in the Mets system to this point in the season:

Noah Syndergaard, RHP

Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

Thor probably doesn't really belong on this list as he's certainly not lighting the world on fire -- but you've got to give the people what they want, right? Specifically, the 21-year-old has posted a so-so 3.88 ERA (3.70 FIP) through nine starts for Las Vegas. I suppose 3.88 isn't really that so-so for the PCL and Vegas, but it's Syndergaard so we all expected a little more.

The problem has been a walk rate that's pushed over 8% for the first time since he was in rookie-ball -- likely a product of the hitting environment. The good news is, he's still in the top ten in the league in swinging strike rate -- the only player under 24 on the list -- and he's still generating glowing scouting reports -- just needs more time.

Zach Lutz, 3B

Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

Damn right, he's still a prospect. And he can still crush, too: .333/..441/.532 with six homers. Except now instead of walking a good amount, he walks a ton -- for most of this season he's featured a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk rate.

As usual, there's little doubt that he's an upgrade over most of the hitters that are currently in the big league lineup. That said, finding a spot to fit him defensively continues to be impractical -- especially since Eric Campbell is seemingly taking his opportunity to spell Josh Satin by the horns.

Kevin Plawecki, C

Double-A Binghamton Mets

After a quiet first month in Double-A where he batted just .250 with three extra-base hits, the 23-year-old backstop has caught fire of late -- pushing his line up to .325/.357/.427 through 29 games with Binghamton. Specifically, he's batting .415 over his last ten games, including a torrid stretch of ten hits in 18 at bats.

These early returns are a very good sign from a kid getting his first taste of advanced pitching. That said, there's little reason to entertain thoughts of rushing him to the next level with catching duties capably-filled at the next levels, between d'Arnaud, Recker, and Centeno.

While he's continued to show a very strong ability to barrel the ball, Plawecki still has plenty to work on. Aside from the all-important task of getting more reps behind the plate, his walk rate is currently about half of his career mark and while he's improved of late he could hit for some more power as well.

Photo credit: Chris McShane

Matt Reynolds, SS

Double-A Binghamton Mets

Talk about unexpected; the 23-year-old former second round draftee from 2012 had been largely disappointing to this point. In two pro seasons in A-ball he had a career .234 average with very little in the way of secondary skills, little tools to speak of, and his defense at short could be characterized as passable, at best.

Fast forward through 40 games for Binghamton and he's now among the league leaders with a .333/.414/.401 line. The power is still gap-to-gap -- he's yet to hit his first homer -- but the walks are through the roof, literally doubling his career mark.

Who the heck knows if it's sustainable -- the .421 BABIP makes me rather pessimistic -- but suddenly we're looking at a guy with decent contact skills, burgeoning on-base ability, who can also play shortstop at the highest levels -- major league careers have been carved out of less.

Cody Satterwhite, RHP

Double-A Binghamton Mets

Call me a sucker for minor leaguers with improbable back stories; if you're still not familiar with the 27-year-old Satterwhite here's the Reader's Digest version: 2009 second-rounder of the Tigers with a rocket arm, high-90s fastball had him knocking on the door of the show in his first full season, so many arm injuries, released, independent baseball (Sioux City), Mets sign him on a lark late last fall, despite diminished stuff he's been extremely successful upon return to affiliated baseball.

Five years later Satterwhite has climbed all the way back to the Eastern League and in 24 innings thus far he's allowed just two runs, good for a 0.75 ERA. While he works in the low-90s at this point he's still striking out nearly 25% of batters faced and controlling his pitches better, though walks are still his primary weakness.

Steven Matz, LHP

Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets

We always knew the talent was there, but for the injuries. Well early in his second-straight healthy campaign the returns are very good. While he may have slowed from his torrid first four starts when his ERA was lower than his weight, the nearly-23-year-old currently boasts a 2.22 ERA -- eight-best in the FSL among pitchers with at least 40 innings. His 44 strikeouts -- in 44.2 innings pitched -- also ranks in the top ten.

In short, Matz is in the process of stamping his ticket as a top-three prospect in the Mets farm system and a top 100 prospect in baseball. Again, he's slowed a bit  -- he's allowed a .300 opponent average over his past four starts -- but should he get back on track there's a strong case to be made for a promotion to Binghamton in the near future.

Photo credit: Chris McShane

Brandon Nimmo, OF

Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets

Despite the relative slump that he's experienced of late, Nimmo's early season surge is undeniable. Even as he's seen his his average slip from .380 down to .335 over the past two weeks, he still had as more walks than strikeouts in that stretch -- buoying his on-base average and minimizing the pain of an unavoidable cool-down period.

Obviously the walks have been the story -- his 40 are the most at any level of affiliated baseball as I write this -- but it's also important to note the decrease in strikeouts from a guy that has struggled with whiffs in the past. We'll still wait to see if he can regularly put the ball over the wall, but for now a .121 ISO is fine.

Dilson Herrera, 2B/SS

Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets

Despite the fact that he's one of the ten youngest players in the FSL, the 20-year-old Herrera has shown strong growth thus far in 2014. Namely, the strikeout totals are way down as he's whiffed in just 13% of his plate appearances. Perhaps this correlates with slightly less power than we've seen from him in the past; however, I wouldn't be too worried as he's still slugging at a decent .411 clip in a tough environment for over-the-fence power.

Additionally, while he's no Nimmo, Herrera has reached base in 41 of 44 games this season - sporting a very solid .362 on-base percentage thus far. The transition to shortstop has been slow thus far; he's appeared in only 10 games there -- though he's made zero errors, compared to the seven he's made at second.

Akeel Morris, RHP

Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats

Plain and simple, the guy doesn't allow runs and he strikes everyone out. Literally...well almost. The 21-year-old has yet to surrender a run through 11 appearances (22.2 innings) in 2014. He hasn't quite struck out every batters he's faced, but his ridiculous 41.9% strikeout rate leads all Class-A pitchers.

While his long-term role remains somewhat unclear, Morris seems to have settled into the multi-inning relief role nicely. Walks remain a sticking point but at this level his stuff is too electric for that to matter.

Jeff McNeil, 3B

Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats

The high-contact, high-walk rate approach is not a big surprise -- the 2013 12th-rounder did plenty of that at Long Beach State. Even the hit tool isn't a huge shock; he batted about .350 in his final collegiate season. The power, on the other hand, is indeed a surprise from the 6'1", 165 lbs McNeil who didn't hit a single homer as a college player.

Nevertheless, he's posting a very nice .162 ISO in the spacious confines of Grayson Stadium in Savannah -- not an easy feat. Coupled with a .338/.417/.500 line and McNeil, who is a natural shortstop, looks like he may have the kind of bat to realistically profile as a utility/middle infield option at the highest levels.

Dario Alvarez, LHP

Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats

In three May appearances (one start) the 25-year-old has just one earned run and 16 strikeouts in 9.2 IP, including a five-inning, 12-strikeout performance last week -- good enough to earn him SAL Pitcher of the Week honors.

The backstory here is odd: After spending a few seasons in the DSL early in his career the Dominican native missed three full seasons due to injury from 2010 to 2012. He was, naturally, released by the Phillies, but after an intriuing run in the Venezueland Winter League the Mets signed him and he was very solid for the Cyclones in his return to pro ball in 2013 (3.10 ERA in 12 starts, 57 strikeouts in 58 IP).

The advanced age means that we'll have to wait a while before we know if Alvarez is legit; that said, any lefty with a funky delivery, a fastball that touches the mid-90s, and any semblance of a workable slider can have success at the highest levels. Expect Alvarez to move relatively fast.

Amed Rosario, SS

Extended Spring Training

So generally we don't hear much more than murmurs from XST; however, Adam Rubin recently had some pretty demonstratively positive reports on the Mets most intriguing young shortstop prospect:

"(Rosario) is opening eyes at the team’s Florida complex. Rosario has a .385 average, .437 on-base percentage and 1.150 OPS in extended spring training games and may end up ticketed for Brooklyn, which opens play June 13..."

Obviously it's extended spring training so big, massive grain of salt there. Still, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye for sure.