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Mets Prospect Hot Sheet: July

Catch up on all of the hottest performers from around the Mets farm system!

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Time for another temperature check on the hottest performers in the Mets farm system!

With September in sight it seems prudent not only to gauge who's getting hot for the stretch run, but for those guys in the upper minors, who might be preparing for a late-season call-up to Queens.

Matt den Dekker, OF

Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

It's no secret that MDD has been killing the game ever since returning to Triple-A from his last stint with the big club. He's batted .402/.487/.665 with four home runs in 45 games; soak that in because that is not a small number of games. Yeah, I know -- it's the PCL. And yes, he's 27-years-old. But I must have missed the part when the Mets became so flush with proven hitters that they could not benefit from learning more about someone who is already in the organization and plays the same position as a player or two ripe for DFA.

Say what you will about his long term prospects, den Dekker should not be in Las Vegas. Sandy's reasoning for promoting Kirk first had to do with the immediate need for a platoon/bench guy -- to replace Abreu -- and Kirk's experience and relative success (at least this season) in that role. That leads me to believe that whenever den Dekker does get the call he'll be playing most every day -- in other words we're waiting for the club to jettison a Young, likely Chris.

Photo credit: Gordon Donovan

Cesar Puello, OF

Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

Despite continued deployment as a not-quite-everyday player, the enigmatic outfielder has done a good job of showcasing the skills that will help get him to the major league level. Namely, he has exhibited a career-high 8% walk rate in 2014 while continuing to showcase a very effective approach on the basepaths (i.e., 13 stolen bases, 1 caught stealing).

The problem has been a somewhat ineffectual bat; he's hitting just .243 with four homers. However, he posted a .917 OPS in July, his .338 mark against lefties is immensely better than the Mets' current right-handed corner outfield option has produced, and a 21:29 walk-to-strikeout rate since May has helped buoy his on-base percentage through the cold stretches.

Whatever he is long term, Puello is showing the kind of skills you like to see from a reserve outfielder at the big league level while teasing the kind of tools that portend more upside than that. The problem is that he's clearly going to have to change some opinions within this organization to get that chance. I do believe we'll see him for a brief cup in September -- perhaps sooner if the club decides to supplant Chris Young with a righty -- but it's anyone's guess how the club will handle his tenuous position on the 40-man after that. In short, if he's smart he's leasing, not buying.

Matt Reynolds, SS

Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

The 23-year-old has appeared on pretty much every one of these reports this season. That's what happens when you bat .344 -- including .463 with a pair of homers in his last ten games.

There's not much more I can say about Reynolds aside from confirming that yes, he is indeed a major league baseball player. At what level, you ask? A Justin Turner, average-dependent backup middle infielder once seemed fair. Now? That's probably more the floor with a ceiling slightly higher -- perhaps Mike Aviles is a fair comp? (who is basically just a premium version of Justin Turner).

The key here is that -- though the ISO has jumped this year (see evidence below) -- the central component for Reynolds is his batting average and batting average fluctuates more than most any metric. (Remember: Juan Lagares batted .349 in the minors, too.) That is not to say that Reynolds' 2014 is a mirage; reports of a mechanical overhaul help the case for legitimacy. It just means that in the absence of any other standout tools/skills he'll certainly ride the BABIP waves hard -- some years for the better, others for the worse.

Jack Leathersich, LHP

Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

What's funny is that the 24-year-old reliever hadn't been markedly improved over the the past month or so before his recent promotion to Triple-A. Sure his 3.18 ERA in July was fine but 15 strikeouts in 11 innings is actually pretty low by Leathersich standards and the walks are still an issue.

That said, it's clear that the organization values his swing-and-miss capability and views him as a real option for the major league bullpen at some point. Additionally, after walking 12 over his first 22 innings with Binghamton this season, he handed out half that many free passes over his last 22 innings. He's another guy we may see for a few innings come September.

Photo credit: Gordon Donovan

Hansel Robles, RHP

Double-A Binghamton Mets

It would seem that the long-awaited move to the bullpen has finally transpired as the 24-year-old Robles has worked in relief in each of his past five appearances. And the good news is that after a slow decline in his efficacy as a starter over the past couple seasons, he's looked much stronger in short bursts.

Specifically, he has allowed just one earned run over his last five games -- four being of the multi-inning variety -- while striking out over a batter an inning. The real key here will be whether Robles will see a sustained uptick in his stuff out of the 'pen as hitters just have not found him very difficult to hit since his otherworldly 2012 in Brooklyn.

Greg Peavey, RHP

Double-A Binghamton Mets

The 2010 sixth-rounder has been on a stellar run of late --allowing one run or fewer in five of his last six starts. Combined he had allowed seven runs over his last 41.2 innings pitched and this was nothing new for the 26-year-old righty. All told Peavey has posted a 2.79 ERA in 13 starts for Binghamton after a rough Triple-A debut earlier in the season.

All that said, it's still tough to project Peavey in a big league role. The so-so velocity, superb command profile generally doesn't translate well at the major league level, especially as Peavey often lives in the high-80s. That said, as he continues to sharpen the secondary offerings he will try to follow in the footsteps of Logan Verrett, who is currently having success in Las Vegas and will likely get a shot in a major league bullpen before all is said and done.

Photo credit: Bryan Green

T.J. Rivera, INF

Double-A Binghamton Mets

The 26-year-old Bronx native just keeps proving the scouts wrong. After going undrafted out of Troy University in 2011, all Rivera has done is hit at each and every level. He's exhibited an innate ability for putting the barrel on the ball and this season has been no different; after posting a .341 average in St. Lucie, Rivera is currently up to .346 through 34 games with Binghamton.

The rest of his game is so-so at best: He's a versatile defender that is capable, but not spectacular anywhere in the infield. The power and speed are nothing to write home about. But it's the hit tool -- and the fact that he can handle the middle infield -- that will carry him going forward. Rivera is probably the closest likeness of Justin Turner the Mets have had since the erstwhile backup infielder/pinch hitter extraordinaire left the organization. No word yet on whether Rivera too is innately clutch.

Domingo Tapia, RHP

Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets

He certainly hasn't been lighting the world on fire. But a 2.35 ERA in four July starts is indeed progress for the big righty. More than anything the uptick in strikeouts last month was a welcome sight -- this after he posted just 3(!) strikeouts for the entire month of June. Hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come.

Unfortunately, 2014 still looks like a pretty major step back for Tapia. Considering the fact that he's actually posting worse numbers in his second shot at this level -- always a dreaded sign -- it's getting close to time to pull the plug on his once lofty ceiling. There's no reason not to continue the course for the remainder of 2014 but it's becoming clear that a move to the bullpen might be the last, best option here. Most concerning to me -- even more so than the disappearing strikeouts -- is that his groundball rates barely resemble the pitcher with the devastating sinker of old.

Gavin Cecchini, SS

Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets

After a slow start to his St. Lucie career, the 2012 first-rounder is turning things around, batting .343 over his last ten games. The secondary skills have still been rather sparse as any signs of significant power and/or speed have been lacking. That said, he's walked seven times in his last ten games versus zero strikeouts. Cecchini seems to be showing us that he fits the Matt den Dekker mold of players who exhibit a pretty consistent adjustment period at each new level before they get their feet under them.

Photo credit: Gordon Donovan

Miller Diaz, RHP

Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats

After missing nearly two months due to injury, the hard-throwing righty has bounced back nicely, allowing just two runs over his first 14.1 innings since returning. Specifically, he had the best start of his season -- and perhaps his career -- on Tuesday night in a seven-inning, complete game, three-hit shutout of Charleston.

The speedy return to form is a good sign for the 22-year-old who has dominated with a powerful mid-90s fastball to this point. The fact that he's basically managed to maintain or, in the case of his walk rates, actually improve pretty much every metric upon advancement to full-season ball in 2014 is also a positive development. While it indicates that his heater is still likely too much for his opponents, it also tells us that the secondary skills are improving.

John Gant, RHP

Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats

Gant continues to do Gant things -- in short, overwhelm his opponents with an overall package of size, stuff, and pitchability that is a little surprising that the Mets were able to find in the 21st round in 2011. Specifically, the 22-year-old Savannah native boasts good command of a solid repertoire, running his fastball into the low-90's while showing advanced feel for a change-up.

It's a right-handed profile that will be tested thoroughly by more advanced competition; but the good news here is that he's already managed to add a couple ticks on the heater with professional guidance. If he can manage to find a couple more as he fills out his projectable frame he's got a shot at the back of a major league rotation.

Photo credit: Gordon Donovan

Robert Gsellman, RHP

Class-A Savannah Sand Gnats

You can pretty much just re-read what I had to say about Gant. The 21-year-old Gsellman has been excellent all season, and even better lately posting a 2.16 ERA over his last nine starts and allowing more than two earned runs in just one of those games. Grabbed in the 13th-round of the same 2011 draft, Gsellman is another guy that mixes a nice package of size and stuff from a late-round selection.

At 6'4", 200 lbs, Gsellman features an even sturdier frame than does Gant. And if he's tapped out in terms of velocity -- he's already touching the mid-90s -- he certainly has a build that portends the kind of added stamina to take that later into games. Also like Gant, the strength of his fastball and solid-enough secondaries are plenty for Class-A hitters. In any case, both Gsellman and Gant seem to fit firmly into the next wave of potential Mets starters coming through the system, though both will have a lot to prove at the next levels.

Michael Conforto, OF

Short-Season Class-A Brooklyn Cyclones

Potent bat? Check. Goofy profile photo? Check. The Mets first-round selection in June waited a little while to get his pro career underway, but now that he has Conforto has not disappointed. The big righty is hitting .333 through his first 19 games with plenty of the power and patience we expected from such an advanced college bat. What's more, scouts have been impressed with the swing as he's showcased easy power from the left side in his transition to the pro game. It's clear to most observers that the 21-year-old is just getting his feet wet in Brooklyn -- we'll learn much more about him in a more challenging environment next spring in Savannah.

Photo credit: Gordon Donovan

Marcos Molina, RHP

Short-Season Class-A Brooklyn Cyclones

With a 1.27 ERA through eight starts, not to mention over a strikeout an inning paired with very solid command, Molina is living up to the quickly-growing hype around him in Mets prospect circles. It's clear watching him that at just 19 he's a very gifted physical specimen. In short, he's a man-child. With a special mid-90s fastball he can and does impose his will on NYPL hitters. The feel for the secondaries is there -- a good sign at such a young age -- but frankly that has not really mattered to this point; the fastball is far above the level of the competition.

It's also clear when you see him that the mechanics aren't ideal. I won't pretend to be a scout here, but for any Mets fan weened on the old drop-and-drive trope it's plainly apparent that Molina uses his lower half not much at all. Based on the highly-advanced repertoire I'd say that the delivery is the main factor to watch as he develops. Based on his athleticism and physicality alone it's fair to wonder if there's more in there. Conversely, concerns about a long-term home in the bullpen are also fair. It should be interesting to watch over the next few years -- in the meantime he's going to do a lot of damage.

Wuilmer Becerra, OF

Rookie-Level Kingsport Mets

At 19, the throw-in from the Dickey trade is still all kinds of raw. That said, he's making large strides this season in terms of actualizing his big potential and it's paid off of late as he just came off a .349/.391/.558 July where he knocked four home runs and stole four bases.

Again, he's a long way from the big leagues. Specifically, the approach at the plate still needs work (6:38 BB-to-K).. But the tools are in place to project for a cornerstone outfielder if all breaks right.