15. Marcos Molina, RHP
Height: 6'3", Weight: 188 lbs.
DOB: 3/8/95 (21)
Acquired: IFA, 2012 (Dominican Republic)
Marcos Molina spent the entirety of the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, a procedure that he underwent when the 2015 season ended, after non-surgical rehab efforts to heal his ailing elbow failed. Molina returned to the mound during the 2016 Arizona Fall League season, unveiling a slightly modified delivery that had him increase his stride length slightly, allowing the right-hander to utilize his lower half better and put less stress on his arm- a noticeable problem in his delivery pre-surgery.
Before the surgery, Molina sat in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, complementing it with a sharp slider that sat in the mid-80s, a curve with late break that sat in the low-80s, and an advanced changeup. According to pitch data from the Arizona Fall League, Molina looked to be back to his normal self in a pair of starts and a handful of relief appearances. His fastball averaged 92 MPH, ranging from 87-95 MPH. His secondary pitches fell in line with what they were before his surgery, as well. The right-hander’s command came and went over the course of his 16.2 innings, so it remains to be seen whether he is still shaking off the rust or if the aftermath of the surgery has affected it.
Molina is healthy again following Tommy John surgery, and was sitting 91-93 in the Arizona Fall League. We may forget, but before getting hurt Molina was a 20-year-old prospect who skipped Low-A and had multiple above-average secondaries. If that version of Molina is back, this ranking will look silly in retrospect.
The mechanics were bad and Molina got hurt, as just about everyone who saw him pitch predicted. Reportedly the velocity was already back in his brief appearances towards the end of the year, and the stuff was excellent pre-injury. Still, it seems like Molina is headed towards becoming a reliever, and there’s no guarantee his stuff comes all the way back. The upside is big, but high-risk pitching prospects are not my cup of tea.
It was an extremely short sample size, against weak competition, but at least Marcos Molina is back on the mound. His altered delivery still looks to put a bit of stress on the arm and shoulders, but it is head-and-shoulders better than his pre-injury mechanics. His velocity was mostly there, and his breaking ball looked sharp, though his command of it didn’t look to always be there. To me, Molina’s 2017 season will be more about getting more innings under his belt and re-acclimating himself to pitching rather than results.
14. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Height: 6'2", Weight: 205 lbs.
DOB: 5/26/93 (23)
Acquired: IFA, 2009 (Dominican Republic)
2016: Las Vegas (Triple-A): 25 G (25 GS), 154.1 IP, 170 H, 77 R, 68 ER (3.97 ERA), 40 BB, 78 K / New York (MLB): 10 G (3 GS), 18.1 IP, 26 H, 13 R, 13 ER (6.38 ERA), 7 BB, 17 K
After a challenging year in the Eastern League in 2015, Gabriel Ynoa faced an even steeper challenge in the Pacific Coast League. Improbably, Ynoa had a halfway decent season with the 51s. He had a strong first half of the season, suppressing home runs at a surprisingly high rate, but performed poorly in the second half when regression hit him. Ynoa’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but it has been a very hittable pitch for virtually all of his professional carer. In addition to the fastball, he throws a changeup, slider, and curveball. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, and it is at least average and flashes above-average. His curveball and slider are both fringy, having both recently been incorporated into his repertoire to stop hitters from sitting on his fastball.
I’ve long been a Ynoa fan, but I’m jumping off the bandwagon this year. He always had decent fastball velocity and a good change, but the former is too hittable and the latter hasn’t improved in the last three years. The third offering, the slider, still can’t be started in the zone, and thus isn’t very usable. Working with Warthen could help tighten up the slider, but I have a hard time envisioning more than a sixth inning arm.
We should all worship at the altar of Warthen. I went from being the low man on Ynoa due to the lack of strikeouts to the high man, as Ynoa almost doubled his strikeout numbers under the tutelage of the major league staff. The sample size was obviously small and the ERA was ugly, but I think the arsenal is good to survive at the back end of a rotation—not sexy, but back-end-depth starting pitchers are always valuable.
The first couple of months of Ynoa’s season were so much fun. Through two months of the season, he had a sub-3.00 ERA in the PCL. The strong ERA was buoyed by a home run suppression bubble that would soon burst, but it was nice while it lasted, given that Ynoa seemed the kind of pitcher that would perform terribly in that kind of environment. All in all, the right-hander performed better in the PCL that I would have thought. I don’t really know how much I buy into the major uptick in strikeouts that occurred at the major league level, but the Mets’ coaching staff was able to help Gsellman with that, so maybe lightning strikes twice. Ynoa will need it to in order to have a successful major league career.
13. Andres Gimenez, SS
Height: 6', Weight: 165 lbs.
DOB: 9/4/1998 (18)Acquired: IFA, 2015 (Venezuela)
2016: DSL Mets (Rookie): 62 G, 275 PA, .350/.469/.523, 3 HR, 13/21 SB, 8.0 strikeout rate, 16.8 walk rate
Considered one of the best international rookies in the 2015-2016 class, the Mets made waves by signing the young Venezuelan, giving him a signing bonus just north of $1 million. In his one year in the organization, the youngster has shown that he is worth the money, demolishing the Dominican Summer League and earning rave reviews. Gimenez has a level, quick swing and plus bat speed that leads scouts to believe that he can be a plus hitter. His strong wrists give him excellent barrel control, allowing him to spray line drives to all fields. He doesn’t currently project to be a big power threat, but as the youngster matures, he should add enough muscle to grow into low double-digit home run power. Defensively, Gimenez has a plus arm, soft hands, good range, and good instincts. There is a very good chance that he sticks at shortstop as he ages and matures, and if so, that defense combined with his offensive profile could make him a special player.
This is my pick for “ranking that will look stupid eight months from now”. Gimenez is a high-risk prospect, I admit, but he’s also a high reward prospect, and all the information we have a present lean towards high reward. He was signed for $1.2 million. He crushed the DSL. And we have several reports from folks who have seen him play that line up with that impressive batting line. He’s a sure shortstop, or so they say, so that helps raise the profile. We’ll likely have to wait until June for his stateside debut, but it will be worth waiting for.
Stats basically don’t matter in the DSL, but Gimenez’s dominance makes you at least raise an eyebrow. So do the rumors that many GMs called asking about the teenage shortstop only to be given a stern ‘no’ from the Mets’ front office. Gimenez’s tools are—per the scouting reports—not world-beating, but his style of play makes the total package play up. Hopefully we get to see him stateside in 2017.
I get that Gimenez has gotten excellent reviews from scouts down in the Dominican Republic, and that’s a good thing not to be discounted, but I can’t help but feel that the youngster is the flavor de jour of Mets prospects. I buy into a lot of what Gimenez has to offer, so I don’t think this is exactly a Vicente Lupo situation—the outfielder also demolished the DSL, got good reviews about his bat speed, bat control, power, and an improved eye at the plate, but then fizzled when he began climbing the minor league ladder. But I have trouble ranking guys that are so raw so high.
12. Luis Carpio, SS
Height: 6', Weight: 165 lbs.
DOB: 7/11/1997 (19)
Acquired: IFA, 2013 (Venezuela)
2016: DSL (Rookie): 62 G, 275 PA, .350/.469/.523, 3 HR, 13/21 SB, 8.0 strikeout rate, 16.8 walk rate
GCL Mets (Rookie): 8 G, 34 PA, .290/.353/.387, 0 HR, 0/0 SB, 32.4 strikeout rate, 2.9 walk rate / Brooklyn (Short-A): 12 G, 52 PA, .140/.288/.186, 0 HR, 0/0 SB, 19.2 strikeout rate, 15.4 walk rate
In what should have been an exciting year for Luis Carpio, the young shortstop instead sat out most of the season, recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in late March. He got into a handful of games with the GCL Mets and the Brooklyn Cyclones at the end of the year, but the young Venezuelan clearly looked like he was shaking off the rust. As such, not much can be gleaned from his limited minor league performance in 2016.
The biggest question about Carpio going forward is his throwing arm. His defensive profile grades out well, with the teenager demonstrating good instincts, soft hands, and leadership, but shoulder injuries sometimes weaken a player’s throwing arm, and Carpio’s arm was only average to begin with. If the young Venezuelan is moved from shortstop, it will put more pressure on his bat to develop, but Carpio certainly has a solid foundation there, as well. His hit tool is more polished than most 19-year-olds, with an advanced eye at the plate and a short, explosive swing tailored to spraying line drives gap-to-gap, with the promise of some additional power as his upper body fills out more.
Not much to add to previous reports on Carpio, other than that it’s likely he’ll end up at second instead of shortstop following the labrum surgery that cost him most of 2016. He has an advanced approach at the plate, and that’s what makes me most excited for Carpio coming into 2017.
There isn’t much to add on to the blurbs from last season. Assuming all the tools bounce back once his shoulder is healthy, Carpio still has the talent to wind up as a better version of early career Ruben Tejada—not sexy but valuable. My biggest concern is his ability to stick at shortstop, particularly post-shoulder-injury. The Mets are of course famously lax with shortstop defense, though, so who knows.
Because of his labrum surgery, there’s nothing new to report regarding Carpio that wasn’t said last season. I can say I have seen him in person, and that he appears smaller than his listed 6’, 165 lbs. frame. Going forward, arm strength may be a concern, but hopefully Carpio’s other skills play up and allow him to successfully man shortstop with a possibly-compromised arm.
11. Ali Sanchez, C
Height: 6'1”, Weight: 200 lbs.
DOB: 1/20/1997 (19)
Acquired: IFA, 2013 (Venezuela)
2016: Brooklyn (Short-A): 46 G, 181 PA, .216/.260/.275, 0 HR, 2/2 SB, 14.4 strikeout rate, 5.5 walk rate
Ali Sanchez was unable to follow up on his strong stateside debut in 2016, scuffling in front of the Coney Island faithful, either because of or due in part to a bruise on his right hand that was sustained in late June when a foul ball hit him and bothered him throughout the year. Even still, scouts have questioned how well Sanchez’s smooth, contact-oriented swing would translate in-game since he was an amateur, as his short stroke never showed much power. Despite the poor offense, hitting is only one half of a catcher’s duties, and Sanchez is held in high esteem for his defense. The Venezuelan backstop only has an average throwing arm, but excels at the other facets of catching. He is athletic and moves well behind the dish. He has a fast transfer, has shown good pop-up times, and has an accurate arm. He calls a good game and is well-liked by coaches and the pitchers that throw to him.
At some point, I’m going to see Ali Sanchez play, and I’m going to say, “Ah, I get it now” or “WTF is this”? I’m excited for that day, but it won’t likely come this year, assuming Sanchez spends most of 2017 in St. Lucie. He’s my current test case for not scouting the stat line, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lesson one way or another by the time his career plays out. As for the profile, it’s a plus receiver, average arm, and a smooth swing, so if he hits it can get exciting real quick.
Sanchez’s time in Brooklyn was a huge let down, as he battled injuries and posted a putrid offensive line. His ability to control the running game also remains a problem, though his receiving ability is superb. Prospect evaluators more trained than I still really like Sanchez and he’s a young catching prospect, so I think it’s best to withhold judgement on his disappointing 2016.
Last season, I thought Sanchez was going to have a breakout year with the bat and solidify himself in our Top 10 list. He didn’t, but having seen him in action a few times, I genuinely believe that it’s only a matter of time before his bat plays up and he has himself a decent season. The bat looked better to me that I thought it would have, based on scouting reports that cast a lot of aspersions on his offensive potential. He made a lot of hard contact the times when I saw him, hitting a pair of oppo fly balls on two different occasions that I thought were going to go over the right field wall had it not been for some inopportune Atlantic wind. Even if his bat never plays up, Sanchez plays some good defense and should be able to linger around for a while longer based on that alone.