Daison Acosta, RHP
Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $70,000 during the 2016-2017 international free agent period, Daison Acosta is an athletic right-handed pitcher. At 6’2”, 160 pounds, he is tall, lanky, and projectable. As it stands now, his fastball sits in the low 90s, and with more physical development, the pitch could reach above-average velocities. He complements the fastball with a curveball that he has a feel for, but the pitch is still a work in progress thanks to an inconsistent release point in his long, overhand delivery. While there are questions regarding his maturity, Acosta is only 19-year-old. He made his stateside debut in 2017 and was effective, posting a 3.27 ERA in 22.0 innings for the GCL Mets, scattering 18 hits, walking 7, and striking out 19.
Matt Blackham, RHP
After two years pitching in the starting rotation for Johnson County Community College, Blackham transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in 2014, where he was used as a swingman, starting and relieving. The Mets drafted him despite his poor season there, selecting him in the 29th round. He finished out the 2014 season with the Kingsport Mets and had a solid season there strictly as a reliever, posting a 1.42 ERA with above-average peripherals. He had an equally solid season in 2015 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, but missed the entire 2016 season thanks to an elbow injury. He returned to the mound in 2017 and did not miss a beat. In 40 games with the Columbia Fireflies, he posted a 1.43 ERA, allowing 37 hits, walking 19 batters, and striking out a whopping 82 batters. Though only 5’11”, 180 pounds, Blackham throws hard. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has armside run. He complements the pitch with a curveball with a lot of depth, a slider, and a changeup. His delivery is high effort, with a long arm action and a stiff landing on his front leg, both of which negatively impact his command.
Quinn Brodey, OF
After a strong Cape Cod League season in 2016 and an even better season at Stanford in 2017, the Mets selected outfielder Quinn Brodey with their third-round pick, making him the 97th overall player selected in the 2017 MLB Draft. He made his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones and finished out the season hitting .253/.302/.355 in 54 games with Brooklyn and 9 games with the Columbia Fireflies. A left-handed hitter, Brodey has a balanced, clean swing that shows above-average bat speed at times. Utilizing the “Stanford swing”, his hit tool is currently more advanced than his ability to hit for power, as he has consistently demonstrated the ability to barrel the ball and put it in play, but has not shown consistent power. In the outfield, Brodey is an unspectacular but adequate fielder. He does not have much raw footspeed, but is quick to the ball thanks to good routes. Because he has a fringe-to-average arm, he often plays the field very conservatively, positioning himself deep and allowing balls to fall in front of him for singles instead of behind him for extra bases.
Jamie Callahan, RHP
Acquired by the Mets along with Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek in the Addison Reed trade, right-hander Jamie Callahan was unimpressive in his first few years in the Boston Red Sox minor league system. After he was transitioned into a reliever full-time in 2016, his career turned around, as he was able to maximize his strengths while hiding his weaknesses. Callahan’s primary strength is his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s. Thanks to his overhand delivery, the pitch jumps on hitters with late, downward life. He complements his fastball with a splitter and a cutter. The former sits in the mid-80s and has flashed plus thanks to it’s late dive, while the latter sits in the mid-to-high 80s and is more of an average pitch, with short, horizontal movement.
Yeizo Campos, RHP
Signed in 2016 as a 20-year-old after showing promise while playing for La Caribs de Anzoátegui of La Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional, right-hander Yeizo Campos put up good numbers in the Dominican Summer League. He made his stateside debut in 2017 and put up solid numbers in 65.2 innings combined between the GCL Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, and St. Lucie Mets, posting a 3.97 ERA with 58 hits, 17 walks, 63 strikeouts. Campos’ fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, touching as high as 95 miles per hour. He complements it with a slider that sits in the mid-80s with pretty good late breaking action and a mid-80s changeup. Campos utilizes a high 3/4 arm slot, exploding to the plate with a simple delivery. He generally is able to command his pitches, and has the ability to work effectively in all four quadrants of the plate.
Luis Carpio, 2B/SS
Signing for $300,000 during the 2013-2014 international free agent period, Luis Carpio exploded onto the scene in 2015 when he made his stateside debut as a 17-year-old and hit .304/.372/.359 with the Kingsport Mets. The young Venezuelan underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in March 2016 and missed the virtually the entire season. When he returned to the field, Carpio looked like a very diminished player, especially when it came to his defense. At the plate, Carpio had a solid foundation buoyed by an advanced eye at the plate. His swing was short, but explosive, tailored to spraying line drives around the field. Since returning from surgery, his hit tool diminished, and with a small frame, the likelihood of Carpio developing and adding more power is unlikely. Carpio’s arm strength was only average before his labrum surgery, and since returning from it, it his arm has looked weaker, necessitating moving him from shortstop to second base. The other aspects of his defense play up at second- he shows good instincts, soft hands, and is a leader on the field- but the positional downgrade is a huge blow to Carpio’s status in the system.
Gavin Cecchini, 2B/SS
Drafted 12th overall of the 2012 MLB Draft, Gavin Cecchini’s seven-year professional career has been full of peaks and valleys. Even on draft day, he was a player who didn’t have standout tools, and in the years since, that lack of one or two specific strengths has hurt Cecchini’s development. Over the years, his swing has changed, and his most recent mechanics emphasize contact over power, making Cecchini a one-dimensional contact-oriented hitter, possessing gap power but not much more. He shows excellent plate discipline, drawing a fair amount of walks and rarely striking out. Cecchini has soft hands, and in a vacuum has no problem with his glovework or footwork, but thanks to a below-average arm and sub-par range, he is forced to rush. His footwork, glove work, and throws suffer, leading to comically-high error totals. Defensively, he has been stretched at shortstop for many years, and the Mets have only recently begun using him at second base, where his profile is better suited.
Matt Cleveland, RHP
Coming into the 2016 season, Matt Cleveland was considered one of top high school prospect in all of New England. In his final season at Windsor High School in Windsor, Connecticut, the right-hander posted a 2.07 ERA in 30.1 innings, striking out 41 and walking 23. The Mets selected Cleveland with their 13th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft and were able to talk him out of his commitment to Florida Southwestern, a junior college in Fort Myers, Florida. He only pitched a handful of innings to close out the 2016 season, but pitched 24.2 innings in 2017, posting a 2.55 ERA with 13 hits allowed, 12 walks, and 17 strikeouts. Cleveland’s fastball generally sits in the low 90s, and has touched the mid-90s. At times, it backs up due to inconsistent mechanics, but as he adds additional muscle mass and works out some of the kinks in his delivery, some believe the right-hander could be able to touch the mid-90s. Cleveland complements his fastball with a slider and a changeup, but he is still more of a thrower than a pitcher, and both pitches are very raw.
PJ Conlon, LHP
At 5’11”, 190 pounds, PJ Conlon wouldn’t be the smallest pitcher to ever play professional baseball, but it certainly puts him at a disadvantage. His lack of standout tools is concerning, but his three-year track record of nothing but success speaks for itself. His fastball is fringe-average even for a lefty, sitting 87-90, topping out at 91 MPH. He throws a wide assortment of other pitches, including a two-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup, with the latter grading average-to-above-average and the others fringe-to-average. His long, slingy delivery from a high-3/4 arm slot has helped give his pitches downward sink, giving Conlon a strong groundball rate. Aware of his limitations, Conlon does what he can to maximize his below-average stuff, making sure to throw strikes, pitching backwards, and studying hitters and trends.
Stanly Consuegra, CF
Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $500,000, Stanly Consuegra is one of the better quick-twitch athletes in the 2017-2018 class. At 6’2”, 170 pounds, Consuegra has a long, projectable frame. His swing gets deep, but he has strong wrists and displays excellent barrel control, allowing him to make a lot of contact. His contact is currently line drive loud, but with more muscle, the outfielder should add additional in-game power. He initially played as a shortstop, but transitioned to playing center field. Thanks to quick reaction times and average speed, Consuegra covers a lot of ground. Because of his history as a shortstop, he possesses a very strong throwing arm, with evaluators ranging from above-average to plus.
Tony Dibrell, RHP
Tony Dibrell was an impressive athlete at Chattahoochee High School in Georgia, but no MLB teams showed enough interest in the 6’1”, 200 pound right-hander, prompting him to attend Kennesaw State University. There, he grew a few inches, added a little velocity to his fastball, and refined his secondary pitches, blossoming into a well-rounded pitcher. He earned All-Star honors in the Cape Cod League season in 2016, and broke single-season records during his junior season with the Owls, prompting the Mets to draft him with their fourth selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. Dibrell’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 96 MPH. Though he throws from a 3/4 arm slot, the pitch does not have much movement, though it shows above-average sink when thrown down in the zone. He complements his fastball with a slider, a changeup, and a curveball. His slider is generally considered an above-average, sitting in the low-80s with hard biting action. His change-up is has above-average potential, though Dibrell does not throw it much. The pitch sits in the low-80s with good fade and tumble to the arm side, especially when thrown low in the strike zone. Rounding out his arsenal is his curveball, a pitch in the low-to-mid-70s with soft break used to keep hitters off-balance. Thanks to effort in his delivery and mechanical flaws in his follow through, the right-hander has had control problems over the course of his collegiate career.
Sebastian Espino, SS
Sebastian Espino received the largest bonus that the Mets handed out to an international rookie during the 2016-2017 international signing period, giving the Dominican shortstop to a $300,000 bonus. The Mets put the 17-year-old shortstop on an advanced developmental path, promoting him stateside by the end of the 2017 season. Espino currently projects as a defensive-oriented shortstop, showing soft hands and good actions. Though very young, some evaluators believe he will be able to develop into a plus fielder at the position. With the bat, the Dominican youngster is nowhere near as advanced. Though there might be potential in his 6’2”, 175 pound frame, he is currently more of a contact hitter, spraying line drives around the field with the occasional double.
Phil Evans, 2B/3B
Despite being selected in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the Mets were willing to give Phil Evans $650,000 in order to buy him out of his commitment to San Diego State University. The Mets certainly had high hopes for Phil Evans when they drafted him, but a few seasons of injury and ineffectiveness that saw him barely hitting his own weight- or in some cases, not even- decimated his value as a prospect. Making the most of the opportunity he was afforded when fellow infielder Jeff McNeil sustained an injury, Evans hit .335, edging out Aneury Tavarez for the Eastern League batting title by .00012. He was unable to keep his average over .300, but he did hit a respectable .279/.341/.418 for the Las Vegas 51s in 2017, and made his major league debut at the end of the year. Evans has aggressive approach at the plate, using a short, quick stroke to make hard contact and put balls in play, spraying the ball across the field, especially to his pull side. Defensively, Evans played second base, third base, and shortstop in 2016, but is probably best suited to second base, where his below average arm and range can be masked and his soft hands and range can still be maximized.
Edgardo Fermin, 2B/SS
Signed out of Venezuela during the 2014-2015 international free agent signing period, Edgardo Fermin made his stateside debut this past season and looked like he belonged, hitting .285/.360/.375 in 40 games split between the Kingsport Mets and the Brooklyn Cyclones. His advanced eye at the plate and barrel control give Fermin a lot of contact ability, but Fermin is currently only a gap hitter, as he lacks the strength in his 6’0”, 170 pound frame to do more damage. Defensively, Fermin profiles well at shortstop, though he has played his fair share of second base as well. He has excellent lateral movement, and an above-average arm, giving him the range and arm strength to make plays from deep in the hole.
Gregory Guerrero, 2B/SS
One of the top rookies available during the 2015-2016 international free agent period, Gregory Guerrero has been involved in baseball since birth. He grew up playing baseball with his brother, Jose, and cousins Josue, Gabby, and Vlad Jr. He received tutelage from uncles Vlad, Wilton, Julio, and Eleazar, all of whom were signed by professional teams and had varying degrees of success. When the Mets signed him in July 2015 for $1.5 million, it looked as if they would be adding a high ceiling prospect into their system. Though Gregory still has plenty of time, the youngster has yet to live up to the lofty expectations attached to him. Guerrero has the potential to be an above-average hitter, but he has a surprising number of red flags despite his upbringing. Like the other Guerreros, Gregory is very aggressive at the plate. His eye at the plate is very raw given his age, and because he hacks at everything, he is rarely able to keep his balance when he swings, often ending up on his front foot or stepping back in the bucket, resulting in weak contact. When he is able to keep his balance, the ball does jump off of his bat thanks to his quick, loose wrists, but power surprisingly has never been a tool Guerrero has had in spades, and a recent shoulder injury may sap it further. On the field, Gregory is athletic but is unlikely to be able to stay at shortstop. He has a solid glove and smooth actions, but a lack of quick-twitch explosiveness, agility, and range make him subpar at short and more likely to be relegated to second.
Adrian Hernandez, CF
Considered one of the better players to be available during the 2017-2018 international signing period, Dominican outfielder Adrian Hernandez was signed this past July by the Mets and given a $1.5 million signing bonus. Built like a running back, the young outfielder has a profile that centers around his strength. His bat speed, which is considered among the best in the 2017-2018 international rookie class, is explosive. When combined with his physical strength, Hernandez boasts plus raw power. His ability to hit is currently raw, with a swing that has too much of an uppercut and moves out of the zone too quickly, and a vulnerability to spin, but once his pitch recognition and barrel control develop further, the outfielder could develop above-average to plus in-game power as well. In the outfield, Hernandez is equally raw. He has above-average speed and can turn the afterburners on very quickly, but his ability to read the ball off the bat and run the most efficient routes are still developing. His arm is only average, but if he is able to stay in center field, non-plus arm strength can be minimized. Evaluators are split as to whether or not he will be able to stay in center, as his 6’, 185 lb. frame is going to put on weight and he may lose speed and range as a result.
Colin Holderman, RHP
A standout baseball player and football player at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in Illinois, the 6’7”, 240 pound Colin Holderman went undrafted and attended Southern Illinois University in 2015, where he posted a 7.68 ERA in 38.2 innings for the Salukis. He transferred to Heartland Community College as a sophomore and had much more success against Division II competition, posting a 1.57 ERA in 74.1 innings, allowing 49 hits, walking 23, and striking out 92. In addition, he hit .489/.565/.843 in 178 at-bats, slugging 13 home runs and stealing 15 bases in 18 attempts. The Mets drafted Holderman in the 9th round of the 2016 Draft and signed him for $236,300, as they had to buy him out of his commitment to Mississippi State University, as the right-hander had signed a letter of intent to transfer there earlier in the year. He finished out the year with the Kingsport Mets, posting a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings and seemed ready to break out in Columbia in 2017 before missing most of the season due to a labrum injury. The big right-hander has a plus fastball, sitting in the low 90s and topping out as high as 97. Thanks to his height and the arm angle from which the pitch is thrown, Holderman gets good run and sink on it. He complements his fastball with a slider and a changeup. His slider, which sits in the upper 70s, flashes plus and was considered by some evaluators to have been the best off-speed pitch thrown by 2016 Mets draftees. He has a feel for his changeup, which also sits in the upper 70s, and the pitch flashes average. He often telegraphs it, throwing the pitch with a lower release point than his fastball or slider. Earlier in his career, his delivery was reminiscent of Bronson Arroyo, with a stiff leg kick getting almost parallel to the ground, but during Spring Training 2017, he worked with coaches to tweak it to be more subdued.
Mickey Jannis, RHP
Mickey Jannis began the 2015 with the Long Island Ducks, but when the season ended, he was a member of the Binghamton Mets rotation. In his first year back in professional baseball, the knuckleball pitcher was quite a hit, posting a solid 3.55 ERA in 58.1 innings split between the St. Lucie and Binghamton Mets. He struggled in 2016 with those same teams, but was successful once again in 2017, posting a 3.60 ERA in 122.1 innings with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He lowered his walk rate in 2017, which led to fewer baserunners and fewer potential runs, though whether or not this is something that he can control, or was a random coincidence of the knuckleball remains to be seen. The pitch has a large velocity range, as low as 70 MPH and as high as 80, and features mesmerizing movement as the knuckleball is wont to do. Unlike most knuckleball pitchers, Jannis actually has a halfway decent fastball, sitting in the high-80s, and uses it to uses to catch batters sitting on the slower knuckleball and sneak in strikes here and there.
Kevin Kaczmarski, OF
Everywhere Kevin Kaczmarski goes, he hits. Prior to joining the Mets, he attended and graduated from the University of Evansville, where he hit a cumulative .352/.431 /.540 in his four seasons there. Since the Mets drafted him in the 9th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Kaczmarski has hit, owning a cumulative .295/.376/.418 batting line. Kaczmarski’s ability to hit for average is heavily dependent on his ability to hit balls past fielders and leg out hits, as he is a very BABIP-oriented hitter. He has a strong eye at the plate, drawing a lot of walks and limiting the strikeouts. Defensively, he fits best in left field, as he does not have the range to roam center field with regularity and does not have a strong enough arm to play right field.
Ricky Knapp, RHP
Nothing Rickey Knapp does will jump off the page at you, but he always got it done nonetheless. After being drafted out of Florida Gulf Coast University in the 8th round of the 2013 Draft and signing with the Mets, Knapp bounced around from role to role as he progressed through the system until he found success in the second half of 2015 as a starter and has remained in that role ever since. After years of solid-but-unspectacular numbers, Knapp imploded in 2017 when assigned to the Las Vegas 51s for the bulk of the year, posting an unsightly 5.97 ERA in 144.2 innings. Part of the reason the right-hander struggled so much is that his stuff is average across the board, which is death to a pitcher in the Pacific Coast League. His fastball sits 88-92, but he commands it well. He hides his changeup well, and the pitch has just enough fade to fool batters sitting on the plane it approaches on. His slider and curveball have good movement, and Knapp often changes his arm slot and grip to produce different kinds of trajectories and break for both. His cutter is just enough to keep left-handed hitters honest and on their guard against it. All in all, Knapp has a high baseball IQ, and in a neutral environment, is a better pitcher than the sum of his individual pitches as a result.
Wagner Lagrange, OF
Wagner Lagrange made his professional debut at a relatively older age as compared to other players signed out of the Dominican Republic as rookies, and though there were some intriguing tools there, his poor performance after coming stateside in 2016 made him an afterthought for most. The youngster had a very different 2017, hitting .330/.379/.460 in 58 games split between the Kingsport Mets and Brooklyn Cyclones, forcing people to take notice. The right-hander’s power began manifesting, hitting a career high 4 home runs. When coupled with his eye at the plate and his ability to make contact, the 22-year-old has an intriguing offensive profile. Defensively, he has shown decent range and an above-average arm, playing both corner outfield positions.
David Marcano, RHP
One of the youngest players in the 2017-2018 international free agent class, the Mets had to wait until late August to sign David Marcano, as he did not turn 16 until August 28th. Despite his age, the young right-hander had plenty of baseball experience prior to his signing with the Mets, as he pitched for his native Venezuela at various international competitions. His fastball sits in the high-80s to low-90s, topping out at 92 with heavy life. While he is already athletic, additional development coupled with the fact that he has a quick arm and gets good extension in his delivery suggests that there is room for the right-hander to add additional velocity. He complements it with a pair of secondary pitches, a curveball and a changeup. His curve, which features 12-6 break, is the more advanced of the two pitches, and could develop into an above-average pitch. His changeup still lags behind his curveball in its development, but Marcano has shown a feel for it.
Ronnie Mauricio, SS
Given a $2.1 million signing bonus, the highest the organization has ever given a player, Ronnie Mauricio is a well-regarded switch-hitting shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Generally considered one of the top talents available during the 2017-2018 international signing period thanks to a combination of his feel for hitting, his ability to play shortstop, and the physical upside that his 6’2”, 165 pound frame might have in it. At the plate, Mauricio has a quick, whippy stroke that produces a smooth swing. It is more compact and contact-oriented from the left side, while he shows more power from the right side. Most of his at-bats are quality, with few swings-and-misses, thanks to an advanced eye at the plate and good bat-to-ball skills. Defensively, he reads the ball well off the bat and shows good reaction times and instincts. He has soft hands, has a quick transfer, and possesses a plus arm. His footspeed is below average, but his range does not suffer much because of his quick reactions and instincts. There is concern that he might put on too much muscle as his body matures, forcing him off shortstop, but as long as he remains athletic and agile, he should be able to stick at short.
Patrick Mazeika, C
An 8th round draft pick out of Stetson University in 2015, Patrick Mazeika has done nothing but hit over the course of his professional debut. In 238 games over the course of his entire professional debut, he owns a .311/.413/.445 batting line, and this past season hit .290/.389/.416 in 106 games split between the St. Lucie Mets and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The 24-year-old has a nice, smooth swing. Though it is a bit lacking in plane, he is able to put a jolt in the ball thanks to slightly above average bat speed and leveraging his lower half. In the past, that power was more line drive double power than anything else, but he set a new career high with 7 home runs this past season, demonstrating that his power potential is growing. While it might indeed be, it is important not to get too ahead of ourselves as his defense is still a work in progress. Mazeika has shown quick exchanges and slightly above-average pop-up times, but his arm is below average. In addition, he does not move that well behind the plate and does not receive or block balls as well. If he is unable to improve enough to stay behind the plate, first base is likely the only other position he will be able to handle, but because of his lack of over-the-fence power up to this point, the left-hander may also be a tough fit there as well.
Hansel Moreno, 3B/SS
Hansel Moreno only cost the Mets $50,000 when they signed him during the 2014-2015 international signing period, and they may have found a bargain if he continued to refine his offensive and defensive tools. After scuffling in the Dominican Summer League for a few years, Moreno broke out in 2016 after returning from extended spring training and beginning to see a psychologist to deal with anger issues. He made his stateside debut a year later and continued the excellent play, hitting .295/.360/.432 in 57 games split between the GCL and Kingsport Mets. Moreno is a great athlete, with plus speed, smooth hands, good range, and a bit of cockiness at shortstop. His defense is more advanced than his bat, but he has made great strides there. The 20-year-old is a switch hitter who has shown the ability to make good contact, and his 6’4”, 180 pound frame suggests that he could fill in more and add more power to his game
Stephen Nogosek, RHP
Acquired by the Mets along with Gerson Bautista and Jamie Callahan in the Addison Reed trade, right-hander Stephen Nogosek was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Oregon, where he served as closer. While the results have been mixed for Nogosek, both in the Boston system and with the Mets, he has a solid base to work with. At 6’2”, 205 pounds, the right-hander has a solid frame. Throwing from a high 3/4 arm slot, Nogosek explodes to the plate. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, with the velocity generated from his quick arm. He pairs his fastball with a slider and a changeup. The slider, which sits in the mid-to-high 80s, flashes above-average potential thanks to its sudden, hard break. His changeup, on the other hand, is a below-average offering. All three of his pitches suffer from the violence in his delivery, which has caused command issues for the right-hander virtually his entire collegiate and professional career.
Michel Otanez, RHP
Though he signed for only $35,000 during the 2016-2017 international free agent period due to his age, Michel Otanez may have a lot more upside than his signing bonus suggests. When he made his professional debut with the DSL Mets in 2016, not only did the 6’4”, 210 pound right-hander post respectable numbers, but his fastball was also sitting in the mis-90s. The right-hander unfortunately had Tommy John surgery that fall, causing him to miss the entire 2017 season, but if he returns with similar fastball velocity, Otanez may be a pitch to keep tabs on.
Nate Peden, RHP
As a senior at University High School in Florida- where he was a friendly rival of fellow Mets prospect Bryce Hutchinson, Nate Peden posted a 1.69 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in 41.1 innings pitched. Selected by the Mets in the 13th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Nate Peden is just the type of pitcher the Mets have had a lot of success developing over the last few years. At 6’4”, 170 pounds, he has an extremely projectable frame. His fastball is not particularly overpowering at the present, sitting in the high-80s and topping out at 91 MPH, but thanks to his projectable frame and easy arm action, Peden will most likely add additional velocity in the coming years. He complements his fastball with a curveball that sits in the low-to-mid-70s, a slider that sits in the mid-70s, and an inconsistent changeup that sits anywhere from the mid-70s to the mid-80s.
Michael Paez, 2B/3B/SS
Though a standout at Miami Sunset Senior High School, Michael Paez went undrafted by Major League Baseball teams as a high school senior in 2013, and to add insult to injury, was not even able to get scholarships to attend the University of Miami or Florida International University thanks to his diminutive size. He left Florida and traveled north with a chip on his shoulder to attend Coastal Carolina University. There, the undersized 5’7”, 170-pound infielder excelled, blooming not only into one of the best players on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, but blooming into one of the better hitters in the entire NCAA Big South conference. After hitting a cumulative .283/.385/.462, he signed with the Mets, who selected him with their 5th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. The weight of the entire collegiate season weighed on the College World Series champion, and he fared poorly in Coney Island, hitting .190/.270/.285 with the Cyclones. He came into the 2017 season fresh and had an excellent first half, hitting .290/.376/.509 with the Columbia Fireflies. His second half was as dreadful as his first half was good, as he hit only .200/.324/.270 with the St. Lucie Mets. Despite his smaller stature, Paez has a surprising amount of power, generated with an open stance and a big leg kick. Though his lack of muscle mass hasn’t hampered Paez in the power department, it may be a reason he crashed in the second half for two seasons in a row. Though a shortstop at Coastal Carolina, he does not have the arm strength to play the position effectively full time as a professional, and profiles better as a second baseman.
Jose Peroza, 3B
Signed out of Carlos Guillen’s academy in Venezuela, the Mets signed Jose Peroza for $280,000, impressed by the projection the 16-year-old showed. At 6’1”, 200 pounds, the youngster showed two above-average tools: raw power and arm strength. Given that much of his strength came simply from his upbringing on a farm rather than time in the weight room suggested to some evaluators that he could even increase his raw power with time in professional facilities. Peroza made his professional debut in 2017 and made his stateside debut after hitting well in the Dominican Summer League. A third baseman primarily, he could also see time in the outfield.
Cameron Planck, RHP
When Anthony Kay’s medical revealed structural damage that could necessitate surgery, it was something of a blessing in disguise, as it would allow them to allocate money elsewhere in the 2016 Draft. Using some of the money that was saved, they were able to sign Cameron Planck out of his University of Louisville commitment. Planck, who was well on his way to being considered one of the most dominant high school pitchers in northeastern Kentucky history, had an extremely dominant senior season at Rowan County High School in Morehead, posting a 0.38 ERA in 74.1 innings, with 21 walks and 132 strikeouts. The Mets had tried to work out a pre-draft arrangement that would pay the 11th round pick as if he were a 3rd round pick ($563,100 to $813,500), but he rejected them. The Mets were dogged in their pursuit and Planck eventually agreed to sign with them after being offered $1,000,001. He did not appear in a professional game in 2016, and in the weeks before the 2017 Kingsport Mets season began, the right-hander underwent shoulder surgery, eliminating him for the season. At 6’3”, 225 pounds, Planck does not have much physical projection left in his body, but he doesn’t need much, as he already has the physicality of a starter. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has touched as high as 96 MPH. He complements it with a low-to-mid 80s slider that flashes average or better and a mis-80s changeup. Planck’s delivery has a lot of moving parts, as his arms and legs flail, which makes it makes it hard for the batter to pick up the ball, but it also makes it difficult for the right-hander to consistently repeat his release point, which leads to inconsistent command and fewer quality pitches.
Ali Sanchez, C
One of the top talents available worldwide during the 2013-2014 international signing period, the Mets signed Venezuelan catcher Ali Sanchez for $690,000 and hoped that he would be able to develop into the next great Venezuelan catcher, following in the footsteps of Ramon Hernandez, Victor Martinez, Miguel Montero and Salvador Perez. They almost immediately put him on an advanced developmental track, having him make his stateside debut in 2015, and he responded well, but Sanchez has since put up two consecutive disappointing seasons, both of which ended prematurely due to hand injuries. While the hand injuries have seemingly slowed his offensive development, many were mixed as to how much of an offensive upside Sanchez could develop. His bat never showed much power, and his short stroke was always contact-oriented. 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. 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.
Luis Santana, 2B
Luis Santana was given 2016-2017 one of the highest signing bonuses of all of the rookies signed during the 2016-2017 international free agent period, and so far, the early returns have been promising. In the two years of experience he has in the Dominican Summer League, Santana has a cumulative .317/.413/.462 batting line with 37 walks and 22 strikeouts. The 18-year-old is short and stocky, standing 5’8”, 175 pounds, but is extremely strong, as he has been boxing since a young age. He does not project to necessarily be a power hitter, but he makes a lot of loud contact using is compact, contact-oriented swing. A middle infielder, Santana does not have the range or agility to play shortstop, so he is likely consigned to second base.
Champ Stuart, CF
Born in the Bahamas, Champ- real name Jervis- Stuart attended college at Brevard College in North Carolina and was selected by the Mets in the 6th round of the 2013 Draft. When he was drafted, Champ was a pretty good athlete with amazing speed, but was a very raw baseball player. Since then, he’s refined his game a bit, but if you simplify Champ into as basic a description as you can get of his performance, that’s still pretty much the best way to describe him. At the plate, he uses a level swing realistically designed for spraying line drives, but Champ generally likes to swing hard, and try to sell out for power, which isn’t the best idea since his bat speed is only average, he doesn’t have a frame that has much power, and his ability to recognize spin never really developed. In the field, it is a much different story. Since being drafted, Champ has turned himself into a above-average, borderline plus center fielder. After years of relying on his plus speed to cover for his lack of being able to get good reads on the ball, he has transformed himself into an above-average, borderline plus center fielder. He gets good jumps, takes quick routes, and is able to get to the ball, settle, and comfortably catch it. His arm is also above average, borderline plus, and having a plus arm from a center fielder that also has plus range can be a game changer at times.
Ronnie Taylor, RHP
Selected by the Mets with their very last selection in the 2017 Draft, Ronnie Taylor Jr. has impressive stuff for a talent selected in the 40th round. The 6’3”, 200 pound Texan underwent Tommy John surgery during his sophomore year of high school, causing him to miss a lot of developmental time. As a result, he leans heavily on his fastball, a pitch that sits in the low 90s and can touch as high as 94. In addition, he throws a 11-5 curveball, though the pitch is almost always telegraphed to hitters because he throws it from a higher arm slot than his normal three-quarters.
Tim Tebow, OF
Juan Uriarte, C
Considered by some to have been the best rookie in Mexico during the 2014-2015 international signing period, is coming off of his best season to date, hitting .305/.372/.455 in 52 games for the Kingsport Mets. The promise of offensive potential was always in his athletic 6’, 180 pound frame, but Uriarte only began tapping into it this past season. He uses the entire field and takes mighty hacks, generating above-average exit velocity. In addition to his offensive prowess, Uriarte is a strong defender. Thanks to a strong arm, quick pop, solid footwork and advanced blocking skills for a player his age, Uriarte projects to not only stay behind the plate, but excel defensively.
Jhoan Urena, 1B/3B
After two years of floundering in St. Lucie, Jhoan Urena seemingly got his professional career back on track in 2017, hitting .282/.364/.437 in his third go-around with the St. Lucie Mets. The switch-hitting corner infielder lost most of his luster after back-to-back down seasons in 2015 and 2016 thanks to broken hamate bones, but he reported to camp in 2017 fully recovered and set career highs in virtually every offensive category. In addition, he improved upon his already solid walk rate, though he did strike out a bit more. Though his hit and power tools remained more or less the same as they had been, Urena seemed to take a step back as a defender, an area of his game that he did not excel at to begin with. Primarily a third baseman, Urena spent some time at first base and even more surprisingly given the fact that he is a below-average runner below average lateral range, the outfield.
Chris Viall, RHP
Thanks to a blazing 95 MPH fastball and tall body that projected some more velocity, Chris Viall was drafted out of high school by his hometown San Fransisco Giants in the 39th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but turned them down and elected to attend Stanford University instead. He had his ups-and-downs there, pitching primarily as a middle reliever but getting spot starts sprinkled in here and there. In 2016, he was eligible for the MLB Draft once again, and was selected by the Mets in the 6th round. He signed with them, and in the 20 innings he pitched over the rest of the 2016 season, the 6’9” right-hander demonstrated that he was still very much a work in progress. He made his 2017 debut a bit late thanks to the recovery time from elbow surgery in the offseason, but showed improvements as compared to his 2016. Viall’s fastball is his primary weapon, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s, and topping out as high as 97 MPH as a starter. Thanks to his height, the pitch appears even faster to hitters, and because of his 3/4 arm slot, the pitch has movement as well. He complements his fastball with a tight curve that sits in the low 80s and a changeup that he has a good feel for the changeup. Being a big guy, Viall has had mechanical problems plague him throughout his collegiate and professional career; most notably, his leg lift is often inconsistent, leading to immediate weight and momentum imbalances in his delivery, and his stride foot is not always planted linear towards home plate, which can cause torque in the leg and/or knee and cause his release point to bounce from pitch to pitch.
Jaison Vilera, RHP
Making his stateside debut as a 20-year-old in 2017 after playing professionally in Venezuela and in the Dominican Summer League, Jaison Vilera had an impressive season. In 62.1 innings, he posted a 1.88 ERA, walking 17 and striking out 56. He led the GCL Mets in numerous categories, including ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, and innings pitched. With a heavy fastball that gets plenty of grounders and an advanced changeup, Vilera showed that the competition in the GCL was not enough for his growing talent level.
Kyle Wilson, RHP
A graduate of Raymore-Peculiar High School in Missouri, Kyle Wilson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 19th round of the 2015 MLB Draft but did not sign with them, instead honoring his commitment to Crowder College, a junior college in southwestern Missouri. In his two years playing ball there, he posted a 3.56 ERA in 48.0 innings, allowing 42 hits, walking 31, and striking out 70. His performance there earned him a 35th round selection by the Mets in the 2017 MLB Draft. He signed with the team and finished out the 2017 with the GCL Mets, where he posted a 1.50 ERA in 18.0 innings, allowing 13 hits, walking 7, and striking out 19. Wilson’s fastball sits in the low 90s, and thanks to his 3/4 arm slot, the pitch has life. He supplements it with a high-70s curveball with tight 12-6 break that is generally regarded as an average or better pitch, but is inconsistent. He also throws a changeup, but the pitch is still very much a work in progress and will likely never be graded as even an average pitch.
Matt Winaker, 1B
Matt Winaker was the son of a Stanford alum, so it only made sense that he, too, attend the school. A two-sport athlete in high school, he focused primarily on baseball while in college, hitting a cumulative .278/.393/.422 in three seasons as a Cardinal. He had his best season as a junior, hitting .308/.432/.514, and was able to parlay that into a 5th round selection by the Mets in the 2017 MLB Draft. He was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones to finish out the year and hit .268/.402/.282 in 21 games in Coney Island. A left-handed hitter, Winaker has has a smooth, level swing with a bit of loft emblematic of the “Stanford swing.” Though he has enough speed to play the outfield thanks to his athletic frame, Winaker generally has been used at first base, where he has gotten rave defensive reviews. Though he may be able to excel there defensively, he does not profile well there offensively, and will likely be used in the outfield in the long-term.