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Top 25 Mets Prospects for 2021: 15-11

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Next up up on our list are two pitchers, two outfielders, and an infielder.

Thomas Szapucki
Steve Sypa

15

Name: Junior Santos
Position: RHP
Born: 8/16/01
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2018 (Santiago, Dominican Republic)

Junior Santos was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, a city of roughly 1.2 million on the north-central side of the island, Junior Santos had enough talent to be recognized by baseball evaluators, but if nothing else, he had size on his side; when he turned sixteen, the young right-hander was 6’6”. He impressed the Mets’ scouting contingent after working out in front of them, and on June 2, 2018, the very first day of the 2018-2019 international free agent signing period, the team signed him for a $275,000 signing. The Mets were particularly aggressive with Santos, assigning him to the Dominican Summer League immediately instead of opting to wait to have him debut professionally the following season. He made 11 appearances for the DSL Mets, making ten starts and posting a 2.80 ERA in 45.0 innings, allowing 35 hits, walking 6, and striking out 36. Continuing to challenge Santos, who by this point had grown an additional two inches or so, the Mets sent him stateside to end the 2018 season. He appeared in three games for the GCL Mets and posted a perfect 0.00 ERA in 5.0 innings, allowing 4 hits, walking 0, and striking out 3. The Mets continued this aggressive developmental path for the big right-hander and promoted to the Kingsport Mets for the 2019 season. Starting in fourteen games, Santos accumulated 40.2 and posted a 5.9 ERA, allowing 46 hits, walking 25, and striking out 36.

Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, Santos throws with a simple, repeatable delivery. While tall pitchers often have trouble repeating their mechanics, leading to control problems, Santos does not suffer from this. While he does issue his fair share of free passes, this is more so because of a lack of pinpoint control rather than poor mechanics. His fastball ranges from 90-97 MPH, settling in at 94-95. His secondary pitches are still works in progress, but given that he is just 19 with roughly one year of professional experience, this is understandable. Coming into the 2019 season, he threw a rough, slurvy breaking ball, but seems to have tightened it up a bit. It still does not have much lateral break, but it has a fair amount of vertical drop. He also throws a changeup that sits in the high-70s. While it does not have much fade or drop yet, he does not telegraph the pitch to hitters, consistently throwing it with the same arm speed and release point as his fastball. Santos is able to throw his fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone and generally works his secondary stuff low in the zone at this point in his career.

14

Name: Freddy Valdez
Position: OF
Born: 12/06/01
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2018 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)

Considered one of the top international rookies available during the 2018-2019 international free agent signing period, the Mets signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Freddy Valdez for $1.45 million. He made his professional debut in 2019, spending the majority of the season in the Dominican Summer League but getting a cup of coffee late in the season stateside with the GCL Mets. With the DSL Mets, he hit .268/.358/.432 in 57 games, hitting 5 homers, stealing 6 bases, walking 28 times and striking out 46 times. In his three-game stint in the Gulf Coast League at the end of the season, Valdez went 4-10 with a double and a home run, walking three times and striking out three times.

Valdez has a physical presence that many other players simply do not have. He is a well-built 6’3”, 210-pounds and his game revolves around his strength and power. He has above-average raw power often takes violent hacks at the plate with a long, pull-oriented swing that sometimes costs him his balance. When he keeps his swing and lower half in sync, he is able to drive the ball far and harness that power. When he is not, he takes awkward, off-balance swings that result in weak contact or strike outs. Though a big kid, Valdez moves fairly well in the outfield. He is a below-average runner, owing to a lack of explosive quick twitch muscle in his first step, but once he gets going he can cover a decent amount of ground. His arm is above-average, giving him the ability to play right field. If he eventually loses mobility as he grows and adds weight and mass, he will be limited to first base. The bat profiles well there, and though not a natural infielder, he is a big target and has shown more ability at scooping and picking balls than most who do not see regular playing time at the position.

13

Name: Isaiah Greene
Position: CF
Born: 8/29/2001
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: 2020 MLB Draft, 2nd Compensation Round (Corona High School)

Baseball is a game where the natural ebbs and flows of a player’s performance can skew our perceptions of them and peaking too early or too late can have a major impact on the kind of player you are considered. Outfielder Isaiah Greene is an example of just that. Greene hit a solid.268/.360/.329 as a freshman at Corona High School and .389/.494/.597 as a sophomore. Expectations were high in his junior year and while he ended up hitting .327/.391/.540, many considered the batting line to be something of a disappointment, as he lost sight of his normal gap-to-gap approach and started trying to hit home runs, which led to a drop in his batting average, on-base percentage, and overall slugging percentage. He had a strong showing for himself after the high school season ended in exhibition games and in the 2019 Area Code Games, but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, those competitions ended up being the last stage in which he could showcase himself as California ended all high school baseball activities only a handful of games into the 2020 season. The Mets drafted Greene in the second compensation round of the 2020 MLB Draft, a selection awarded to them for losing right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler to the Philadelphia Phillies. Competing with the University of Missouri, where the outfielder had a commitment to, the Mets signed Greene for a $850,000 signing bonus, roughly $80,000 below the MLB-assigned slot value of $929,800.

At the plate, Greene has a smooth left-handed stroke. He stands slightly closed at the plate, holding his hands high and swinging with a slight leg kick. His swing, which does not feature much plane, is designed to spray line drives around the field, allowing him to leg out hits. Indeed, his best tool is his speed, which is an easy plus from scouts and evaluators. He is extremely aggressive on the basepaths but has always had the ability to back it up, going a perfect 17/17 in stolen bases over the course of his entire high school career. His power is almost non-existent at this point in his career but given that he is an athletic 6’1”, 180-pounds, he is likely to add additional muscle mass, and power, though there is no consensus from scouts and evaluators as to how much power he is likely to add. Some see Greene as possessing fringe-average power, while others think that the potential of additional muscle mass combined with adjustments to his swing, such as shortening it or getting his swing path more direct to the ball, will result in more. While there are questions as to how his bat will develop, there are far fewer questions about his glove. As is the case with most young outfielders, he still needs to improve seeing the ball off the bat and learning the most efficient routes to take, but his plus speed gives him the ability to overrun and adjust. His arm is fringe-average, making him a fit only in left field if he is not in center.

12

Name: Shervyen Newton
Position: INF
Born: 4/24/99
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2015 (Tilburg, Netherlands)

When the 2015-2016 international free agent signing period began, the Mets handed out seven-figure deals to Andres Gimenez and Guerrero-clan member Gregory Guerrero, eating into most of the money that had available. The largest bonus they gave after signing that duo was $50,000, given to Shervyen Newton, a 16-year-old shortstop from Tilburg, Netherlands, by way of Curaçao. Newton wasn’t exactly impressive in his first year of organized ball, hitting .169/.347/.229 in 35 games in the DSL in 2016, but he looked much better in his second year there, where he hit .311/.433/.444 in 66 games. He made his stateside debut in 2018, getting promoted to the Kingsport Mets, and the young shortstop more than held his own, hitting .280/.408/.449 in 56 Appalachian League games. Promoted to the Columbia Fireflies for the 2019 season, Newton appeared to be primed for a breakout. Instead, a shoulder injury delayed his season debut for about a month, and when he finally got back on the field, he struggled to hit. It may have been the shoulder injury, being overmatched by Low-A pitchers, learning new hitting mechanics, or a combination of all three, but Newton hit a paltry .209/.283/.330 in 109 games.

Newton is tall and leggy and his 6’4”, 180-pound frame is likely to add more mass. At the plate, he holds his hands high and swings with a slight leg kick. He has impressive bat speed, swinging with a bit of loft. It gets a bit long when he’s trying to hit for power, but the amount of raw power that he generates from the torque created by that long, violent swing is impressive- it is easily plus raw power. His hit tool lags a bit behind his power potential, as he often gets crossed up by spin and is unable to adjust and stay back. A switch hitter, Newton has had more success swinging from the right side, rather than the left.

Defensively, Newton has experience playing all over the infield. He is quick-twitch fast, reads the ball well off the bat, possesses above-average range, and has a plus arm, skills that translate well at second base, third base, and shortstop. He may eventually have to shift out of the infield and into the outfield if he loses some of his quick twitch muscle, but he is athletic and mobile enough to survive in the outfield as well.

11

Name: Thomas Szapucki
Position: LHP
Born: 9/12/96
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/L
Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 5th Round (William T. Dwyer High School)

Born in Toms River, New Jersey, Thomas Szapucki’s family relocated to Florida when he was entering middle school in order to give him the best chance possible at excelling in baseball that he possibly could. He eventually enrolled at William T. Dwyer High School, where he developed into one of the premier left-handed talents in the Palm Beach area. Thanks to a combination of stuff and polish uncommon for a high school senior and a commitment to the University of Florida, he dropped in the 2015 MLB Draft despite being considered by some a first-round talent. The Mets took a gamble and selected Thomas Szapucki with their fifth-round pick during the 2015 MLB Draft, but the two sides were able to quickly come to terms, as the southpaw saw the ability to become a professional a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He signed for $375,000, just $20,000 over slot value, and was assigned to the GCL Mets, where he made a handful of appearances. After reporting to spring training in 2016 with a much-improved attitude and work ethic, Szapucki became one of the Mets’ hottest minor league players. The southpaw carved through the Appalachian League with little difficulty and handled the New York-Penn League with equal ease when promoted to the Brooklyn almost a month later. For the season, Szapucki posting a 1.37 ERA in 52.0 combined innings, allowing 26 hits, walking 20, and striking out 86. A lower back injury ended his 2016 season prematurely, and a shoulder impingement delayed the start of his 2017 campaign, but when he finally got back on the field, it looked like he would be continuing where he left off, as he posted a 2.79 ERA in 6 starts with the Columbia Fireflies. Out of nowhere, on July 6, the southpaw felt tightness in his pitching forearm and was removed from his start after recording just two outs. He was placed on the seven-day disabled list and ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery. After missing the entire 2018 season, the left-hander returned to the field on April 8, pitching an inning for the Columbia Fireflies. His pitch count and innings load was carefully managed for the entire year, and he ended up posting a 2.63 ERA in 61.2 innings thrown for the Columbia Fireflies, St. Lucie Mets, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies, allowing 49 hits, walking 26, and striking out 72.

Szapucki throws from a low 3/4 arm slot with a long arm action, imparting movement and deception in his pitches. He is an athletic 6’2”, 180 pounds, and while he has yet to rack up innings due to the myriad of injuries, he has the frame to shoulder a considerable workload in the future. He can locate his pitches to all four quadrants, but generally pitches away rather than in. Before his injury, his fastball ranged from 90-97, generally sitting 93-94 MPH with plenty of tailing and sinking movement thanks to his low 3/4, almost sidearm delivery. The pitch was a bit rusty when he first returned to the field, sitting in the high-80s and barely scraping 90 MPH, but by the time the season ended arrived, he was sitting 91-93 MPH, regularly touching 94 MPH, and reportedly occasionally touching 95 MPH. In addition to his fastball, the southpaw also throws a curveball and changeup. His curveball, which featured one of the best spin-rates of the entire 2015 MLB Draft class, sits in the high-70s and features big, sweepy break. Throughout the 2019 season, he was guiding the pitch more often than not, but curveballs sometimes take time to return to form after Tommy John surgery, and as such, more time is needed to see if Szapucki’s is going to return to pre-surgery levels. His changeup, which sits in the mid-80s, was relatively recently developed, and as such, still lags far behind as a third pitch. It was an effective weapon against right-handed hitters in the past, but like his curveball, was rusty varied in effectiveness throughout the season.