MLB: New York Mets at Milwaukee Brewers

Mid-Season Mets Top 10 Prospect Update

With another Rule 4 draft in the books, and the A-ball first-half break just around the corner, this seems like a good time to check in our preseason Mets Top 10 Prospect List that I compiled with the help of the BP Prospect team.

The Top 10

1. Steven Matz, LHP

Current Assignment: New York Mets

2016 to date: 60.1 IP, 2.39 ERA, 25% K, 5.3% BB, 54 H, 4 HR

Well this has gone well.

Before our national list came out, I argued hard for Matz over Julio Urias; I also think there was an case for Matz as the best pitching prospect in baseball over even Giolito. Being able to do it in the majors matters, and Matz had already shown flashes of that. He has taken another step forward this season–and my No. 2 starter projection on him might even end up low–although the command needs to get more consistent and he still has his own durability questions to answer. 30 starts and 180 major league innings this year will go a long way towards silencing the last concerns about the Mets southpaw.

Graduated (and pretty pretty good)

2. Amed Rosario, SS

Current Assignment: Advanced-A St. Lucie

2016 to date: 262 PA, .307/.359/.445, 7.6% BB, 13% K

Rosario is repeating the Florida State League, but is still one of the youngest players in the Sunshine State. On the preseason list I noted that his defensive tools were more advanced than his offensive ones, but the bat has begun to catch up in a big way. He’ll be in Binghamton in the second half, where I will get to see him live for the first time since 2014, but we already have big internal reports on him, and I had a scout sing his praises to me recently as well. The mothership starts our midseason top 50 list discussion soon, and Rosario will be in the conversation for the top half.

Stock Up

3. Luis Carpio, SS/2B

Current Assignment: Minor League Disabled List

Carpio was the most aggressive ranking on this list. I definitely stand by it, and I think he’s still a top-10 prospect in the system even after shoulder surgery that will keep him out for the whole year. The issue is with his throwing arm which may accelerate a move to the right side of the infield, but we won’t know that (or anything else) until he gets back on the field on the field in 2017.

Stock Down

4. Gavin Cecchini, SS 

Current Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas

2016 to date: 177 PA, .314/.375/.409, 9% BB, 12.4% K

All Cecchini has done for the past season-and-a-half is hit. Well, he’s hit enough to be a valuable up-the-middle bat in the majors at least. He tinkered with a large leg kick in A-ball, and while that did give him a little more pop into the gaps, it left him vulnerable to offspeed. When I saw him the next year in Binghamton, he was using a simple toe tap to close from a slightly open stance and a flatter overall swing plane. This has improved his contact ability, but sapped whatever gap power he might have had. Cecchini is mostly a singles hitter nowadays, so I do wonder if major league arms will challenge him more once the book gets out, cutting into his on-base numbers despite his strong strike zone control.

The defense was always supposed to be the sure thing for Cecchini. He was drafted as an advanced shortstop glove, and although no pundits promised Gold Gloves, he was seen as about a sure thing to stick at short as you will find coming out of high school. But as a pro, Cecchini has struggled with the responsibilities on the left side of the infield. The arm is short for the position, and can be scattershot at times, especially when he has to reach back for more. The range is a step short as well, and he struggles with his actions at faster game speeds. He’s played every one of his professional games at shortstop, but it is hard to see him being more than a once-a-week guy there in the majors. At second base, there probably isn’t enough offense to be a starter unless he hits .280. But there is a major league role to be found when you can hit a bit and play up-the-middle.

Stock Holding

5. Dominic Smith, 1B

Current Assignment: Double-A Binghamton

2016 to date: 241 PA, .273/.324/.386, 7.1% BB, 15.8% K

Of course you should never scout the stat line.

But sometimes there are reasons for the stat line.

Stock Down

6. Brandon Nimmo, OF 

Current Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas

2016 to date: 222 PA, .325/.403/.521, 11.3% BB, 16.7% K

Nimmo’s hot May and June has piqued Mets fans interest again, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton of real change here (unless you buy into the newest offseason swing/stance tweak). In fact, his profile really hasn’t changed in five years. Nimmo’s the Casey Stengel quip come to life; in five years he’s actualized his chance to be 23. That might sound pessimistic, but while he hasn’t figured out how to hit lefties, or added as much power as projected, Nimmo has several skills that will serve him well in the majors. He won’t kill you in centerfield, and he can get on-base and hit for average power against righties. He isn’t Jose Fernandez, and he isn’t left-handed Hunter Pence, a common comp during his first couple pro seasons, but Nimmo is potentially a useful long-side platoon bat.

I do think the risk here does get understated at times though. His overly passive approach might fall apart against major league pitching, but his first half in Vegas is a step in the right direction. Like Cecchini, Nimmo may end up a bit of a disappointment as a high first-round pick, but both should have significant major league careers.

Stock Holding

7. Desmond Lindsay, OF

Current Assignment: Extended Spring Training

I had hoped the Mets might push Lindsay to Columbia this year. It would have been an extremely aggressive assignment given the background (learning a new position, missed most of his senior season), but he impressed me in a brief cameo for Brooklyn at the end of last summer. A minor leg injury and a couple hit-by-pitches in minor league camp put the kibosh on that though. Lindsay will now head back to Coney Island, surrounded by a much, much better crop of prospects than he was last year.

Stock Holding

8. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

Current Assignment: High-A St. Lucie

2016 to date: 167 PA, .338/.370/.409, 4.2% BB, 15.6% K

Man, heck if I know.

For most of his pro career, Becerra looked like he was built right to factory specs for “right field profile:” A tall Venezuelan with a projectable body, he checked off every box: plus speed, arm, and pop. He was raw at the plate, but had a plan and a swing by the time he got to Savannah and you could easily see him growing into an everyday bat in a corner. Then he went to St. Lucie and hit like Tony Gwynn for two months.

Now it does go back further than that. The Savannah staff made some changes to his stance in 2015, and in the second half there he hit .291/.348/.355. Savannah’s home park was brutally tough on power, but that makes just 22 extra-base hits in his last 94 games and only one home run. If you want to hand wave some of the power outage, he has dealt with shoulder and back issues in 2016. I also got a positive scout quote on him recently, but there is a reason we don’t make Tony Gwynn comps.

Stock the heck if I know

9. Robert Gsellman, RHP

Current Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas

2016 to date: 69.1 IP, 17% K, 5.9% BB, 67 H, 2 HR

Gsellman added a slider this spring in major league camp, and that, along with a small bump in velocity, boosted his K-rate from 12.7% in 2015 to 17% so far in this year’s campaign. That’s still nothing to write home about, but the slider would flash plus in my April look, and the organization has done a very good job developing this type of arm recently. The future projection here hasn’t moved all that much, but he’s another step closer to the majors after his recent promotion to Vegas–although his first start didn’t go well … welcome to the PCL!–and a better bet to reach that OFP now.

Stock Up

10. Ali Sanchez, C

Current Assignment: Extended Spring Training

No real surprise here. Sanchez is a long, long way away, between being a catcher and having just come stateside to the complex last year. He could start at either Kingsport or Brooklyn, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Mets push him to the New York-Penn League to get some experience catching their new crop of arms.

Stock Holding

The five who were just interesting

Matt Reynolds, IF

Current Assignment: New York Mets

Reynolds was listed here in the winter due to the likelihood he would be able to help out the 2016 team. And he’s bounced back and forth between Vegas and Flushing this year, functioning as the 25th man and extra infield glove. He’s never hit all that much in Vegas, considering that it is Vegas, so he has fallen behind guys like Travis Taijeron, Ty Kelly, and TJ Rivera in #MetsTwitter’s ever-changing #FREE________ hierarchy. But he is younger and a better defender than those three, and is likely to have a major league job until the Mets trade for Juan Uribe in six weeks.

Raphael Ramirez, OF

Current Assignment: Extended Spring Training

Ramirez will be flanking Desmond Lindsay in Brooklyn with either Arnaldo Berrios or the next of our interesting five.

Ricardo Cespedes, OF

Current Assignment: Extended Spring Training

I think Cespedes heads to Kingsport, where it will be easier to get him centerfield reps (although I don’t see him sticking up the middle long-term). The Mets could get aggressive though and assign him to Brooklyn and Lindsay to Savannah. A lot of these decisions down to how guys look in extended Spring Training.

Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

Current Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas 51s

Ynoa’s profile is exactly the type that you’d expect to get hammered in Vegas. He’s a strike-thrower with a 55 fastball and nothing else you would expect to miss bats or even barrels. And through 12 starts in 2016, Ynoa has again only struck out 12 percent of the batters he’s faced, and has seen his walk rate creep up . Yet somehow he has bobbed and weaved his way to a sub-3.00 ERA. Despite his success so far, Ynoa’s profile hasn’t really changed. He offers a four-pitch mix, with an average change and two below-average breakers. We are well-past the point of dreaming on a major league slider or curve here, but with a lower arm slot and a low-impact delivery, it’s possible you could develop a Robles-like reliever. For now, Ynoa will continue to start as long as the smoke and mirrors act holds up. And hey, it’s beats getting shelled, however you do it.

Marcos Molina, RHP

Current Assignment: Minor League Disabled List

Molina is still a few months away from throwing off a mound after Tommy John surgery late last summer.

Five more who are interesting … now

As Toby Hyde noted when we chatted with him in Episode 5 of For All You Kids Out There, one of the notable surprises for the Mets affiliates in the first half has been … the lack of surprises. But here’s five more names of note for the second half of the minor league season:

Andrew Church, RHP

Current Assignment: High-A St. Lucie Mets

The Mets second round pick in 2013 was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time. No one had really seen him pitch much in high school.  Coming into 2016, Church had thrown just 132 innings across three season, after losing parts of the last two seasons to injuries. And all of the three were spent in short-season ball. He popped back up a few weeks ago in Columbia, sitting 90-95 and throwing a slider. After two dominant starts in the South Atlantic League, he was bumped up to St. Lucie. He is still very much an unknown quantity, but in a pitching-depleted system, a healthy Church certainly qualifies as interesting.

Chris Flexen, RHP

Current Assignment: High-A St. Lucie Mets

Flexen spent much of 2015 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but once he got back on the field he showed plus fastball velocity and a developing curve. He could have easily made the interesting list before the season and had an argument for third-best pitching prospect in the system (not that it was a high bar). His 2016 has been uneven, but he has put together a string of strong starts recently and is still only 21. His long-term future is likely in the bullpen, given the fringy command and lack of a third pitch, but a strong second half in the Florida State League could get him top 10 consideration for 2017.

Kevin McGowan, RHP

Current Assignment: Double-A Binghamton Mets

When I saw Kevin McGowan in Brooklyn in 2013, he was a tall drink of water that could touch 95 and flashed a decent curve. After 190 innings of mediocre work as a starter in St. Lucie across 2014-15, the Mets converted McGowan to relief this season and he’s proceeded to strike out 27 percent of the batters he has faced, and walked just 3 percent. That’ll play. McGowan is still 92-95, but now uses a slider as his primary secondary. If he can keep missing bats in the upper minors, he has a real shot to be the first Franklin Pierce alum to play in the majors.

David Thompson, 3B

Current Assignment: Single-A Columbia Fireflies

I generally give guys coming straight from a long college season into the Penn League a bit of a mulligan. It’s their first time playing deep into the summer, and they are learning the specific rigors of pro baseball on the fly. That said, Thompson looked as bad as any first-or-second-day Mets college draftee I have seen on Coney Island. The bat looked slow, and he was overmatched by short-season offspeed stuff.

After a full offseason and a spring in the complex, Thompson has come out blazing in Columbia, hitting .296/.352/.487. The over-the-fence power that he showed in college hasn’t shown up in the pros yet, but 20 doubles in 50 games is a good sign. Thompson is a first baseman long term given his range and shoulder issues, and this may very well be just another example of a polished college guy whacking the Sally league, but it beats writing about another future reliever.

Ivan Wilson, OF 

Current Assignment: Single-A Columbia Fireflies

Wilson has long been a personal concern. When I saw him in Kingsport in 2014 he showed off a toolset that was the best in the system. Easy plus run and arm, you could throw a 70 on the raw if you were so inclined, and he looked like he’d be a good centerfielder down the line. If he could even hit a little, that would be a slam dunk top five prospect in the system, any system.

Just one small problem: he couldn’t hit.

I sat on him for three games that summer and he hit three absolute bombs, but he struggled mightily to pick up spin even at that level, striking out even 47 percent of the time in the Appalachian League. 2015 was marred by injuries, and I was a little surprised to see him pop up in Columbia this year. He’s gotten the K-rate down to 33 percent (which isn’t good, but better than I expected) and the tools are still in there. There still may not even be a Double-A player in here, but if you want a guy to dream on, Wilson’s given you a glimmer.


So with Matz’s graduation, and the lack of breakout guys, the Mets system is a bit down from where it was even in April. But four top 100 picks in this year’s draft should help replenish the thin system, and make the Brooklyn Cyclones a must-follow over the rest of the summer.

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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