Over the next few weeks, we’ll be expanding the Mets top 10 prospect list from Baseball Prospectus out to 30 names. Joining me in this endeavor will be Baseball Prospectus Senior Prospect Writer–and my podcast co-host–Jeffrey Paternostro and new BP Mets minor-league contributor Skyler Kanfer. To recap where we’ve started, here’s the Mets top ten prospects for 2017:
- SS Amed Rosario
- RHP Robert Gsellman
- LHP Thomas Szapucki
- 1B Dominic Smith
- CF Desmond Lindsay
- RHP Justin Dunn
- SS Andres Gimenez
- OF Brandon Nimmo
- SS Gavin Cecchini
- RF Wuilmer Becerra
And now, prospects 11 through 20!
Luis Carpio, SS/2B, Age 18 (GCL/Brooklyn)
JP: Life comes at you fast. A year ago, Carpio was a polished, 17-year-old Venezuelan middle infielder with a potential plus hit tool, not all that different from Andres Gimenez, minus a million bucks in the bank or so.
JS: And now he’s a shortstop-in-name-only … probably? Do we have any idea if he can still throw or not?
JP: He spent a few weeks DHing at two short-season levels, getting the Spring Training he never had. So no. He was always gonna be a little stretched at shortstop, the arm was more solid-average than plus. Outlook cloudy, I guess. We’ll know more this Spring, and a heck of a lot more next September. I’ve comped him to Ruben Tejada in the past, which tends to annoy Mets fans, but Tejada was a very useful player his first couple seasons before he had major injuries.
JP: Oh, right.
Tomas Nido, C, Age 22 (St. Lucie)
JS: So the Mets have always liked Nido’s catching abilities and his bat came alive in 2016. I don’t think any of us actually got any Florida State League looks this year, did we? Internal reports at BP from the rest of the prospect team were pretty good. Catchers are freakin’ weird.
JP: I did not get my usual fix of Lola’s Seafood, Vine and Barley, and divorce lawyer highway billboards unfortunately.
SK: Catchers always seem to emerge late and have unpredictable career paths and Nido may be yet another example of that. Kevin Plawecki was once a catcher with a potential 60 hit tool and Matt Wieters was supposed to be the next Johnny Bench, while two years ago Willson Contreras was left unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft and in the span of one year Carson Kelly went from posting a .263 OBP in the Florida State League to appearing in major league games.
JP: Hey, I only put a 55 on Plawecki’s hit … uh, and thought he would be a fringy defender. Catchers are freakin’ weird. Nido has a case to be higher, but I’d like to see him do it for another year before I bump him into the top ten after two years of vaguely anonymous looks at him.
JS: And now Plawecki’s the new really awesome defensive catcher/future Tampa Bay Ray that can’t hit a lick. Go figure.
SK: When Nido was drafted in the eighth round in 2012 and signed for $250,000 the scouting report on him indicated plus raw power but a raw defensive toolset that put into question whether or not he would be able to stick behind the plate. For the first few years of his minor league career, his defensive tools became his calling card that allowed him to reach St. Lucie despite not hitting at all until this year. If he is able to combine his developed defensive skills with his newfound hitting ability and the raw power that made him interesting in the draft four years ago, he has chance to be a major league starting catcher and a good one at that. The fact that the bat only showed up for the first time as a pro in 2016 keeps him lower down on the list, but catchers are weird.
Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Age 23 (Las Vegas/New York)
JP: My #brand is looking good for 2017 as Ynoa is in line to be the Mets eighth starter, which means he might be the Mets fifth starter by May 1st. He got the Warthen bump in the majors, sitting 94 in the majors with both his fastballs and the slider tightened up and looked more Warthen-like at times. But Ynoa’s long arm action and low slot give hitters a long look at the ball, and major league hitters sure hit a lot of line drives off him, and may limit how much magic the Mets coaching staff can work here. There’s a major league arm in here, but it’s off the likely role 40, middle relief or fifth starter, variety.
Ali Sanchez, C, Age 19 (Brooklyn)
JP: Don’t scout the stat line, kids.
JS: I have no sense if Ali Sanchez can hit. I also increasingly have no sense if we should care whether a catcher hits.
JP: So you were paying attention during Harry Pavlidis and Jonathan Judge’s Saberseminar presentation too? I don’t know if we are any good at evaluating the important non-hitting aspects from our view behind the backstop either. I do think Sanchez will hit. I like the swing. I like the way he uses center and right-center, and he sure looks the part behind the plate, throwing arm excepted. We do have a better idea about how little that matters now compared to the rest of the defensive profile now.
JS: What we do know is that Ali Sanchez gets amazing, incredible marks on the soft factors. There’s the famous quote from our dearly-departed Triple-A skipper about how he’s the best framer in the system. He’s still a few levels from having minor-league framing numbers, but he’s supposed to be really great, and most of the dudes who have supposed to have been really great have been. And again, catchers are freaking weird. Austin Hedges slugged .597 in Triple-A this year! Austin Freaking Hedges!!!
JP: If you are a disappointing prospect looking to get some new helium, go to El Paso, young man.
JS: It’s still .597 slugging for a guy who once looked like he couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat.
SK: While Sanchez doesn’t project as much of a power hitter, his defensive ability could allow to climb up the minor league ranks until he starts to hit more, like Tomas Nido. And Sanchez has the advantage of being an even better defender than Nido and anyone else in the organization. If he can find a way to hit like Yadier Molina did, he can become, well, a slightly lesser version of Yadier Molina.
JP: And if I can find a way to drink like Jason Parks, I can become, well, a slightly lesser version of Jason Parks.
JS: Congratulations on your 2021 World Series ring, Jeffrey.
JP: Sanchez could be much higher on this list a year from now. He could also be a third catcher for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies six years from now. Catchers are freakin’ weird.
SK: Remember Francisco Peña?
JP: Congratulations on your 2015 World Series ring, Francisco Peña.
Marcos Molina, RHP, Age 21 (DNP)
JS: It’s a hell of an arm. He’s had basically two lost years, I don’t think any of the three of us thinks he can start, and he’s ahead of two actual major-league contributors. It’s a hell of arm.
JP: The grainy YouTube videos coming out of fall ball suggest that his wonky mechanics haven’t changed significantly, but the stuff has come back well a year out from his surgery. This is a placeholder ranking that probably is wrong in one direction or the other (aren’t they all), because either the stuff comes all the way back and he stays healthy–and he’s a top 10 prospect in the system–or he’s a reliever who’s going to start 2017 in the Florida State League.
SK: If you think Luis Severino is all upper body, then you should look at Marcos Molina’s delivery.
Josh Smoker, LHP, Age 27, (Las Vegas/New York)
JS: Why in Seaver’s good name is Smoker still eligible for this list? He should’ve been up in August or September 2015, let alone waiting a full year. He’s a good MLB lefty reliever now—probably more a setup guy than a straight LOOGY—and he’ll never be anything more because this is what he is. But that is pretty cool for a dude signed off an independent league tryout.
JP: What he is: A fastball/split lefty with a 96 mph fastball that was somehow cast as a LOOGy throwing a below-average slider a lot because Terry Collins. I do worry if gopheritis will continue to haunt him a bit, the fastball lacks wiggle, but he’s providing major league value now.
SK: A lefty that can throw in the mid-high 90s. Along with Addison Reed and Hansel Robles, Smoker remains probably one of only three locks to make the Mets opening day bullpen.
T.J. Rivera, IF, Age 27, (Las Vegas/New York)
SK: He’s from the Bronx.
JS: It might be a 60 hit tool. And the rest of the profile might not be enough to carry it. But 60 hit guys who can sort of stand at many positions do have roles as good utility players. He could be a good utility player. By the meritocracy version of the game, he probably does deserve a chance to figure out if there’s more there.
JP: He also had a top-five swinging strike rate on the Mets in 2016 and that checks out with my eye test, where he looked overmatched by better velocity and better sliders. He’s below-average defensively even at second. He could hit an empty .250 and be on a Jet Blue to McCarran by 5/1. But 3’s play in the majors too.
SK: TJ Rivera has absolutely no secondary tools. His defense, arm, power, and run tools are not major-league caliber and he can’t walk either. But the hit tool is so good that he’s going to stick as a major league player for a while.
Luis Guillorme, SS, Age 21 (St. Lucie)
JP: We’re at the part of the list where we are stretching for guys with major league futures. If you want to have a major league future as the 18th best prospect in a system, it helps to do one thing really well. It especially helps if that one thing is “play shortstop.” Guillorme fits the bill. This is the converse of the Rivera profile, if you are a 60 shortstop glove (and Guillorme might be a 70), it’s usually enough.
JS: Legitimately the best defensive infielder in the organization. Some feel for hitting. No power. Can we just cut and paste one of your old Wilfredo Tovar reports?
SK: If this was the 1970s, he’d be penciled in as a major league starting shortstop for the next decade.
JP: He’d be the best shortstop in the league in the 1870s, even had the mustache for a while. I’ll always root for him, insomuch as I “root” for prospects anymore. He’s an 80 makeup, baseball rat that gets absolutely every inch out of his limited physical tools. I guess that means I should be higher on Rivera, but aesthetics matter here too. And good shortstop defense is high art.
JS: He’s really cool and he’s got a shot because it doesn’t take much for this profile to bump into major-league regulardom.
Peter Alonso, 1B, Age 21 (Brooklyn)
JP: I get it. I really do. But this org has been putting overqualified college dudes in Brooklyn for as long as there has been a Brooklyn, and they always hit a ton.
JS: The competition Peter Alonso faced in the New York-Penn League was arguably worse than the competition he faced in the SEC. The SEC is good college baseball. The Penn League has some dudes throwing 83 that can’t locate. You would expect a high-round SEC pick to destroy the Penn League, and he did. It doesn’t mean much.
SK: Raw power is fun. Did you see that 113 mph exit velocity in the NY Penn League?
JP: I’ll just quote what I wrote about him earlier this Summer:
“Alonso’s stance is wide open and he stands well off the plate. He uses a medium leg lift to close, but he starts the whole process early and lets the leg hang a bit before getting it down. The timing here is inconsistent and often leaves his upper half trying to catch up. The swing itself has some length to the ball, the bat speed doesn’t jump out at you, and Alonso struggles with balls below his waist and spin generally. It’s a long-and-strong power profile, and those tend to struggle the first time they see higher-quality stuff. Even short-season arms have occasionally been able to exploit the holes (though they have many more times given him balls up in the zone he can both catch up to and get extended on).“
Ask me again in Double-A. First base profiles are tough.
SK: I like first basemen with plus power profiles over first basemen who are reliant on any other tool.
- Merandy Gonzalez, RHP, Age 20 (Brooklyn)
JP: Merandy Gonzalez is the kind of polished Latin pitcher the Mets like to put in the Brooklyn rotation. He has a little more stuff than the median Cyclones arm though. His fastball regularly hits 95. He can elevate it to get Ks and command it down to both sides of the plate. The curve flashes and he can spot or bury it. It’s inconsistent and he’ll slow his arm and guide it in when it’s coming out of his hand in the 70s. He doesn’t have an ideal starter’s frame and the change is crude. There’s a major league arm in here, albeit one best-suited to the pen. Not bad for No. 20.
SK: What round of the draft would Merandy Gonzalez be projected to go in as a 21-year-old next year?
JP: Is he just Dakota Hudson minus four inches? For all you kids out there, there’s a reason I don’t do amateur stuff.
JS: I mean, we’re listing him a spot after a mid-second round pick whose stock hasn’t changed much and signed for around slot, so mid-second round sounds just about right. And that’s not far off from Dakota Hudson, really.
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports