Welcome back to the conclusion of our BP Mets top 30 list. This list was put together by Baseball Prospectus Senior Prospect Writer Jeffrey Paternostro, BP Mets Prospect Contributor Skyler Kanfer, and myself over the course of the past few weeks. Full reports for prospects 1-10 are available on the main Baseball Prospectus site, we did a roundtable discussing prospects 11-20 several weeks ago, and Jeffrey, Skyler, and I did a segment on For All You Kids Out There last week discussing the whole list. So without further adieu, the (not quite) best prospects in the Mets system …
- Chris Flexen, RHP, Age 21 (St. Lucie)
The least-heralded prospect the Mets added to the 40-man this offseason. Flexen is honestly about as close to a generic assembly-line good-but-not-great right-handed pitching prospect as there is, right down to the Tommy John surgery in his recent past. 2016 was his first full season back, and he was middling in High-A, but his velocity did largely come back. The Mets have done extremely, extremely well maximizing this profile into major-league success, and Flexen will start 2017 in Double-A and on the 40-man, so this could all come together quicker than you’d think. Whether or not that future is in the rotation or bullpen remains to be seen.
- Andrew Church, RHP, Age 21 (Columbia/St. Lucie/Las Vegas)
2013’s second-round pick emerged from years of erratic and unspectacular performance in the depths of short-season ball to put up an impressive half-season split between A-ball levels. There isn’t a lot differentiating him and Flexen, honestly—touching 95, good breaking ball (curve for Flexen, slider for Church), change that needs some work, a lot of time missed with arm injuries, unclear whether either will fit in the rotation or the bullpen. Flexen being a spot higher is more that we’ve seen him pitch more and better through the years, despite the TJS in his background, but consider these guys fairly interchangeable.
- Phil Evans, IF, Age 23 (St. Lucie/Binghamton)
Evans opened 2016 as a High-A extra infielder and ended it as a Double-A batting champion. He was originally notable as one of the first markers that the new regime would be way more aggressive in the draft, signing as 2011’s 15th-rounder for a $650,000 bonus. Of course, draft bonus pool caps came just the year after, and nobody could be particularly aggressive after that. Evans bounced around the system until this year, emerging as a hit-tool first second base option in much the same way T.J. Rivera did at Triple-A and in the majors.
The Mets exposed Evans to Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, and he’s been widely talked about as one of the more likely players to get popped. It’d be more of a loss if the system didn’t already have Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini, and Rivera as young RHH utility options that can’t really play short.
- Anthony Kay, LHP, Age 21 (DNP)
As ESPN’s Keith Law noted at the time, Kay’s usage at UConn this past spring was suspect at best. Surprise surprise, Kay’s physical with the Mets showed significant elbow damage, costing him many hundreds of thousands of dollars of bonus money. MLB, through the bonus pools, made it up to the Mets by allowing them to sign Cameron Planck. Nobody will make it up to Anthony Kay–not UConn or the NCAA or the AAC.
This ranking is pretty much a shot in the dark; Kay would’ve made the top ten if healthy, but won’t throw a meaningful professional pitch until his age-23 season in 2018. As with Marcos Molina, we’ll probably have a much better idea how the recovery is going in a year, even if he probably won’t make it back before the end of the MILB season.
- Cameron Planck, RHP, Age 18 (DNP)
Do you like playing the lottery? Well, here’s a pair of prospects for you. The Mets went through quite a saga to acquire Planck, originally offering to cut a pre-draft deal with him for somewhere in the mid-high six figures, to be drafted in the third or fourth round. Planck turned them down. The Mets took him in the 11th as a backup plan, and ended up having a bunch of leftover pool money when Kay took a far lower bonus than expected. Planck signed for $1,000,001.
He’s yet to pitch as a professional. He throws in the mid-90s. We’re ranking him around where we’d rank a generic third-round prep arm because, well, for the purposes of rankings, he’s sort of a generic third-round prep arm. And as you see with Church upstream, it’s not always clear for a number of years which way these things are going to go.
- Gregory Guerrero, SS, Age 17 (DSL)
Gregory Guerrero is most notable as Vladimir’s nephew, trained by Uncle Vlad at the Guerrero Academy. He signed for $1.5 million as one of the reported best players in the 2015 international class. And that’s where it about ends for now—Guerrero was adequate in enough in the Dominican Summer League, but doesn’t get the kinds of great whisperings Andres Gimenez has, at least not yet. He’s likely to be way up this list after a summer in North America, or off it entirely.
- Nabil Crismatt, RHP, Age 21 (Brooklyn/Columbia/Binghamton)
Crismatt put up one of the more spectacular ratios in the system in 2016, striking out 74 and walking only 7 while rising from extended spring all the way to a spot start in Double-A. He’s already being used in a swingman type role and is very likely headed to a future in the bullpen. As a fastball/change guy with a fringe breaking ball, it’s easy to think Akeel Morris. He’s a few years away from any sort of major-league role, and was subsequently left off the 40, where he should be among the lower risks among the significant prospects to be taken in the Rule 5 draft.
- Kevin McGowan, RHP, Age 24 (St. Lucie/Binghamton)
Of the prospects the Mets exposed to the Rule 5 draft, McGowan is probably most ready to contribute to a major-league team. Jeffrey and I talk quite frequently about “95-and-a-slider” guys in the context of generic perfectly acceptable relievers, and after converting to relief in 2016, McGowan is basically already there. He could be this year’s Erik Goeddel in contributing decent innings to the major-league club from off the radar, or he could be this year’s Matt Bowman in contributing decent innings to someone else’s major-league club.
- Jake Simon, LHP, Age 19 (Kingsport)
The Mets gave Jake Simon $400,000 in the 11th round in 2015 because he was a projectable lefty, and early signs are promising. His velocity ticked up in 2016 while pitching adequately in the Appy League, a perfectly respectable assignment for his age and advancement. These profiles can come together quickly—we’ll note that this is about the same point where we’d have had Simon’s teammate Thomas Szapucki last year, and with broadly the same profile. Simon will be headed for a higher-profile assignment in either Brooklyn or Columbia in 2017.
- Ty Kelly, IF/OF, Age 27 (Las Vegas/New York)
Ty Kelly deserves to be higher than this, as he’s not more than a shout off of T.J. Rivera, but this is what happens when your authors end up counting service days by hand and realize he is eligible at the last second. He’s a present major-league role 4, a perfectly good utility guy, and honestly most of the players behind him are future 4s, so here he is. I guess this serves as a reminder that more guys are still “prospects” than you’d think.
THREE MORE WITH A SHOT:
- P.J. Conlon, LHP, Age 22 (Columbia/St. Lucie): A small, soft-tossing lefty from Northern Ireland who has dominated the low-minors to the tune of a 1.47 career ERA. This profile often implodes in Double-A, but he could carve out a MLB future in some role.
- Paul Sewald, RHP, Age 26 (Las Vegas): The best pitcher for the 2016 Las Vegas 51s, and overqualified for a MLB long relief type role with a chance for more. Could be selected in Rule 5.
- Jeff McNeil, IF, Age 24 (Binghamton): The former golfer missed nearly all of 2016 with lower-body injuries. If his athleticism and hit tool remain intact, he has a chance at a long career as a utility player or even fringe starter. Also exposed to Rule 5.
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