Ten Prospects We Want to See in 2017

Over on the main site, the BP prospect team runs themed Monday Morning Ten Packs this time of year, picking 10 prospects who fulfill some criteria or another. Our BP Mets prospect team of Jeffrey, Skyler, and I decided to blatantly rip this off and write a “ten pack”-style article on the ten Mets prospects we’re most looking forward to seeing in 2017. We ran the gauntlet from a guy who made the national 101 to a guy that didn’t make our system top 30 on this one. In no particular order, here are ten Met farmhands we want to see in 2017, and why we want to see them.

Thomas Szapucki, LHP

As a live-armed prep pick in the mid-single digit rounds, Szapucki’s 2016 wasn’t totally out of nowhere. But the jump from low-90s and a promising curve to mid-90s with sharp action and a wipeout curve is pretty huge, and the numbers Szapucki put up in both Kingsport and Brooklyn were absolutely staggering. A back injury ended his 2016 slightly prematurely, and while we don’t believe it to be a serious injury, back problems and pitching prospects don’t always go well together. If Szapucki continues to progress his stuff, and if he continues to run strikeout rates into the mid-teens per nine, our ranking of him as the 69th-best prospect in baseball will no longer seem nice by this time next year. He’ll probably open in Low-A Columbia as part of the traveling Tim Tebow Circus, but High-A and even Double-A are within reach for later in the season. — Jarrett Seidler

Andres Gimenez, SS

I got a question in a BP chat recently asking me to compare Kevin Maitan and Andres Gimenez. Sammy in Connecticut seemed a bit skeptical that there was really that big a gap between them as prospects. I’m fairly confident that Maitan’s surfeit of offensive tools is enough to make him a Top 101 prospect before he ever takes the field for a professional game, stateside or otherwise. I get the premise though. Gimenez was very highly rated in the 2015 July 2 class, and we have reports on him from actual games, granted ones from the Dominican Summer League. It’s all data of course, but the best data can be found behind home plate, which is why I will be trucking to whatever short-season affiliate he ends up at this year to find out if we were in fact a year too late on him. I expect to find a polished shortstop and an advanced hitter for an 18-year-old, like if someone used the upgrade meme on Luis Carpio. But I suspect Gimenez has the capacity to surprise me as well, which is why I keep gassing up the car for East Tennessee every year. And speaking of Carpio … — Jeffrey Paternostro

Luis Carpio, SS/2B

We ranked Luis Carpio as the third-best prospect in the Mets system heading into the 2016 season. We ranked him ahead of Dom Smith, Desmond Lindsay, and Robert Gsellman. (I say we, but I was driving that bandwagon, and my byline is on the list.) Then Carpio tore his labrum in the Spring. See, it’s not just pitchers! It was an aggressive ranking at the time for a kid that spent most of the 2015 season as a 17-year-old, but it’s rare to find that level of defensive polish and advanced hitting ability at any age in the short-season leagues. The injury was to his right shoulder, and his arm was already maybe better suited to the right side of the infield, but I’m antsy to check in on the still-only-19-year-old. He made quite the first impression. — Jeffrey Paternostro

Tyler Bashlor, RHP

The Mets turned some heads in 2013, when they handed a $550,000 signing bonus to their 11th-round pick, junior college reliever Tyler Bashlor. After signing with the club, he pitched in 13 games for Kingsport that year, but then didn’t throw another professional pitch until 2016, losing two full seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In a 2016 season that was spent primarily pitching out of the bullpen for the Columbia Fireflies, Bashlor showed why the Mets believed in him enough to give him more than half of a million dollars three years prior, posting a 12.16 K/9 and 2.50 ERA at the level. His fastball, which sits in the mid-90s and touched as high as 98 mph in 2016, is a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch that should carry him to Queens. The bigger questions for Bashlor are his secondary pitches and control. His command and control should figure to take strides forward in 2017 as he is another year removed from surgery. His slurve, which currently sits in the low-80s, is a pitch that could be improved upon (attn: Dan Warthen). If Bashlor is able to progress enough with command and the breaking ball, he will find himself on the fast track to pitching out of the Mets bullpen before too long. He figures to open this season in the bullpen for either St. Lucie or Binghamton. If all goes well, he won’t finish the season with the same affiliate that he began the year with. — Skyler Kanfer

Marcos Molina, RHP

The continuing saga of Zack Wheeler reminds us on a near-daily basis that Tommy John surgery is still anything but routine. Yet Marcos Molina has had, well, the “routine” recovery, popping back up about a year out from surgery. He used the Arizona Fall League as something of a rehab stint, throwing short outings and flashing the premium fastball/slider combination that made him one of the system’s best pitching prospects two years ago. With violent mechanics, a TJS in his background, and durability questions even before that, Molina still might be a reliever in the end, but 2017 represents his shot to get back on the fast track as a prospect. He could open as high as the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and a pitcher on the 40 in the high-minors is of course only a phone call away from The Show. — Jarrett Seidler

Andrew Church, RHP

The 2013 second-round pick spent years in the wilderness bouncing around the lowest levels of the system as an oft-injured project, largely falling off the prospectdom map. In a tale that’s been around as long as there have been pitching prospects, he showed up in 2016 a new man, coming out of extended spring in May to shine for Low-A Columbia, mixing in a fill-in stint in High-A Port St. Lucie and a late-August emergency appearance for hometown Triple-A Las Vegas. Once again touching the mid-90s with his fastball and featuring a promising slider, Church could start back at High-A or get a bump to Double-A, where I think I have a pretty good chance to see him in Binghamton’s late-May/early-June visit to Trenton. A full year of effectiveness should get him in strong consideration for both a spot on both the 40-man roster and high up on next year’s prospect lists. — Jarrett Seidler

Desmond Lindsay, OF

Beyond the trio of Mets prospects who made the BP 101 list, there is not a prospect in the Mets farm system with more upside than Desmond Lindsay. Lindsay, the organization’s top draft pick in 2015, is a centerfielder with all the raw tools that any scout would fawn over. In 2016, Lindsay’s performance represented his skillset, as he posted a .297/.418/.450 line with the Brooklyn Cyclones, including a .344 True Average*, 14.9 percent walk rate, and 19.4 percent strikeout rate. Unfortunately, since his senior year of high school, Lindsay has had considerable hamstring issues. They kept his sidelined for most of his draft year, which caused him to fall to the Mets in the second round, and they have continued to hamper him since signing with the club. Recurring injuries for a teenager could very well be the sign of, well, more hamstring injuries, or it could be something that a player as young as Lindsay, just 20, could outgrow. In the near-future, Lindsay could very easily be a guy who is being talked about as the next uber Mets prospect—or, in other words, the Amed Rosario of two years from now—or he could be a guy who is being talked about as the new Reese Havens. His performance and health in 2017, where he most likely will open in Columbia, will tell the story. — Skyler Kanfer

( * – Editor’s Note: For those of you curious, those numbers indicate that he hit about as well compared to his league as Joey Votto did compared to MLB.) 

Tomas Nido, C

The ride hasn’t always been smooth for the 2012 eighth-round pick, who prior to 2016 had never posted a minor league OPS higher than .660. However, over those first few years of his minor league career, his defensive game advanced from raw at best to his calling card. Due to his overall strong catching ability and above-average arm, he was able to open the 2016 in St. Lucie at age-22. Last season, his bat finally started catching up to his glove. In a full season in the pitching-friendly Florida State League, Nido posted a .320/.357/.459 line with seven homers and a .294 True Average in 370 PA. He more than halved his strikeout rate, going from a 25.7 percent clip in Savannah to a very respectable 11.4 percent in 2016. If he is able to combine his developed defensive skills with his newfound hitting ability, he has a chance to be a starting catcher. Nido, who was praised when he was drafted for having plus raw power, still has plenty of room to turn that power into game power. Doing that, in addition to potentially increasing upon his 5.1 percent walk rate from 2016, could make him a viable long-term answer for the Mets behind the dish. I look forward to watching Nido play in person in Binghamton starting this April. — Skyler Kanfer

Luis Guillorme, SS

If you are reading this website, you don’t need to be told that Amed Rosario or Justin Dunn or Desmond Lindsay are worth the price of admission. The implication in all these entries is that we want to see something new. There are guys here with 2016 breakout seasons that we didn’t get enough reports on. There are injured pitchers on their way back who have flashed major league stuff in the recent past. You want a sleeper or you want to know if the breakout guy is real. Prospects can change a lot from year-to-year, but I don’t expect I will be updating my priors much on Luis Guillorme. If anything, I worry a bit about his bat against Double-A velocity. But goddamn am I happy to have him within driving distance again. Rosario has the louder defensive tools and is a plus shortstop in his own right, but there is no one I would rather watch at the 6 than Guillorme. His defense has an ineffable quality to it. Immanuel Kant would suggest that’s his glove is far too functional in scope to have true aesthetic beauty, but I part ways with the German on that. Kant more famously wrote that one should “live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.” Guillorme’s actions in the field set the bar too high for every other shortstop I’m afraid, but I am happy to see him synthesize utility and art in the infield as often as possible this year. — Jeffrey Paternostro

Tim Tebow, QB/OF?

Tim Tebow isn’t a real baseball prospect. He’s probably not going to make the majors, and if he does it’s likely to be in a cameo that he won’t have earned based on his own merits. But he is an elite athlete—a player so uniquely talented at football that he was a first-round quarterback despite a known and near-complete inability to make pro throws—and his transition to baseball will be nothing if not fascinating. Can he compete even at the lowest levels? He’s currently expected to open at Low-A Columbia, which is an appropriate level for what we suspect is his baseball ability, but a level where he’ll be about a decade older than the real prospects. Both Jeffrey and I are preparing for the circus for when Columbia comes to Lakewood early in the season. (We totally didn’t throw Tebow in down here because we were dividing a list of ten between three people and had one slot left over, no sir.) — Jarrett Seidler

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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