Don’t Scout the Statline, 4/14/17

Welcome to “Don’t Scout the Statline,” a weekly look at how Mets prospects are performing. Think of it as an XL version of the Minor League Update from the mothership. Each week I—or one of our other BP Mets prospect writers—will take a look at notable performances from each affiliate over the past seven days. And remember, the least important information in this piece is the actual numbers, because, for all you kids out there, we don’t scout the statline.

(statistics from games played through 4/12/17)

Las Vegas 51s (AAA)

Amed Rosario, SS: 11-28, 1 BB, 3 K

Now we have about 20 weeks of these to get through, and I can’t just write up Rosario and Smith every week for the 51s. But hey, when you hit .400 your first week in Triple-A as a 21-year-old, that is going to the get the attention of this column. Smith did the same, but as long as Lucas Duda is healthy and hitting balls over the batter’s eye in Philly, the Vegas first baseman may be waiting until September for a call-up. I mentioned in our 51s preview that Rosario might be best the major league option if Cabrera has to miss any extended time later this year, but the Mets have a bit of an elephant in the room at the hot corner right now as Jose Reyes continues to struggle at the plate. This may just be a protracted slump, but Reyes has been late on fastballs and looked completely flummoxed by anything spinning. The Mets have been very conservative when calling up their better prospects—Super 2 deadline should be around June 20, but who’s counting—and would likely run through Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera before calling up Rosario and bumping Cabrera over to the 5. But what could you expect from Rosario in the majors right now?

Rosario has toned down what was a very complicated hand path in the low minors and has the wrists to handle major league velocity. He’s an aggressive hitter, and I think major league arms will be able to exploit that. The power is probably a few years away from really manifesting in games, but it’s potentially average. The shortstop glove is ready, although he is more athlete than polish in the field. This sounds a lot to me like Alcides Escobar which is a comp that has come up on him as a downside from those that like him, and a likely from those a bit lower. It’s also a comp likely to elicit eye rolls from Mets fans, but Esky had several seasons as a good regular at shortstop; for Rosario to be that now—as a 21-year-old with fewer than 300 PA above A-ball—is a huge endorsement. From the Mets point of view though, it might not be an argument to start his clock early.

Binghamton…sigh…Rumble Ponies (AA)

Corey Taylor, RHP: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Now we have about 20 weeks of these to get through, and I can’t just write up, uh…Nido….and…Guillorme? every week for the Rumble Ponies. I did get my first look at Corey Taylor as a pro last week, so let’s go with him. He’s a bit better than your run-of-the-mill “91-95 with a slider” guy who generally characterizes the “better dudes” in Double-A bullpens. He was 93-96 with a slider! The slider was just okay last weekend, but fall reports on the pitch were strong. And Taylor was the last arm into a five-and-a-half hour doubleheader in sub-40-degree temperatures, so if he could even feel his fingers, he was streets ahead of me at that point. The command profile is rough as he has a high-effort, uphill delivery, but it’s a major-league-quality arm. How much more refinement happens will be the difference between being up to snuff as a middle reliever and big league bats leaving him tattered and torn.

St. Lucie Mets (A+)

Wuilmer Becerra, OF?: 8-20, 2 2B, 2 BB, 6 K

When I filed the BP 101 last Christmas I mentioned to Craig a few days later that there were seven rankings I already hated. We are up to 14 rankings I hate now—and that doesn’t include Alex Reyes tearing his UCL the day after we published the list on the site, plus three guys I really regret not having on the list. I’m still pretty happy with our Mets Top 10, but if there is one ranking I could take back, it would be Becerra at #10. He shouldn’t be that much lower—and 10 prospects is an arbitrary cutoff anyway—but I’d feel better on April 14 if it was Tomas Nido, or Luis Carpio, or even Ali Sanchez at the back of the list. You can count 2016 as a lost year for Becerra. He struggled with back and shoulder issues all season, and couldn’t play the field or hit for any power. Yet I still got positive reports on the hit tool before he was shut down for labrum surgery. Well it’s 2017 now and he still can’t play the field, he still hasn’t shown corner outfield pop since the first half of 2015, and and the reports I’ve gotten are much worse. He’s a bit thicker, a bit slower, inexorably a year older. Twenty-two in the Florida State League isn’t old for the level, but it isn’t young either. I’ll once again cite noted prospect evaluator Haruki Murakami: “Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” The likely outcome here was always a fourth outfielder with some platoon pop. Now that looks like a good outcome.

Columbia Fireflies (A)

Colin Holderman, RHP: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K

Every year at the mothership we give out “The Vogelsong Awards” for the best players that didn’t even get a mention in that year’s BP Annual. I may need to institute my own version of that for the best Mets prospect that we didn’t bother to include in our preseason affiliate previews. It may end up getting named the Holderman Award. In my defense, Columbia had by far the most dudes to write about, and the rotation is especially crowded with prospecty arms. And I did consider writing about Holderman, who was projected to go much higher than ninth round before the stuff evaporated due to some arm issues last spring. The Mets gave him $400,000 to keep him from transferring to Mississippi State with the hope that some workload management and pro instruction might get the fastball up to 96 again. That might be aspirational, but Holderman did look too good for the South Atlantic League in his first outing. He’s toned down the Arroyo leg kick part of his Arroyo-cum-Addison-Reed mechanics, and a pretty good Hickory lineup was overmatched by his fastball/breaking ball combo. The Mets usually keep guys in the A-ball levels for a full first half, but Holderman may test their resolve here. At a minimum, he probably will get a blurb in our 2018 Binghamton…sigh…Rumble Ponies preview.

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports

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