C Tomas Nido
I had mentioned heading into the season that I was looking forward to seeing Tomas Nido this year in Binghamton and, after rainouts on my first three visits to Rumbletown, I finally was able to see him play twice last week. Nido, who has been a bit banged up of late, has done a lot of DHing in recent days, but did catch for one game that I saw. In that game, he flashed a plus arm, easily nabbing Dorssys Paulino on a stolen base attempt. Nido, who has a reputation of being a plus framer, did little to disprove that notion on Wednesday. He has all the makings of being a solid or better major league catcher defensively, which is the main reason why he is on the Mets’ 40-man roster and the top catching prospect in the organization.
Offensively, Nido possesses 60 raw power that, to this point, has not fully transferred into game power. That, however, wasn’t that case for one at-bat this week, in which he crushed a homer off the batter’s eye to straightaway center field. Nido, who doesn’t walk often, was carried by a high contact rate and league-leading .320 batting average to a plus offensive season in the Florida State League last season. The backstop employs a bit of a bat wrap pre-pitch, reminiscent of one previously usedby Travis d’Arnaud, and holds his hands close to his shoulders with his hands directly on top of each other, pointing the bat straight up. Overall, Nido has the ability to be a fine offensive player, especially for a catcher. While I’d chalk up his early season struggles at the plate to being banged up, he eventually needs to start posting results this year, especially now that he’s on the 40-man roster.
LHP Alberto Baldonado
Baldonado, who is amazingly a leftover from Omar Minaya’s regime, is the most notable prospect in the Rumble Ponies’ bullpen so far. The 24-year-old left-hander has a deceptive delivery, including a pause in his windup that does a good job of throwing off the timing of opposing hitters. Baldonado, who has yet to allow an earned run through 13.2 innings pitched this season, sat 91-94 mph with his fastball in two outings against Akron last week. His best weapon was a changeup that he had excellent feel for in both outings, sitting between 82-84 mph, that allows him to get out both left-handed and right-handed hitters; he’s actually fared better against opposite-side hitters across his minor league career. Baldonado also has a mid 70s mph sweeping curveball that breaks away from the left-handed hitters. If he is able to keep commanding all of his pitches and limit the number of walks he surrenders, as he has done so far this season, he has a chance to be a full-inning major league middle reliever in the not-too-distant future.
RHP Corey Oswalt
In what is overall a rather boring Double-A rotation for the Rumble Ponies, Oswalt stuck out perhaps as someone at least worth not completely ignoring (*Editor’s note: Here at BP Mets, we like to hedge our bets). And while he has posted decent results so far at the level, he hasn’t shown much yet in the way of stuff to justify the $475,000 signing bonus he received from the Mets in 2012. The converted third baseman has an ideal pitcher’s frame (listed at 6’5, 245 lbs.) and has a relatively clean delivery. However, his staff has not yet developed to an encouraging enough level. Oswalt throws a heavy diet of fastballs, mostly clocking in between 87 and 91 mph, and topping out at 92 mph in his most recent start. While, as our own Jeffrey Paternostro mentioned recently, Oswalt has thrown a bit harder than that in previous starts where the weather wasn’t in the high 40s, he doesn’t have great life on the pitch, regardless of velocity. Neither of his breaking pitches, an 84-86 mph slider and 77-80 mph curveball, stick out as plus pitches, although the slider is around average or slightly better. Despite the great frame, it’s hard to see a hittable high 80s to low 90s fastball, decent slider, and below average curveball playing well at a higher level. While Oswalt is still just 23, it’s hard to keep talking about him as a legitimate prospect, barring a velocity spike or other significant change to his repertoire.
RHP Corey Taylor
Taylor, a 7th round senior sign by the Mets in 2015, has risen quickly through the minor league ranks despite relatively low strikeout rates for a relief pitcher. Taylor, who Corey Oswalt does not have a great frame (listed at 5’11, 245 lbs.), features a fastball that was 91-94 mph in my looks and an above-average slider at 81-83 mph. The fastball appeared to be two different pitches: a four-seamer and a two-seamer that had some sink on it. The four-seamer, however, came in at quite flat and, in the low-mid 90s, is not really a pitch that you can expect to yield great results at the highest levels of baseball. As a sinker-slider reliever, Taylor has a chance to reach the majors as a relief pitcher. With his current stuff, he may not figure to be all that much more than an up-and-down guy, but even that is a strong return for a guy to whom the Mets handed only a $20,000 signing bonus.
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports