Welcome to the first edition of the Baseball Prospectus Mets Prospect Watch! This weekly column will take a look at one pitcher and one hitter from each level of the Mets organization and offer thoughts on their performance thus far, as well as a brief scouting report with a future outlook.
Triple-A Las Vegas 51s
Pitcher: RHP Chris Flexen
Flexen is a borderline top 10 prospect in the system because of his proximity to the majors and his relatively safe floor, not because he possesses ace-like upside. Although he made his major league debut for the Mets last season and already has nine big league starts under his belt, he was able to retain his rookie eligibility by virtue of coming up two innings shy of 50, which technically makes him still a prospect. The 6’3,” 250-pound right-hander sits 90-95 mph with his fastball and mixes in a knuckle curve and a changeup that are both slightly above average, as well as a slider that’s comfortably behind the rest of his offerings. Flexen’s major league debut wasn’t pretty, as his 7.88 ERA and 6.56 BB/9 were, how do I say this nicely, absolutely terrible. His biggest weakness is his command, which seems to come and go in spurts, but it’s definitively more bad than good. The Mets sent Flexen to Triple-A Las Vegas to begin the season, and the early numbers are conflicting to say the least. On one hand, Flexen holds a 3.60 ERA and has struck out 11 in 15 innings of work. On the other, he’s walked seven batters already and holds an ugly 1.73 WHIP. Now, there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and Jose Reyes not getting a h… oh different article sorry, Hansel Robles pointing at every fly b…my apologies again, I meant to say runs being scored in the Pacific Coast League. The ERA is very promising, but the seven walks in just 15 innings is a big concern for a pitcher who’s projected as a back-end starter. I prefer my No. 5 guys to be innings eaters with good command, not hit or miss guys with strikeout stuff and command issues. Flexen probably is what he is at this point, a No. 4/5 starter who has good stuff but lacks command, and all things considered, that isn’t a bad thing at all. In all likelihood, Flexen will make some major league starts this season; let’s just hope they come in September with the Mets up comfortably in the division.
Hitter: SS Luis Guillorme
I had the chance to see Guillorme live last week and let me tell you, it’s an absolute joy to watch him play baseball. In possession in some of the best hands in all of professional baseball, Guillorme makes highlight reel plays left and right and is nothing short of a wizard out at shortstop. He’s only about 5’9” and is a below average runner, but his instincts and hand-eye coordination make him one of the best defensive prospects in the minor leagues right now. Tyler Oringer took a more in-depth look at Guillorme earlier this month and is of the belief that he could eventually win a Gold Glove at shortstop. It’s unlikely that happens with the Mets though, as the team seems to have found its shortstop of the future in Amed Rosario, which means Guillorme’s long-term fit with the Mets may be at second. With less ground to cover, it’s not much of a stretch to say that Guillorme could be one of, if not the, best defensive second baseman in the majors right now. In his first taste of Triple-A, Guillorme has struggled to begin the season, as he’s currently slashing .224/.333/.306 with a 20.7% K-rate. Don’t expect it to continue though, as Guillorme has shown a knack for getting on base at every level of his professional career thus far. While he won’t ever hit for power or steal more than 10 bases, Guillorme’s all-world defensive abilities coupled with his ability to get on base will allow him to have a long and successful career in the majors.
Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies
Pitcher: RHP Nabil Crismatt
This was the hardest selection to make on the entire list, as Binghamton’s whole pitching staff has been outstanding thus far. There were many worthy candidates, such as RHP Tyler Bashlor, RHP Eric Hanhold and RHP Gerson Bautista, but for this week’s Prospect Watch we’ll focus on Nabil Crismatt and his unbelievable start to the season. In three starts for Binghamton, Crismatt has thrown 16.1 IP, holding a pristine 1.10 ERA while striking out 21 and walking only three. The 23-year-old spent the entirety of 2017 with Single-A Port St. Lucie, striking out 142 batters over 145 innings with a respectable 3.95 ERA. Crismatt’s best offering is his changeup and it’s his only above-average pitch, leading to most of us to believe the high strikeout totals won’t continue in the majors. Still, the minor league strikeout numbers thus far are fantastic and give him a relatively high floor as a starter. Add to that command that’s comfortably plus and it’s easy to see him as a big league starter. Crismatt projects as a No. 4/5 starter just like the previously mentioned Flexen, but they are completely different and win in different ways. I prefer Crismatt due to the plus command and high strikeout totals though, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he can keep this pace up.
Hitter: 1B Peter Alonso
I wrote up Alonso in my Double-A scouting notes piece here so I won’t go too in-depth, but I’d be remiss to leave him off this list. Alonso’s undoubtedly been the best hitter in the system thus far, slashing .340/.414/.620 with three home runs already for Binghamton. The former Florida Gator has done nothing but rake since his 2016 New York Penn-League debut and is quickly challenging Dominic Smith’s place as the Mets first baseman of the future. I don’t think it’s crazy to prefer Alonso to Smith at this point, but don’t interpret that as a shot at Smith, who still deserves a chance. If Alonso keeps this pace up, it’s going to be hard for the Mets to justify keeping him down at Double-A, especially if Adrian Gonzalez starts slumping. Alonso profiles as a future regular at first, but it remains to be seen if he’s going to get the opportunity to prove it with the Mets.
Single-A: Port St. Lucie and Columbia
Pitcher: RHP Justin Dunn (Port St. Lucie)
The Mets’ first round pick in the 2016 draft struggled last year in his first taste of High-A Port St. Lucie, but he’s been nothing short of terrific in his second go around. Dunn’s started three games for Port St. Lucie thus far and owns a dominant 1.26 ERA with 19 strikeouts across his 14.1 innings. He struggled with command issues in 2017, walking 48 against only 75 strikeouts, but his 19 strikeouts more than make up for the six free passes he’s issued so far. Dunn is the owner of absolutely electric stuff, but it remains to be seen if he can hold it throughout a full season. Dunn was in the bullpen at Boston College, but a move to the rotation in his draft eligible season proved to be a good one, as he proved he could hold his stuff while starting. The 22-year-old is one of the best pitching prospects in the system, but he has a long way to go before he receives the call. The first step in that process is continuing to dominate at High-A, and Dunn looks to be back on the straight path toward the big leagues. Dunn projects as a No. 2/3 starter on stuff alone, but his inconsistent performance impact that, and he’s more likely a No. 3/4 starter with reliever risk.
Hitter: OF Desmond Lindsay
Lindsay was a second-round pick of the Mets in the 2015 draft due to his five-tool potential, but injuries and inconsistent performance have impacted his ascendance in the minors. Scouts see Lindsay and dream of an athletic center fielder with plus hit and plus power, but it’s fair to say he hasn’t come close to realizing his full potential. In an injury-riddled 2017 with Low-A Columbia, Lindsay hit a paltry .220/.327/.388 while only swiping four bases. The Mets chose to promote Lindsay to begin 2018, and the results have been more of the same, as he’s slashing .237/.356/.289 in 38 at-bats thus far. Lindsay’s unsurprisingly dealt with a minor injury already, and his complete lack of doubles and home runs are extremely concerning. At some point in the near future, Lindsay is going to need to turn the potential he possesses into results. That being said, he’s still a 21-year-old that flashes five-tool potential, and you simply don’t give up on prospects like that. Lindsay is going to get plenty of chances, and if he can stay healthy for a reasonable amount of time, he’s got a chance to put it all together and become a major leaguer.
Photo credit: Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports