Welcome back to 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.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A)
Pitcher: Marcos Molina
Once upon a time, Marcos Molina was an interesting arm with a chance to start at the major league level. Major emphasis on once upon a time though, as his stuff has yet to come back two years removed from Tommy John surgery. 2018 has been rough for Molina, who’s gotten shelled to the tune of a 7.01 ERA in 13 starts for Binghamton. The reports on Molina weren’t exactly glowing in 2017, but no one was expecting this level of performance from the right-hander. The underlying metrics aren’t any better either, as he’s running a pedestrian K/9 along with a horrific BB/9 of 5.19.
So, why are we talking about Molina you ask? Well, he’s currently occupying a highly valuable 40-man spot for some odd reason. He’s not the only questionable player on the 40-man, far from it, but he’s yet to pitch in the majors and doesn’t project as a starter at this point in his career. One might assume the Mets want to see if Molina’s stuff plays up in the pen, but they continue to run him out as a starter in Bingo. If he’s going to carve out a role in Queens, it’ll have to be in the bullpen. He should be the next roster casualty, but the Mets will probably DFA P.J Conlon again before they move on from Molina.
Brooklyn Cyclones (Short-Season-A)
Pitcher: Bryce Montes de Oca
Another week of the Prospect Watch, another rant on the Mets minor league assignments. While we can debate whether Montes de Oca should be given a chance to start, there’s no debating where he should’ve started his professional career. Draft analysts praised the Mets for stocking up on fast moving relievers on Day Two, yet MDO and Ryley Gilliam were both sent to Brooklyn after signing. I, for one, don’t understand the upside in selecting a reliever in the fifth round if the organization doesn’t plan on moving him fast.
While the Mets are selecting relievers on Day Two of the draft, other teams are finding interesting position players with tools that maybe underperformed in school or small school relievers who have a chance to start. That’s how organizations end up with good minor league depth and combat injury issues on the big league roster. If you’re going to invest the high pick on a relief pitcher, at least make it a priority to move that arm as quickly as possible through the minors. Please don’t send them to Brooklyn for the entirety of their first professional season.
Kingsport Mets (Rookie League)
Hitter: Shervyen Newton
Newton was a forgotten signing who took a modest bonus ($50,000) but it looks like the Mets may have done really well here. A 6’4” shortstop, Newton’s off to a blistering start in Kingsport during his age-19 season, slashing .417/.476/.694 with a home run. The early season reports have been incredibly encouraging, suggesting Newton might be one of the top prospects in the system despite his level.
Newton’s a switch-hitter with some bat speed and pop that projects to stay in the infield. Now, whether that ultimately becomes third base or short, I don’t know for certain, but Newton’s got a strong arm and should continue to stay at short until he plays himself off the position. He needs to add to the frame, but there’s plenty of time for that and I expect him to fill out. Newton’s tearing the cover off the ball in Kingsport and should be in Brooklyn right now, but the Metssssssss.
Gulf Coast Mets (Rookie League)
Hitter: Jarred Kelenic
Kelenic had his introductory press conference at Citi Field on Wednesday, and now there are rumors that he’ll be sent to Kingsport after three games with the GCL Mets. That’d be a welcome move, but Kelenic’s a soon-to-be 19-year-old advanced prep bat who deserves to be challenged at Brooklyn. He’s not as raw as younger prep hitters who are the same level currently and should spend the rest of the season in Brooklyn so he can start next season in Columbia.
Of course, it’s entirely possible (and probable) that Kelenic doesn’t reach Brooklyn until the end of the season and is sent back there to begin the 2019 season. It’s not a perfect comparison, but Mickey Moniak was the number on pick in 2016 and played his entire draft year in the GCL. The Phillies then got aggressive (rightfully so) and sent Moniak to the Sally, where he really struggled in his age-19 season. Both were the most advanced prep bats in their respective classes, but Kelenic’s going to end up spending his entire draft season in rookie ball. The Mets are frustratingly slow with assignments for prospects; a good argument can be made that everyone on our midseason top 10 list should be one level higher, including Peter Alonso and Jeff McNeil, who should already be in the majors by now. The Metsssssssss.
Hitter: Ronny Mauricio
Mauricio’s two years younger than Newton, but the scouting report is incredibly similar. Another switch-hitter with the arm for shortstop, Mauricio got $2.1 million as a July 2 signing, which broke Amed Rosario’s record of $1.75 million. He’s 6’3” and projectable, although he may have to move off shortstop due to a lack of foot speed. The Mets got aggressive for once and assigned him to the GCL, and it seems to have paid off. He’s currently slashing .351/.317/.514, which isn’t a typo (sac flies, baby!) When a teenager, especially one who’s just 17 years old, is holding his own in pro ball, in a new country, that’s incredibly encouraging. He’s likely going to spend the entire season in the GCL, which is hard to argue with considering his age, but I suppose it’s possible he gets a late-season cup of coffee with Kingsport. We’ll keep a close eye on Mauricio, as should you because he’s a potential up the middle defender with offensive potential.
Pitcher: Simeon Woods-Richardson
Not only have I been scouting future Mets (ha!) in the Cape Cod League this summer, I’ve also been talking daily with a bunch of scouts on a wide range of topics. One of those topics happened to be Woods-Richardson, who popped late this spring and certainly wasn’t the overdraft you might’ve been led to believe. A tall, projectable righty who can run his fastball up into the mid-90s and has shown some feel for a breaking ball is a pretty good prospect. Of course, Woods-Richardson needs to clean up his delivery – especially his landing leg – and his velocity has been inconsistent. Still, he’s incredibly young and will have a ton of time to develop. I think the Mets would be thrilled if they got a No.4 starter here within five years, but there’s admittedly a ton of risk here and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up in the bullpen, either.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports