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.
Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)
Pitcher: Nabil Crismatt
Crismatt’s turned in an impressive season thus far and was rightfully rewarded with a promotion to Las Vegas, one step closer to the big leagues. The timing’s a little curious considering he’s been getting hit around for the better part of the month, but this is another positive development for a Mets system seemingly full of them this year.
Working with a fastball that sits in the 86-89 mph range, there’s little room for error when Crismatt takes the mound every fifth day. Crismatt gets natural arm side run on the pitch and gets good results due to his ability to keep the ball low in the zone. His best pitch is a plus change that sits 78-80 mph and generates a ton of swings and misses; it gets above-average drop for a change and it’s his go-to-two-strike pitch. He also throws a get-me-over curve that sits in the low-70s, and a seldom-used slider that has potential.
I don’t think the results are going to be pretty for Crismatt in Las Vegas. I also don’t care, because his performance in the desert won’t impact his future outlook drastically. This is still a likely back-end starter that can fill a couple of different roles for your ball club, a la Seth Lugo. That’s an incredibly valuable player, and the likelihood here is Crismatt should be ready for his major league debut in September.
Pitcher: Joshua Torres
Torres made his Prospect Watch debut in Week Three on the heels of an 0.84 ERA and a 16:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and I said at the time we’d come back and revisit his performance in a couple of weeks. Well, almost two months later, Torres still had a 1.20 ERA at Binghamton and was promoted to Vegas.
In 30 innings for the Rumble Ponies, Torres didn’t allow a single home run, and struck out 38 while walking 12. There are a ton of underlying numbers that paint a different picture here. First, his strand rate of 85.7% was a career high by over 10 percentage points. That would tie him for the 24th best mark in the majors with…Chris Beck? It’s true, but that just goes to show you that even a high strand rate can’t make you an effective reliever, mainly because there’s a lot of luck involved with leaving runners on base. Next, Torres is a fly ball pitcher who doesn’t allow home runs, running a 50% fly ball rate but no homers. Have you ever seen someone who can sustain that for multiple seasons?
It’s not like Torres is overpowering hitters, as he works with an average fastball for a reliever, topping out around 94 mph. He’s been roughed up in Vegas already, to the tune of a 17.05 ERA, and the regression is here to stay. I think Torres tops out as organizational depth at Triple-A, but if he keeps putting up impressive numbers, he’ll likely get a look in the bullpen at some point in the next two years.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A)
Pitcher: Joe Cavallaro
Cavallaro was in the midst of a breakout season in Columbia before the Mets jumped him over Port St. Lucie and straight to Binghamton. He carved up hitters in the Sally League to the tune of a 2.09 ERA with an 83:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 77.1 innings. A former 24th-round pick in 2017, the early returns are promising, but Cavallaro is going to start running into trouble as he climbs the minor league ladder.
As a low-slot righty who sits in the mid-to-high 80s, Cavallaro should carve up young and inexperienced hitters in the low minors. He also throws a slider that sits 80-83, and a changeup in the same exact range. Those three pitches are enough for a collegiate arm to put up these kinds of numbers against inferior competition.
Cavallaro’s best chance at a future call-up is as a situational righty where he can just air it out for an inning or two. Is he likely a major leaguer? I’d say no, as these guys aren’t too hard to find and aren’t incredibly valuable but look, if you’re getting a major league contributor in the 24th round, you’re doing something right. Still, if Cavallaro turns out to be organizational depth and reaches Triple-A, that’s a win.
Pitcher: Matt Blackham
Welcome Matt Blackham to the Prospect Watch! A 29th rounder out of Middle Tennessee State in 2014, Blackham has performed like a future major league bullpen piece throughout the entirety of his minor league career. He throws a low-90s fastball that does feature some natural arm side run, as well as a curve, slider and change.
Blackham’s small (5’10”), slight (150 lbs) and is playing the entire season as a 25-year-old, but he’s an interesting bullpen arm to follow. He should finish the season with Binghamton and could possibly debut as early as next season.
Port St. Lucie Mets (Single-A)
Pitcher: Anthony Kay
David Lee, a member of the Baseball Prospectus prospect team, caught Kay for a start on June 20. While the fastball velocity was good and Lee projects heavily on it, the secondary offerings aren’t yet back to where they were at UConn. Kay simply doesn’t have his pre-surgery feel for his curve and change. While there’s a lot of risk here because of the unknown, Kay still figures to be a major league contributor, but because of the injuries and the potential of the fastball to play up in the bullpen, the allure of fast-tracking him as a reliever may prove too hard to pass up for the Mets.
You don’t typically get disappointing reports on left-handed pitchers who sit in the low-to-mid-90s and have a chance to start, but Kay’s a former first rounder who showed a ton of promise in college. Some questionable usage from his college coach likely didn’t help, but he’s back pitching and healthy now and just needs reps. This still looks like a major league quality arm, and that’s a win in the back of the first round.
Hitter: Andres Gimenez
It’s right about that time we check back in with the Mets top prospect, who’s more than holding his own as a soon to be 20-year-old in the Florida State League. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has been pretty impressive (62:22) as has his surprising pop (five homers) in a league that historically suppresses power. He’s looked better at shortstop, increasing his odds of staying there once he reaches the majors, and projects as an above-average hitter that plays up the middle. That’s a really good prospect.
That’s why you’ll find Gimenez atop our midseason update, as he was the unanimous choice for the top spot despite the emergence of Peter Alonso. You don’t typically find advanced hitters that can stick in the middle of the field, but that’s what the Mets have here. There’s still some room to add to the frame, which could increase the power output but decrease his range out at short. Nevertheless, Gimenez may end up at second base in the majors anyway because of Amed Rosario. We’ll have more on Gimenez when we release the midseason update, but the performance has been much better than the slash line shows.
Photo credit: Gregory J. Fisher – USA Today Sports