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: Justin Dunn
After a disappointing full-season debut in 2017, Dunn returned to the Florida State League looking to rebound on what was essentially a lost season. In 2016, the Mets’ first rounder had a 5.00 ERA and walked 48 in 95.1 innings with Port St. Lucie before a shoulder injury ended his season. His second go-around went much smoother, with Dunn earning a well-deserved promotion to Binghamton after dominating FSL hitters to the tune of a 2.36 ERA and 51 strikeouts against 15 walks in 45.2 innings.
Dunn’s showed well in Binghamton thus far, striking out more than a batter per nine while keeping his walk rate in check. Jeffrey Paternostro, our lead prospect writer over at the main site, saw Dunn with Binghamton and thought his stuff was actually a tick down from where it had been previously. Instead of the mid-90s fastball, the pitch was sitting more in the 91-94 range. Dunn’s been thought to have a plus fastball, but that’s merely average velocity for a starter nowadays. He’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher at present, with a slider that flashes above average as well. Dunn is also working on developing his change, a needed part of the repertoire if he wants to succeed as a starter in the big leagues.
Although his numbers have been significantly better this season, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed with the reports on Dunn. His stock has increased from last season, but he looks like more of a No. 4 or 5 starter or a late-inning arm rather than a potential top of the rotation arm.
Hitter: Tomas Nido
Old friend Tomas Nido garnered some hype in the offseason as a potential major league caliber catcher, but was called into duty far too quickly due to injuries and struggled mightily in his first extended taste with the Mets. Nido’s likely always going to be glove before bat, but he’ll need to improve on a .446 OPS if he ever wants to stick around in the majors.
Nido returned to Binghamton, where he started the season, and has actually put up a decent line of .273/.297/.453 in almost 140 at-bats. He’s got 14 doubles and three home runs, fairly good numbers for a player who struggled severely a couple months ago.
Here’s where it gets worrisome: Nido has drawn just three walks this season and is repeating the level. While he’s not striking out an exorbitant amount, he’s not getting any free bases either. That’s a problem for a 24-year-old who’s never shown power numbers that may excuse that type of walk rate in the minors. Nido might and likely will have a career as a glove-first backup, but the bat isn’t anything to get excited about, limiting his potential impact at the major league level.
Pitcher: Harol Gonzalez
The aforementioned Jeffrey Paternostro loves him some Harol Gonzalez. The 23-year-old right-hander had a Jacob deGrom experience of his own in Port St. Lucie, winning a single game and losing six with a 2.82 ERA. With higher level affiliates in need of starting pitching, the Mets promoted Gonzalez to Vegas for a single start, and now to Binghamton, where he’ll presumably spend the rest of the season.
Gonzalez has a fringy fastball and his secondary offerings aren’t anything to write home about, but he’s had success at every stop in the minors, sort of like Nabil Crismatt. Crismatt’s got the better stuff, but both have a long track record of success. With Crismatt’s promotion to Las Vegas, Gonzalez took his spot in the Rumble Ponies rotation. He’s only made one start thus far, but this is the level where we’ll find out about whether his stuff can one day play in a major league rotation, or even the bullpen.
Port St. Lucie (Advanced-A)
Pitcher: David Peterson
Peterson’s first six starts in St. Lucie haven’t gone as expected. He’s got a 17:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 6.82 ERA, uninspiring numbers for a player many thought should be a level higher at this stage of his career. Part of the appeal in last year’s draft with Peterson was his polish as a college lefty who could move quickly, but it’s now unlikely he even moves to Binghamton before the end of the season.
The reports on his stuff as a whole have been down a bit since last season, and the peripherals back that up. Peterson’s still the best pitching prospect in the system, but the reports and results have been a little discouraging for the left-hander. He’s too good to struggle like this in Advanced-A though, so we’ll check back in a couple more starts to see if anything’s changed.
Hitter: Jeremy Vasquez
A sleeper name who got off to a great start in the Sally League, Vasquez was promoted to St. Lucie less than two weeks ago. He’s off to a rough start but it’s only been 11 games, far too small of a sample. The left-handed hitting first basemen is a hit-before-power prospect, a tough profile that puts a lot of pressure on the hit tool, especially for a 1B-only guy.
While he has shown doubles power, Vasquez hit just six home runs in almost 300 at-bats for Columbia. Vasqeuz should finish the season in St. Lucie and may possibly begin 2019 down in Florida as well. He’s a name to follow, I suppose, but expectations should be minimal. The reality is that as a 28th rounder out of college, reaching Double-A would be a win for the organization.
Hitter: Desmond Lindsay
The expectations for a second rounder are far higher than they are for a 28th rounder, and Lindsay has been a severe disappointment this season. The oft-injured center fielder has only taken 685 at-bats in four seasons and is struggling in St. Lucie to the tune of a .621 OPS. Lindsay’s striking out 26% of the time with a walk rate of 12.1%, but his slugging percentage is actually lower than his on-base percentage. He’s hitting just .208/.311/.309 this season and while the FSL does suppress offense, this is a new low for one of the Mets’ top prospects. All that being said, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that he wasn’t listed in our BP Mets midseason organizational review.
Lindsay has stayed mostly healthy this season – a win in and of itself – but it doesn’t really matter if his tools don’t start showing up in games. He’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft next season and the Mets will have an interesting decision on their hands. If I had to guess, Lindsay’s unlikely to be protected unless he starts to show some signs of becoming the major league caliber player the Mets thought he could become.
Photo credit: Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports