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.
Brooklyn Cyclones (Short-Season-A)
Hitter: Nick Meyer
The Mets made Meyer the 170th overall pick in this year’s draft not due to his prowess with the bat, but rather for his pro-ready glove. He hit well this spring for Cal Poly (.344/.408/.428) but that line looks like more of an outlier than a new normal. Meyer’s future is as a defensive backstop through and through but still, .243/.286/.297 in 111 at-bats is an ugly triple-slash for a high college pick in the NYPL.
Meyer differs from the majority of catchers in the lower levels of the organization in the sense that there aren’t any questions about whether he’ll be able to stay at one of the games premier positions. Jake Rogers is in the same boat over in Detroit, though he’s a more highly regarded defender and has shown some sense of competence with the bat in Double-A. It’s unlikely either player becomes an impact hitter in the bigs, but there’s value in a high probability backup.
Hitter: Carlos Cortes
Carlos Cortes was the organization’s third-round selection this past June and was subsequently sent to Brooklyn along with all of the other Day Two picks. He’s been solid in 123 at-bats, slashing .268/.336/.398, and should begin 2019 in Columbia. The Fireflies figure to be the Mets best minor league affiliate next season, as it’s possible we see Cortes, Jarred Kelenic, Shervyen Newton and Mark Vientos, among others, in the Sally.
Cortes doesn’t project as a fast-mover throughout the minors, but he needs to be challenged in full-season ball next year, and Columbia is the logical first destination. It’d be a disappointment if he were unable to reach Port St. Lucie by the end of 2019.
Kingsport Mets (Rookie Ball)
Hitter: Mark Vientos
Vientos has absolutely destroyed Appy League pitching thus far, smacking 10 home runs to go along with a .386 OBP and .520 SLG in 179 at-bats. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an impressive 30:26, especially for a player who won’t turn 19 until December. Add it all up and one question remains: what is this guy doing in the Appy?
Vientos finished the 2017 season playing in four games for Kingsport so while this isn’t technically a repeat of the level, it’s still quite odd he returned for another go. Instead, he likely should’ve been with the Cyclones this year, preparing him for a full-season debut in 2019. It looks unlikely that Vientos begins 2019 with Columbia, but he should roll through the NYPL and force a promotion by seasons end.
GCL Mets (Rookie Ball)
Pitchers: Franklin Parra, Zachary Hammer, Saul Gonzalez
The Mets have been careful not to overwork any of the pitchers they selected in June and that’s no different for this trio of prep arms. All three have a chance to develop into starters, but, in an effort to keep their workload down and instead make good use of key player development time, their only appearances of the season have come out of the bullpen. This also includes Simeon Woods-Richardson, the team’s second-round pick, but he’s been inserted into the rotation for two turns now.
Parra was a local lefty from the Island who turned down JUCO powerhouse San Jacinto to sign with the Mets. He’ll turn 19 in September, making him a little older than Hammer and SWR, but he’s left-handed. With a four-pitch mix and room to add to the frame, Parra has some starter tools. In six innings out of the pen, Parra has allowed two hits, six walks and no runs against five strikeouts.
Hammer’s first appearance as a member of the organization came on Thursday, when he threw a single inning of relief. He struck out one and allowed a single hit, but the results aren’t what matter here. Most, if not all, of the high school pitchers selected have strict innings limits the Mets would like to adhere too. That Hammer will have some professional innings under his belt is an encouraging sign, and a far better outcome than if he weren’t to pitch at all in 2018.
Gonzalez is an imposing force out on the mound, combining an XL frame (6’7,” 235 pounds) with mid-90s velocity already. The problem is his lack of off-speed stuff, but the Mets think they can help him develop an oft-used curveball and possibly a changeup. When you’re able to blow 95 past unsuspecting high school hitters, you don’t need the secondary offerings. That all changes in pro ball though, and Gonzalez’s future hinges entirely on his ability to develop a second and possibly third pitch. He’s been roughed up in 2.1 innings, allowing five hits and three runs while only striking out one, but it’s only 2.1 innings.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports