June’s minor league stock watch, Part 2: Risers

This is an addendum to the June Stock Watch. While that one was about players who made my preseason Top 41 list, this one looks at guys who were not, but who would be if I was redoing a list right now.


Matt Reynolds
Level: Triple-A

MiLB: April 28 - St. Lucie Mets at Tampa Yankees

Reynolds

After hitting .355/.430/.422 in 58 games in Double-A, The 23-year-old Reynolds is off to a .365/.406/.524 start in 13 games in Triple-A. This is really all about the BABIP monster. He hit .226/.302/.337 a year ago in the Florida State League with a .263 BABIP. In Double-A this year, he ran a .433 BABIP, in Triple-A so far, .469. Pull him back to a .350 or so, which would be well above average in the big leagues, and the whole thing gets exposed. In Double-A, he did walk at a career-best 12 percent. That’s good. In Triple-A however, he’s fanning in 22 percent of his plate appearances and walking in 7.2 percent through three weeks. A collegiate third baseman, who had played shortstop in the past, the Mets moved him back to shortstop as a professional. He’s OK there, but probably a little below MLB average. This is the package of an MLB utility guy who can play second, short and third. He has a line drive stroke, but just one home run in 71 games across the minors’ top two levels this year.

He’s talked multiple times about the power of staying positive this year.

If I was redoing the Top 41 right now, Reynolds would be in the high teens to low 20s, I think.


Jeff McNeil
Level: A+

I saw McNeil for a couple of games in the Appy League in 2013, where he played mostly second base and hit a batting average-heavy .329/.413/409 as a 21-year-old. He ran well, but I made relatively little note of an older guy beating up on younger competition.

McNeil was a force in spring training and hit his way onto the Opening Day roster in Savannah, where he played third, a spot where he had never seen action in a competitive game until SAL Opening Night. In 59 games with the Gnats, as a 22-year-old, he hit .332/.401/.461 with a .379 BABIP. On the plus side, he rarely struck out (12.8 percent) and walked enough (7.5 percent). In 13 games in St. Lucie, he’s hit only .209/.292/.233 with a .237 BABIP, but he’s controlling the strike zone (5 BB/5 K). The singles will start to drop.

A top amateur golfer, McNeil played just one season of high school baseball before earning his scholarship to Long Beach State. He’s a good athlete who moves well and has enough arm for third. His line drive swing works well against lefties, but righties and curveballs can give him trouble. He’s also very slightly built at 175 lbs, making it hard to see him generate enough power to play everyday at third base. Basically, if he’s a big leaguer, I see him as a utility piece who plays some second, third and fills in at shortstop.

If I was redoing the Top 41 now, McNeil would probably slip on in the last 10 spots (I think).


Kevin McGowan
Level: A+

McGowan, the Mets’ 13th-round pick in 2013 out of Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, rolled through the South Atlantic League with a 2.14 in 10 starts. He’s a big guy at 6’6″ who lived off his fastball which was average to a tick above sitting 91 and touching 94 on a good night. Now the negative in his profile – his SAL walk rate was a little high (9.2 percent) and his strikeout rate (18.4 percent) a little low for a top prospect. His slider and changeup both are below average, and truth be told, he didn’t need them to get outs in the SAL, as even on nights when he dominated, his off-speed stuff came and went. He will need to improve them at higher levels. At 22-years-old, he’s maybe a back-end starter or middle reliever, if his slider improves. He reminds me a little of Matt Koch last year, as college pitchers in the 91-94 range who really relied heavily on their fastballs and thrived in the SAL.

If I was redoing the Top 41 now, he’d probably slip into one of the last 10 spots.


Marcos Molina
Level: NYP

Molina was a relative unknown when Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus ranked him the No. 10 prospect in the Mets system entering this year. He wrote that Molina’s strengths were: “Plus-plus athlete; physically projectable; fast-twitch; big arm strength; very quick arm; routinely worked 91-96 in the GCL; good feel for filling up the zone; turns over a promising changeup; excellent late action on the pitch; commands it; slurvy breaking ball shows some bat-missing potential; slower slider action; highly competitive on/off the mound.”

At ESPN, Keith Law was more succinct, writing after seeing Molina in Brooklyn that he, “boasts above-average stuff with a below-average delivery. Molina’s pitches hit 88-94 with 55 life (on the 20-80 scouting scale) on the pitch, mostly sinking it due to his low arm slot, but cutting a few pitches up to 92 mph…..His changeup is hard at 84-86, but has some pronounced fade to it, while he tended to get on the side of the 78-79 mph slider but showed a few with tilt.” Law compared Molina’s delivery to Tyson Ross. Ross, after a false start in Oakland, is a very solid starting pitcher, with a 115 ERA+ and a 59 percent groundball rate. His 1.4 RA9-WAR is 53rd among all MLB starters. That’s solid.

At Amazin’ Avenue, Jeff Paternostro has a more detailed look at Molina based on a start for Brooklyn.

Through three starts at age 19 Molina’s been way too good for the New York-Penn League: 19 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 20 K and a 0.47 ERA. Whoo-eee.

If I was redoing the Top 41 now, Molina would be comfortably in the top 20. I’m generally distrustful of pitchers’ numbers in the NYP, but there’s an outside chance he’ll be a Top 10 guy by the end of the year.


Jhoan Urena
Level: SSA – NYP

Becerra

Becerra

The 19-year-old, who signed for $425,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, should have been on my pre-season Top 41. The switch-hitter has bopped .338/.407/.506 with seven doubles and two home runs in 21 games with Brooklyn, with an impressive nine walks against 19 strikeouts. I still want to get my own eyes on him, which won’t happen for a little bit, but he’s a very interesting lower-level bat.

If I was redoing the Top 41 now, Urena would be comfortably in the top 30.


Wuilmer Becerra
Level: R – App

I had Wuilmer Becerra ranked as the #28 prospect in the Mets’ system entering the 2013 season, but dropped him from my rankings this year after he repeated the GCL and hit .243/.351/.295 at age 18. He’s now 19, and still big 6’4″ with a strong frame and more room to fill out. I saw him in the Appy League and liked the body and will write more about him imminently. At the plate, he has a funky set up that takes a while to get moving resulting in a lot of swing and miss and late swings, but once he gets his hands to the ball, he’s dangerous. He’s miles away from the big leagues, but an interesting wild card near the bottom of the system off to a .233/.320/.349 start with a homer and 4 BB/16 K in his first 13 games this year.

If I was redoing the Top 41 now, Becerra would slip back in in the last 10 spots, probably.  

[Ed. note: Becerra was arrested over the July 4 weekend for driving his car over 100 miles per hour in Tennessee.]


2014 Draftees

  • First-round pick Michael Conforto still has not signed. He will be a Top 10 guy in the system the moment he does.
  • Third-round selection Milton Ramos is off to a 4-for-33 (.121) start in nine games in the GCL. He’ll be a Top 30 guy in the system, just based on his draft position.
  • Fourth-rounder Eudor Garcia is off to a .245/.362/.306 start in 14 games with Kingsport, with one extra-base hit, a home run and seven walks against nine strikeouts. He’d be somewhere in the back half of a redone Top 41.