Links: Under-25 Talent Rankings, DePodesta State of the Farm

Link- Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue talked to Mets’ VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul DePodesta about everything in the Mets farm. They discuss the Mets’ near-MLB ready pitching, Rafael Montero, Gabriel Ynoa, Luis Cessa, Marcos Molina, Domingo Tapia, Amed Rosario, Cesar Puello, Brandon Nimmo and the system moving forward.
His comment on Molina:

 “super-good athlete, also repeats his delivery well. At the time, he had a nice little sinker, showed some feel for the baseball. But it wasn’t big power or anything like that. Since then, he’s continued to grow. Last year in the Gulf Coast League he was up to 96 miles per hour, typically pitching at 92, 94, has a feel for three pitches….We had some scouts who saw him during the course of the summer—amateur scouts—who told us that if he had been a high school player he would have been a first-round pick in 2013.

DePodesta also offered a theory on Tapia’s 2013 struggles: his armslot dropped and he struggled with his release point.

- Baseball Prospectus ranked all Major League franchises by their under-25 talent. Jason Parks and friends ranked the Mets 12th. The rankings suggest that the National League East is going to be very competitive in the coming years: as there are three teams in the top five: Nationals (#2), Braves (#3), Marlins (#5), and then the Phillies (#29) bringing up the rear.

- MLB.com has released an updated Mets Top Prospect list. The top five (and ten and 20) is now very consistent with my Composite Top Prospect List from BP/ESPN/BA.

Non-Mets
- Jonathan Singleton of the Astros discussed his addiction to weed. Remind me why baseball suspends players for this?

- Cubs prospect Javier Baez, one of the top hitting prospects in baseball absolutely crushed this pitch oppo. It is vicious.

Links: New Brooklyn Staff, Tannous on Smith and Cecchini, Ghostbuster Jerseys

Link- The Brooklyn Cyclones announced their 2014 coaching staff with three new members from 2013. Tom Gamboa, entering his 41st year in baseball and first with the Mets, will be the manager. Gamoa, who has been on the big league staffs with the Cubs and Royals is perhaps most famous for being the victim of a stupid attack in in Chicago, which caused permanent hearing loss. Pitching Coach Tom Signore comes to the Mets from the Blue Jays. The 52-year-old was a teammate of Mets Special Assistant to the General Manager J.P. Ricciardi’s in Helena in 1985. Benny DiStefano returns to Brooklyn as a Hitting Coach after working in Savannah in 2011 and St. Lucie for the last two years. Benny is not just a solid hitting coach, he’s also hilarious.

- At Amazin’ Avenue, Chris McShane talked to Mets Scouting Director Tommy Tannous about the team’s last two first round draft picks: Dom Smith and Gavin Cecchini. Tannous thinks both players are stronger than they were last year. McShane also posted a gallery of pictures of Mets guys throwing in spring training. Of note to me is that Miller Diaz, #29, who came to camp out of shape last year, looks really, really good.

- At the Crawfish Boxes, CRPerry argues that analysts should stop relying on K/BB ratio because the importance of strikeouts and walks are different and it does not justify putting walks in the denominator. He comes up with his own metric. I’ll again point out that K% and BB% are more useful than K/9 and BB/9. The real question is now likely a pitcher or batter is likely to walk or strike out in a given plate appearance rather than per 27 outs since better pitchers will see fewer batters to record 27 outs than worse ones.

- The Toledo Mud Hens will wear Ghostbuster uniforms. Just amazin.

 

Thursday Morning Prospect Links: Thor, Top 100s and Visits

Thor
Link- At Mets.com, Anthony DiComo has a great piece on Noah Syndergaard, tracking his rise as a prospect when he added velocity in his senior year of high school, his feats of strength in the weight room and of course, the Thor nickname. I’m pretty sure that the Thor nickname started around here early last season here with NateW.

Thor, on Thor:

“It’s not a bad nickname at all. …Being the god of thunder is a pretty cool thing.”

On his his intense lifting regimen:

“I don’t like the whole aspect of days off… I’m always wanting to do something. I’m always wanting to get better in the weight room. It makes the game easier.”

There are extended quotes from his high school coach and Paul dePodesta in the outtakes here.

 

Composite Top 100
Jon Mayo combined the Top 100 prospect rankings at MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, Keith Law and Fangraphs, to create a composite Top 100 list.

Here are the six Mets on his 135-deep player list: Syndergaard (14), Travis d’Arnaud (33), Rafael Montero (79), Dom Smith (81), Wilmer Flores (111), and Brandon Nimmo (123).

 

Non-Mets
Fangraphs had a great piece from Tony Glengino, an area scout, about the Phillies/Ben Wetzler mess,  about the process of developing a relationship with a high school player.

Links: Matz Sugery and a Prospect List

Link- Steven Matz had knee surgery in October, reports Adam Rubin at ESPNNY.

- Rob and Friends at Amazin’ Avenue finished their Top 25 Mets Prospect list. It comes with lots of good research.

- The Minor Leaguers are working hard in STEP camp, and at least one is tired.

Did I miss anything?

Friday Afternoon Links: Matz Spins, Sewald Teaches, Colon Swings, Savannah Politics

- In addition to working out, RHP Paul Sewald taught Spanish at his old high school, Bishop Gorman, in Las Vegas to get ready for the season. He writes,

It gave me a new outlook on the life of a teacher, and not to mention how much I misbehaved when I was a freshman and sophomore while I was in school. I certainly have a new respect for those dealing with hormonal-crazed teenagers. While it was a lot of work, it was nice to have a steady paycheck (much larger than my MiLB one), and couldn’t hurt on a résumé someday.

- LHP TJ Chism posted two vines of Steven Matz (right) spinning lots of household items on both his left and right pointer fingers: a ball, a platter, a board, a cardboard box, a big pillow, and a pot. Now, I want to see him spin a curveball.

- At Metsblog, Matt Cerrone has wonderful pictures of Bartolo Colon taking batting practice. Remember, Mets fans, this man might well have 75+ plate appearances this year, which will be awesome. In case you were wondering, Colon is a .104/.112/.104 hitter (10-for-96) with six sac bunts in his 104 MLB PA over his 16-year career.

- Thursday Savannah City Council agreed to to put out requests for proposals for a feasibility for a new ballpark. The study is expected to cost $75,000-$100,000. This is merely the first of what would have to be many, many steps toward building a new stadium in Savannah.

Morning Prospect Links

Link- Paul DePodesta clarified what to expect regarding Noah Syndergaard’s inning limits will be this year with Adam Rubin of ESPNNY, suggesting that 30 innings over his 124.3 from last year is a “rough estimate,” but “A lot of it’s going to be on how he actually racks up those innings — how efficient he is in the pitch counts, how much rest he’s getting between starts, how much side work we do with him.” DePodesta also suggested Syndergaard might take a few turns out of the Las Vegas bullpen to keep his innings down.

- Good stuff from Jeff Paternostro and Jason Parks at Amazin Avenue Audio discussing Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Mets prospects. They focused on Marcos Molina, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello in the chat.

- Brandon Nimmo added 10 more pounds of muscle over the winter and is now up to 205.

Elsewhere
- According to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, the Phillies have reported Oregon State LHP Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using an agent last summer. The Phillies drafted Wetzler in the 5th round, but were unable to come to an agreement on a signing bonus. Just about any player draft in the top 20 rounds is going to use an “advisor” who becomes their agent when they officially sign. Guys don’t sign every year: it happens to the Phillies, Mets, Blue Jays, Rays and every other team occasionally. Unless Wetzler did something really, really underhanded, this looks like just a vindictive, bitter move by the Phillies.

- Bob Egelko in the SF Chronicle reports that three former minor league baseball players are suing their former teams and Major League Baseball for violating “minimum wage and labor laws.”

Links: Sandy on Everything; Fulmer on his way Back and NBA Greats in Savannah

Link- Eric Simon at Amazin’ Avenue transcribed Sandy Alderson’s appearance with Keith Law on the Dish Podcast. It’s well worth your time to read the whole thing. Topics: acquiring talent to rebuild the farm system, developing talent and the difference between signing international guys and drafted players, how the Mets emphasize and develop “strike throwers,” the problems of scouting high school with little/unreliable data and MLB’s relationship to the Dominican.

- In one of his final acts as a Mets’ beat reporter, Mike Kerwick, at Baseball America, writes that Michael Fulmer is “back on track.”

- In 1962, NBA great Dave DeBusschere played for the Savannah White Sox. He’s #24 on the Gnats’ “Savannah’s Greatest Countdown.”

Expectations for Travis d’Arnaud in 2014

Travis d'ArnaudAmong position players on the 2014 Mets, perhaps the most important is catcher Travis d’Arnaud. That’s not to say he’s likely to be the best Mets batter in 2014 – that should still be face-of-the-franchise David Wright. It’s just that d’Arnaud’s development is a bigger story with more uncertainty.

Wright needs another above average player or two to help him out, if the Mets are going to contend in the near term. Daniel Murphy has been solid enough at second base in recent years, and the Mets paid to upgrade the outfield this season. However, D’Arnaud is the Mets’ best chance to become the B to David Wright’s A, and do so cheaply. Since the Mets control d’Arnaud for six more years, if he does live up to the hype, or even become an elite catcher, it will change the franchise’s outlook.

Kristie Ackert has a nice profile of d’Arnaud in the New York Daily News. He discusses the fact that he was not quite fully comfortable when he was in the big leagues last year:

“Anxious would probably be the right word for it,” said d’Arnaud, who turns 25 on Monday. “I was just trying to impress everyone. Every time I went up there, I was trying to hit a home run. I was trying to throw my hardest and hit my hardest to prove myself every time I got a chance. I was trying to prove myself and I just wasn’t myself.”

 

The Projections
Yesterday, Baseball Prospectus released their weighted means PECOTA forecast spreadsheet for the 2014 season. PECOTA, one of the top forecasting systems sees d’Arnaud hitting .250/.315/.414 with a 2 WARP. His top comps are Ryan Lavarnway, Devin Mesoraco and Geovany Soto. One of the nice things with the full PECOTA projections, which will be out later, are the forecast ranges from the the 10th percentile to the 90th.

Fangraphs’ ZiPS saw .245/.307/.392 with a 7.4% walk rate and a 24.1% strikeout rate. ZiPS’ rounded WAR forecast for catcher, added d’Arnaud to Anthony Recker suggested that the catcher position would be worth 3 WAR, tied for the second-best among the Mets’ positions behind Wright at third and even with Chris Young’s contribution in rightfield.

The other projections at Fangraphs are similar enough: Steamer (.254/.320/.418 – 2.6 WAR) and Oliver (.241/.312/.397 – 3.1 WAR). The WAR projection in Oliver is higher because the system sees d’Arnaud picking up more at bats (600) than Steamer (431) and being worth more defensively (13.3 to 7.2).

 

The Post-Hype
Basically, all of the projection systems see d’Arnaud as a useful starting catcher in 2014. The Mets hope for more.

Moore: Play Flores at SS

Flores LV HeadJeff Moore, who writes at Baseball Prospectus, has a column up on his personal site arguing that the Mets should play Wilmer Flores at shortstop in 2014.

His argument is that the “the Mets are not going to be competitive in 2014…The main goal for the Mets in 2014 is to figure out what they have for 2015. … And most importantly, what kind of major league hitter is Wilmer Flores?”

The argument would be a lot more convincing if the Mets hadn’t moved Flores off of shortstop two years ago. In 2012 and 2013, Flores played a mix of first, second and third, but not a single game at short. If the Mets thought Flores could play shortstop at all, they would have played him there at some point in the last two years.