So last night as I was flying home, I took my first hack at lining up my Top 41 Mets prospects. I’m not sure when I’ll start them on this site. It’ll either be later this month or the first week of January.
This year, I first lined up about 60-some odd players, grouped by position. Then I synthesized the various position lists into one giant list all together.
Other techniques I’ve applied:
- During the 2010 and 2011 seasons (I think) I kept a running Top Mets guys list that I updated occaisionally throughout the season and then spent a whole lot more time tweaking in the off-season.
- In 2012, I did not keep a running list. Instead, I grouped by positions before combining into a whole list, but allowed myself considerable flexibility when moving from the single position list to my full rankings. I’m trying to be much more disciplined this year about making the positional and full rankings match.
This is where you, the reader come in. I’m going to be posting my position-by-position rankings. I have the list separated into: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CF, OF – Corner, RHP – Starters, LHP – Starters, RHP – Relievers, LHP – Starters. This will be your chance to argue for your guy, or against another.
One comment now after making the rough draft of the list: after about #16 or on the overall list, it’s really – for lack of a better word – squishy. The Mets’ group of players from #16 through the mid-30s this year seems really compressed in value. Or maybe I’m just getting jaded.
#6 – RHP Michael Fulmer
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 lbs
Acquired: 1st rd supplemental (44th overall) (Deer Creek HS)
Born: 3/15/93 (Oklahoma City, OK)
2012 Rank: 11 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: He’s big, he throws hard, and he improved over the course of the 2012 season as a 19-year old in the South Atlantic League. He’s a sturdily built kid at 6’3”, 200 with big strong legs. He sits 93-95 with his fastball and can reach back for a little more when he needs it. His slider got better over the course of the year. At the beginning of the season scouts thought the pitch had a chance to be average. By summer, they were saying that it had a chance to be a plus pitch. The Mets had Fulmer focus on his slider rather than his curveball, although he hopes to begin throwing his curve again. His changeup at the beginning of the year was crude. He just had not thrown it very much because he had not needed it to get high school hitters out. He became more comfortable using it, and must continue to refine it.
Fulmer’s stuff got better because he made a subtle but important change in his delivery. He turned his hip ever so slightly close in his leg kick (turning his butt to the hitter), which kept him closed longer. Thus, he did not fly open and his body worked better in concert. Early in the season, he would leave many pitches up. By repeating better, he was able to locate much better.
Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola raved about Fulmer’s inquisitive nature and coachability.
2012: Fulmer improved dramatically over the course of 2012. In fact, he went on a 10 start stretch from his final start of the first half through his second to last start of the season, in which he did not allow more than two runs in any outing while throwing six innings or more in six of those 10. Good things happen to talented players given a full year in the SAL
Dr. Pangloss Says: Plus fastball, plus slider and I see a #3 starter behind Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in a sweet young rotation.
Debbie Downer Says: His breaking balls and his fastball command do not progress and he becomes a reliever.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie. He tore his meniscus in spring training but should be back on the mound in games by mid-May or June 1 at the latest.
MLB Arrival: 2015
#7 – SS Gavin Cecchini
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs
Acquired: 1st rd (12th overall) ‘12 (Alfred M. Barbe HS)
Born: 12/22/93 (Lake Charles, LA)
2012 Rank: N/A | Stats
Why Ranked Here: The Mets spent the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft on Cecchini and then spent $2.3 million to sign him. He comes from a baseball family his dad’s a high school coach and his older brother plays third base in the Red Sox organization. Mom, Cecchini told me, throws a mean seated batting practice.
The Mets think Cecchini will be a nice shortstop. Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul dePodesta: “I think he’s going to be a solid average defender at shortstop. I don’t think we have any question that he’s going to stay at the position… We think he’s going to a very steady defender. It’s probably not going to be Omar Vizquel, it’s not going to be flash, but he’s going to be a very solid defender. He’s going to catch everything he gets to. He’s fundamentally very sound.”
At the plate, the team thinks he’s a top of the order hitter, dePodesta again: “Offensively, we think he’s a guy who is going to hit first or second in a lineup and be a very tough out, hit for average, get on base, hit for a little power. We’re not expecting him to go and hit 30 homers, but he’s not going to hit three either. There’s some strength in there, and there are going to be some doubles. He does everything well.” There probably isn’t one tool that you point to and say, ‘that’s just way above average: that’s 70 power, or 70 runner.’ There’s nothing that’s below average. The makeup is good.
When I saw Cecchini in Kingsport, and it was a short look on a wet track, I did expect to see a little more in the way of pure tools. He has nimble feet and gets into good position fielding balls and around the base. However, I thought there would be more straight-line speed, as he was just an average runner. His arm was average, for a shortstop.
At the plate, in 2012, he hit out of a fairly preloaded stance. I the time, I came away liking hands at the plate and his swing more than I thought I would, but feeling he needed to get stronger to hit that way. Well, by spring training 2013, he had a little more load and was a little stronger. He’s still nice and short to the ball with good feel for getting the bathead out to spray line drives to both gaps.
2012: Sent out to the Appalachian League, Cecchini held his own against slightly older competition, earning a walk in 8.5% of his plate appearances.
Dr. Pangloss Says: The combination of average shortstop defense mixed with on-base skills and a nice swing make him an above average regular.
Debbie Downer Says: What if he loses a step and can’t play short? What if his power remains decidedly below average? Maybe he’s a utility guy.
Projected 2013 Start: The plan is for Cecchini to begin the 2013 season in extended spring training and then head out to Brooklyn. I do not like this plan. Remember, of guys from the 2009 and 1010 drafts, in the last two years, 75% (12 of 16) high school position players began in low a-ball in their first full season. The only guys who did not were Brandon Nimmo, the raw Donovan Tate and a pair of Angels picked at the back of the first round. I firmly believe that the way to get better at something is to do it. It works for skiing, biking, writing, painting and yes, baseball too. Between here and Cyclones Opening Day, the Gnats will play something like 73 games. The extended Spring Training team will play many fewer innings. That’s valuable development time lost. What’s the worst that happens? Cecchini struggles mightily and the Mets send him down to Brooklyn in June? I do not see it. The kid I saw was confident on the field, patient at the plate and could survive in the SAL.
As for Philip Evans in Savannah? There’s plenty of playing time to go around. Cecchini could have played short four days a week, DHed one, played second one and sat one, while Evans could have played short thrice, second thrice and sat/DHed one. Or something. The point is that both guys should be in Savannah splitting the middle infield duties.
The best that happens? Cecchini thrives and is ready for advanced-A to start 2014 and is one step closer to contributing to the big leagues.
MLB Arrival: 2017
We’re into the meat of the Top 10 here. These are two good arms.
#8 – RHP Jacob deGrom
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185 lbs
Acquired: 9th rd ’10 (Stetson U
Born: 6/19/88 (Deland, FL)
2012 Rank: NR
Why Ranked Here: deGrom moves from unranked to Top 10 because he has a great arm. In fact, the specific reason that he moves in front of Montero is that he has a better fastball. He also has a better pitcher’s body, long and lean at 6’4” compared to Montero’s 6’ frame. DeGrom sits 92-96 with real sink out of a nice, easy motion. He told me in spring training that he really picked up his two-seamer when he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in Port St. Lucie and got to throw with Johan Santana. Later in his time in Savannah, deGrom began throwing his four-seamer more to spot up, and get in to lefties. As I wrote last summer, “at times, he’s shown a usable changeup and slider, while in other starts, he’s struggled with feel on his breaking stuff and pitched almost exclusively off his heat.”
If he can improve his secondary offerings to MLB average – no easy feat of course, he can be a starter for me. Otherwise, he’s a really nice hard-throwing reliever. He seems to have a really good feel for the ball out of his hand.
deGrom showed up at Spring Training with a broken finger in his non-throwing hand from an accident working with cattle at his off-season job, but it did not dramatically affect his 2013 preparations.
2012: A revelation. deGrom’s sinker produced an awful lot of weak contact. He allowed under eight hits per nine innings pitched in Savannah and just 14 hits in 21.2 innings the FSL. Even among those few hits, guys just did not square up his heat very much. It seemed like a few times a game, a slow roller or a bloop would find a hole in the expansive Grayson Stadium outfield.
Dr. Pangloss Says: If his slider and changeup come along, he could make an All-Star game as a starter.
Debbie Downer Says: Hard-throwing reliever who generates strikeouts and grounders.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie. If he’s there in July, something went wrong.
MLB Arrival: Late 2015/Early 2016 depending on MLB needs
#9 – RHP Rafael Montero
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 185
Acquired: NDFA 1/20/11
Born: 10/17/90 (Higuerito, Banico, DR)
2012 Rank: #38 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: How does one rise 29 spots up the rankings in a year? Montero did it by blowing through both a-ball levels, earning the Mets’ organization Sterling Pitcher of the Year in the process. And as always in a-ball, the way Montero succeeded was as important as the fact that he succeeded.
He works of a fastball that’s a tick better than Major League average. He sits 92-93 and can touch 94. The fastball was too much for a-ball hitters because he could locate to both sides of the plate and even elevate when he wanted to change a hitter’s eye level. It’s not an ace-level fastball, but it’s plenty to get to the big leagues.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, Montero’s changeup was his primary offspeed weapon. He has good arm action on the pitch and a little fade although not much depth. He throws the pitch 84-86 mph.
His slider made progress in 2012 from “non-factor” to “decent weapon in a-ball.” I saw him working on the pitch in game action in Spring Training 2013. It was 80-81 with a short break. His command of the offering is just ok, and there’s nothing special about it from a MLB perspective at this time. If he’s going to make it as a starter, his slider must continue to develop. Also, the record on 6’ righthanded starters putting together long big league careers is just poor. Montero has a lot of history working against him.
2012: Montero just threw a crazy number of strikes in the South Atlantic League. I think to some degree he figured out that even if they made contact, A-ball hitters were not going to hurt him in Historic Grayson Stadium even if they did make contact. He walked just eight guys in 71.3 innings – that’s just nuts. In the Florida State League, his walk rate jumped from 2.8% to 5.7%, but his strikeout rate hopped with it, from 18.9% in the SAL to 29%. That seems like a very worthwhile tradeoff and in part it speaks to the development of his slider.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Mid-rotation starter
Debbie Downer Says: Back end starter/Middle reliever
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: Late 2014 at earliest; 2015 more likely.
#13 – Aderlin Rodriguez
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210
Acquired: NDFA 7/2/08
Born: 11/18/91 (Santo Domingo, DR)
2012 Rank: 15 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: I love Aderlin Rodriguez’s raw power.
Rodriguez made major strides in his plate discipline in 2012 with Savannah, although he regressed a bit when he got to advanced-A. He can get long at times and will give away at bats, but when he’s locked in, he’s a scary hitter.
Rodriguez also finally got serious about his conditioning this winter. He reported to camp about 30 lbs lighter, the product of a long off-season’s worth of work at the Mets’ complex in the Dominican. He’s still a big guy, but it’s now a better big.
Rodriguez’s work at third is interesting. He has enough arm for the position. I am more concerned about his hands and his feet. His weight loss will be a nice deposit on getting ready to play the position. However, he has yet to show the sure-handedness required to play third base everyday. I suspect that by the time he reaches AAA, he will be almost exclusively a first baseman.
2012: After a slow start, Rodriguez hit .307/.368/.555 in the next 59 games in the SAL to earn his way to advanced-A. He got off to a slow start in St. Lucie too, but improved to .278/.321/.519 in 21 games in August as he adjusted to the level. He also played first base for the first time as a professional, getting 10 games there.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Impact middle of the order bat.
Debbie Downer Says: AAA slugger
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie, but he should be in Binghamton by mid-July
MLB Arrival: September 2014, potentially, otherwise 2015
Weird Fact: Baseball Reference lists four professional baseball players named Aderlin all of whom were active since 2009. None has played in the big leagues. Is this a new name?
|2012 SAL Total||10.8||20.2||8.2||4.5||.305|
#14 – RHP Luis Mateo
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 lbs
Acquired: NDFA ‘11
Born: 3/22/90 (Nizao, DR)
2012 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Mateo showed two potentially plus pitches in the New York Penn League – a fastball that was 92-95 and could touch 96, and a hard slider in the upper 80s, which I saw at 87 mph. Early in the season, when I saw him, his velocity was inconsistent inning-to-inning which might have been a result of inexperience and conditioning. Mateo threw his slider a lot by the standards of the New York Penn League. In doing so, he camouflaged some very real issues with fastball command, which came and went. I saw a very, very raw changeup.
Mateo took a circuitous route to the Mets. In 2008, he signed with the Giants, who tore up the contract after finding bone chips in his elbow. Then after agreeing to terms with the Padres that fall, MLB began investigating. It turned out he had lied about his age, and was suspended for a year in March 2010. The Mets signed him immediately thereafter.
2012: Mateo was ninth in the New York Penn League in ERA, but #1 in strikeouts.
Dr. Pangloss Says: There’s a pretty exciting pitching prospect in here who can pitch near the front of a rotation.
Debbie Downer Says: There’s a reliever who had trouble repeating his delivery, with no changeup, who was old for the NYP.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie
MLB Arrival: 2015, if all goes well.
#17 – Matt Reynolds
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 198 lbs
Acquired: 2nd rd ’12 (Arkansas)
Born: 12/3/90 (Tulsa, OK)
2012 Rank: N/A | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Matt Reynolds is a nice baseball player and a very good, if not explosive athlete. However, I thought the Mets’ use of a second-round pick on Reynolds, who almost exclusively a third baseman in college at Arkansas, where he was an All-SEC defender, was a little odd. I did not see the bat to support a second-round pick exclusively as a third baseman. And sure enough, the Mets sent Reynolds to Savannah where he played shortstop, his natural position until his sophomore year at Arkansas.
Reynolds performed well enough at short, but I think he’s just a step slow to play there everyday in the big leagues. His hands work ok, and his arm is fine if unexceptional by the high standards of shortstop. There’s no reason he cannot play a solid second base.
At the plate, when he got to Savannah, Reynolds had a fairly pronounced leg kick that he used to put his weight on his back foot and help keep his swing short. The Mets worked on toning that kick down to make his swing simpler, and by this spring, the changes had taken hold.
I originally had Reynolds in the high 20s, but decided his upside as an everyday player who could move relatively quickly justified a top 15 slot. Specifically, he moves a spot ahead of Philip Evans because I like the way Reynolds moves his feet just a little bit better. I like his swing better too, everything’s just a little looser and easier. Reynolds will only start one level ahead of Evans, but I expect him to finish the year two ahead, in AA Binghamton. That relative proximity to the big leagues is worth a spot.
2012: After helping take Arkansas to the College World Series, Reynolds got off to slow start in Savannah, hitting .223/.299.298 in his first 25 games. He finished strong however, hitting .333/.412/.500 in 16 games in August before a lower back strain ended his season early.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A nice everyday second baseman.
Debbie Downer Says: Tweener everywhere. No better than Justin Turner.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie
MLB Arrival: September 2014 if everything goes right for him, but 2015 is a safer bet
#18 – Philip Evans
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 185 lbs
Acquired: 15th rd ’11 (La Costa Canyon HS)
Born: 9/10/92 (Carlsbad, CA)
2012 Rank: 21 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Evans moves up three spots because he looks like he has a chance to be a starting second baseman in the big leagues. I saw a little bit of him in Brooklyn and again in Spring Training 2013.
Lets start with the body. He’s listed at 5’10” which might be a shade tall. He clearly gets his gym time – he’s bigger through the chest and arms than any shortstop I can recall seeing in the minors. Evans told me that agility was a major point of emphasis in his off-season training. That’s good.
I did not see the footspeed in 2012 to play shortstop everyday in the big leagues. Moreover, a guy that thick already is not going to get much faster. When I saw him in Brooklyn, I did not see the true carry on his arm to make enough plays from the hole at short or even off-balance up the middle. I still did not see it in early in Spring Training in 2013. I think he will primarily be a second baseman by the time he reaches the big leagues.
At the plate, he’s short enough to the ball and can drive a ball well to left-center. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hit a ball with any authority to true right field, only rightcenter.
2012: Evans held his own as a 19-year old in Brooklyn. His walk rate (9.4%) and his strikeout rate (14.6%) were solid, but he showed very little in-game power. That’s fine for a guy his age.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Starting 2B
Debbie Downer Says: Cups of coffee here and there, but no permanent MLB job
Projected 2013 Start: Savannah
MLB Arrival: Mid-late 2016
Observant readers will notice that when I started posting this Top 41 Prospects series, I made it through Cory Mazzoni at #17 and Collin McHugh at #18 last night. Then, as I was tweaking my forthcoming writeups, I noticed something didn’t look right about my ordinal ranking in the low teens. I consulted my Word file of record. Indeed, somehow, in messing with my formatting, Word’s auto-formatting had restarted my list after the system’s top two prospects (d’Arnaud and Wheeler), who are in their own category. It restarted at my #3 prospect at #1. So, yeah, whoops. Let this be a lesson, I thought I had learned before: proofread and then proofread again.
In terms of writeups and this list, no orders have changed, since I started writing these things in mid March. However, because I cannot count, I’m going to write 43 prospect capsules this year. So you, dear reader, win. I lose an hour or two of my life.
Also, since this list goes 43 deep this year, think of it as the R.A. Dickey Memorial. Back when I did my first Mets list, I decided I would go to 31 because 1. it was 1 player longer than Baseball America and 2. Mike Piazza’s number. Piazza, as you know, is awesome. However, as I was putting it together, I found that I had things to say about more players, and expanded the list, setting on 41 players as a constant reminder of the Franchise – Tom Seaver. This year, we’ll go to 43 and we’ll use it to again appreciate R.A. Dickey.
This pair of rankings concludes the MLB spare parts and potential relievers section. Everyone in the top 16 has a higher ceiling, but these guys are close, and might provide MLB innings soon.
#19 – RHP Cory Mazzoni
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190lbs
Acquired: 2nd rd ’11 (NC State)
Born: 10/19/89 (Evans City, PA)
2012 Rank: 10 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Mazzoni slips seven spots from a year ago because I view his future as a bullpen piece. As a starter, he regularly sat 91-92 with his fastball in 2012. However, early in games he would throw harder say 92-94 early and he had the ability to reach back for a batter a time – like say against a rehabbing big leaguer for 94 or 95. Mazzoni is a relatively slight 6’1” and just does not have the bulk and stamina to maintain that kind of premium velocity as a starter.
His secondary offerings, a slider and a changeup are fine if unexceptional.
2012: Mazzoni made a dozen starts in advanced-A before getting a look at AA where his ERA was below league average. The major statistical issue: no strikeouts. He fanned under 7 batters per nine at both levels, including a 16.1% strikeout rate in double-A. By my count, there are exactly two Eastern League pitchers in the last five years who have gone on to become major league starters with a double-A strikeout rate below 17%: Vance Worley and Ricky Romero. By the time both guys reached the majors they had increased their strikeout rates above 18%. Mazzoni, pitching the way he did in 2012, does not miss enough bats to be a Major League starting pitcher.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A nice middle reliever
Debbie Downer Says: A nice piece of my AAA bullpen
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 50/50: late 2013 or 2014
#20 – Collin McHugh
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195 lbs
Acquired: 18th rd ’08 (Berry College)
2012 Rank: 26 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: When I finalized this list, I thought that McHugh was an injury or two, and a good spring away from earning the #5 spot in the Mets’ rotation. McHugh is about halfway there with Santana done for the season and Shawn Marcum looking a little shaky for his first start with biceps tendonitis. McHugh did not do his part, getting roughed up this spring. As meaningless as Spring Training stats should be, that could have been the difference between a trip to Queens and Las Vegas.
McHugh has a full repertoire: he uses both a two and four-seam fastball both with similar velocity at 89-92, sitting 90-91. That’s a little short, but playable. He throws his soft curveball (70 mph) a lot, like a quarter of the time and uses his 85 mph cutter, which acts more like a slider, regularly as well.
I confess a little bit of bias with respect to Collin McHugh. He’s a smart pitcher, who gets the most out of his abilities, delivers thoughtful responses to questions, is funny on twitter and is one of the really nice humans I’ve met around a baseball field. He’s an easy guy to root for.
2012: McHugh cruised through AA before a mid-season promotion to AAA. In AAA, alarmingly, his home run rate doubled over his AA rate and his walk rate rose to 9.3%. He just does not have the stuff to issue more walks than MLB average. Promoted to the big leagues at the end of August, he put together one great start in his MLB debut, and then did not record an out in the fifth inning in any of his subsequent starts. In the big leagues, he allowed well over a hit an inning and 2.1 HR/9. No pitcher in baseball who pitched enough innings to qualify for the MLB ERA title gave up homers at that rate.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A nice, durable backend starter
Debbie Downer Says: A homerun machine who will spend more time in AAA than the big leagues over the next six itinerant years of his professional career.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: Oh, he’ll be back at some point in 2013.
|2012 MiLB Total||2.91||25/25||148.34||123||53||48||12||46||135||7||8|
Both photos in this post courtesy Michael Baron of MetsBlog.
After the raw potential of Cesar Puello and Wuilmer Becerra, these ranking will take a hard turn for the next eight slots into the realm of “MLB Spare Parts and Bullpen Pieces.” I view all of the next eight as very likely to play in the big leagues, or in Carson’s case already have, but unlikely to be average regulars. The big league at bats and innings this group will provide will separate them from many other players on this prospect list.
#24 LHP Robert Carson
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 240 lbs
Acquired: 14th rd, ’07 (Hattiesburg HS)
Born: 1/23/89 (Hattiesburg, MS)
2012 Rank: 27 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Carson made his MLB debut in 2012 and appeared in 17 games overall for the Mets. He struggled, with five strikeouts against four walks in 13.1 innings. Still there’s stuff in here. Carson’s fastball averaged 94.6 mph. In fact, Carson’s results have lagged a bit behind his fastball and raw weapons. Carson’s slider was 84. His command of both pitches was below average. If he can harness both, he could be a pretty nice reliever.
2012: Carson put together a 4.79 ERA in 35.2 innings in AA, a 1.72 ERA in 15.2 innings in AAA and a 4.73 ERA in 13.1 innings in the big leagues.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A good lefty reliever
Debbie Downer Says: Carson never learns to throw strikes, and never reaches a 100 ERA+.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Buffalo
MLB Arrival: 2012. Back in 2013
#25 SS Wilfredo Tovar
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 160
Acquired: NDFA (10/12/07)
Born: 8/11/91 (Miranda, VE)
2012 Rank: #29 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Tovar is a skilled defensive shortstop who probably will never hit enough to hold down an every day job.
The tiny guy has quick feet, outstanding balance, lightning-fast hands and plenty of arm to play short.
At the plate, he bats out of a crouch and again, his hands work well. He never strikes out, but he’s just not big enough and strong enough to generate any power at all.
2012: Tovar conquered the Florida State League, poking 17 doubles, and walking in over 11% of his plate appearances. Promoted to AA Binghamton, his walk rate dropped in half, to 5% dragging his line to .254/.308/.332.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A second-tier starting shortstop who makes a living with his glove, contact and learns (again) to draw some walks.
Debbie Downer Says: Up and down guy who spends some seasons on MLB rosters and some in AAA.
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2015
#26 – OF Juan Lagares
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180
Acquired: NDFA (5/5/06)
Born: 3/17/89 (Constanza, DR)
2012 Rank: #7 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Lagares can play all three outfield positions and hit a little. In the big leagues, he could be an above average corner outfielder, and a little bit below average defensively in center, who is playable as a backup.
Offensively, he’s an aggressive hitter who makes lots of contact with a line drive swing. Although he’s solidly built, he just does not have the high finish that allows him to generate much loft to put the ball out of the wall. He walks very little and has struggled learning a better, more modern-Mets approach.
Lagares was a shortstop through 2009, and one Mets person suggested to me that he could play third (although he’s only played only six games there as a professional – five in Brooklyn) and that would help him make a MLB team as an OF/3B reserve.
2012: Lagares spend the whole season with AA Binghamton. On the plus side, his walk rate of 6.8% was a career-best. The bad news is that it would still be a below average MLB walk rate. The other bad news, is that his power disappeared: his .106 isolated slugging percentage was his lowest over a full season since 2009 in the South Atlantic League as was his 7.1% extra-base hit rate.
Lagares ran an OPS that was nearly 200 points higher against lefties in 2012. (Versus lefties he owned .872 as part of a .338/.387/.485 line in 142 PA while he hit .266/.318/.359 in 401 PA against righties.)
Dr. Pangloss Says: A useful piece of a platoon who can offer a team additional value thanks to his defensive flexibility and ability.
Debbie Downer Says: He just will not hit enough for a team to carry him and he will lose steps and range in the outfield as he ages.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: 2013
This pairing of two tools outfielders makes good sense to me. Puello’s advantage in playing at higher levels is mitigated by his regression in 2012.
#27 – Cesar Puello
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200
Acquired: NDFA 7/27/07
Born: 4/1/91 (La Romana, DR)
2012 Rank: 6 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: After back-to-back years as my of my Top 10 prospects in the system, (#5 in 2011, #6 in 2012) Pullo slips 21 spots because he has yet to turn his physical gifts into consistent baseball production. Puello has spent the last two seasons in the Florida State League. He turns 22 on Monday and I no longer see a star here. At best, he becomes an average outfielder, but he still has lots of work to do to get there.
Even the biggest reason to dream on Puello – his body and physical tools – now come with question marks. Again, to review, he’s big, very strong and a plus runner. Now the bad, he’s been hurt in each of the last three years. He’s dealt with back strains, hamstring strains, broken fingers and, in 2012, a fractured left hammate bone. On top of the history of injuries, Puello was listed as a client at Biogenesis, the clinic where MLB players purchased banned PEDs. While Major League Baseball suspended Tigers’ minor leaguer Cesar Carillo 100 games when his name surfaced in the Biogenesis documents, Puello has escaped similar punishment because he is on the Mets’ 40-man roster.
Puello is still big and fast, and still runs well. His swing looked better in early batting practice this spring than ever – simpler and shorter to the ball. However, can he take that to games? And can he stay on the field?
2012: Puello played centerfield a little over two-thirds of the time for St. Lucie where he hit .260/.328/.423. As always, his on-base percentage was sustained by hit-by-pitches. He was plunked 16 times – and it was the first time in the last three years he has fallen short of 20, a mark he would have reached had he not missed two months with a broken hammate bone. His extra-base hit rate was a career-best in a full season league at 9.9% while his walk rate was a career-low 2.8% while his strikeout rate climbed back to 23%, a mark he had last reached in the Appalachian League in 2009. Put simply, Puello showed better in-game power, but his plate discipline collapsed. A strikeout rate up at 23% suggests that he will have trouble hitting for average at higher levels.
In his first exposure to upper level pitching in the Arizona Fall League, Puello picked up only two extra-base hits in 103 plate appearances while striking out over 28% of the time. Yikes!
Dr. Pangloss Says: A slightly above average corner outfielder.
Debbie Downer Says: Injuries and pitch selection keep him from ever sticking on a big league roster
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2014 at some point, if he can stay healthy
#28 – Wuilmer Becerra
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190 lbs
Acquired: Trade with John Buck, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas
2012 Rank: N/A | Stats
Why Ranked Here: The Blue Jays paid Becerra $1.3 million to sign a year ago. That’s a lot of coin. According to Baseball America, he’s a “plus-plus” runner, who was one of the top bats with some “raw power” on the international market a year ago. Of course, he has a tendency towards length in his swing.
2012: Becerra played in 11 games in the GCL for Toronto when he took a fastball off his face, which broke his jaw.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Above average corner outfield with power and speed.
Debbie Downer Says: Or his swing is too long to hit more advanced pitching while his speed regresses as he ages and fills out and he never plays above AA.
Projected 2013 Start: Extended Spring Training. Then off to Kingsport or Brooklyn
MLB Arrival: Mid-late 2017
I originally had Nido a little higher and Verrett a little lower, but I’m happy with where they ended up.
29 – C Tomas Nido
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 200lbs
Acquired: 8th rd ’12 (Orangewood Christian (FL) HS)
Born: 4/12/94 (Oviedo, FL)
2012 Rank: N/A | Stats
Why Ranked Here: There’s plenty of raw (good and bad) in Nido’s game, but he has the tools to become a big league catcher. His arm is average. However, his receiving qualifies as his bad raw. He just needs to improve every piece of his game behind the plate. I think with enough time and reps, he will become adequate behind the dish.
The good raw? His power. He can hit balls a long way.
2012: The Mets went overslot to pay Nido $250,000 to skip Florida State and become a professional baseball player. On the field, Nido showed a healthy approach for a young player, earning a walk in 8.6% of his plate appearances in the Appalachian League in the season in which he was 18.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A nice starting catcher in the big leagues.
Debbie Downer Says: He might not be a good enough defensive catcher to play for my team, and I don’t see the pure hit tool or body to carry him at first base.
Projected 2013 Start: Extended Spring Training with a June assignment to Brooklyn
MLB Arrival: 2018
30 – RHP Logan Verrett
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 lbs
Acquired: 3rd rd ’11 (Baylor)
2012 Rank: 35 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Verrett moves up five spots from a year ago because, as a polished collegiate arm, he did exactly what he was supposed to do in his first full professional season reaching advanced-A in July. Verrett is a lean righty who worked 90-91 with his fastball which is a little straight. He touched 93 occasionally, but did not work at that velocity. Scouts told me that coming out of the bullpen early in his Baylor career he could touch 96 and work at 94 mph. There’s no way he can recapture that kind of heat as a starter, but I wonder if he can’t find 92-94 working out of the bullpen in short bursts. Some nights his slider was nice and tight, and some nights he had trouble throwing it for strikes. His changeup is ok – with a chance to be average.
Verrett repeats his delivery well and throws plenty of strikes, a fact that gives him a chance to start.
2012: Verrettt was likely closing in on a promotion to advanced-A when a shoulder strain shut him down for almost two months in Savannah.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Back-end starter or middle reliever
Debbie Downer Says: You know Dr., Verrett’s strikeout rate dipped to 6.1 K/9/17% in advanced-A and he had shoulder problems last year. Any further decline in the minors and his dreams of starting will be long gone. Nope, he’s a AAA starter for me.
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2015