This is one of my favorite posts of the year, in which I compare how the major national prospect outlets – ESPN, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, ranked the top Mets prospects. It’s revealing.
There is a little bit of guesswork as different authors rank different numbers of players and have slightly different eligibility rules, which this year only matters for Jeurys Familia. I tried to hew as closely as possible to each author’s intent. For every player beyond the number of players each publication ranked, I assigned that player the next best rank. If Keith Law ranked 15 players for example, to create my average ranking, I assigned every other player a 16. Law ranked 15 guys, Baseball America 30, MLB.com 20 and BP 10. I used Jason Parks’ commenta to separate the next few players after #10 into tiera. He suggested that Matz, Fulmer and Herrera were in play for him at #10; they all got 11s. Everyone else 14s. “Flattening” the back of these lists artificially reduces the combined rank of non-consensus Top 15 players and the variance on their ranking, but I don’t know a fairer way to do it.
|Keith Law (ESPN.com)||Baseball Prospectus||Baseball America||MLB.com||AVG||STD Dev|
- There is complete agreement about the team’s top two prospects: Syndergaard and d’Arnaud.
- After Montero, a consensus #3, there is some tiering. Dom Smith earned rankings between 3-7; barely edging Wilmer Flores. The consistency of Smith’s rankings, nothing as low as the #8 that Flores received from Law, pushed him to #4.
- The standard deviation on the rankings of consensus guys 5-9 (Flores, Nimmo, Plawecki and Puello) are all really tightly bunched.
- There’s “chaos” at #10 as each author preferred a different player in that spot with Jason Parks making the boldest leap for Marcos Molina, a young hard-throwing RHP. This is one of the boldest selections for a Mets Top 10 in years. While I don’t see Molina as a Top 10 guy yet (too much risk/unknown), I applaud the thought process.
- Amed Rosario is a consensus top-10 outside of MLB.com, bringing down his overall rank and pushing his variance up.
- I’m going to keep pushing Steven Matz, who missed ESPN and MLB’s lists.
- The agreement on Michael Fulmer – at 11-14 in all four rankings is interesting.
Rob and I discuss the first few days of Spring Training, Noah Syndergaard, the starting staff, and the bullpen. Also, Rob sits down with right-handed relief pitcher Jeff Walters.
Topics are below, but the most important was probably Jose Valverde wearing a hot dog jersey.
Stuff we Talked About
Spring Training has arrived
The Starting Pitchers
Jeff Walters interview (17:05)
Watching Nimmo, Puello, Flores
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (31:22)
Noah Syndergaard threw his first bullpen of Spring Training yesterday, and drew rave reviews.
Everyone has Terry Collins’ quote that he was “throwing 97 miles an hour today with a hook from hell,” but Jared Diamond at the Wall Street Journal has the followup in which Collins told his youngster, “”You’re not going to make the team throwing on the side.”
Adam Rubin at ESPN has a great honest characterization from Syndergaard of his own work, ”he spent the offseason working to upgrade his changeup. He threw eight or 10, he recalled, in Monday’s session. “I kind of impressed myself a little bit,” he said.
At Newsday, Marc Carig quotes Anthony Recker who caught the session, “Pretty much my first impression was ‘wow.’ He’s got really good stuff — great stuff. The ball jumps out of his hand, good movement on the two-seam, changeup. You don’t expect a power-arm guy that young to have a changeup like that.”
Rob Brender talked to Thor.
Bill Price in the Daily News wins the award for worst column arguing that the Mets should bring Syndergaard north.
Jason Parks and his merry crew at Baseball Prospectus are out with their Top 10 Mets Prospects for 2014. Please go read their writeups as they are perhaps the most detailed in the industry.
1. RHP Noah Syndergaard
2. C Travis d’Arnaud
3. 3B Wilmer Flores
4. RHP Rafael Montero
5. SS Amed Rosario
6. 1B Dominic Smith
7. OF Cesar Puello
8. C Kevin Plawecki
9. CF Brandon Nimmo
10. RHP Marcos Molina
The news here is Marcos Molina slipping into the Top 10 instead of a guy like Steven Matz. Molina is 6’3″, 190 and Parks loves him.
His strengths: “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”
Prospects on the Rise
1. RHP Michael Fulmer
2. RHP Casey Meisner
3. SS Luis Guillorme
Factors on the Farm (Potential MLB Contributors in ’14)
1. RHP Vic Black
2. LHP Jack Leathersich
3. RHP Jake deGrom
A Parting Thought: This is a very good farm system that will take a hit with likely major-league promotions for their top four prospects, but the strong depth coming out of short-season ball could keep the Mets in the top-10 farm discussion for the foreseeable future.
Syndergaard threw 123.2 innings last year. Taking him to 145 this year, when he turns 22 in August, would be an increase of just 21.2 IP. This is fairly conservative.
Syndergaard’s innings by year:
2012: 107 (103.2 regular season + 4 playoffs)
2013: 123.2 (117.2 regular season + 6 playoffs)
Note that Syndergaard only threw 16 more innings in 203 than he did in 2012.
From 2011 to 2012, Syndergaard’s innings increased rose by 48, an increase of 81%. From 2012 to 2013 they rose by 16.67, or 16%.
Lets compare Syndergaard to the Mets’ other big two pitching prospects: Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler with front of the rotation size and fastballs. Coming off heavy workloads in college, in his first professional season in 2011, Harvey threw 135.2 innings, finishing in AA. By 2012, after 110 innings in Buffalo, he was ready for the big leagues, where he threw 59.1 for a total of 169.1 in 2012. Wheeler began 2012 in AA after spending all of 2011 with advanced-A for the Mets and Giants, throwing 115 innings in advanced-A. In 2012, his age 22 season, he tossed 149 innings in double-A and triple-A. Between AAA and the big leagues he threw 168.1 innings last year.
The difference is that Syndergaard should be MLB-ready this year, in his ~145 inning season rather than his 170 max season as Harvery and Wheeler were.
Counting pitcher usage by innings still bothers me. We can do better. Expressing workload in terms of batters faced, or even better, pitches thrown would be more precise. Maybe teams do count in terms of batters or pitches thrown, but express workload publicly in innings for the sake of clarity.
Syndergaard’s batters faced by year:
2012: 439 (420 regular season + 19 playoffs)
2013: 498 (472 + 26)
From 2011 to 2012, Syndergaard faced an extra 201 batters an increase of 84% on his previous year. From 2012 to 2013, he saw 59 more batters an increase of only 13%. He faced fewer batters per inning. In 2012, he saw 4.1 batters per inning. In 2013, it was 4.0.
So, Syndergaard will throw about 150 innings in 2014. That’s not surprising.
Something else I learned: Syndergaard’s manager on the 2011 Lansing Lugnuts was Mike Redmond, currently of the Marlins.
This group of four Mets prospects are all likely to get to the big leagues, but are unlikely to ever be average regulars. Instead, if they make it, it will be in part-time roles, or as middle relievers. All four are 2010 or 2011 college draftees so it’s time for them to produce in the big leagues. All have dealt with injuries on their way through the minors.
#33 – RHP Erik Goeddel
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185 lbs
Acquired: 24th round 2010 (UCLA)
2013 Rank: NR (2012: #33) | Stats
Why Ranked Here: The Mets added Goeddel to the 40-mand roster for the 2014 season; 40-mand guys almost always make my Top 41. While 2013 was the first season he survived without injury, he should hold up better in shorter outings out of the bullpen, where his velocity will play up.
As a starter, Goeddel’s velocity has been 89-92 for the most part, although he can reach back for more and touch 95. He’s a four-pitch guy with a curve, slider and changeup. Some nights in Savannah, the curve looked like a big league pitch and some nights the slider looked like a big league offering, but it seemed rare that he had both working at once. Some nights his fastball command was solid, others it was very erratic. According to Jeff Paternostro at Amazin’ Avenue, Goeddel remained fairly inconsistent appearance to appearance this year. Jeff far preferred Goeddel’s curveball to his slider in 2013. This year, he adjusted the grip on his changeup to increase the contrast with the fastball.
Where many young pitchers rush their delivery, and must train themselves to stay back, Goeddel has the reverse issue. He told me that when he feels too slow, he loses tempo and struggles to repeat.
2013: Goeddel stayed healthy all the way through the 2013 season with AA Binghamton where he posted a 4.37 ERA in a career-high 25 starts over 134 innings. As a starter in AA, he gave up a hit an inning (135) walked 9.9% of opposing batters and struck out 21%. National League pitchers had a 19.9% strikeout and a 7.7% walkd rate in 2013. Eastern League pitchers were similar, fanning 20.1% of opposing batters and walking 9.1%. Given that Goeddel walks more batters than the average Eastern Leaguer, and the average National Leaguer, I am skeptical that he has the command to work through a linup multiple times as a big league starter.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Good middle reliever, maybe even an 8th inning guy.
Debbie Downer Says: Worse command than average in AA. No better than the last guy in the bullpen.
Projected 2014 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: 2014
#34 – CF Matt den Dekker
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205 lbs
Acquired: 5th rd 2010 (Florida)
Born: 8/10/87 (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
2013 Rank: 23 (2012: 18 ) | Stats
Why Ranked Here: He can play centerfield and hit righties. He’s a tick above average as a runner, but gets great jumps in center, and sells out chasing balls so that he should be an above average defender in centerfield.
Den Dekker is already 26 and has never hit lefties in his minor league career. Good breaking balls fool him.
2013: A broken wrist in spring training kept den Dekker out of action until he began rehab in the Florida State League June 17. He returned to AAA on July 1. After showing improvement in AAA over 2012 (lower strikeout rate, better walk rate) the Mets rewarded him with a late-season call up and he made his big league debut on August 29.
Dr. Pangloss Says: I would like him as a fourth outfielder who can go play center and hit righties.
Debbie Downer Says: I would prefer players who do not strike out in 1/3 of their plate appearances.
Projected 2014 Start: The Mets have three guys on the MLB roster who can play center, so it will take an injury or two for den Dekker to break camp on the big league roster.
MLB Arrival: 2013. He’ll be back.
#35 – Cory Vaughn
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 225 lbs
Acquired: 4th round 2010 (San Diego State)
Born: 5/1/89 (Carmichael, CA)
2013 Rank: #40 (2012 Rank: 32)| Stats
Why Ranked Here: The Mets left Vaughn off the 40-man roster this winter, but I think there’s some a chance that the 25-year-old will make his MLB debut in 2014. He can play either corner and has beat up on left-handed pitching in the minors. That skill set will give him a chance to be a 4th or 5th outfielder on a team comfortable with platoon outfielders.
In 2013, he hit .242/.327/.374 in 198 AB against righties and .344/.403/.578 in 64 AB against lefties. In the last three years, through the full-season minor league levels, he has bashed .296/.401/.528 in 409 PA against lefties and .231/.335/.383 in 1047 PA against righties.
Although he cleaned up in 2013, there’s funk in his setup at the plate, and decent right-handed fastballs beat him regularly.
Six-foot-three, and strong, Vaughn looks the part, and always has.
2013: A strained UCL in his right elbow kept him out of action in double-A from June 2 through August 6. His strikeout rate of 26.5% in AA was his highest at any minor league stop, while his walk rate of 8.2% was his lowest. His .156 isolated slugging percentage was his lowest since Savannah and his 6.8% extra-base hit rate exceeded only Savannah (6.7%), and even at that by only one tenth of a percentage point. For reference, the Eastern League had an extra-base hit rate of 7.2%, a strikeout rate of 20.1% and a walk rate of 9%.
Sent to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time during the season, Vaughn hit .250/.320/.375 in 88 AB over 22 games. And he did so with those persistent platoon splits going .238/.273/.365 in 63 AB vs. RHP.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Useful platoon outfielder.
Debbie Downer Says: AAA Regular
Projected 2014 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: Late 2014.
#36 – Logan Verrett
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 lbs
Acquired: 3rd rd ’11 (Baylor)
2013 Rank: #30 (2012: 35) | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Big league command and a big league slider. However, Verrett’s fastball is soft (88-90). Righties just don’t generally become big league starters with that kind of below average heat. He shows a four-pitch arsenal with a changeup and curve. The curve is really a show-me pitch that he can use to steal strikes. The changeup could be a MLB average pitch, but it isn’t good enough to off-set his fastball and keep him in a starting role.
2013: In 24 starts for the B-Mets he ran a 4.25 ERA on a 5.3% walk rate, a 22.5% strikeout rate and a 3.6% homerun rate (21 overall). That’s almost one homerun per start. When he challenged AA hitters, they put the ball over the wall.
Dr. Pangloss Says: If he moves to the bullpen, he can find a few more ticks of velocity to get to 92 consistently. That, paired with his slider and command would make him a more viable middle reliever.
Debbie Downer Says: 88-90? That sounds like MLB batting practice
Projected 2014 Start: AAA. The only question is whether the Mets keep him starting, or move him to the bullpen this year.
MLB Arrival: 2014
MetsBlog’s Michael Baron sat down with 2013 first-round pick Dom Smith. The full interview is here.
The most interesting exchange from my point of view was:
Baron: What are your current strengths and weaknesses, in terms of pitch recognition?
Smith: I can hit a fastball. I need to learn how to recognize good change-ups better, and lay off of them when they’re outside of my hitting zone.
Dom Smith Interview
The crew at Mack’s Mets fired off a bunch of questions for 2013 1st round pick Dominic Smith.
Steven Matz/AA List
Amazin’ Avenue has LHP Steven Matz ranked #10 in the Mets’ system.
This year, I’m writing up most of my Top 41 Mets prospects in roughly similar groups. These three arms at the back of the list form a very cohesive trio of strong-armed relievers. There’s plenty of fastball here, but control issues and size make these guys relievers.
#37 – RHP Akeel Morris
Height/Weight: 6’1”/170 lbx
Acquired: 10th rd 2010 (Amalie HS – St. Thomas VI)
2013 Rank: NR (2012 – #20) | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Morris sits in the low 90s (90-94 last year, 90-93 in 2012) but can touch 96 or 97. His curveball and changeup both remain works in progress. He moves in front of the two guys behind him based on his slightly higher top-end velocity.
2013: Working primarily out of the bullpen, Morris had his best year yet for Brooklyn. The good news: he fanned almost 33% of opposing batters. The bad: he walked almost 13%. He’s still very, very raw, having barely pitched as an amateur before the Mets signed him.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Hey, I see you in the 8th inning in a good bullpen.
Debbie Downer Says: I don’t see you throwing enough strikes or your breaking ball coming along far enough to get AAA hitters out.
Projected 2014 Start: Savannah
MLB Arrival: 2017
#38 – RHP Ricardo Jacquez
Height/Weight: 5’9”/160 lbs
Acquired: 25th rd 2013 (Central AZ College)
Born: 5/6/93 (El Paso, TX)
2013 Rank: NA | Stats
Why Ranked Here: He sat at 94 out of the Kingsport bullpen when I saw him in 2013 on a night when he was 92-94. He has a short, flat slider at 87 mph. He began his college career at Texas, but was kicked off the team for a second rules violation when he warmed up, but was too “dehydrated” to pitch (read: hungover).
2013: Jacquez struck out 40% of the batters he faced in the Appalachian League. I expect him to start in Savannah, where he will blow through the SAL and land in St. Lucie by May or June depending on whether the Gnats are in the playoff hunt.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Nice 7th inning guy in the big leagues
Debbie Downer Says: Dr., he’s 5’9”. A strong April wind in Binghamton or New York will blow him away.
Projected 2014 Start: Savannah
MLB Arrival: 2016
#39 Bret Mitchell
Height/Weight: 6’2”/190 lbs
Acquired: 12th Rd 2010 (Minnesota State University)
Born: 12/10/88 (Lakeville, MN)
2013 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Mitchell has the ability to be a Major League reliever. Mitchell’s first weapon is a 92-94 fastball. He complements that with a 81-83 mph curveball that has a chance to be a plus MLB weapon. His catchers and pitching coach raved about his changeup as well, but he threw it so rarely in games in 2013, I treat it as more myth than reality. Athleticism runs in his family; he has female relatives who were national level volleyball players.
2013: After missing 2012 to repair a torn labrum in his hip, he rolled through the South Atlantic League before running into some trouble in advanced-A. Mitchell was promoted from Savannah to St. Lucie at the end of the first half with Jayce Boyd and Kevin Plawecki. Note that in moving from the SAL to the FSL, his walk rate and strikeout rates went backward. His walk rate jumped from 5.8% to 16.7%, while his strikeout rate declined from 34% to 26%.
Dr. Pangloss Says: MLB 7th inning.
Debbie Downer Says: AA 7th inning
Projected 2014 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2015
From Eric Curl in the Savannah Morning News:
Some members of the Savannah City Council have lost their enthusiasm for a new baseball stadium, now that the owner of the Sand Gnats has entered into negotiations with Columbia, S.C., for a minor league team and stadium there.
Mayor Edna Jackson and aldermen expressed their hesitation during a retreat on Tuesday, while discussing whether they still wanted to pay a consultant to analyze the feasibility of building a multi-use facility at the Savannah River Landing site, east of downtown.
The City Council is not balking over spending money on a ballpark. Rather, the current issue is whether the City will pay for a new feasibility and economic study. The last study, which one Alderman wants to review, was done in 2000.
Columbia, SC is working through the process of building a ballpark and has been negotiating with Hardball Capital, the Gnats’ parent company. However, a stadium in Columbia does not mean the Gnats are necessarily going to move. A new stadium in Savannah would keep the Gnats in the Coastal Empire.
As Hardball CEO Jason Freier explained to Curl:
Hardball is willing to purchase another team, he said, if both governments agree to stadium proposals.
“We are more than happy to do both,” he said. “All we need is the city of Savannah to show us they are interested in doing a project like this.”