At SBNation’s Minorleagueball.com, John Sickels released his Mets Top 20 Monday evening.
Remember, Sickels looks very, very heavily at stats, and usually prefers upper level players.
1. Noah Syndergaard
2. Travis d’Arnaud
3. Rafael Montero
4. Dominic Smith
5. Kevin Plawecki
6. Wilmer Flores
7. Brandon Nimmo
8. Amed Rosario
9. Gavin Cecchini
10. Cesar Puello
11. Dilson Herrera
12. Jake deGrom
13. Vic Black
14. Steven Matz
15. Cory Mazzoni
16. Gabriel Ynoa
17. Luis Cessa
18. Robert Whalen
19. Chris Flexen
20. Michael Fulmer
1. I view Sickels as generally preferring upper-level players. So, it’s weird to see Cesar Puello, a guy who conquered AA in 2013, and yes, was connected to Biogenesis, below three guys who have yet to play in full-season ball, and two more players who have not had an at-bat in AA.
2. Steven Matz has plenty of risk (see: age, injury history) but I think he belongs at least in front of relief types like deGrom and Black. Sickels, however, views Matz as closer to the bottom six spots on the list than the guys in front of him, writing before his Matz comment, “At this point, the C+ guys become more or less interchangeable and a matter of taste, so please don’t get bent out of shape about the exact spotting.”
3. I don’t get Plawecki at #5. It puts him ahead of the “ceiling” guys like Nimmo, Rosario and Matz. I just don’t understand having Plawecki in front of Puello. Is this a ceiling calculation? A likelihood that Plawecki is an everyday guy (~2.5 WAR ish) and Puello isn’t? Anyway, it’s a strong bet on Plawecki.
4. Michael Fulmer at the back end of the righties in front of him is not the decision I make in that spot.
5. Robert Whalen is a Top 20 Mets prospect in John Sickels’ world!
Pedro Lopez will return as manager of the Double-A Binghamton Mets, the team announced.
Hitting coach Luis Natera and pitching coach Glenn Abbott will also return to the team.
Who else is coming to the Mets Spring Training?
Here’s the full list of players invited to camp: righthanded pitchers Chase Bradford, Joel Carreno, John Church, Jeremy Hefner, Rafael Montero, Miguel Socolovich, Noah Syndergaard, Cory Mazzoni and Logan Verrett; lefthanded pitchers Adam Kolarek and Jack Leathersich; catchers Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Plawecki; infielders Brandon Allen, Eric Campbell, Anthony Seratelli and Daniel Muno and outfielders Dustin Lawley, Cory Vaughn and Brandon Nimmo
To read more of this story, click here
Middle infield prospect Danny Muno and outfielder Cory Vaughn have both been invited to big league camp.
Muno, 24, spent 2013 with Double-A Binghamton, where he hit .249 with a .384 OBP. He connected for 27 doubles, nine home runs and had 67 RBI. Muno has seen time at both second base and shortstop, playing the majority of his season at second with the B-Mets last season.
Muno was suspended 50 games in 2012 for testing positive for a metabolite of Drostanolone.
Here is an SNY.TV video diary on Muno from last October...
Vaughn hit .267/.346/.424 with nine doubles, 10 homer and was 9-for-10 stealing bases in 71 games with AA Binghamton in 2013 in a season that was shortened by an elbow injury. Vaughn has had a heavy platoon split each of the last three years. In 2013, he hit .309/.406/.531 in 96 PA versus lefties but just .233/.329/.357 in 287 PA against righties. It’s pretty easy to envision him as a piece of a corner outfield platoon.
Here is an SNY.TV video diary on Vaughn from last October...
From the State in Columbia, SC:
Jason Freier, owner of minor league baseball teams in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Savannah, on Wednesday guaranteed he would bring a team to Columbia if the city builds a new ballpark as part of the redevelopment of the old State Hospital campus on Bull Street.
Here’s Freier’s quote:
“If we do a deal with Columbia, we’ll bring an affiliated minor league baseball team here. I have a lease in place with the city of Savannah that runs through end of the 2014 season. We have no legal commitments with the city of Savannah beyond the 2014 season. We would love to work with the city of Savannah. It’s what we’ve told them and that’s the truth. But if we made a commitment to the city of Columbia, that commitment would be our first commitment. We wouldn’t make any commitments to Savannah after that.”
Other important nuggets from the State:
- Freier suggested that the ballpark could be built for $35 million, not the $42 million Columbia has budgeted. The $35 million is consistent with the price Freier suggested for a new ballpark in Savannah when he proposed a new stadium in December.
- Freier has already been working very closely with the developer of the site, Bob Hughes, and make changes to the original design. The State: “Freier and Bull Street developer Bob Hughes of Greenville said that two historic buildings presently not protected under the development agreement with the city have been incorporated into a new configuration of an 8,000-seat stadium and could be saved.”
- The University of South Carolina and its Athletic Department has given the project its blessing.
Again, this deal is not done yet, but Columbia has put the pieces in place and now has a team, if they build a ballpark.
Frank Viola will join the Mets’ AAA staff in 2014. Viola will coach alongside manager Wally Backman and Hitting Coach George Greer.
Viola’s great. He always had time for me in Savannah, but more importantly, made his pitchers better. He understands what makes each pitcher successful, and seems adept at prioritizing the areas for each pitcher to improve. Frank is a ball-buster in the classic sense and enjoys his time on the field. He also gets a kick out of mixing in a few breaking balls or running a pitch in on a hitter’s hands in batting practice. He can still make his ball move like a Cy Young award winner
I’m disappointed personally that I’ll likely spend less time talking pitching with Frank this summer, but thrilled for him personally and professionally.
Wally Backman will return to Las Vegas as manager (Logan).
“I’m excited to return to Las Vegas for my second season,” Backman said in a statement. “I’m also excited about the fact that we will have a solid team to start the season and our pitching has the potential to be better than last season (2013). Our players did a good job getting a grip on it quickly in regards to adjusting to the PCL and knowing what the main goal is while playing in Las Vegas.”
Frank Viola will become the pitching coach for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s (Dewey).
Viola spent the 2011 season with the short season Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones and took over as pitching coach for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats the next year.
George Greer will return for his third season (second season with the 51s) as hitting coach. Joe Golia will also return for his fourth season as Athletic Trainer for the Triple-A Mets (second season with the 51s) and Dustin Clarke will return for his fourth season as Strength Coach in the Mets organization and his first season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Full release from the Mets below: To read more of this story, click here
The City of Columbia SC City Council has received and now reviewed a planning study suggesting that building a new ballpark, with a construction budget of $41.8 million, would bring $400 million to the city over 30 years. This study, by Brailsford & Dunlavey, was commissioned in November.
Wednesday’s story in the the State, Columbia’s newspaper makes the Sand Gnats connection explicit, “Columbia officials are talking with Savannah Sand Gnats owner Jason Freier about potentially moving the Class A South Atlantic League team here if Freier can’t convince Savannah to build a new stadium to replace Grayson Stadium, built in 1926.”
The Sand Gnats’ lease with the City of Savannah and their player development contract withe the New York Mets both run through the 2014 season. I believe that it is still possible, if things move quickly enough in Columbia that the Gnats could move to Columbia (with the Mets renewing, or with a new MLB affiliation for the 2015 season).
The full report from B&D is here.
With position players complete, it’s time to turn our attention to pitchers. Again, we’re ranking Mets prospects by position; this will be the backbone of my overall Mets Top 41 ranking.
For the position players, we go: center fielders, corner outfielders, third base, shortstops, catcher, first base and second base.
We begin our pitcher look at one of the thinnest areas in terms of numbers in the Mets’ system: left-handed starters. Six lefties made 13 or more starts for the Mets in 2013: Steven Matz (21), Mark Cohoon (21), Alex Panteliodis (19), Darin Gorski (16), Kevin Canelon (14) and Angel Cuan (13).
- Canelon was a 19-year-old repeating the Dominican Summer League for the third-straight year.
- Cohoon enjoyed his fourth go-around in AA Binghamton where he had a 3.99 ERA and gave up 146 hits in 119.2 innings. He owns a career 6.77 ERA with a 55/41 K/BB ratio in 102.1 innings.
- Panteliodis ran a 4.75 ERA in advanced-A St. Lucie in 2013 with a 56/29 K/BB ratio in 102.1 innings while allowing 129 hits. That’s a 12% strikeout rate.
- Cuan is a little soft-tosser who made 15 relief appearances and 12 starts for St. Lucie in 2013 and one start in AA Binghamton with a 3.57 ERA. He throws strikes with a mid-80s fastball, slurve and changeup.
One or all of Cohoon, Panteliodis and Cuan could break Spring Training in the AA Binghamton rotation. None are likely to ever be useful big league starters.
LHP – Starters
1. Steven Matz
2. Darin Gorski
1. Matz. Steven Matz, the Mets’ second round pick in the 2009 draft is the left-handed jewel in the system. In 2013, he was not just healthy, for the first time, but effective. If everything breaks right, he’s a rotation regular and a good one. I saw lots of Matz in Savannah in 2013 and wrote about him regularly (here, here and here). Anyway, he combines plus fastball velocity (92-95, touching 97) with a changeup that flashes plus. He throws inside very, very aggressively. His breaking ball is a work in progress in that he has gone back and forth between a slider and a curve in the last year. His fastball command will come and go, although by the middle of the year in Savannah, it was on more than off.
2. A year ago at this time, things were looking good for Darin Gorksi: he’d been placed on the Mets’ 40-man roster for the first time in November 2012 following a solid year in AA. With some success in AAA in 2013 and that 40-man spot, a big league debut in 2013 seemed like a real possibility. And then Gorski was outrighted off the 40-man roster in Spring Training. Then in his age 25 season, ran into trouble in Vegas. In 13.2 innings, he allowed 11 runs on 17 hits and walked nine while fanning seven. That’s a whopping 26 baserunners in 13.2 innings. Gorski had shoulder problems that kept him out for six weeks and when he was healthy rolled through the Eastern League wit ha 1.83 ERA in 78.2 innings with 67 strikeouts against 22 walks and just 46 hits allowed. His velocity was back down to the mid-upper 80s. While his change has really nice armspeed, any mistake or even well located heater, can be (relatively) slow-moving prey against advanced hitters.
This morning we will finish up our look at the Mets’ position player prospects with center field, that glamour position.
In 2013, by wRC+, a measure of offense only, the Mets’ centerfield production was last in the Major League at 68. Juan Lagares played such superlative defense, that he moved the unit’s total contribution up to 2.3 fWAR, 21st in baseball. Lagares after all, hit .242/.281/.352 but was worth a million runs (note: 28 by BIS defensive runs saved over average, 21.5 by UZR and 2 by Total Runs) in center field. Most remarkably, he did that in under a full season. Also, defensive numbers in under a full season should be treated with fairly major error bars.
In previous entries, I examined corner outfielders, third base, shortstops, catcher, first base and second base.
1. Brandon Nimmo
2. Champ Stuart
3. Matt den Dekker
4. Darrell Ceciliani
5. Patrick Biondi
1. In his age 20-season in Savannah, Nimmo, the Mets first-round pick in 2011 hit .273/.397/.359 in 110 games. He had a hand injury in the final week of April that kept him off the field in most of May, and affected his swing when he returned. He was a different player when he was healthy in April and August than in the season’s middle months. Defensively, he was better than solid the whole year through in Savannah’s big outfield. At the beginning of the year, other teams’ scouts were wondering if he had the closing ability to play center. He tracked balls well off the bat, and showed plenty of range, with long strides and reach, into both gaps. He will fill out, but as long as he does not become significantly slower, he can play centerfield. His arm is average, but no better. On the bases, he was not a good basestealer, but improved slightly in the area as the year went on. Nimmo should start 2014 in advanced-A St. Lucie.
2. It’s pretty rare these days for me to see a Mets prospect live and think something along the lines of, “whoa, I didn’t realize his tools were that good.” That happened for me with Stuart. When I saw him in July with Kingsport, he was faster, stronger and had a much better arm – he was more physically gifted – than I realized. The Mets’ 6th round pick in 2013 out of Brevard College in North Carolina, Stuart hit .240/.388/.353 in 43 games as a 20-year-old in the Appalachian League. At the plate, Stuart saw lots of pitches; he walked a lot (18%) and struck out more (31%) and ran a .380 BABIP. His approach is very much a work in progress; I saw him fooled badly, and then chase lousy sliders. Defensively, his circuitous routes in the outfield need to improve. On the bases, he was 11-for-13 stealing bases. There’s some major upside here if Stuart can make enough contact. Stuart needs the game reps and should start in 2014 in Savannah’s big outfield.
3. A broken wrist suffered during Spring Training on March 24 kept den Dekker out until June 17. His production, by OPS, improved every month in AAA in 2013 from June to July to August. In AAA, he kept his strikeout rate to a manageable 22% but in the big leagues, he fanned in almost two-fifth (36%) of his 63 plate appearances.
Also, den Dekker became a one-sided hitter in 2013. In 75 PA vs. lefties in 2013, he hit .188/.240/.232 while attacking righties at a .301/.365/.465 rate. The left-handed hitter did not have much in the way of platoon splits in 2011 and 2012 in the minors.
Although he’s not an elite runner, den Dekker combines good reads off the bat with enough explosion to get to full speed quickly and cover plenty of ground. The question has always been whether his bat would support an everyday role or whether he’s more a 4th outfielder. If the Mets carry five outfielders den Dekker will fight with Kirk Nieuwenhuis in Spring Training to be the lefty bat off the bench to alongside right-handed Andrew Brown to complement Lagares, Chris Young, Curtis Granderson. He’s already 26. This is his peak.
4. Ceciliani, who has dealt with injuries regularly in the low minors, played in a career-high 113 games for Binghamton in 2013, while hitting .268/.322/.380 in his age 23 season. He runs just well enough (MLB average, basically) to play center for now. He actually played almost as much leftfield (48 games) as he did center (58 contests). His ability to cover center should get him some big league time. In 2013, he fanned in 22% of his plate appearances and walked in 6.3%, and had extra-base hits in 6.3%, both career-low for any of his minor league stops. That’s just not enough offense to profile at all in a corner.
5. The Mets drafted Biondi, all 5’9″ of him, in the ninth round of the 2013 draft out of Michigan. Assigned to Brooklyn, he hit .249/.348/.301 in 50 games with the Cyclones, but the speedster stole 17 of 21 bases. By age, at 23 to start 2014, he belongs in St. Lucie, but he might end up in Savannah in April with or without Stuart.