Top 41: #15 – Vic Black, #16 – RHP Jacob deGrom, #17 – RHP Domingo Tapia

This post concludes our three-part series on potential middle reliever prospects that spanned the #15 through #21 spots in my Top 41 ranking of Mets prospects (Part one and two). Part three has a bunch of really good fastballs from a trio of pitchers listed at 6’4″ and two of these three should be MLB contributors in 2014.

#15 – Vic Black

Vic Black ST Head

Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Height/Weight:  6’4”/215 lbs
Acquired: in trade with Pirates with Dilson Herrera for Marlon Byrd and John Buck
Born: 5/23/88
2013 Rank: N/A Stats
Why Ranked Here: Black, who will be 26 in May, is ready to help a big league bullpen now. It’s that simple. He’s big and he throws hard. His average fastball is 95-96 mph. He can hit 98. His second pitch is a hard curveball in the low 80s averaging 82+ mph. That’s plus velocity on a curve, and a tick above average on a slider, although it moves more like a curveball.

He struggled with his control as a younger pitcher, running walk rates above 12% in 2010 and 2011. Even in 2013, he walked 11% of his opponents in AAA with the Pirates. He can be a big leaguer at 8-11% walk rate, which would be average to a little below average. He could be a really good big leaguer if he walks fewer.
2013:  Hey, the Mets picked up Black and 2B Dilson Herrera for a month each of Marlon Byrd and John Buck. That’s nifty!

Black fanned 33% of opposing hitters in AAA with the Pirates.
Dr. Pangloss Says:  Closer/Bullpen Ace
Debbie Downer Says:  Too many walks = replacement level guy.
Projected 2014 Start:  MLB bullpen
MLB Arrival: 2013. 2014 fulltime

Recent Stats

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;ERA;G/GS;IP;H;R;ER;HR;BB;SO;HBP;WP

2012 EL;1.65;51/0;60;40;14;11;2;29;85;4;12

2013 IL;2.51;38/0;46.67;28;15;13;2;21;63;1;3

2013 MLB;3.71;18/0;17;17;7;7;1;6;15;2;4

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;BB/9;SO/9;SO/BB;HR/9;H/9;R/9;BB%;SO%;HR%;TBF;

2012 EL;4.4;12.8;2.9;0.3;6;2.1;11.6;34.1;0.8;249;

2013 IL;4;12.1;3;0.4;5.4;2.9;3.9;11.7;0.4;537;

2013 MLB;3.2;7.9;2.5;0.5;9;3.7;7.9;19.7;1.3;76;

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#16 – RHP Jacob deGrom

Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 185 lbs
Acquired: 9th rd ’10 (Stetson U
Born: 6/19/88 (Deland, FL)

2013 Rank:  #8 Stats
Why Ranked Here: deGrom’s fastball, good pitcher’s body, easy delivery, and ability to throw strikes will get him to the big leagues. In the most likely scenario, he will become a hard-throwing reliever, but there still is a chance that he becomes a starter.

A shortstop at Stetson, deGrom’s professional career began slowly. He was diagnosed with a strained UCL ligament in 2010, but tried to rehab it instead of opting for Tommy John surgery immediately. However, he did eventually go under the knife, and that cost him the 2011 season. While rehabbin in St. Lucie, he learned a two-seam fastball from Johan Santana. He was excellent, as a 24-year-old across the two a-ball levels in 2012.

His fastball is 92-96 with sink and he now has a four-seamer to spot to both sides of the plate.

The question I had with deGrom was whether his breaking ball and changeup would improve to the point where they could help him face the same lineup three times as a starter. On this front, the results are mixed. The Mets shifted him from a slider to a hard curveball during the summer of 2013. The one breaking ball I saw from him this spring was upper 80s with depth, a useful pitch down and out of the zone. His fastball is ready for primetime now, in his age-26 season, but I’m not sure the breaking ball supports a starter’s role. And the bullpen is the safest place for his heat.
2013:  deGrom made two starts in St. Lucie in April, then moved to AA Binghamton, where he made four appearances and then kept right on moving to AAA for a spot start on May 6. Returned to AA, he made six starts before moving permanently to AAA on June 18. In July, the PCL hit .326/.360/.543 for a .903 OPS against him while that dropped to .283/.333/.457 for a .790 OPS in six August starts.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A rotation regular, but more likely a good, hard-throwing reliever.
Debbie Downer Says: No weapon other than his fastball. Too hittable. Fodder.
Projected 2014 Start:  AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: 2014

 

Recent Stats

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;ERA;G/GS;IP;H;R;ER;HR;BB;SO;HBP;WP;

12 SAL;2.52;15/15;89.33;77;33;25;3;14;78;1;2;

12 FSL;2.08;4/4;21.67;14;5;5;1;6;18;1;3;

12 Total;2.43;17/17;111;91;38;30;4;20;96;2;5;

13 EL;4.80;10/10;60;69;38;32;4;20;44;2;3;

13 PCL;4.52;14/14;75.67;87;41;38;6;24;63;1;3;

13 Total;4.64;24/24;135.67;156;79;70;10;44;107;3;6;

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[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]

;BB/9;SO/9;SO/BB;HR/9;H/9;R/9;BB%;SO%;HR%;TBF;

12 SAL;1.4;7.9;5.6;0.3;7.8;3.3;5.3;29.4;1.1;265;

12 FSL ;2.5;7.5;3.0;0.4;5.8;2.1;4.0;12.0;0.7;150;

Total ;1.6;7.8;4.8;0.3;7.4;3.1;4.8;23.1;1.0;415;

13 EL;3.0;6.6;2.2;0.6;10.4;5.7;7.7;16.9;1.5;261;

13 PCL;2.9;7.5;2.6;0.7;10.3;4.9;7.3;19.0;1.8;331;

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17 – RHP Domingo Tapia

Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Height/Weight:  6’4”, 190 lbs
Acquired:  NDFA 12/16/09
Born: 12/16/91 (Santo Domingo, DR)

2013 Rank: 10 (2012: 14) Stats
Why Ranked Here: Tapia had a bad 2013 season, but he still throws a heavy sinking fastball at 96 mph that can get up to 98 or more. That fastball is one of the best pitches in the Mets’ system.

He’s big, with long arms and legs that generates tremendous whip, so the velocity comes relatively easily. However, his natural motion relies on a low arm slot, which has made it hard to find a viable, repeatable breaking ball. Moving his arm up didn’t really help the breaking ball, and hurt his fastball command.

He does have a hard, diving changeup at 88-89 that can be very effective. The bet here is that fastball/changeup can move up system to the big leagues.
2013: The best thing about Tapia’s 2013 is that he stayed healthy. The bad part: his walk rate spiked from 7.1% in the SAL in 2012 to 14% in 2013. He was particularly walk prone on the road, where he issued free passes in 16.8% of opposing plate appearances on his way to a 7.13 ERA away from St. Lucie. At home, where he had a 2.79 ERA, his walk rate was a still high, but more manageable 11.9%. Mets Pitching Coordinator Ron Romanick called him a “front-runner” in the sense that when things were going well, he could keep them going, “His stuff moves so much. He’s probably one of our best front-runner pitchers. [When] he gets out on a roll, he rolls it out of there. But that first or second inning, when he’s just missing, he’s had his struggles.”
Dr. Pangloss Says: Elite late-inning reliever
Debbie Downer Says: Not enough good strikes to become effective. However, his velocity will earn him multiple shots to figure it out. Hi, Henry Rodriguez.
Projected 2014 Start: AA Binghamton. If he throws strikes, he’ll get guys out regardless of what league he’s pitching in.
MLB Arrival: 2015

 

Recent Stats

[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]

;ERA;G/GS;IP;H;R;ER;HR;BB;SO;HBP;WP;

2012 SAL;3.98;20/19;108.67;92;55;48;2;32;101;2;5;

2013 FSL;4.62;23/22;101.33;87;60;52;3;63;89;5;9;

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[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]

;BB/9;SO/9;SO/BB;HR/9;H/9;R/9;BB%;SO%;TBF;

2012 SAL;2.7;8.4;3.2;0.2;7.6;4.6;7.1;22.3;452;

2013 FSL;5.6;7.9;1.4;0.3;7.7;5.3;14.0;19.8;449;

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