I was reading this article by John Sickels over at Minor League Ball and it got me thinking about the grade “C” of the Mets who I really like for 2012 and think could have potential breakouts, or in other words some pretty deep sleepers to keep an eye on.
1. Chase Huchingson, LHP: 7-2, 1.82 ERA, 84 IP, 91/25 K/BB (Savannah)
He was signed to a big time program coming out of high school (Arizona State), drafted 34th round, didn’t sign, things fell through with ASU, he wound up in the JUCO ranks, got drafted in the 23rd round, didn’t sign, and then never got drafted again.
Not the fairy tale route to being a real prospect, but crazier things have happened in sports.
I have seen his fastball listed as anywhere from the high-80′s to 93 mph and there is a big difference between those numbers, but all reports suggest his fastball plays up because of deception. Deception coupled with being left-handed makes his fastball at least average even in the high 80′s, which are the reports I tend to lean a little towards believing more. Still, considering he is fairly new to pitching full-time and extremely lean there is still a good chance he adds on some muscle and gets solidly into the low 90′s.
There have been pitchers to go through Savannah and dominate then simply fall off (looking at you Mark Cohoon) which leaves some concerns about how he will hold up, but I am definitely more confident in Huchingson to be successful going than say Angel Cuan, because he looks like he could have some LOOGY potential at the very least with his dominance over lefties.
2. Luis Mateo, RHP: 6-1, 2.00 ERA, 63 IP, 80/5 K/BB (DSL)
Would obviously be a lot more intriguing if he was indeed 19 years old and not 21, but I am still very bullish on Mateo.
He was a highly regarded international free agent (three years ago…) with a big fastball and good slide who dominated in 2011. Yes, he should have been playing against better competition, but those stats are just gaudy. Five walks in 63 innings is astonishing no matter what level it is done at. I always new Mateo was a big stuff guy, however, I never knew he could command the ball. If his command holds up as he moves up levels the Mets could turn out to be extremely fortunate that contract agreements fell through with not one, but two previous teams with Mateo.
In my opinion he deserves to at least be in Savannah next year so it will be interesting to see what the Mets decide to do with him.
3. Rafael Montero, RHP: 5-4, 2.15 ERA, 71 IP, 66/13 K/BB (DSL-Brooklyn)
Had a similar rise to that of Jenrry Mejia in 2008, except Mejia did it while being 3 years younger. The reasons I even mentioned Mejia’s name is because of his smallish frame (6’0 and 175 lbs.) and the fact some of the only info out there on Montero talks about him having an explosive fastball that gets into the mid-90′s and and a pretty good breaking ball that needs some refinement. Strikingly similar to the reports Mejia had in the lower levels.
Now it doesn’t appear he has the ability to get ground balls like Mejia, but if he even turns out to be half the prospect Mejia was that would be a pleasant and welcomed surprise.
I am always a sucker for players who are New York natives and Camden Maron has played well enough to start getting excited about in my opinion.
Maron has shown an exceptional eye at the plate walking 52 times to 51 strikeouts in his young career and has consistently been around the .300 mark, which are pretty solid traits to have from a catcher if you ask me.
He made improvements with his receiving skills last year, allowing just 2 passed balls in 2011 over 30 games after having allowed 6 in just 18 games in 2010. He still needs to work on his throwing, however, as he caught just 24% runners trying to steal last year.
Maron’s numbers actually look remarkably similar to those of Josh Thole‘s, however, by age 20 Thole had 23 doubles and 2 homeruns over nearly 700 at-bats while Maron has 11 and 5 over about 300 at-bats. What this means is Maron is flashing a tad more power already and while Thole never really added any more power, I think Maron deserves a chance to show his power potential before we right him off as “just another Thole”.
5. Travis Taijeron, OF: .299/.387/.557, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 22/64 BB/K (Brooklyn)
It is always a major concern when 22 year old has an issue with strikeouts in the lower levels, but Mets also don’t have a lot of good power prospects and Taijeron flashed some brilliant power in a tough environment/league.
He failed to make an error in center field, but his range factor per game (1.69) suggests that the reports are most likely right and he is not a long term option in center, which knocks his value down a bit.
Taijeron definitely has some major things working against him with the big strikeout issue and a crazy .398 BABIP, but also has some good things working for him with a .258 ISO and a 166 wRC+ (100 is average).
2012 is a crucial year for Taijeron even though it is only his second in professional baseball. He is always going to have doubters coming out Cal Poly Pomona and he will need to duplicate his success this year for anyone to believe in him.