Wheeler, d’Arnaud, Syndergaard and Fulmer Make Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospects

An article by posted on February 25, 2013

Baseball Prospectus released its Top 101 Prospects this morning and four Mets prospects made the cut. :-)

Three of them won’t surprise you as they’ve already appeared on more than a few top prospect lists this year. But what a nice surprise it was to see RHP Michael Fulmer ranked 98th and finally get some much deserved recognition.

Topping the list for the Mets of course was RHP Zack Wheeler (5th), C Travis d’Arnaud (15th), and RHP Noah Syndergaard (28th).

I’m still puzzled by why so many of these prospect lists exclude IF Wilmer Flores, who I regard as a better hitter than some of the other position players I usually see ranked from 80-100.

Here is what our MMO minor league staff had to say about all four players in our recent MMO Top 25 Prospects:

MMO TOP 25 PROSPECTS

1. Zack Wheeler

Height: 6’4”
Weight: 185 LBS
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: Left/Right

zack wheeler

The level of success that Zack Wheeler achieves will likely go a long way in changing the fanbase’s opinion on Sandy Alderson. Wheeler was acquired for Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline in 2011, which essentially sent the team in downward spiral afterward. But Wheeler looked like an excellent return at the time, purging the Giants farm system of their top pitching prospect. Wheeler has a nice mix of pitches, ranging from his plus fastball and curveball to a changeup that he is still improving, and some scouts have credited him with a cutter. If I had to guess, the variation in his fastball speed might cause some confusion, as I have seen Wheeler drop it down to the high-80s to get a strike over, and he can also ramp it up to 95 when needed. Wheeler has poise and confidence on the mound, as he is consistently the aggressor in at-bats and pitches inside with much success. There are slight concerns with his mechanics, but he did a good job to dispel them with some solid numbers last year that showed some improved command.

His 2012 season spanned across two levels, AA and AAA, and in a combined 25 starts he managed two shutouts, one at each level with a 12-8 record. He pitched 149 innings to the tune of a 3.26 ERA, and allowed only 115 hits, and only four of those went for home runs. He did walk 59 batters, but he struck out 148.

Outlook: Wheeler has come to symbolize the Alderson era thus far. Everything regarding the future success of the franchise has been pinned to Wheeler’s chest, perhaps unfairly. He instantly became the most recognizable name in the system and there isn’t a fan who is not anxiously awaiting his arrival and with high expectations at that. The plan is that he will eventually join Harvey in the rotation by the end of this year to give the Mets a dangerous 1-2 punch for years to come. That is the plan and the dream and hopefully the reality. Wheeler has the best floor of any prospect in the system right now as well as the highest ceiling. He could potentially be future ace and at worst top-shelf, mid-rotation starter who will throw 200 quality innings a season. We at Metsmerized did not all agree on any one prospect in ranking our Top 25 Mets Prospects – except for one – Zack Wheeler. We have many reasons to believe that he will be an ace quality pitcher for the Mets in the near future.

2. Travis D’Arnaud, C

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 LBS
Age: 23 (24 in February)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

darnaud_travis640_640

There is something to be said about a good catching prospect…and then there is something to be said about one that has been traded for two Cy Young winners. See, D’Arnaud has not only been involved in the more recent Dickey trade, but he was also traded away from his original team, Philadelphia, in the Roy Halladay deal. D’Arnaud is  considered a future stud by almost every scout in existence, and his status as a high ranking prospect is helped by the fact that dons the tools of ignorance. I would be lying if I said I was not excited to see if D’Arnaud panned out or not – as sad as I was about losing RA Dickey. However, D’Arnaud has been touted as having good defensive skills and even better offensive skills. Although numbers in Vegas are inflated, he posted a .333/.380/.595 slash with 16 home runs / 21 doubles / 2 triples in just 303 plate appearances.

The one knock against D’Arnaud is the fact that he has been plagued with various injuries and has missed about 1 1/2 seasons worth of games in his pro career. His latest was a season-ending knee injury last season, his second season-ender in three years. Although that does not bode well for his career choice as a backstop, D’Arnaud has been described as mentally and physically tough, so we have to hope for the best in this situation. The Mets and their fanbase are hoping that their catcher of the future exists in D’Arnaud, and while he will not be Mike Piazza, a catcher with a solid bat and 15-20 home runs is something to look forward to.

Outlook: It is almost a given that D’Arnaud will end up on the MLB club at some point in 2013, and his debut is very much anticipated. If all breaks well for D’Arnaud, the Mets found themselves a future star – a player with an improving defensive foundation, a good baseball IQ, and the ability to hit for a great average with some pop…what else could you ask from an MLB regular, let alone a catcher? It is obvious that I am high on D’Arnaud, and rightfully so, and we will find out how right I am sooner rather than later. The future is now for Travis, and hopefully he turns into a great player that helps us stick it to the NL East for years to come.

4. Noah Syndergaard, RHP

Height: 6’5”
Weight: 200 LBS
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: Left/Right

noah syndergaard

When the Mets traded RA Dickey, they did not just acquire a young man with an awesome last name – they acquired a pretty legitimate pitching prospect and one of the top arms in the Blue Jays system. Syndergaard is raw and young, but he radiates potential and could turn out to be a fixture in the Mets rotation in the future. The 20-year old is coming off a solid season in Single-A Lansing where he struck out a ridiculous 122 in 103 innings pitched. That led to a 10.6 K/9, which was supplemented with a 2.60 ERA and only 81 hits / 31 walks, leading to a 1.080 WHIP. He only allowed three home runs, and for such a high strikeout pitcher, the across the board numbers really jump out at you.

In terms of a scouting report, Syndergaard might have the best pitcher’s frame in the entire system. He already has an impressive fastball that sits in the…you guessed it, mid-90s. His second best pitch is a sharp curveball. It sits in the mid-high 70s and will likely work as a great complement to his fastball. So, in the same mold as Fulmer, Syndergaard has a great fastball and a good breaking pitch to back it up. The difference between the two is that Syndergaard has a changeup that is slightly more advanced than Fulmer’s to this point. It will likely end up being average, but that will go a long way in establishing him as a top of the line starter.

Outlook: Syndergaard is a physical specimen and really looks like he can be a perennial all-star. Although there are some things that come into question – his command at times, his stamina, and as always, furthering the development of his third pitch, there is a lot to love about Noah Syndergaard. He is aggressive on the mound and stays relatively emotionless. He makes the move to AA for the 2013 season and I have faith that he will breeze through it. It is important not to put too much pressure or to rush the young prospect, as he represents a new wave of pitching prospects…or a changing of the Gaard. See what I did there? Good.

5. Michael Fulmer, RHP

Height: 6’3”
Weight: 200 LBS
Age: 19 (20 in March)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

michael fulmer

If there is one glaringly strong pick from the Sandy Alderson era so far, it has to be Michael Fulmer. Fulmer has the potential to dominate major league teams for years, and already has the frame of a pitcher at just 19 years of age. He is coming off a strong year in Savannah where he made 21 starts that spanned 108 innings. He posted a 2.74 ERA and allowed just 92 hits, six of them going for home runs. He struck out 101 and walked 38, resulting in a 2.66 K/BB rate.

Fulmer throws three defined pitches, and has been known to mix in a fourth every now and then. His fastball is his best pitch, an explosive pitch that sits in the mid-90s and has touched 97 MPH on occasion. His slider is his second best offering, and it comes in at 83-85 with sharp late movement – exactly what you want from a slider. He has been working on a change-up, and it is still in development. Honestly, he did not need one in High School with the dominance of his fastball and slider, so the change is a project. Progress has been made, however, and he mixes in a 12-6 curve at times to keep hitters off balance. It is ridiculous that his pitches and mindset are so mature when you consider young he is.

Outlook: Fulmer’s 2012 line gave a lot of people, including myself, high hopes for the future. Some of the scouts that saw him were most impressed with his aggressiveness and poise. He moves ahead to St.Lucie next year where he will join a rotation packed with some of the best Mets righthanders in the system  Fulmer stands to only improve on his position as a prospect in our system when you consider all things. He already has the build of an MLB pitcher, can overpower hitters, command his pitches, and pitches fearlessly. The goal now is to build his stamina and pitch deeper into games while he continues to develop at his own pace. So far, everything we’ve seen of Fulmer points to a fast rise through the minors. All things considered, Fulmer could find himself anchoring the top or middle of our rotation in a few years and not a single soul would be surprised.

A hat tip to Alex68 who left us the link.

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