With the Mets Merized Online Top 25 Prospects list set in stone, I’d like to take a look at a few names that should be watched closely this upcoming season.
These prospects would not have necessarily been prospects 26-30 on this season’s list but they are all players that I feel are flying under the radar. I also believe these sleeper prospects have a shot to really make an impact this year and force themselves well into the 2015 top 25.
Let’s get started.
5. Luis Cessa
Overshadowed by the performances of Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz, it’s fair to say that Luis Cessa flies a bit under the radar. A converted position player, Cessa showed two straight years of considerable success in both Brooklyn and in Savannah. He won’t blow you away with his stuff but he shows a great ability to throw strikes, which is especially impressive considering he doesn’t have much experience on the mound. He throws a low 90’s fastball with a very good changeup but his curveball lags behind those two pitches. If he can develop an average curve, it is possible he succeeds in the back end of a rotation but a few scouts see his future in the bullpen as either a long man or a 7th inning guy. Because the Mets have so many of these back end of the rotation types in their system, he could end up in a bullpen role regardless.
An Arkansas infielder drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft, Matt Reynolds won’t wow you with his power but his knack for making contact and reaching base could land him a major league job, whether it’s as a starter or utility man. He has quick wrists and a patient approach at the plate but does not use his lower body much. A third basemen in college, the Mets drafted him hoping his above average speed and solid arm could make him a viable shortstop. He’s probably better suited at third base but his bat does not have enough power to justify him playing there so he’ll likely either stick as a shortstop or be moved to second base where, as a slap hitter, he’ll profile much better. Already 23, Reynolds doesn’t have much time to reach legitimate prospect status. If he shows he can increase his batting average by making better contact, he could make a career as a starting middle infielder but if he continues to struggle, he’ll likely profile as a utility infielder, albeit a valuable one due to his defense and ability to reach base.
Blue Jays fans already have a bottle of scotch at their side and a gun to their temples after watching R.A. Dickey struggle in his first season as well as Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud appearing on top prospects list all over the Internet. Wuilmer Becerra has the chance to make them pull the trigger. He has the ever so coveted power/speed combination and the ability to turn some heads this year. A former shortstop moved to the outfield, Becerra has fringe plus speed but is probably best suited in left field due to his pedestrian arm. He has a ton of power in his 6’4”, 190 lb. frame but unfortunately it has not translated into games yet. Becerra’s mechanics at the plate are what needs the most work as his upright stance and high load cause his bat to drag through the zone. He’s going to be just 19 years old for the entirety of this upcoming season, so Becerra has plenty of time to refine his approach at the plate and tap into his raw power. One breakout season is all it will take for scouts to start talking about him. If he develops his hit tool to be even just average, he’ll have an opportunity be an everyday outfielder who will hit for power and should be a threat on the basepaths as well.
Rob Whalen almost snuck into my top 25 prospects list and looking back, he probably should have been apart of it. He had a truly amazing season with the Kingsport Mets, showing the ability to both put away hitters and keep his walk rate down; a rare occurrence for a 19 year old at the time. It’s worth noting that his efforts also earned him the 2013 Sterling Award. He yields a low to mid 90’s fastball and a sinker while flashing what Baseball America has labeled “the best curveball in the system” so if he could develop his changeup or slider to at least an average pitch, he could have a future as a mid to back end rotation starter. If he can’t, then he should easily make a living as a late inning relief option. Even though he’s still probably a couple years away from a major league debut, another solid season from Whalen would prove that he is quite an advanced pitcher for his age, which might incline the Mets to move him through the system at a faster pace than usual.
1. Ivan Wilson
Selected in the third round of last year’s draft, Wilson has the highest ceiling of anyone on this list. A tremendous athlete standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 220 lbs., Wilson was a wide receiver on his high school football team. He is an above average runner with a very strong arm, which will most likely land him in right field. He has the same power/speed combination as Becerra but his hit tool has the chance to develop further since his flaws are more of an easy fix than Becerra’s. He generates good hip rotation but has trouble with timing and synchronizing all parts of his swing to generate good contact. More experience and good coaching should even everything out, however, and once he becomes comfortable at the plate, the power should rear its head. Wilson also has enough speed to throw some steals into his game as well. Even though he was a third round draft pick and is still quite raw, Wilson has the chance to develop into an impact player both offensively and defensively with time. He’s the kind of high risk, high reward player you like to take early in the draft and hopefully the Mets struck gold with this one.