No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C/1B
Last Year: No.5
Synopsis: I wouldn’t call 2014 a breakout year for Kevin Plawecki, more a continuation of a very good 2013 but now the Prospect Ranking pundits finally took notice. He was in all three of the higher regarded Top 100 including being ranked #63 in BA and Baseball Prospectus while MLB Pipeline had him at #80. He has impressed scouts with his short compact swing that allows him to hit line drives and make contact at a high rate. Typically catchers offensive skills are a little behind other position players and I see no reason why Kevin couldn’t hit 10-15 home runs with 25-30 doubles in a full season.
Plawecki made these lists because of his plus hitting tools at a defensive position, finishing with a .309/.365/.460 combined line. His line was actually lower in the friendly hitting confines of Las Vegas showing that he needs more seasoning against better pitching. He finished with 11 HR’s, 64 RBI’s, 24 2B’s and only struck out 48 times compared to 30 walks in 419 plate appearances.
Plawecki’s quick rise through the Mets farm system is presenting them with a possibly welcoming problem of having a logjam at catcher in New York. TDA was fantastic in the 2nd half last year and there is no reason to think he can’t duplicate that for an entire season. Unfortunately neither TDA or Plawecki are known for their defense although Wally Backman has praised Kevin for his ability to handle a pitching staff. Plawecki has thrown out 28% of would be base stealers in the Minor Leagues which is right in line with the Major League average over the last two years. Plawecki has also played 19 games at 1B in the Minors and would expect to see him play more there this year in a effort to get him and TDA in the same lineup at some point.
Best Case: Perennial Silver Slugger at Catcher in Joe Mauer mold
ETA: Cup of coffee in September 2015
No. 4 Brandon Nimmo, OF
Last Year: No. 9
Synopsis: Brandon Nimmo started off his season in St. Lucie and he was remarkable there hitting .322/.448/.458 over 62 games. He even started showing off some power that everyone was worried about he wouldn’t develop by having 9 2B’s, 5 3B’s, and 4 HR’s in only 227 at bats. He was then promoted up to Binghamton where he struggled a little to a .238/.339/.396 line. He still managed to hit 6 more HR’s and sport 36/54 BB/SO all while being three and half years younger than the league average age.
Nimmo is never going to be that flashy guy or someone who’s stats jump right off the page at you but he has shown a solid all around game. He improved his baserunning last year by stealing 14 bags while being caught 4 times after stealing 10 and getting caught 7 times in 2013. He also improved his BB/SO from 71/131 in 2013 to 86/105 this year. In the field he went from committing seven errors in Savannah last year to only two this year in St. Lucie and Binghamton.
Just seeing Nimmo in Spring Training this year has given me optimism for his 2015 campaign. His body has filled out and looks much stronger thanks to his training with Mike Barwis. Nimmo himself said that training with Barwis has helped him physically and mentally. He will start the year in AA but shouldn’t last long there if he is successful out of the gate. Nimmo played LF for the first time in the Minors last year and that seems like where he is destined to say because of Lagares in CF and not enough arm for RF.
Best Case: All-Star Left Fielder much like Garret Anderson
No. 3 Dilson Herrera, 2B
Last Year: No. 13
Synopsis: Sandy Alderson somehow got the Pirates to trade the Mets Vic Black and young Dilson Herrera for a couple months of John Buck and Marlon Byrd. Dilson made this trade look better and better by the day last year having the best year of any Mets positional prospect. The recently turned 21-year old started the season at St. Lucie and stopped in Binghamton before becoming the youngest player in the Majors last year on August 29th. He also won the 2014 Sterling Award for the best player in the Mets minor leagues.
Dilson finished with a combined .323/.379/.479 line with 13 HR’s, 73 RBI, 5 3B, 33 2B, and 23 steals in the Minors. Herrera improved his plate discipline as well striking out 20 less time in 2014 despite 84 more plate appearances. He even played 27 games at shortstop although scouts say he lacks the range to play there everyday.
Dilson’s great year pushed him into numerous Top 100 Prospect lists including BA at #46, BP #82 and received his best rating by John Sickels at #41. Herrera’s promotion to the big league shocked everyone because he still has yet to see a pitch in AAA where he is sure to start the 2015 season. Herrera still needs to refine his defense at 2B and shortening his swing with two strikes
Best Case: All-Star with the offense of Dustin Pedroia
ETA: 2015 around trade deadline
No. 2 Steven Matz, SP
Last Year: No. 10
Synopsis: Steven Matz has continued to impress after sitting out two and half season due to injury that had many fans worried he could be a bust. Matz proved that he was healthy and extremely effective in 2014 placing him as high as #33 on BA and BP’s Top 100 Prospect list. He also placed #35 on John Sickels list and #66 on MLB Pipeline list after appearing on no Top 100′s last year. Matz was also the Sterling Award winner for the best pitcher in the Mets system.
Matz had a spectacular 2014 season that actually saw his number improve once he hit AA. In Binghamton he had a 2.28 ERA, 1.127 WHIP, with a 4.93 SO/W ratio and only allowed 8.4 H/9. Overall for the enitre year he threw 140 innings while striking out 131, walking 35, allowing 132 hits and only 3 HR’s! Matz finished the season off strong pitching 7.1 innings of no-hit ball in game 3 of the Eastern League Championship series.
Matz started two games early in Mets camp and showed that he was close to Major League ready only allowing two runs in 8.2 innings. He has an electric fastball and an improved curveball both coming from a tough arm angle for hitters to pick up. He also has a Major League ready changeup that gets good movement and sits 10-12 MPH below his fastball. As close as he is, he could still use some work on the consistency of his curveball and his fastball control. I would expect to see Matz start the year in Las Vegas.
Best Case: Bringing Mets fans back flashes of early Johan with his fastball/changeup combo
ETA: Late 2015
No. 1 Noah Syndergaard, SP
Last Year: No. 1
Synopsis: Noah Syndergaard continued his ascend up the Prospect rankings in what some called a down year reaching as high as #9 on BP, #10 MLB and #11 on BA. Thor’s 4.60 ERA in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League isn’t very indicative of how season actually went as the league had an abnormally high .370 BABIP against him. He led the league in strikeouts with 145 in 133 innings had a 3.70 FIP and only allowed 0.74 HR/9.
Noah throws a fastball that is constantly in in the mid-90′s and can crank it up to 98 MPH sometimes. Fastball is already a plus pitch and naturally breaks into right handed hitters. His “Hammer” curve is MLB ready as well with good speed and movement just needs to show better control with this pitch. He worked on his changeup in AAA last year and is the pitch that still needs some work to be considered a plus pitch. Wally Backman said that Noah works too slow and needs to pick up his tempo while on the mound.
One of the most important things Noah has done so far in the Minors is avoid a Major injury (missed some time last year with elbow strain but was minor) and increase his work load by 16 innings last year. Mets have been conservative with their young pitchers in the Minors meaning you probably won’t see Noah pitch more than 165 innings this year.
The Mets already have a stacked pitching rotation and with service time an issue we definitely won’t see Syndergaard in April and won’t most likely until after the Super Two deadline in June. And before you start screaming and hollering about the Mets being cheap realize that every single team does this. Well unless you are clueless like the Marlins who lost a year of control of Jose Fernandez because they called him up 5 days too soon.
Best Case: Cy Young caliber #1 starter like Justin Verlander
ETA: Summer 2015
2015 MMO TOP 25 PROSPECTS
25. Cesar Puello, OF
24. Robert Whalen, RHP
23. Michael Fulmer, RHP
22. Matthew Bowman, RHP
21. Champ Stuart, OF
20. Jack Leathersich, LHP
19. Casey Meisner, RHP
18. Wuilmer Becerra, RF
17. Cory Mazzoni, RHP
16. Matt Reynolds, SS
15. Milton Ramos, SS
14. Akeel Morris, RHP
13. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
12. Gavin Cecchini, SS
11. Dominic Smith, 1B
10. Jhoan Urena, 3B
9. Marcos Molina, RHP
8. Rafael Montero, RHP
7. Michael Conforto, LF
6. Amed Rosario, SS
5. Kevin Plawecki, C
4. Brandon Nimmo, OF
3. Dilson Herrera, 2B
2. Steven Matz, LHP
1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Editors Note: I would like to give special thanks to Michael Mayer, Matt Mosher and Kirk Cahill for helping us to roll out this year’s MMO Top 25, our best and most comprehensive rankings ever.