Mets Minors: Top 30 Prospects, #5-1

becerra-wuilmer

#5 Wuilmer Becerra RF

Ht: 6’4″  Wt: 200   Level: High-A St. Lucie Mets

B/T: R/R  Age: 10/1/1994 (Age 21)  Age Dif: -1.7

Acquired: With Travis d’ArnaudJohn Buck, and Noah Syndergaard in a trade for R.A. Dickey on 12/17/12

Preseason Rank: #6

2016 Statistics: 65 G, 263 PA, 243 AB, 77 H, 17 2B, HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB, 1 CS, 9 BB, 52 K .312/.341/.393

Profile:

Hate it or love it, Becerra has some serious upside. Acquired in the deal that brought back d’Arnaud, Buck, and Syndergaard in December of 2012, Becerra was considered the lottery ticket throw-in of the deal, and it looks like the Mets may be cashing in big time. Signed originally by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 4th, 2012 for 1.3 million out of Venezuela, he was considered a guy with considerable upside early on in the power-speed mold. Directly after signing (not common among players in this period), he joined the Gulf Coast League, and hit .250/.359/.375 in 11 games before being hit in the jaw with a wild pitch by Yankees pitcher Graham Stoneburner and missing the rest of the season.

After slashing .243/.351/.295 in the 2013 season, he finally broke out in Kingsport the following year with a .300/.351/.469 slash line with seven homers in 58 games. He followed it up with a fantastic 2015 season in which he hit .290/.342/.423 with nine homers in 119 games, playing half his games in what was the worst stadium for hitters in the Minor Leagues (Historic Grayson Stadium.

However, this year was uneven. Early on, there seemed to be something wrong, because he seemed to have issues hitting for power, but no problem hitting for average. He didn’t start in the field often, and instead played nearly exclusively as a designated hitter. After two months and 40 games, he only played 13 games in the field and had not homered once.

Turns out, Becerra had a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, which occurred in Spring Training and possibly chose a wait-and-see approach with cortisone shots, to see if he could continue to play throughout the year, but it proved to be too much. He underwent surgery at the end of July, and figures to be at least rehabbing the shoulder by Spring Training of 2017, barring setbacks.

When healthy, Becerra draws rave reviews for professional makeup and ceiling. He figures to be a mid to high ceiling right fielder with above-average power and plus speed at the moment. His above-average bat speed from the right side allows him to make hard contact as he figures to hit many doubles, and the high teens in home runs, while drawing walks at a decent rate and hitting for a moderately good average.

In the field, his actions are plus, with a plus glove in right field and an accurate arm. Despite the setback, Becerra could have a very bright future ahead of him.

Brandon-Nimmo

#4 Brandon Nimmo OF

Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 205 Level: Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s

B/T: L/R   Age: 3/27/1993 (Age 23)  Age Dif: – 3.5 (AAA) & -5.3 (MLB)

Acquired: Drafted in 2011 in the First Round at #13

Preseason Rank: #6

2016 Statistics: 

AAA: 97 G, 444 PA, 392 AB, 138 H, 25 2B, 8 3B, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 7/8 SB/CS, 46/73 BB/K, .352/.423/.541

MLB: 20 G, 64 PA, 59 AB, 14 H, HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB/17 K, .237/.297/.288

Profile:

If you have prospect fatigue, I feel you. It seems like we’ve been hearing the likes of Nimmo on the top 10 prospect lists forever, and possibly that may be coming to a close. The first overall draft pick of the Alderson Regime in 2011, (I’ll be frank), Nimmo was draft far ahead of his pre-draft rankings at #13 overall. An athlete that came out of the baseball-starved state of Wyoming, with only American Legion Ball experience (close to equivalent of most high school ball), Nimmo seemed like a stretch of a pick, in terms of conventional experience. Nonetheless, at the time of the draft, he was pinned with a Paul O’Neill ceiling, and the results are mixed.

Nimmo after being drafted did not instill confidence with a .211/.318/.368 slash line with 14 strikeouts in 10 games, but then improved slightly to a .248/.372/.406 slash line with six homers as a 19-year old for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

In 2013, Nimmo had mixed results, in A-ball, with a .273/.397/.359 and a 27.3% strikeout rate, flaunting his ability to get on base at a very high clip, but striking out a lot, without hitting for power (though, once again, Historic Grayson was death to hitters). Finally with High-A St. Lucie, Nimmo started to hit better, posting a .322/.448/.458 with four homers in 62 games, and cutting down his strikeouts to an 18.4%. When he was promoted to Binghamton he hit for more power, launching six more homers in 65 games, but didn’t get on base much or hit very much in general with a .238/.339/.396 slash. He repeated Binghamton and sprained his ACL in May and missed a month.

After missing a month with a knee injury, it seemed like he was struggling a bit in Double-A with a .260/.340/.313 slash in 34 games before going to the very hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas and hitting .264/.393/.418 in 32 games.

Prior to this year, Nimmo was known to struggle against lefties after having a lackluster .203/.320/.250 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014-2015. This year, he had a total breakthrough, especially against left-handers, with a 19% Strikeout rate, and a higher OPS against them than RHP (.984 vs. 894). Some can assume that this could have been assisted greatly by the hitter’s paradise of the Pacific Coast League, but he earned a 20-game promotion to the Major Leagues because of it. He fell short of the batting title this year, finishing with his .352 average but did league the lead with his .423 on-base.

Nimmo’s main tool is his patience, which is pretty impressive. He knows the strike zone very well, and can control it well, which is good news for him in terms of value as an on-base machine. His left handed swing is smooth, but the bat speed isn’t above-average, and he can get beat by some good velocity up in the zone. In addition, he has some power in the teens, in terms of home runs, but still has yet to tap into his power fully in an environment other than Vegas.

Nimmo had above-average speed, but it regressed due to his knee injury to just solid-average. In the field, his range has not been great in center field, but both it and his above-average arm play well in left and right. In Vegas, the team has played him in center often, but when he was in the majors this year, they played him exclusively in the corners, not inspiring confidence that they believe he can be a center fielder. That’s a shame, because if he can’t play in center, and if he can’t hit for much power, his ceiling and upside drop dramatically. It drops to a fourth outfielder that can’t play center, or a Quad-A player if he can’t hit in the MLB. Despite this excellent year, that earned him the #4 placement, there is a lot of question marks on Nimmo’s ultimate upside in the major leagues.

justin dunn 3

#3 Justin Dunn RHP

Ht: 6’2″  Wt: 185   Level: Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones

B/T: R/R  Age: 9/22/1995 (20) Age Dif: -1.4

Acquired: Drafted in the First Round of the 2016 Draft, 19th overall.

Preseason Rank: Unranked

2016 Statistics:  11 G, 8 GS, 30 IP, 25 H, 5 ER, 10 BB/35 K, 1.50 ERA

Profile:

Another Long Island kid drafted by the Mets in the Alderson Regime, just like Steven MatzTyler Badamo before him, and Anthony Kay right after him. The Freeport resident was drafted 19th overall in the 2016 first year amateur draft out of Boston College. At 18, Dunn touched 92 as a starter at The Gunnery and went undrafted, before jumping in velocity at BC.

In his freshman year at BC, he pitched in seven games and started four.He went 12 innings allowing 10 earned runs, 11 walks, and 12 strikeouts. It was clear the stuff was there, but he had to work on his control. The next year he pitched in 20 games, and started three of them. He ended the year as the closer at BC, and his innings increased to 47.1.

As a reliever, his velocity up-ticked greatly, garnering interest by scouts, who subsequently requested to see him start more. In his draft year at BC, Dunn had statistically his best year, starting eight times in 18 appearances, and pitching to a 2.06 ERA in 65.2 innings. He struck out 72 in those 65.2 innings while thriving better as a starter.

Since Dunn pitched a career high amount of innings in college, the Mets decided to limit his innings as they placed him in Short Season-A Brooklyn. For his first three appearances, he was given two innings each in relief. For the next eight, he started the game, and pitched three innings each. He was pretty dominant for 30 innings, with a 1.50 ERA, and 35 strikeouts.

Why the Mets gave him the nod for the first selection of the Mets’ draft was pretty simple: he’s just oozing with potential and high ceiling stuff. With a lanky frame and a pretty loose delivery, his body type resembles former Met phenom, Dwight Gooden (This is not a comparison on potential, just body type). He has a pretty impressive arsenal also, tossing 92-95 and touching 97 at times (and touched 99 as a reliever), as well as a plus slider, an average curve and changeup.

His control right now isn’t great, slightly below average, but that can develop with time and refining mechanics. He has the potential to be a frontline starter, if everything goes right. Lucky for him, The Mets are usually pretty excellent at developing pitchers.

dominic-smith

#2 Dominic Smith 1B

Ht: 6’0″  Wt: 250  Level: Double-A Binghamton Mets

B/T: L/L  Age: 6/15/1995 (21)  Age Dif: -3.3

Acquired: Drafted in the First Round of the 2013 Draft

Preseason Rank: #3

2016 Statistics: 130 G, 542 PA, 484 AB, 146 H, 29 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 91 RBI, 50 BB/71 K, .302/.367/.457

Profile:

Drafted 11th overall from Junipero Serra High School from Gardena, CA in 2013, Dominic Smith was considered the most advanced high school bat in the draft. Dominic Smith had a monster 2016 season, hitting a career high in homers with 14, leading the team, and led as well in RBI’s. His strikeout percentage dropped by 1.4% to 13.7, and his isolated slugging reached a career high at .155.

Smith started slow, hitting .260/.311/.368 with four homers and nine doubles in his first 64 games. Before going on an absolute tear, hitting .343/.421/.545 with 10 homers, and 17 doubles for the remaining 66 games. During his hot final two months, he drew 32 walks and struck out 31 times.

Smith has always lived up to his billing as an advanced hitter, posting a .291/.358/.387 hitter in 1237 plate appearances from 2013 through 2015. In his first 51 games through the Gulf Coast League and Kingsport (three, to be exact), Smith started out very well, with a .301/.398/.439 slash line, including 13 doubles and three homers. He was jumped quickly over his previous first rounders, Brandon Nimmo, and Gavin Cecchini to Full Season-A Savannah, and like both, did not fare too well.

As we continue the trend of offensive death and Historic Grayson, it manifested with Dominic Smith as he homered only once, and slugged .338 in 126 games. Smith didn’t start out very well the next year in St. Lucie, with a .157/.231/.171 slash line through his first 19 games, before going on an absolute tear, pacing the league in doubles, 32 games later. By the end of the season, Smith doubled his previous career high of home runs, hit 33 doubles, and led the league in RBI, earning the league’s MVP Honors in a notorious pitching league. He carried his success into the Arizona Fall League with a .362/.483/.511 slash line in the league.

The book on Dominic has always been his hitting, as explained above. When he was drafted out of high school, they stated he was one of the best hitters in the draft, however, he didn’t hit for as much conventional power as a usual first baseman. In his first 1237 plate appearances, he hit ten homers between rookie ball, and two different A-ball leagues with notorious abilities to suppress power between them. As predicted, by switching to friendlier confines of the Eastern League with better parks he doubled his previous career high of six. It looks as though Dominic’s power is still developing as he comes up the ladder.

Usually in the cases of young hitters, the cliche goes that power is one of the last tools to develop, if it hasn’t already. It’s very likely that what you saw from Dominic this year is only the beginning so throw that James Loney comp out the window. In addition to his hitting, Smith has a gift in regards to driving in runners, as evidenced by high RBI totals. Smith is an excellent defender, and is fantastic with his feet and hands at first base. When I saw him on July 30th, he dug up quite a few balls in the dirt with ease. His arm, though not important for first base, is plus, and in high school he reached 92 miles per hour as a pitcher.

Now for some issues he must overcome: while he is an excellent hitter, with great hitting mechanics, his bat speed only grades out as average, so the limit to his power may be around the low 20-ish range in terms of homers, and a lot of doubles. Another thing to watch is his ability to hit left-handers, which started to show this year at AA. Prior to the season, Smith hit .300/.367/.410 against left-handers in 359 career plate appearances. However, this year, he hit .261/.333/.340 in 129 plate appearances, and as the pitching gets harder, his issues versus them may be exacerbated, or it may have been an aberration.

However, his most pressing issue has been his weight, that has been getting heavier and heavier since last year, and Keith Law stated in the Arizona Fall League that he looked “sloppy”. Smith does a lot of work during the offseason, and usually attends the Mets’ Barwis conditioning Camps when they are held, but it does seem that he may need to do more work on getting into shape. He may just have a high-maintenance body that absorbs fat quicker than others, and requires more work than what he’s been able to sustain so far.

While on the road, most places these teams stop at are not healthy alternatives, and instead fast food. It’s something I noticed on July 30th as a problem going forward, but it’s his issue, and his choice on how he will proceed. However, no matter what, his play is the ultimate need and not the worry of his weight. That’s really what matters to me, and likely to the Mets as well, so I’m not going to shame his weight, just point out there’s an issue he may have to address soon.

Ultimately, Dominic is viewed as the first baseman of the future by the team and that may be very soon.

amed-rosario-mlb-photo

#1 Amed Rosario SS

Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 170 Level: Hi-A St. Lucie Mets & Double-A Binghamton Mets

B/T: R/R  Age: 11/20/95 (20) Age Dif: 

Acquired: On July 2nd, 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

Preseason Rank: #2

2016 Statistics: 120 G, 479 AB, 65 R, 155 H, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB, .324/.374/.459

Profile:

Since this is my final article ever, I’ll admit that Rosario has been my favorite prospect since I reported on him in Spring Training, 2013. Signed in 2012 for a franchise-high (for 16 to 23 year olds in the International Free Agency) bonus of 1.75 Million out of the Dominican Republic. He is the son of a judge, who named him Amed after his favorite character in an Iranian Soap opera.

Amed completed his high school diploma before being signed on July 2nd, 2012, which is something not many players his age do before being signed to contracts in the IFA. Those aren’t the reasons why he’s the top prospect, however. Instead it’s because he’s a high-upside shortstop with plus ability to hit and defend, who took off in a big way this year offensively. Due to his high performance and plus tools, he was awarded high honors of #15#13#18, and #13 on four separate midseason prospect lists.

In 2013, the team decided to be aggressive with Rosario, putting him in the advanced rookie league, Kingsport. When he was there, he hit .241/.279/.348 in 58 games with three homers and 15 extra base hits overall. The next season he held his own as an 18-year old for Brooklyn in the advanced league with a .289/.337/.380 slash line and 17 extra base hits in 68 games. He got a cup of coffee with Savannah at the end of the year to get him some advanced exposure.

It seemingly impressed the Mets to jettison him up to High-A St. Lucie with his best friend, 3B Jhoan Urena. He struggled offensively hitting .257/.302/.335, with 20 doubles and 5 triples in 102 games as the youngest player in the league. He also battled a couple of wrist issues towards the middle of the year that hindered his performance. Those wrist issues lingered towards the end of the year, and kept him out of the Dominican Winter League, where he was drafted to the Aguilas of Cibao.

This year, things were different, he was finally healthy, and started the season with a bang: a walk-off home run to right-center. In April, he matched his career high of home runs, with three, and was running rampant on the Florida State League with 11 extra base hits and a .537 slugging percentage. During that time he raised his walk rate by 2.2% to 7.2%, and his strikeout rate cut to 12.4% from 17.5% the year before.

On June 23rd, after appearing in the FSL All-Star Game, and leading the league in hits and triples, Rosario earned the promotion to Binghamton and got even better. He hit for a higher average (.305 in St. Lucie to .341 in Binghamton), walked at a higher rate at 8%, and hit for even more power, with the same amount of extra base hits in 12 less games.

While he finished with a .341 average, he slowed down greatly after enduring a mild hamstring strain towards the end of July. When he came back, he started to strike out at a much higher frequency, which ballooned his strikeout percentage from 15.1% to 21.5% within one whole month. While he struck out more, he hit for a bit more power, with his first two homers in Double-A. Offensively, overall, it was his worst month with a .290/.337/.409. However, over his final 13 games, he hit .407/.458/.519.

When he was signed, Amed was not known for his shortstop defense, and there was question on whether or not he was going to stick there long term and instead land in the outfield. His bat, however, was suggested as a power bat, with the potential to hit up to 20 home runs in a single season. The trouble with projections for a 16-year old player is that they can sometimes drastically shift, and while he will not hit for 20-homer power, he will definitely stick at shortstop.

Rosario has plus bat speed from the right side, that can get to almost anything in the zone. He’ll be able to hit for a pretty good average in the future, and has been improving his plate discipline and ability to walk every year. He still needs some development in recognizing spin, and learning what hanger to hit and lay off. Rosario adjusts from at-bat to at-bat, so these walk and strikeout numbers shown above may change even more as his career progresses.

He has above-average raw power that may play just average for the future, if there is no further development, but he will hit many extra base hits to the gaps that will play up to his plus to possibly plus-plus speed. According to Baseball Prospectus, Rosario’s speed took a jump this year in scouting grades from a 60 to a 70 on the 20-80 scale. How that can happen so late in development may be attributed to conditioning programs and running coaches that changed his running mechanics. He hasn’t utilized it completely for base stealing, but I could see more than 30 steals in a season with his speed, and plenty of triples.

As for defense, despite 23 errors this year, Amed is an excellent defender, featuring plus range, getting balls deep in the hole, and a plus arm with some very good hands. If there’s anything that will make Rosario fit in easily in the MLB, it will be his defense. However, sometime he gets reliant on his arm and stays back in the hole. This could result in rushing throws, or a hesitancy to charge the ball. Rosario gets great praise for his makeup and effort, and loves to be on the field, even when he can’t, as he coached first base when he was sidelined with a hammy issue.

Now for a warning, as I did for each player on this list. This one is about hype. Rosario is a young and potentially explosive player, and has earned praise in all of his abilities, but some people put some lofty expectations of comparisons on him. I’ve seen requests for Carlos Correa, and people ask if he’ll be our next Jose Reyes. The answer is likely no on both, because players rarely become that. Reyes and Correa are/were extraordinary players, Correa especially, who has the potential to be a once in a generation type of player, who can hit for a high average, 30 homers, and stick at shortstop. Reyes, who was the Mets fans’ standard for “good shortstop” since leaving had top of the scale speed and base running ability, and provided an exciting leadoff option in his prime.

Rosario is likely closer to a .270/.340/.440 slash line with 12-15 homer potential as he progresses, while stealing 30 bases. He’s the shortstop of the future, and has high potential, but just let him be him, no comparisons. Between his ability and his personality (that you need to see on twitter, it’s just great, and it IS him), he’s a one of a kind guy…just not the talent you’re expecting. He may not make it, as regulating commenters state, “most prospects don’t”, but he’s the one guy I have a feeling has the ability to do great things in Orange and Blue, when he gets a little bit more development and the chance. You should see him mid-year in 2017, or sooner if Asdrubal Cabrera gets hurt.

Writer’s note: This is it, final article. Wanted to thank the fans, for all your support and encouragement. Wanted to thank Joe D. for being so awesome for having me here the last three years, even though the only thing I really wanted to do initially was to do a fan shot. And Michael Mayer for keeping MetsMinors.net up and running, and getting me to write more regularly. These people are brilliant, please keep reading them and giving your support. Thanks, Satish Ram, I met you on the site, and you’re my best friend, best man, and little bro. Also, thanks Omar, you’re an inspiration.

Also wanted to thank my family, my dad for his support, not easy living in his shadows, but I found a niche somewhere, for a short time. My wife as well, for inspiration and insight. My mother, sister, friends for cheering me on, and especially the ones that don’t know baseball giving it a try on my articles nonetheless. 

Just now, I have to focus on my career outside of prospects. Focus on grad school and MSW. Maybe one day, there may be something between them with enough effort and connection.

Thanks,

Teddy

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About Teddy Klein 106 Articles

Teddy Klein is a Westchester Native, Astoria Resident, and New School Grad. He is currently a Masters of Social Work student at Touro College. He’s a lifelong Mets fan with a background in minor league internships for scouting in both the Dominican Summer Leagues (08′) and the Brooklyn Cyclones (10′) with Cape Cod Baseball League sandwiched in between. He is also the son of Time Columnist Joe Klein. Follow him on twitter @teddywklein and feel free to leave questions below. You can email him questions at TKleinMMN@gmail.com.