Mets Merized Online » Gavin Cecchini Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:16:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 DePodesta Discusses Improved System, Top Prospects, Draft Strategy Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:13:28 +0000 paul-depodesta

Mike Vorkunov ( recently discussed the Mets’ minor league system and prospectswith VP of Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta. Here are some exchanges that stood out. You can read the full article here.

The main theme being targeted here is the position player depth that is rapidly rising through the system.  The Mets were built heavily on pitching at the start of Sandy Alderson’s tenure, but now have a healthy balance of power arms and bats.

Vorkunov: Baseball America’s top 10 prospects came out and the lower half is filled with players mostly in A-ball.  How do you feel about the lesser experienced half of your farm system?

DePodesta: As we looked at it maybe 3-4 years ago, we felt we had some pitching.  We certainly wanted to add to that pitching, but we really wanted to focus on some position players. We had to create another wave of players, not only through the draft, but also through international signings.  I think those bottom five probably reflect that strategy.

Thoughts: DePo is referring to players like Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, etc. who were drafted very highly overall, there’s a wave of high upside talent in the bottom five, most of whom are still extremely young (6. Amed Rosario, 7. Michael Conforto, 8. Rafael Montero, 9. Marcos Molina, 10. Gavin Cecchini).

Rosario continues to make a name for himself in the minor leagues and he’s done so without compromising his status at SS.  Many scouts still believe he’ll grow into his frame, but he’ll maintain the athleticism and instincts to stick there in the majors.  Cecchini struggled at times in High-A St. Lucie and although he made the top 10 for BA, others are high on Jhoan Urena, a third base prospect drafted in 2011 who has begun to rise in prospect rankings.

Vorkunov: Where do the position players stand in proximity to the major league level?

DePodesta: You look at guys who at least could certainly be ready for Triple-A at some point… Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will both certainly be there. Dilson Herrera made the leap from Double-A straight to the big leagues. He certainly could play in Triple-A. Brandon Nimmo spent the second half of the season last year in Double-A.  He could certainly be Triple-A ready.  So those are four of our better guys.  Three of them in the top 10 according to Baseball America.  And they could all be in Triple-A at the same time in 2015.They’re very close.

Thoughts: Michael Conforto is expected to have a rapid ascension through the minor leagues as well.  Brandon Nimmo is closer to MLB than him at the moment, but Conforto entered the Mets system a more refined major league ready player who merely needs to prove he can handle the pitching as he advances.  The mechanics and hitting tools are all there, for Conforto it is more about protocol and proving he can execute correctly at every level.

That being said, it’s unclear how many of these prospects could contribute in the midst of a playoff push.  Daniel Murphy may very well be a Met for all of 2015, while Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are expected to be a big part of the team’s success this year and next. It’s doubtful any everyday room will be made for prospects like Nimmo, but he is one of the many that is certainly close.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds though, there are players blocking their paths, but it’s not written in stone.

Vorkunov: How do these rankings match with internal evaluations?  Are there guys who haven’t been talked about as frequently publicly, but should be higher rated?”

DePodesta: Sure, I think that always happens.  But we don’t have to publicly rank our players. We’ll group them into sort of different categories of what we think they could potentially be… We put them in position where they can get at-bats.

Jacob deGrom was never rated very highly. Juan Lagares was never rated very highly on our prospect lists. I think there are always players that we think highly of or are close to taking their game to another level, which could fundamentally change the perception of them, especially externally.

Thoughts: The lack of performance at the major league level or injuries, has given quite a few prospects the opportunity to showcase their talents when they would otherwise be shelved in the minors.  It’s the natural progression of baseball, or really an opportunity in life, where timing meets talent and a star is born as in the cases of deGrom and Lagares.

* * * * * * * *

As far as the current rankings though, I think it’s difficult to find a pair of pitchers more talented than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in any farm system in baseball.  I think the Met internal rankings are in line with that of the public, at least as far as 1 and 2 go.

All and all, anytime we get to admire the wealth of talent in this team’s farm system, it’s a rare positive moment for Mets fans.  The Alderson regime still has much to prove at the major league level, but as far rebuilding a depleted farm system with high upside talent, the drafting and development this front office has employed should be considered top notch.

Much, if not all of that, can be attributed to the coaching staffs assigned to developing players at each level, but still, there’s an uncanny rate of success that the Mets are having with prospects these days and it should be recognized.  Out of names like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, etc., the team is experiencing a high rate of players translating at the higher levels, if not the majors already.

To me, it’s clear that this team will have an entirely different public image in 2 to 3 years.  It’ll be exciting to see if this organization can win a championship with all of this mostly homegrown talent.  With no promise for a brighter financial status on the horizon, this organization’s only hope for sustained success relies mostly on our minor league pipeline and it looks to be moving in the right direction.


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MMO Exclusive: Interview with ESPN’s Keith Law Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:00:47 +0000 Screenshot_2015-01-29-21-44-47

On Thursday morning, I had the chance to conduct an interview over the phone with ESPN senior baseball analyst Keith Law, who is also the lead baseball analyst for ESPN’s Scouts.Inc and the former assistant to the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Keith, who ranked the Mets as having the fourth best farm system in the MLB before our interview and named six Mets in his Top 100 prospects article shortly after our interview, was kind enough to take several questions. Check out what we discussed, including the prospects, trades, the shortstop situation, the money, the upcoming season, and, of course, the future!

Tommy Rothman, MetsMerized Online: Hey Keith. So first of all, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview.

Keith Law, ESPN: No problem, happy to do it.

Rothman: I guess we’ll start with your farm system rankings, the Mets are ranked number 4. When you rank farm systems, how deep does it go? Because obviously we all know about Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, et cetera, but are you just ranking teams on their top guys? How deep do you go into the system when you do these rankings?

Law: What I do for each team— and this will be up on Friday— I do team reports where I do at least 10 prospects per team, but I’ll keep going through the team, maybe as many as 20 guys depending on the system. I go as far as I believe that there are players with potential Major League value. In the Mets’ case, it’s pretty deep. There’s probably 17 or 18 guys there who I think have a legitimate shot at some kind of Major League role. Not necessarily all starters, but there’s something there. To put in other words, you could see it as asset value… you could take a lot of these guys and trade them for something.

michael conforto Patrick E. McCarthy

Rothman: So next let’s talk about the history of the Mets in your rankings. You did your first rankings in 2008, the Mets were 28th. 2009 they’re 17th, and you’re excited about Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte and Brad Holt. 2010, the last year of Minaya, we’re at 15, and you criticize their penny-pinching in the draft but praise their work in the international market. Sandy takes over heading into the 2011 season and starts off with a system you rank as 26th, again bashing the Wilpons for not spending in the draft. The next year Sandy gets us to 22nd, of course we know about the Beltran trade. Then the Dickey trade, and we’re 14th. 2014, we’re 6th. Now here we are, and we’re 4th despite not having many very high draft picks (unlike teams like the Cubs and Nationals). We know about the trades, but other than that, what has been responsible for the rebirth of the Mets system on a deeper level?

Law:  I just think they’re drafting better. They’re drafting a lot better. You had the one year with (scouting director) Chad McDoland, now Tommy Tanous has taken over, he’s had a couple of drafts, and I just think they’ve drafted a lot smarter, especially towards the top. We’ll see if some of the later picks work, they’ve had some later picks that were interesting, those often take a little longer to percolate and show that there’s real value. But I think that they’ve clicked on most of their high picks the last few years. I really loved the Conforto pick (in 2014), I think they got the best pure hitter in the draft class. And that’s the kind of player they just didn’t seem to be taking previously. It’s hard for me to really characterize what the draft strategy was under (Omar Minaya’s) regime because I never really got it (laughs), I never understood it. Now, they’re doing a better job of just saying “who’s the best player on the board? We’ll take that guy.” They’re not trying to trick anybody, or trick themselves. Conforto was the best player on the board, they didn’t even think he’d be available for their pick, so they took him. That’s the way you should approach the first round. And then you look at the results of the last couple of drafts so far, it’s a nice mix of college and high school, upside and probability, that’s what you want to be getting out of your drafts… they’ve done a much, much better job with that.

Rothman: As you see in the rankings, there are some really good teams at the bottom, like the Giants and Tigers, and as you explain it’s because they use what they have. But the teams at the top aren’t that bad, the Cubs could be good this year, the Red Sox could be great. So having a good MLB team and a good farm system aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. And the Mets have made it clear that they’re not going to gut the system and just “go for it” now, despite the angry fans and the billboards, they’ve made it clear that they’re not going to spend Yankee money, or Dodger money, or Pre-Ponzi Met money. So how do the Mets plan on taking this #4 farm system, a 79 win team, all the still-improving guys already on the Major League roster, and other boosts like Wright being healthy, and using the opportunity they now have to build a serious contender?

Law: Right. Well I think what they’re going to have to do at some point is trade some of this pitching depth for a bat. I love Conforto but it’s not like he’s going to help them this year. He alone, is not the guy who’s going to save the offense. They’re going to have to acknowledge that Wright is getting older, and that they’re probably going to need some beef-up somewhere in the lineup. First base, right field, it doesn’t have to come from a specific spot, but they don’t really have— other than Conforto— that guy. I almost said “shortstop,” but Amed Rosario I think is going to be a star, it’s just he’s a tick further away. So you don’t want to go out and necessarily get the guy who’s going to block him for the next six years, but you probably want to get a guy for the next three years, until he arrives. And that’s something I think they could do with all this pitching depth.

Rothman: But at the same time, if some great shortstop comes along, I don’t think they’d pass him up and say “no thanks, we have Amed Rosario.”

Law: No, of course. If someone’s gonna call and offer you the all-world shortstop… you know the problem is– I’ve always been a Troy Tulowitzki fan (note: Keith mentioned Tulo first, not me!), you don’t want him for the next eight years, though. You want him for the next three.

jacob degrom

Rothman: Yeah. Another concern people have is, they have young guys like Harvey and deGrom and Wheeler and d’Arnaud and even Duda, but those guys will eventually be due for some real money, some sooner than others. So when the money gets serious, and it comes time to pay these guys, do you think they can and will do it? Or do you think they’ll be like the Rays and the Athletics, and start selling these guys off the moment money starts to be a real factor.

Law: I don’t think… they’re not in Rays and A’s territory where they’re just gonna have to move everybody. But my guess is, they’re not gonna keep them all. Some of those guys will get towards second or third-year arbitration and they’ll get up towards $10 million a year, and the Mets will decide to pass on some of them. You know that said, they kept Murphy who I thought they would deal because, why pay him $8 million dollars? That was kind of my guess talking to people in the industry. It’s a lot of money for a not-great player when you have Dilson Herrera, who probably could benefit from a little more time in the minors, but he could play 2nd base every day if you wanted him to.

Rothman: And at the same time, if they don’t want to keep them all, if they look at it and say, for example, “OK Wheeler’s the guy we’re not going to pay,” some of those guys have real trade value if they don’t want to hand out an extension.

Law: Oh yes, yes, absolutely. If you’re willing to trade a good young pitcher, going into his first or second year of arbitration, you’re going to get a lot. That could be a situation where they go and get “that guy,” the Addison Russell-type prospect in return, the high-upside hitting prospect who’s not that far off. Or maybe even you get the Wil Myers type. That’s a guy you never expect… if we had talked 3 months ago you’d say “he never gets traded” and now he has been. Things that we always assumed to be true are changing very quickly, I think because of the changing financial landscape in the sport.

wilmer flores dilson herrera

Rothman: So talking about a specific guy… Wilmer Flores. A lot of people say the Mets botched their shortstop hunt, and well I guess you HAVE to say they did because they didn’t get a shortstop.

Law (laughing): You come home without a deer, then you did not have a good day.

Rothman: What’s debatable is whether they have a real problem or not, some people like Flores. He’s been around forever, he’s been on your radar since 2009, but he’s still young, he’s hit in the minors… so what do you think about Flores, and what do you think the METS think about him. Do they think he can be the answer, or are they putting on a poker face while they scramble to replace him?

Law: I think he can hit. I don’t think he can play short, I never even thought he was very good at third. I think there’s a real good chance he ends up at another corner, and my question then is whether the bat’s going to profile enough to warrant playing him every day, if he’s in left field or at first base. Again, I think he can hit, I think he’s got good hand-eye, I think his swing works, he’s gonna make a fair amount of contact, but it really hasn’t developed into any kind of power. He’s not very quick, not very athletic, but his feet… I’m very, very surprised that a team that’s clearly aware of defensive metrics would even TRY him at shortstop. I mean really, what are you expecting, running this guy out at short. So no matter what they say publicly, my guess is privately, we don’t wanna go out and spend on a shortstop, we don’t wanna trade the pitching depth yet, and this is the best of the internal options, none of which are good. I like Dilson Herrera a lot and I think he’ll be a good 2nd baseman. I wouldn’t put him at short either, he wasn’t good there. So unless you want another 150 games of Ruben Tejada, you know, you can’t put a pointed stake out there, somebody has to play.

daniel murphy

Rothman: And it’s tough because you also have Murphy out there, it’s not like you have a gold-glove 2nd baseman covering up for him.

Law: No, there’s gonna be a lot of ground balls, not even just up the middle, but sort of on a whole 90-degree swing on either side of the base.

Rothman: So when it comes to making moves, the Mets have been sellers at the deadline since, well probably since Luis Castillo. Is this the year that you think they have to be buyers, and how serious do you think the buying could be? Could you see them pursuing a trade for a real game-changing player around July, somebody like a Tulo, or would it be like a 2nd-tier star or even less?

Law: I think that everything they’ve done and said so far indicates that they’re not going to do that. They’re not going to trade a bunch of the young guys to get a veteran, to get an established, older Major League player. I think if the opportunity came up to get the Myers type, the young player who’s in his peak years or they’re still ahead of him, where the money hasn’t gotten big yet, I think that they would do something like that. So they’re opportunistic, but not in a mode where they’re going to say, “yes, we’re going to go get that guy.” And I think part of it is, they’re not likely to win the division. They’re going to have a respectable team this year, but how many games would you say there are on paper right now between them and the Nationals?

Rothman: A lot.

Law: Yeah, and I mean it’s too much for me to say that they’re going to go into the season and plan to be buyers. Obviously they could beat expectations, and something could go wrong with the Nationals, but right now just looking at the clubs, as they’re constituted now, I’d have a very hard time anticipating being flat-out buyers, willing to trade a Steven Matz and something else, to go get the older player in July.

Rothman: And maybe they’ll find themselves within a game or two of the Nats in July, but with the new wild-card format, where you only get one game in the playoffs unless you win the division, it’s tough to justify “going for it.”

Law: I totally agree. It’s foolish when teams do that, because if you look at the number of teams that treat themselves as contenders, and the number of teams that can actually make that wild-card, it doesn’t really add up.

dominic smith

Rothman: So going back into the farm system, we know about the top guys like Noah, Matz, Plawecki, Nimmo and such, you mentioned that you think Rosario can be a difference-maker, how about some other guys who are farther away, like Dom Smith, how long would it take him to get to Flushing?

Law: Those guys are in my top 10 for them, I still love Dominic Smith, I understand he only hit one home run for them, Savannah has turned out to be a brutal place for left-handed power hitters. I loved him in high school, and I talked to people about him. He really worked on just going the other way, recognizing he’s not going to be able to pull the ball out, so why not focus on making a whole lot of contact, and really using the whole field, particularly going to the opposite field. Which is a great thing for a young hitter to do, it’s just not going to produce a pretty stat line. So if you’re just going to scout the stat line, you’re going to think he’s terrible, a first baseman with one home run. I believe he’s got plus-plus raw power, at some point I think it’s going to surface, you’ll probably see more of it this year in St Lucie, even more the next year in Binghamton once he gets out of those pitcher’s parks. But I do believe that their best chance for a first baseman of the future is currently in the organization.

Rothman: And Gavin Cecchini, is he still a prospect or can we look past him at this point?

Law: Cecchini, well, the issue is, Rosario’s just a better prospect. Rosario’s a star, he’s in my top 100. Cecchini, he’ll play for somebody because he can play shorstop (in the field). He’s not a lock to be an average regular, there are still a lot of variants as to how he turns out. At some point, the Mets will have to make decisions that will probably end up favoring Rosario over Cecchini, because Rosario has a chance to move very quickly through the system due to his bat. Not even because he has such an advanced approach, he’s just so… he’s just so freakishly talented. I have a feeling they’re going to have to push him a put more quickly through the system to get him to the point where he’s appropriately challenged by pitching.

Rothman: So Rosario’s ETA…

Law: I’d say three years. He was in short-season ball all summer, he’ll go to Savannah and hit one home run because that’s how it works (laughs). Well, he’s right-handed so maybe he’ll hit more, but it’s funny, he doesn’t just have pull power, he has power all the way out to right-center, where in Savannah it’s a double to the wall at best. That’s going to be frustrating for him. Going through the four levels of the minors, I could see him doing it in three years, maybe two-and-a-half if he’s just as gifted as I believe he is. The swing, bat speed, it’s all there, it’s just a matter of pitch recognition, ball-strike recognition… he doesn’t have a lot of pro at-bats yet. It’s not really that I know he needs it, it’s just that, I couldn’t tell you exactly how advanced that approach is.

yoan moncada

Rothman: So with International free agency… the Mets used to be pretty good with that, like you said. But they sat on the sidelines for Tanaka and this latest Cuban wave. One of the Wilpons said they would have signed José Abreu if he had been an outfielder, which annoyed people. It was even more annoying when they passed on Yasmani Tomás, who IS an outfielder! And the biggest hole is shortstop, but it looks like they have absolutely no interest in being in the discussion for Yoan Moncada, who might sign a $30 million deal that really costs $60 million because of the double penalty. And it looks like he could very well end up with the Yankees, which kind of makes it worse.

Law: Of course.

Rothman: So this is the cheapest way both in terms of money and assets. You’re not trading the farm or giving away a ton of money to get an aging shortstop, you’re getting a pretty cheap young guy. But the Mets aren’t gonna do it. So first of all, do you agree with that consensus, that the Mets aren’t going to be in the discussion for him? And second of all, for the people who are saying “if they don’t get involved here, they’ll never get involved in international free agency,” because this is the time to do it… do you agree with that thinking?

Law: I don’t know if I could tell you whether they’ll never get involved in that market, sure I’d like to see them more aggressive in this market, but Moncada is not a Major League shortstop right now, and frankly everybody I’ve talked to who’s seen him live— I have not seen him live yet— does NOT see him as a shortstop, they think he’s gonna be way too big for it. So you can be upset as a Mets fan that they’re not more aggressively involved, and you wonder how much of that is due to the fact that they’re a team that just does not pay any sort of penalties ever. That’s the Wilpons, their kind of tacit agreement with Selig, that they would follow all his rules and not go into the penalty in the draft and international or anything. They follow Bud’s dictates. Now Bud’s not there anymore, and I don’t know if that’ll change, but that’s been their practice. And you can be upset that they’re not involved in Moncada because he’s extremely talented… but he’s not a shortstop, I don’t think he’s anybody’s solution at shortstop. You go after him because he’s got a chance to be an elite hitter, certainly a high-end prospect. From everyone I’ve talked to, it’s most likely third base.

curtis granderson

Rothman: You mentioned the Wilpons. We have all this talk about the Wilpons, people saying they’ll never change, they’ll never spend, they’ll never leave, they’ll be a low-budget team that might win 84 a year but won’t spend what’s necessary to supplement the home-grown talent. So to the Mets fans looking to be convinced that the current front office is committed to putting a winning team, a REAL WINNING TEAM on the field in the reasonable future, what do you have to say? We’ve heard about “the plan,” but do you think the plan will be backed up with the necessary aggressiveness and, when appropriate, the necessary financial support?

Law: Yeah, I mean they spent for Granderson. It turned out to be a disaster, but at least they spent on the player. So it’s not like they’re not willing to spend anything. What I would question is, would they go out and get the $22 million player. Guys in that stratosphere. Will they do that? Because the Mets would have, 6 or 7 years ago. And frankly, they’re going to be at a point where getting that player is going to make financial sense. They’re going to put together, say, an 89-win team with homegrown talent, and they’re going to be at the point where getting that elite player makes them a 94-win team, which is a real playoff contender. So (them not spending there) would be frustrating… the Nationals window won’t last forever and the Mets will have a real chance in the next 3 or 4 years… now I don’t know for sure about the answer when it comes to the Wilpons, will they spend $22 million a year on the elite guy hitting free agency. If I were a Mets fan, that’s what I would be focused on. Because they’ve shown they’re willing to get the $12 million guy. You might not want them to do that, eventually you’re going to want them to get the 6-WAR player, one of those guys hits free agency every year and you want to make sure the Mets are going to do that, when it makes sense, when those 6 wins are going to put them into the playoffs.

Rothman: So if you had to give a number, in the next 6 years, how high could you see the Mets getting in terms of payroll rank?

Law: I could see them being top 10 but not top 5, I think that’s where they’ll peak. Yeah it would be better if somebody other than the Wilpons owned the team, but I’ll try to take a slightly optimistic view.


Rothman: And lastly, if you had to put a number on it, what do you think the Mets’ chances are of getting a playoff game this year?

Law: This year? Oh, ten percent or less. Because it’s wild-card only, and I don’t think they’re as good as some of those other contenders.

Rothman: So you see them being relevant…

Law: Yes, and I think they’re going to be very enjoyable to watch because there’s going to be a lot of home-grown talent on the field, but you’re really hoping Harvey comes back, and you might get half a season of production out of him but they’re not going to want to push him right away. I think 2016 is much more reasonable. And how much less likely are they to add a piece this July, when you really think they’re probably not gonna be contending for the division, are you gonna go spend and add a piece, when it’s really just competing for the one-game playoff. Just like you said earlier, I think you nailed exactly what the internal debate is gonna be, how far do they go when it’s just one game, and maybe not even a home game.

Rothman: Alright, so that’s all I have for you! Thanks so much for doing this.

Law: Yeah you’re welcome, thanks!

Rothman (to himself, after hanging up): Wait, did I just go a whole interview without asking about Juan Lagares?

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I would like to thank Keith Law for agreeing to this interview. I would also like to thank the people at ESPN’s PR department who made this possible. Keith and I had a lot to talk about, and I’m sure you guys will all have a lot to say in the comments. Start sharing those thoughts!

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Mets Invite 17 Non-Roster Players To Big League Camp Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:56:53 +0000 baseball grass spring training

The Mets announced that the following 17 non-roster players have been invited to big-league camp.


Buddy Carlyle

Zack Thornton

Cody Satterwhite

Tyler Pill

Matthew Bowman

Jon Velasquez

Chase Bradford

Scott Rice


Kevin Plawecki

Johnny Monell

Xorge Carrillo


Brandon Allen

Matt Reynolds

Daniel Muno

Gavin Cecchini


Brandon Nimmo

Alex Castellanos

Spring Training Dates 

Wednesday, Feb. 18: Terry Collins meets the media in first news conference.

Thursday, Feb. 19: Pitchers and catchers report.

Saturday, Feb. 21: First workout for pitchers and catchers.

Tuesday, Feb. 24: Position players report.

Thursday, Feb. 26: First full-squad workouts.

Wednesday, March 4: First spring game, at Braves, 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 6: First home spring game, vs. Tigers, 1:10 p.m.

Monday, April 6: Opening Day, at Nationals, 4:05 p.m.

Monday, April 13: Home opener at Citi Field, vs. Phillies, 1:10 p.m.


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Law Ranks Mets Fourth Best Farm System Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:45:41 +0000 jake degrom

Keith Law of ESPN ranked the New York Mets among his top five farm systems, slotting them fourth behind No. 1 Chicago Cubs, No. 2 Minnesota Twins and No. 3 Houston Astros. (ESPN Insider)

4. New York Mets

The Mets have graduated a few prospects to the majors — Travis d’Arnaud (No. 2 in the system coming into the year) and Jacob deGrom (No. 13) in particular — but the guys still in the system have nearly all taken steps forward. Noah Syndergaard (No. 1) has had an excellent year in the pitchers’ hell of Las Vegas. Brandon Nimmo (No. 5) is hitting for power now that he’s out of Savannah, a terrible park for left-handed power hitters. Catcher Kevin Plawecki (No. 6) continues to receive well, as expected, but he also has hit well enough to push himself up to Triple-A in his second full season.

Eighteen-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario doesn’t look out of place among older players in the New York-Penn League, and he has the instincts and reactions to stay at short if he can find some consistency in the field. And they added the most polished hitter in this year’s draft class, Michael Conforto, who led Division I in OBP. They still have a ton of arms but are heavier on bats at the corners than in the middle infield or center, although Rosario might eventually make up for Gavin Cecchini‘s .194/.269/.247 line in high Class A.

He didn’t even mention my latest favorites Steven Matz, Dilson Herrera and Dominic Smith… The Mets continue to shine with the quality of prospects they are accumulating in the minors. Hopefully that begins to manifest itself on the major league level in the not too distant future.

The major league team still struggles to score runs but thanks to Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia the bullpen seems to have turned a corner. Starting pitching has been middle of the pack, but there’s also reason for optimism with the return of Matt Harvey next season and developing young arms in Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler. Hot hitting Wilmer Flores has been ready for regular MLB at-bats for two years now, but is blocked by Ruben Tejada. Left Field also remains a sore spot for the team and is in some sort of 4-man merry-go-round.

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Baseball America Hot Sheet: Cecchini No. 4, Flores in Team Photo Sat, 10 May 2014 11:53:11 +0000 Gavin - Cecchini Photo

After a hot week in Savannah, Gavin Cecchini joins the list of Mets Prospects that have been recognized this season on Baseball America’s Hot Sheet – that featured Brandon Nimmo and Noah Syndergaard a week ago.

After a torrid week at the plate, Cecchini has raised his  average to .286 this season with a .353 on-base and a .454 slugging to go with his 13 extra-base hits, 21 runs scored, and four stolen bases. Here is what BA had to say about the Mets’ 2012 first rounder:

Why He’s Here:

.458/.462/.875 (11-for-24), 5 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI

The Scoop:

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. Cecchini, whom the Mets drafted 12th overall out of high school in 2012, ranks third among SAL shortstops with a .168 isolated slugging percentage—behind only 2013 college drafts JaCoby Jones (Pirates) and Pat Valaika (Rockies). This despite Cecchini playing half his games in the hitter’s graveyard that is Savannah and despite entering the season with a career .318 slugging percentage in short-season ball. Fully healthy this season, he’s showing off a rounded tool set that includes feel for the barrel, solid wheels and a strong defensive game.

Also, Wilmer Flores, who was recently called up to the Major Leagues to play shortstop, was in the team photo this time. They write:

By going 11-for-22 (.500) with four homers, two doubles and 11 RBIs this week at Triple-A Las Vegas, Flores made the Mets’ decision to scuttle shortstop Ruben Tejada an easy one. The 22-year-old Flores will take over as big league shortstop after hitting .307/.360/.500 in 29 games on the farm this season.

By the statistics, it looks as though Flores should have been included on this hot list with Cecchini. Either way, Congratulations to Wilmer Flores and Gavin Cecchini for their great weeks and let’s hope they both continue to scorch the ball.

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Mets Farm Report: Campbell Soups One Out, Nimmo Two More Knocks Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:09:25 +0000 eric campbell mmo

Las Vegas 5, El Paso 4 

Logan Verrett took the ball for the 51s and delivered a so-so start giving up four earned runs on eight hits in four innings pitched. He walked none and struck out five. Vic Black threw a rare clean inning, striking out two in the process and keeping his ERA spotless. Jeff Walter recorded his fifth save of the season but it was Miguel Socolovich who recorded the win with a great three inning outing, only giving up one hit and striking out four. Eric Campbell had a great night going 2 for 4 while slugging a double and home run and driving in two runs. Cesar Puello was assigned the leadoff spot for the night and delivered going two for four with a triple and a run.

Portland 7, Binghamton 4

Tyler Pill got beat up in this one as he allowed five earned runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings pitched and suffered his third loss of the season. T.J. Chism did not fair much better, giving up two earned runs in 1.2 innings of relief. On the bright side, Jack Leathersich threw a clean inning. Jayce Boyd had a two RBI night going 1 for 2 with two walks. Red Sox top prospect Henry Owens held off the B-Mets for most of his outing but eventually cracked in the 6th, giving up all three runs in that frame.

St. Lucie 5, Palm Beach 4

Luis Cessa tossed six innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits. His control was a little shaky as he surrendered three walks, while striking out two. Brandon Nimmo simply refuses to cool down, collecting another two hits and a walk, while driving in two runs. TJ Rivera continued his torrid start to the season as well collecting three hits in four at bats and contributing an RBI. Aderlin Rodriguez had the other two RBI’s with a double in three at-bats.

Savannah 10, Delmarva 5

Chris Flexen did not have the best outing as he gave up nine hits and three walks in just five innings pitched. However, he kept the runs to a minimum, only allowing three. Jared King stole the show in this one, collecting two hits and a walk in five at-bats. He clubbed a home run in the third and added a triple as well. Gavin Cecchini continued to struggle with the stick as he only collected a single and walk in five at-bats, while striking out twice. Dominic Smith, however, seemed to break out of his funk with two singles and two walks on the night. LJ Mazzilli drove in two with a 2 for 6 night as well. It was a good night all around for the Sand Gnats offense.

Player of the Night:

Eric Campbell: Campbell collected two steaks and hit his third home run of the season, while also adding a double.

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MMO Game Thread: Braves vs Mets, 1:10 PM (SNY) Thu, 20 Mar 2014 16:26:39 +0000 ike davis cage 2

With Opening Day just 12 days away, Terry Collins plans on playing his regulars more now as they run out the string in Grapefruit League play.

Zack Wheeler takes the hill today against Ervin Santana and the Braves at 1:10 pm at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. The game will be broadcast live on SNY.

Here is the starting lineup:

  1. Eric Young Jr., 2B
  2. Ruben Tejada, SS
  3. David Wright, 3B
  4. Curtis Granderson, RF
  5. Chis Young, LF
  6. Ike Davis, 1B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  8. Zack Wheeler, RHP
  9. Juan Lagares, CF

Collins is batting pitcher Zack Wheeler eighth today, ahead of Juan Lagares, after telling reporters last week of his intentions to use this strategy.

Ike Davis returns to the lineup a day after Terry Collins said either Davis (calf) or Lucas Duda (hamstring) would be ready to play against Atlanta.

Daniel Murphy is still out with a sore leg and hasn’t played since Sunday when he went 3-for-3 with a double. Eric Young starts in his place at second.

Jon Niese is expected to resume throwing today after getting an MRI and cortisone shot in his elbow earlier this week in New York. Adam Rubin reported he will open the season on the disabled list, but should still pitch during the team’s first homestand on April 6.

In an interview with Andy Martino, SNY asks him if Matt Harvey is “a monster that can’t be corralled.” Seriously? Wow, it looks like they’re not going to let this go. This is why the Mets can’t have nice things.

FanGraphs had this to say about Gavin Cecchini, “Don’t like him nearly as much as brother Garin. Has been very ordinary in two rookie ball seasons to date. Below average power and speed, limited physical projection – I’m not seeing the impact.”

Enjoy the game and Lets Go Mets!

ya gotta belive gfx mr. met

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Mets Minors: Familia Is Dealing, Cyclones Announce Staff, Tanous Anyone? Fri, 28 Feb 2014 01:42:38 +0000 mets-jeurys-familia

There’s a lot of great buzz on Jeurys Familia down in St. Lucie, where he’s looked very impressive during his bullpens. Today, Noah Syndergaard got all the press during the Mets intrasquad game, but he was outperformed by Familia who tossed two scoreless innings and struck out five while hitting the same 96-97 on the gun as Thor was. Familia was blowing hitters away and allowed just one hit and didn’t walk anyone.

Terry Collins is now sounding as if Familia is a lock for the bullpen. ”When he’s in the strike zone, his stuff is at times unhittable.”

“He could close,” Collins said. “He’s got that kind of a sinker. He also has a swing-and-a-miss slider…You can’t find guys that throw 96 to 98 with that kind of movement.”


Chris McShane of Amazin Avenue is covering the Mets in St. Lucie and got a chance to speak to the Mets’ scouting director Tommy Tanous. He shared with McShane what he likes about his two top picks, Dominic Smith (2013) and Gavin Cecchini (2012):


His hit ability. I think he wakes up in the morning, and he’s ready to swing the bat. You know, he’s fundamentally really sound offensively. It was as good a swing as we had seen last spring, and he just keeps building on that. This year, as soon as you see him, you recognize right away he’s gotten a lot stronger, he’s really dedicated in the weight room this year, and boy, you come out here and the ball’s really jumping off his bat. It’s as smooth a swing as you’re going to see.


There’s another guy that when I walked in, he caught my attention with how strong he looks. I thought he had a really good year last, both playing defensively and offensively, so there’s a kid that just keeps getting a little bit stronger each year. His baseball instincts are off the chart, one of the smarter players you’re going to run into. And he has the tools to back that up. I’m looking for a big year out of Gavin this year.


The Brooklyn Cyclones announced their coaching staff for the 2014 season. Tom Gamboa, who has over four decades of experience in professional baseball, will serve as the manager, while Tom Signore joins the team as the pitching coach. Benny Distefano, who served as the Cyclones hitting coach in 2010, will return to the team in the same role for the 2014 campaign.

“We look forward to welcoming the new coaching staff to Brooklyn for the 2014 season,” said Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen. “They all have a track record of success, and we are hopeful that they will help guide our team back to the playoffs for the 2014 season.” 

I know our minor league analyst Teddy is thrilled that his friend Benny will be back in Brooklyn. The two of them worked together when Teddy was with the Mets in the DSL and also in Brooklyn where he produced prospect films for the Mets.

For more on the Mets minors, make sure you check out

(Photo Credits: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports, NY Mets)

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2014 Mets Top Prospects: No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C Sat, 08 Feb 2014 17:37:30 +0000 Top 25 Prospects plawecki 5

No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Kevin Plawecki doesn’t quite have the ceiling as Travis d’Arnaud but he’s a nice prospect in his own right. He was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft out of Purdue University; a draft in which catching was scarce. He’s probably a better natural hitter than d’Arnaud but does not have the same power potential. His swing is short and quick resulting in good contact and a ton of line drives so he does have the potential to hit .300. The organization is moving Plawecki up the ladder at somewhat of a snail’s pace and I don’t understand why because his hitting approach is quite advanced and he’s already 22.

Across Savannah and St. Lucie last season Plawecki slashed .305/.390/.448 in 449 AB’s with 8 HR’s and 80 RBI’s. Also impressive were his 42 BB’s, compared to 53 K’s, which tell you his patient approach will yield a very good OBP with low strikeout numbers. As he adds more strength, naturally his gap to gap power will result in more home runs but I don’t think he’ll ever hit more than 20 in any season of his career. He’ll probably end up a 10-15 homer player but that’s still more than acceptable power production from behind the plate, especially if he’s putting up those kind of numbers with a borderline .300 average. He doesn’t have the greatest arm behind the plate but he supposedly has a quick release that still allows him to nail his fair share of baserunners. On top of that, he’s a great receiver and knows how to handle a pitching staff so he should have no trouble sticking as a backstop.

Outlook: Right now the organization sees Travis d’Arnaud as the catcher of the future so unless he fails, you’d have to wonder if Plawecki ever sees Citi Field. There’s a few different paths that Plawecki could take to the majors. If d’Arnaud is a complete bust, than Plawecki is nice insurance and should get an opportunity with the Mets to prove his worth. If Travis d’Arnaud reaches his potential and the Mets truly do have a franchise catcher on their hands, Plawecki could be a nice trade piece to help bring an impact bat to Citi Field. If he can continue to put up good offensive numbers in the upper levels of the minors while proving he can stick behind the plate, he should have no problem finding himself in the top 100 MLB prospects by the time he is big league ready. The fact that he is a catcher would increase his value as well because catchers who can hit are becoming awfully hard to find these days. Lastly, and the least likely scenario, is that Plawecki could be moved to first base if his skills behind the plate are deemed unworthy. Plawecki simply won’t hit for enough power even be considered an average first baseman so hopefully that is not the case. He’ll most likely begin the year in Binghamton and if he hits there, the Mets would be smart to move him up to Las Vegas by the end of the season so he starts to turn some heads and draw some attention from other teams.


25. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

24. Juan Centeno, C

23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP

22. Jeff Walters, RHP

21. Jack Leathersich, LHP

20. Luis Mateo, RHP

19. Jayce Boyd, 1B

18. Domingo Tapia, RHP

17. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

16. Vic Black, RHP

15. Michael Fulmer, RHP

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

13. Dilson Herrera, 2B

12. Jake deGrom, RHP

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS

10. Steven Matz, LHP

9. Brandon Nimmo, CF

8. Amed Rosario, SS

7. Cesar Puello, OF

6. Wilmer Flores, 2B

5. Kevin Plawecki, C





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2014 Mets Top Prospects: No. 11 Gavin Cecchini, SS Sat, 01 Feb 2014 20:36:49 +0000 Top 25 Prospects cecchini 11

11. Gavin Cecchini

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Gavin Cecchini receives his fair share of criticism because his ceiling is not as high as your traditional first round draft pick. The Mets took Cecchini with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft because his already impressive floor provided somewhat of a safety net. His defense is already quite polished with strong instincts, decent range, and an average arm which says he would probably have no trouble sticking at shortstop for the long term. However, with Amed Rosario being the more promising young shortstop in the Mets organization, Cecchini may be better off playing second where his skillset would make him a plus defender instead of above average.

Gavin’s value as a prospect will undoubtedly be determined by his hit tool because that and his solid average speed are really his only offerings on the offensive side of his game. In 194 AB’s with the Brooklyn Cyclones last season, Cecchini put up a respectable .273 AVG but with a .319 OBP and measly .314 SLG. His power will always fall well short of average but as a line drive hitter and decent stolen base threat, he could profile nicely as a leadoff hitter in the spacious confines of Citi Field if he improves his pitch selectivity.

Outlook: Cecchini’s ability to make hard contact is certainly present but if he continues to be too frisky with the bat, he’ll have a decent batting average but a very low on base percentage. If he’s smart, he’ll work on his patience at the plate and try to get better pitches to hit so he can spray hard line drives to all parts of the ballpark. That will not only help him maintain a high average but will increase his number of walks as well. If Cecchini could get on base at a good clip, he has the hitting ability, speed and instincts on the basepaths to become a decent leadoff hitter who will probably never be an All Star, but would still have respectable value nonetheless. If his OBP and line drive rate do not improve, he may be better suited as a utility player or defensive-first middle infielder who bats in front of the pitcher.


25. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

24. Juan Centeno, C

23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP

22. Jeff Walters, RHP

21. Jack Leathersich, LHP

20. Luis Mateo, RHP

19. Jayce Boyd, 1B

18. Domingo Tapia, RHP

17. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

16. Vic Black, RHP

15. Michael Fulmer, RHP

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

13. Dilson Herrera, 2B

12. Jake deGrom, RHP

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS











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A Promise Kept And A Call To Action Thu, 23 Jan 2014 13:46:33 +0000 drew

It’s a signing waiting to happen. After months of posturing, months of Hot Stove positioning, the coals are getting warm and spring training will soon begin. As of yet, no major league team has signed Stephen Drew to play shortstop for the 2014 season.

Will they sign him or will they pass? Speculation has raged on both sides of that issue in Mets World all winter long. I must admit, I never really connected emotionally to either side of this Great Mets Debate. Undoubtedly, I was impressed with the defensive play of Stephen Drew during this fall’s baseball post-season. Yet, Drew’s injury history was a concern and whether or not the Mets front office’s reluctance to sign on the dotted line was a bargaining ploy, a financial decision, or organizational doubt about the baseball value Drew would bring to the team’s roster, I could understand their hesitancy in pulling the trigger to make the move.

With February around the corner, we’ve reached the decision point. I think the Mets should sign Stephen Drew.

This off-season has been a chance for the Mets to reconnect with their fan base. Over the past three years, legions of loyal Met fans have felt betrayed. There were real reasons the Mets have not been a player in winter’s Hot Stove competition in recent years, have not ‘wheeled and dealed’ like they had during the days of Omar Minaya.

That matters little to many Met fans, fans that live and die for the orange and blue. A minor league overhaul and rebuild may have put down a foundation for a brighter Met future, but there was little recent evidence on the diamond at Citi Field. Many Met fans could only see a team that was standing pat year after year without making any serious investments intended to improve the product on the Citi Field diamond.

Signing Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, and Chris Young have tempered the ill will somewhat. The off-season signings have teased Met fans into hoping that perhaps a new dawn is breaking over Flushing. Met fans want to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The renewed trust is shaky with Met fans desperately needing to feel a new age has begun.

It’s the fragile hopes of the Met hopeful that make me believe signing Stephen Drew is a necessity. A Drew signing would signal to Met fans that their team really is headed in the right direction with a front office truly committed to winning, and winning now. Signing Drew would be medicine to strengthen the psyche of the other players on the Mets roster and, of course, throngs of Met fans as well.

It is hard to argue Stephen Drew would not be an upgrade at shortstop over Ruben Tejada both at the plate and in the field. In an injury shortened year, Drew knocked home 67 RBI’s last season, almost double Tejada’s career high total of 36. Drew would bring the Mets lineup some added pop, an offensive asset we still desperately lack at this time. In defining the difference Drew could make in the lineup, take a moment to consider who you would rather see batting second or even eighth this summer.

Defensively, Drew is also an upgrade over Tejada as well. Probably the most alarming part of Tejada’s 2013 season was his regression fielding his position at short. I was stunned by his shoddy defensive play and glove work early in the season last year. I kept saying to myself, “It’s early. He’ll shake it off. I know he’s a much better defensive shortstop than this.” But, shake it off he didn’t.

Defense is a lifeline on a team built around pitching. It’s one of the reasons, if it’s Duda or Davis, the Mets have to go with Davis at first base. Adding Drew at shortstop will vastly improve the Mets defense, adding confidence to the egos of every pitcher on the staff. His defensive numbers last season for Boston were impressive and ranked among the top five in most defensive metrics.

Of course, I would not endorse signing Drew for more than two seasons. It is being widely reported that Drew would most likely take a one or two year deal with any team at this stage. Drew has to be concerned by his inability to sign on with a major league team. His agent Scott Boras has been working feverishly behind the scenes trying to polish Drew’s assets to find a suitor, but to no avail. It’s down to teams and Drew can either play shortstop every day for the Mets or become a super infield back-up infielder. I’d wager he’d choose the Mets so he can build up his value and get a second shot at free agency in a year or two.

A two-year deal would also allow the Mets adequate time to evaluate exactly how their top shortstop prospect Gavin Cecchini develops. The Mets picked Cecchini 12th overall in the 2012 MLB draft because they believed he had the baseball makeup and instincts to become their major league shortstop of the future. At this point, it’s doubtful that two more years of minor league play will hinder his major league debut. It should also be adequate time for Mets brass to evaluate the future roles of all the other young shortstops in the pipeline who are equally as promising.

Finally, the Mets should have the money to spend. That has been the message all along this Winter. This has been their promise, a promise three years in the making. Even with last month’s free agent pickups, for the third consecutive baseball season, the Mets projected payroll is expected to dip again if the season started today. Met fans are savvy. They understand that high cost rosters are not guarantees of on the field success. But, they also appreciate the idea that investing on your roster for the right players improves the odds and increases the likelihood of winning.

In Stephen Drew, the Mets will have an above average stopgap at shortstop, and an offensive and defensive upgrade that signals to their players and fans that the expectation of our team to compete in 2014 is more than simply words. It’s action.

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Minors Notes: Mets High On Flores and Lawley, Herrera May Play SS, Smith May Skip Brooklyn Fri, 17 Jan 2014 14:25:26 +0000 Nimmo and Cecchini

Here are some takeaways from Thursday’s Q&A with the Mets minor league officials (@MetsFarmReport) on Twitter.

  • When asked who their top power hitter in the system was, Mets officials didn’t hesitate to mention Dustin Lawley. I asked a followup question and wondered if Lawley would stick at Triple-A after the Mets jumped him all the way from Advanced-A St. Lucie last season to help the Las Vegas 51s during their postseason. They said he would stay at Vegas and play both outfield and third base. As I’ve been saying since last September, while everyone is fixated on Cesar Puello, Lawley is the one to watch and the prospect who could come up and help the Mets in 2014.
  • The Mets are so high on last year’s first-round pick, 1B Dominic Smith, that they are considering having him skip Low-A Brooklyn and begin the new season at Class-A Savannah. That was something they never even considered with Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. It’s a sign of how far more advanced they believe Smith is,
  • Speaking of Brandon Nimmo, the Mets attribute his poor showing offensively to injuries. As most of you know, the Wyoming native was hampered all season by a wrist injury. The Mets expect him to bounce back this season and are also counting on a power growth. He will have a lot of eyes on him in 2014.
  • If you’re wondering what led the Mets to promoting Frank Viola to Pitching Coach at Triple-A last week, the Mets are very high on his ability to work with our young pitchers. With some of the organization’s top prospects now heading to Las Vegas, the Mets wanted Viola to be there to oversee their development and get them ready for a big league callup.
  • The Mets are still very high on Cesar Puello who they said is a Top 10 prospect regardless of what’s being published. When asked who’s stock soared the highest after Winter Ball, they boasted that it was Wilmer Flores who sported a .403/.447/.545 batting line in Venezuela. Then they added, “reports (on Flores) were promising.”

Quick Hits

Second base prospect Dilson Herrera, may get time playing time at shortstop this year at Class-A Savannah.

If you were wondering if Kevin Plawecki would start the season at Double-A Binghamton, the Mets confirmed it. They said they are very high on him.

News Flash… The Mets consider righthander Jenrry Mejia a starting pitcher and not a reliever. Thankfully…

Gavin Cecchini will hit his fair share of home runs, but they see him as more of a well rounded player and complete hitter.

The Mets called the following players sleepers: Champ Stuart, Robert Coles, Ricky Jacquez, Robert Whalen, Chris Flexen, Tyler Bashlor and Jhoan Urena. I’m very high on Whalen, Flexen, Urena and Coles.

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Sickels: Syndergaard Leads Mets Top 20 Tue, 14 Jan 2014 02:03:42 +0000 noah syndergaard

John Sickels of Minor League Ball just released his Mets Top 20 Prospects for 2014. As expected, Syndergaard has the top spot and was the only player to get a grade of A-.

Here are his Top 20 with comments for the first five players. You can check out the full article and commentary for all players by clicking here

  1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline A. I love Syndergaard and I think the concerns about his secondary pitches are a bit overblown. That said, he did have a sharp platoon split between RHB and LHB and a good dose of Triple-A time is advisable to put on the finishing touches. But I still see him as a number two starter assuming good health and the standard caveats.
  2. Travis d’Arnaud, C, Grade B+: Borderline A-. He really needs to graduate because I’ve been writing about him for a long time and fatigue is setting in. I expect he’ll be a solid major league starting catcher with power and good defense, although batting average/OBP may be erratic. We’ll just have to see if his injury issues are bad luck or something more.
  3. Rafael Montero, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline A-. It is really hard to do what he did at Las Vegas. People are still sleeping on this guy. I think he can be a number three starter.
  4. Dominic Smith, 1B, Grade B: Borderline B-. We’ll have to see about the power, but some sources I trust are enthralled with his pure hitting skills. The obvious comp here isJames Loney as a line drive hitter with a strong glove but atypical first base power. When these types of first basemen max out, they are Keith Hernandez. When they don’t, they get stuck in Triple-A.
  5. Kevin Plawecki, C, Grade B: Borderline B-. I believe in him. I don’t think he’ll produce tons of homers but he should be a solid hitter for average and OBP. Not great against runners but is otherwise a fine receiver. Good backup option if D’Arnaud busts.
  6. Wilmer Flores, INF, Grade B
  7. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Grade B-
  8. Amed Rosario, SS, Grade B-
  9. Gavin Cecchini, SS, Grade B-
  10. Cesar Puello, OF, Grade B-
  11. Dilson Herrera, 2B, Grade B-
  12. Jacob deGrom, RHP, Grade B-
  13. Vic Black, RHP, Grade B-
  14. Steven Matz, LHP, Grade C+
  15. Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Grade C+
  16. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Grade C+
  17. Luis Cessa, RHP, Grade C+
  18. Robert Whalen, RHP, Grade C+
  19. Chris Flexen, RHP, Grade C+
  20. Michael Fulmer, RHP, Grade C+ 

Sickels says that the Mets have a huge amount of depth in C+/C prospects, especially on the mound.

“There are a lot of guys who have a chance to be number four/five starters or at least valid relief arms. In those terms this is one of the stronger farm systems in the National League: the raw material for a really nice pitching staff is here and there is talent at all levels.”

“For the position players, D’Arnaud looks ready if he can avoid injury and Flores can be a useful role player at least, perhaps more. Plawecki is coming up behind D’Arnaud. Recent high school draftees like Dominic Smith, Gavin Cecchini, and Brandon Nimmo are still quite a distance away from the majors. They have regular potential but some questions to answer too. Amed Rosario has great tools but he is also a long way off and could be anything from star to bust. PED issues aside, opinions on Puello are quite mixed: he could also be a bust or a regular.”

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Rising Through The Ranks: Dustin Lawley and T.J. Rivera Mon, 30 Dec 2013 13:50:09 +0000 MiLB: April 29 - St. Lucie Mets at Tampa YankeesThere are two Mets prospects that I will be keeping a very close eye on in 2014, and I would suggest other Mets fans do the same.

It’s not Noah Syndergaard…it’s not Rafael Montero…nope, it’s not even Travis d’Arnaud.

The two Mets prospects everyone should be keeping an eye on in 2014 are T.J. Rivera and Dustin Lawley.

Everyone loves an underdog, and these guys bring something to the table that a lot of other prospects don’t—heart.

Lawley and Rivera are working hard to prove their worth in the Mets’ system after being Division II college ball players. Lawley was selected in the 19th round of the 2011 draft, and Rivera, well he wasn’t drafted at all.

These two men, as unlikely as it is, have established themselves as two of the top offensive threats in the Mets farm system. Lawley has shown off a tremendous amount of power and athleticism, working his way up to Triple-A in only his second full season in professional baseball. Rivera, however, has arguably been the Mets top producing middle infield prospect over the past three seasons.

The Mets continue to use high draft picks on middle infielders, and Rivera continues to outperform them all. One has to wonder when people will start to treat Rivera with the respect that he deserves, and not some undrafted free agent. Will this black eye ever go away?

Lawley, although moving through the system very quickly, also gets overlooked. For all the talk about Cesar Puello, it’s more than likely that Lawley makes his major league debut before Puello. In fact, there is a good chance that Lawley is called up some time during 2014 if he continues raking like landscapers in the middle of the fall.

Rivera’s case is a little more complex. He was asked to convert to hitting leadoff in 2013, which, I can attest, is not the easiest thing to do if you are used to hitting later in the lineup.

During my sophomore year of college, I was asked by my coach to move from right field to center field, and move from the No. 3 hole in the lineup to hitting leadoff. What ensued, was the worst slump I ever had. I was mired in a 1-for-20 spring trip before my coach moved me back to right field and the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

The two changes at once may have been the perfect storm for me. You may be asking why I am bringing up what I went through and how it applies to Rivera’s situation. Here’s why…

Rivera did a fantastic job in the leadoff role with St. Lucie in 2013, and his move to leadoff now has me wondering if this was a two step process that could have him in the mix as a future leadoff hitting shortstop for the Mets in the very near future.

The Mets already had former second round pick, Matt Reynolds, playing shortstop for St. Lucie, so it was the optimal situation to make a two-step change with Rivera so that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

t.j. riveraSecond base is log jammed with talent in the Mets organization. They have Daniel Murphy at the big league level, Wilmer Flores waiting in the wings, and now Dilson Herrera has been added to the mix. On the other hand, shortstop is one of the thinnest positions in the Mets organization. The top shortstop prospects, Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario, have yet to play a full season of professional baseball.

Moving Rivera to shortstop isn’t the craziest of notions. The guy has played multiple professional games at shortstop, and the only way to see if this kid can be an everyday shortstop may be to test him out. If anyone can make the permanent transition, my money is on Rivera.

The only knock I hear when Rivera’s name is brought up is how his power numbers have dropped off from 2012 to 2013. There is no doubt in my mind that if you moved Rivera out of the leadoff spot, those power numbers would return. This is a guy that took the move to hitting leadoff seriously, and adjusted his game to be a successful leadoff hitter. He embraced the leadoff role, and excelled in it.

Rivera and Lawley—two guys we may see making their Citi Field debut sooner than later. Both are hard-working guys who seem motivated by having something to prove. The odds are against them, but rather than simply being happy with being able to call themselves professional ball players, they seem to want more than just that. They seem hungry. It makes them easy to root for, and with 2014 just a couple of days away, you might want to write those two names down as guys to watch next season if you haven’t done so already.

If you want to learn a little bit more about these guys, watch the video attached below.

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Featured Post: Mets Prospects Who Have Something to Prove Fri, 27 Dec 2013 15:45:40 +0000 Since Sandy Alderson took over in 2010, his main focus has been rebuilding a depleted farm system.  He has done a pretty good job of it by drafting very young players with impressive, raw tools that need polish in Gavin Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith, and adding some more promising names via trade in Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Dilson Herrera, and Vic Black.

Developing prospects is becoming more and more crucial to maintaining a successful major league organization due to the inflation of free agent prices.  Teams are signing their young phenoms through their prime which drives up the price for the thin market of reliable players available in free agency.  The best way to have these promising young players on your team is by drafting, trading for, and developing them yourself.

The Mets have a middle-of-the-pack farm system rich in pitching but lacking in offense.  However, at the end of the day, prospects are simply prospects until they prove their worth.  The Mets have some very promising names, but none without flaws.  Let’s take a look at some of these names and the areas in which they must improve.

Gavin Cecchini, SS

cecchiniI think Gavin Cecchini’s ceiling has been somewhat underrated by some scouts and even by people in the Mets system who usually tend to overrate their prospects.  At the time, he wasn’t the most exciting first round pick but the Mets drafted him because his already impressive floor provided somewhat of a safety net.  There’s not much to worry about defensively here as Cecchini has been described as having outstanding instincts, decent range, and an average arm which is a potent enough skillset to stick at shortstop for the long term.  Offensively, Cecchini will always have below average power so his hit tool is what will determine if he can be a top of the order (potentially leadoff) hitter or a bottom of the order, defensive-first shortstop.  In Brooklyn last season, Cecchini had a nice little hitting streak going for a while (mostly singles), producing a modest .273 average but did not show a very patient approach (.319 OBP with 14 BB in 212 PA).  I believe he has the speed and ability to steal around 20 bases per season, profiling nicely as a leadoff hitter. However, in order to fulfill this projection, Cecchini must show a more selective approach so he gets better pitches to hit.  This will allow him to draw a good amount of walks and spray line drives all over the field.  Cecchini is the type of player that, if his potential is achieved, will have no trouble succeeding at Citi Field.  Because of the spacious outfield, line drives have a tendency to fall in front of outfielders and find the gaps.  If he can become this type of hitter, he should have no trouble batting in the vicinity of .300 with a solid OBP and plenty of doubles and triples.  However, he must show improvement on last season’s numbers, particularly his walks and line drive rate.  If he continues to struggle in these areas, he may be more suited to bat in front of the pitcher.

Gavin Cecchini 2013 Top Prospect Video (

Travis d’Arnaud, C

travis d'arnaud singleTravis d’Arnaud’s ability to stay healthy was once again questioned this year when he took a foul ball off the foot and ended up in a walking boot for a few months.  This was not nearly as concerning to me as the knee and back problems he experienced in previous seasons, which can be detrimental to a catcher’s ability to stay on the field.  Catchers take a beating on the daily which puts any of them at risk for a freak injury so the fractured foot was more of bad luck than anything else.  However, that does not completely excuse him of his injury troubles.  TDA has to prove the knee and back problems that popped up earlier in his professional career are not a concern anymore.  Barring any random injuries, he should be able to play in around 120-130 games.  If he can do this, I think he will be just fine.  d’Arnaud also has something to prove with the bat though.  You could make excuses for him and say that he struggled after his call up last season due to rust from missing a few months or that he was concentrating on his defense.  I, however, am not going to let him get off that easily.  It may have just been anxiousness but he needs to cut down on his strikeouts by being more selective at the plate.  He has a sweet swing, the strength to hit around 20 bombs per season as well as hit for a high average.  That combined with solid defense makes for a pretty rare, Buster Posey-esque specimen behind the plate.  If d’Arnaud can stay on the field and display the hitting ability that was advertised when he came over in the RA Dickey deal, then we may have an All Star on our hands.

Travis d’Arnaud 2013 Top Prospect Video (

Jeurys Familia, RHP

Jeurys FamiliaJeurys Familia has an electric fastball, there’s no doubt about that.  He consistently throws it at 95 mph with some sink and can touch triple digits on occasion.  He also showcases an above average slider and a fringe average changeup.  With refinement to his secondary pitches, Familia has the potential to be an elite closer; an asset that certainly does not grow on trees (ask the 2007 Mets bullpen).  However, there is a catch.  Familia walks everyone and their mothers.  A reliever who does not throw strikes is virtually useless.  Teams can simply not afford to give free passes late in ball games, especially the 9th inning.  Familia has to prove that he can hit his targets with his fastball and secondary pitches.  If he shows even an inkling of an ability to throw strikes, he’ll be an effective reliever with a high strikeout rate.

Jeurys Familia 2013 Top Prospect Video (

Wilmer Flores, INF

wilmer floresAh, Wilmer Flores.. the positionless wonder.  Comparisons to Miguel Cabrera earlier in his career quickly came back down to earth.  They do have one thing in common however, they can’t play defense.  Despite him originating as a shortstop, Flores is slow-footed with minimal range, limiting him to a corner infield position at the moment.  He is trying hard to improve his quickness and speed to possibly add second base to his repertoire but I just don’t see that happening.  He’s a tall kid, standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 190 pounds.  Efforts to fit in at second are meaningless to me because he is going to fill out and become even slower sooner or later.  He might be able to fit in at third base because of his strong arm but I don’t think I need to get into why that won’t work for the Mets.  Flores’ status as a major leaguer depends entirely on how he hits.  Bad ankles or not, he did not impress after being called up.  In my mind, the Mets have two options on how to deal with Flores.  If he shows he can hit in the bigs similar to how he did in AAA (.321/.357/.531 in 107 games) and continue working on his speed and quickness, he could build up nice trade value as a major league third basemen.  The second option involves completely revamping his approach at the plate. As it stands, Wilmer is a line drive hitter who should be able to hit for a pretty good average because of his ability to cover all parts of the plate with his swing.  He has the frame, however, to hit for power once he fills out.  If he starts the season in AAA and revamps his swing, he could become a decent power hitter.  He may strike out more and hit for a lower average but if he could hit 25 home runs per season, he can play first base for the Mets.  Flores’ main focus, nonetheless, should be to first prove he can be a successful hitter in the major leagues.

Wilmer Flores 2013 Top Prospect Video (

Jenrry Mejia, RHP

mejiaJenrry Mejia is an intriguing case.  He has been described by prospect guru Keith Law as a pitcher with top of the rotation stuff.  This must mean something because Law is notorious for hating on prospects in the Mets organization.  Previous to his Tommy John surgery in 2011, all he really had was a good fastball and an average slider and changeup but he was the Mets’ best pitching prospect at the time.  When he came up last year with a new uniform number and an exceptional Jheri curl, he [literally] looked like an entirely different pitcher.  He showed the same 92-94 mph fastball, this time packaged with a devastating slider and solid changeup.  Not to mention his control was pinpoint as well.  I became very excited watching Mejia pitch last season.  He reminds me a lot of Johnny Cueto and I truly believe he can be a force in the rotation along with Harvey, Wheeler, and Syndergaard IF he stays healthy.  He’s never thrown more than 108 innings in a season which is a concern if he’s destined to become a starter.  Frontline starters nowadays are relied on for at least 200 innings per season.  Mejia is still just 23 years old (around a year younger than Matt Harvey) so he has time to get his act together.  He simply has to prove that the stuff he displayed last year was legitimate and that he can provide it all year long.  If he does that, the Mets’ pitching depth becomes that much deeper.  He very well could become extremely valuable trade bait to acquire a true impact hitter next season.

Brandon Nimmo, OF

Brandon_Nimmo_SnBrandon Nimmo is easily my favorite Mets hitting prospect when it comes to his ceiling because he shows true five tool potential.  He is described as having solid average speed with a solid average arm so he may not be able to stick in center field long term.  With that being said, Nimmo’s value in a corner outfield spot will largely depend on the kind of power he produces.  I may be the only person to say this but I think he is capable of hitting 25-30 home runs at his peak.  He’s got the body type for it and he’s already showed great plate discipline which is impressive for someone with a limited amount of experience.  His main problem is pitch recognition which is shown through his 131 strikeouts in 395 AB’s (33%).  He absolutely needs to improve significantly in this area to tap into that raw power.  Even with the abundance of strikeouts, Nimmo still batted .273 (although with only a .359 slugging %).  This leads me to believe if Nimmo can see the baseball better out of the pitcher’s hand he could sustain at least a .280 average with plenty of home runs and doubles (maybe even a decent amount of stolen bases sprinkled in), while providing above average defense in left field.  He still has a very long path to accomplish this but with hard work it is possible.  His power numbers last year should not be a cause for concern just yet as Savannah is brutal on lefty power hitters.  I would be fairly concerned if he struggles with pitch recognition mightily again this year but hopefully some improvement is on the horizon.

Brandon Nimmo 2013 Top Prospect Video (

Cesar Puello, OF

cesar_puello_480x270_w6a5hjni_exa1mnnrCesar Puello is another prospect who shows flashes of five tool potential.  However, his gaudy numbers in AA last season were taken with a grain of salt by most scouts due to his link to Biogenesis.  Keith Law, for example, only sees Puello as an extra outfielder.  Regardless of what scouts think, Puello has amazing potential from a raw tools perspective. He’s an above average fielder and runner with a cannon of an arm so it sounds like he’s best suited for right field.  He has good bat speed and considerable raw power but his approach needs some work as he tends to be overly aggressive.  This is probably why Law was so low on him.  If pitchers can exploit his aggressive approach and get him to swing at pitches out of the strike zone, he will not be a very effective hitter.  If he can improve in this area it’s reasonable to expect 20-25 homers and 20-25 steals from him with a solid average.  In my opinion, he needs at least one more full season in the minors to work on his overall approach.  There’s speculation that he could be brought up sometime in 2014 but I think that would be somewhat premature.  He needs to show that his numbers last season were not a fluke by repeating a similar performance this season in AAA.  If he can do that while also showing an ability to work counts and get pitches to hit, I’ll be okay with a September call-up.

Cesar Puello 2013 Top Prospect Video (

Even if only a handful of these prospects end up reaching their potential, that is still a good amount of core players to build a team around.  I think the Mets are headed in the right direction and Sandy should keep working his magic. Hopefully, they can continue to sustain a respectable farm system and start succeeding on the field.  The St. Louis Cardinals are probably the best example of this.  They continually have contributing prospects coming up the pipeline while signing players in free agency to address the rest of their weaknesses.

One day I hope the Mets outfield has Brandon Nimmo in left, Cesar Puello in right, with Juan Lagares sandwiched in center.  I’m drooling just thinking about these three all reaching their potentials.  Which prospects are you looking forward to having an impact sometime soon?


Presented By Diehards

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First Rounder Dominic Smith More Advanced Than Expected Tue, 17 Dec 2013 20:50:01 +0000 dominic smith

The analysts over at Fangraphs compiled their 2014 Top 10 Prospects in the Mets farm system. They took a good look at each player listed and included an in-depth individual assessment of their choices.

They ranked the prospects in order:

#10 — Wilmer Flores (3B)

#9 — Gavin Cecchini (SS)

#8 — Steven Matz (P)

#7 — Jacob deGrom (P)

#6 — Kevin Plawecki (C)

#5 — Rafael Montero (P)

#4 — Amed Rosario (SS)

#3 — Dominic Smith (1B)

#2 — Travis d’Arnaud (C)

#1 — Noah Syndergaard (SP)

It was interesting to see Dominic Smith placed so far up in the order after only his first season as a professional. The young first baseman is only 18-years-old, and Fangraphs was extremely impressed with the mentality and abilities he displayed this season. Smith spent most of his time this season with the GCL Mets hitting .287/.384/.407, before being moved to Kingsport for three games. However, Fangraphs believes this is only the beginning of his rapid ascent.

The Scouting Report: Smith was even more advanced at the plate than expected. He should hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a healthy clip. His power is generated by quick bat speed and he doesn’t have to pull the ball to hit it out of the park. Like many young hitters, he has work to do against same-handed pitchers. At first base, he could develop into on of the best fielder in the game at his position thanks to his athleticism around the bag and soft hands.

The Year Ahead: Smith is advanced and mature enough to handle a jump to full-season ball in his first full pro season. He could move fairly quickly for such a young player and could reach the Majors in late 2016.

The Career Outlook: Smith has a chance to be an impact player both as a middle-of-the-order hitter and as a defensive whiz at first base.

Fangraphs also included a short briefing on the five players who just missed the list. These names included Dilson HerreraMichael FulmerDomingo TapiaBrandon Nimmo and Vic Black.

Over at MetsMinors, we have compiled our own prospect ranking. You can find our list of the top 25 prospects here.

(Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Is Kevin Plawecki A Top Five Prospect For The New York Mets? Sun, 03 Nov 2013 12:07:54 +0000 Baseball America (B.A.) released their latest issue which not only featured Noah Syndergaard on the cover, but also listed their new top ten prospect rankings for all the teams in the NL East. The Mets had a bunch of names we have all seen on these top prospect lists before–Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud , Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini.

The one choice that took many off guard may have been Kevin Plawecki being listed as the No. 5 prospect in the Mets’ organization. Plawecki has made one of the bigger jumps I have seen a prospect make in a while. Some experts didn’t even have him in the top 20 before the 2013 season; the rest had him somewhere between 15 and 20.

B.A. now ranks Kevin Plawecki higher than Wilmer Flores, who was once considered the best hitter in the Mets’ minor league system.

So where does Plawecki fit? I guess it depends on who you ask.

There is no doubt that Plawecki is a top ten prospect, aside from that, it doesn’t really matter where these guys rank. If you’re in the top 10 it means you should be on your way to Citi Field, if you are top five, it means you should have a starting job someday.

In B.A.’s best tools section, they had Plawecki ranked as their best hitter for average. And while Brandon Nimmo was awarded with best strike-zone discipline, Plawecki definitely exercises the best strike-zone judgment.

Kevin Plawecki struck out a mere 77 times in his professional career while Nimmo struck out 131 times alone in in 2013. While Nimmo had 71 walks (ridiculous), Plawecki had about 30 more hits than Nimmo. Plate discipline is about patience, but it also comes with a higher propensity of striking out, as Nimmo displayed. Plawecki also only struck out 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. That’s serious strike-zone judgment.

Plawecki surprising some people as the No. 5 prospect is more a result of the fact that he received little love for his efforts last year from Baseball America. It was like people would swipe his accomplishments under the rug because he was considered “old” for A-Ball. I don’t think he was named to the B.A. Prospect Hot Sheet at all in 2013, and their excuse during the Q&A session always referred to his age.

The Mets, on the other hand, realize what an outstanding ball player they have on their hand, as Plawecki was named Co-Player of the Year in the Mets organization.

The 2014 season is moving fast upon us. Pitchers & catchers will be reporting before we know it, and most have Plawecki penciled in with Binghamton. Plawecki will probably be a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, and this is the season where Plawecki can afford to skip a level. He’s proven enough with his bat and his advanced strike-zone judgement to warrant the jump to Triple-A. Last season, I lobbied for a promotion to Binghamton after he lit up Savannah–A-Ball simply was not a challenge for him. The hitter’s environment in the PCL would be one that Plawecki could easily adjust to.

The Future Catcher of The New York Mets

If Travis d’Arnaud does turn out to be the catcher of the future for the Mets, there is always the opportunity that the Mets transition Plawecki to first base, or try to move him in a trade. Plawecki is just too good of a hitter to be a backup catcher. For the Mets, having two catchers listed in the top five prospects is not exactly something to be worried about–it’s pretty rare.


Plawecki is currently two years younger than d’Arnaud and their numbers play out similarly in the lower levels of minor league ball–it wasn’t until the jump to Double-A where d’Arnaud started to show the power. In fact, Plawecki hit for higher average, had fewer strikeouts, and just as good of power numbers through A-ball as d’Arnaud had.

I wonder if Travis d’Arnaud is starting to hear footsteps…the footsteps of a Boilermaker.

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Baseball America: Syndergaard Named Top Mets Prospect, Puello and Matz Snubbed Fri, 01 Nov 2013 17:58:49 +0000 Right-hander Noah Syndergaard has been named the Mets’ top prospect by Baseball America in their 2014 Top 10.

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
2. Travis d’Arnaud, C
3. Rafael Montero, RHP
4. Dominic Smith, 1B
5. Kevin Plawecki, C
6. Wilmer Flores, IF
7. Amed Rosario, SS
8. Brandon Nimmo, CF
9. Gavin Cecchini, SS
10. Jacob deGrom, RHP

Syndergaard, they write, ranked as the top pitching prospect in both the high Class A Florida State and Double-A Eastern leagues, and he appears poised to follow Wheeler’s path to the big leagues in 2014.

The Mets believe they have as much pitching depth as anybody. For proof, they can point to the fact that their pitchers at the full-season levels finished with a collective 2.79 K-BB ratio, better than any of the other 29 organizations. They handed out the second-fewest unintentional walks (7.6 percent of batters) and struck out the third-most (21.3 percent).

As for their Best Tools, my personal favorite feature, here is what they have:

Best Hitter for Average: Kevin Plawecki
Best Power Hitter: Dustin Lawley
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Brandon Nimmo
Fastest Baserunner: Champ Stuart
Best Athlete: Amed Rosario
Best Fastball: Noah Syndergaard
Best Curveball: Robert Whalen
Best Slider: Logan Verrett
Best Changeup: Gonzalez Germen
Best Control: Rafael Montero
Best Defensive Catcher: Juan Centeno
Best Defensive Infielder: Wilfredo Tovar
Best Infield Arm: Aderlin Rodriguez
Best Defensive Outfielder: Matt den Dekker
Best Outfield Arm: Cesar Puello

(Photo credit: Gordon Donovan)

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Where Is The Love For New York Mets Prospect T.J. Rivera? Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:15:49 +0000 t.j. rivera

T.J. Rivera just finished his third season in professional baseball for the New York Mets. Over those three years, Rivera has compiled a .304/.359/.396 offensive stat line. He has also hit 12 homeruns and has 136 RBI—not too shabby for a top-of-the-order guy who plays the middle infield.

Most people will look at this year’s numbers at St. Lucie as a regression, but it’s not the case. Rivera was called upon to hit leadoff in 2013, and it came with a fundamental offensive philosophy change. He found himself taking the first-pitch fastballs that he would normally jump all over. He found himself trying to take more pitches in order for the other hitters in the lineup to see what the pitcher had.

In his first full season of high A-ball, he was named a Florida State League mid-season All-Star.  For his efforts, you won’t find him on any top prospect lists, and most Mets fans probably never heard of him. As if oblivious to those things, he just shows up to the ballpark and plays hard every day. This is what Jack Leathersich, who played with Rivera in Savannah in 2012, had to say about him in a recent exchange with MMO’s very own Joe D:

Joe D. – You spent some time in Savannah to start last season before finishing up in St. Lucie. Tell our readers what teammate you were you most impressed with last season and why? Who really stood out to you last year and who should Met fans be really excited about?

Jack – Oh yeah, definitely T.J. Rivera – he’s the one. He’s the real deal. I’ve never been around a kid who prepares as well as he does. He just really loves the game and it seems like every time I see him he’s out on the field working on something. Rivera plays hard and is completely balls to the wall—he’ll do anything to make sure we win. He’s a great teammate and obviously a great player and everybody should be real excited about him. If he continues the great things he did last season, and I’m pretty sure that he will, he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

More rave reviews regarding Rivera’s work ethic and style of play could be found in the 2011 Troy University Media Guide:

T.J. is a fantastic player and a guy we really like in our program. He is a guy who is committed to doing his work on a daily basis. You don’t see T.J. going through a lot of highs and lows because he is very consistent with his approach…He stays focused on getting better every day.

You won’t find Rivera on any top prospect lists because he’s not a five tool player, and he wasn’t drafted. He was signed as a free-agent out of college after spending his high school days playing at Lehman High School in the Bronx. The top prospect lists are generally reserved for the five tool players and guys drafted in the top 10 or so rounds.

However, there are things that are generally over looked when trying to determine where prospects land on these top prospect lists.

One thing is work ethic—Rivera is a hard working, blue-collar type of player. This may be a result of not being drafted and feeling that he has to outwork everyone else, and he’s probably right.

Another thing is baseball IQ—listening to Rivera speak in the video at the end of this post, and you can see that he gets it.

Finally, the eye test—can the kid play ball? There are guys who have tools that are off the charts, but they can’t put it together on the field. On the other hand, you have guys whose tools don’t jump off the page, but they squeeze every ounce of goodness out of those tools—this is the category that Rivera falls under.

Rivera is a maximizer. I think I just made up a word, but it’s true. Give me a player who can play baseball, and squeezes everything out of their talent any day of the week. Rivera would be welcome on my team with open arms.

Rivera, in my eyes, is a top 20 prospect for the New York Mets. If not for draft status, I argue he may even be top 15.

Rivera’s game is very similar to another baseball prospect that I have followed since his high school days in Joe Panik. Panik went to John Jay High School in upstate New York, and then played his college days at St. John’s University. He was touted as one of the top college shortstop prospects in the country just before the 2011 MLB Draft. The San Francisco Giants selected him in the first round that year, and many experts had him being taken much later.

Panik has a smooth left-handed swing that produces a little more pop than Rivera, and is a little more of a polished hitter, but that’s where the differences stop between the two. Panik went on to win MVP honors in the Northwest League (short season) after being drafted, but aside from that, his numbers are very similar to Rivera’s over three seasons. Panik spent 2013 in the Eastern League, where he was touted for his defense at second base, but after a dismal offensive year, many are questioning whether he is the second baseman of the future for San Francisco.

Panik is considered a top five prospect for the Giants, yet Rivera continually gets over looked on Mets lists. Even if you take out Panik’s poor offensive performance at double-A this past season, the numbers are pretty close—so why does a player like Panik get touted as a top prospect while Rivera goes virtually ignored?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe Rivera enjoys being over looked and it keeps him hungry. Maybe it drives him to outwork the other prospects. Maybe it’s what eventually gets him to where he dreamed of going as a kid—the major leagues.

There is a bit of a log-jam at second base with Daniel Murphy supplanted at the major league level, Wilmer Flores behind him, and a crop of potential studs in Dilson Herrera and L.J. Mazzilli in the lower levels. But there seems to be a gaping hole at shortstop in the organization, so why not give Rivera a shot there? Can it hurt at this point?

He’s played 93 games there in three professional seasons, so it’s not like it would be learning a new position. Waiting for Gavin Cecchini to develop and be the savior is cool and all, but why put all the eggs in one basket when the basket is still at A-ball? Switch Rivera to shortstop now and let the kid continue to impress us.

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State Of The Mets Shortstop Position Still Far From Certain Mon, 28 Oct 2013 14:57:33 +0000 cecchini

Jonathan Mayo took an interesting question in a mailbag feature a week ago in which he discussed two of the Mets’ most prominent shortstop prospects.

The Mets have two shortstop prospects in short-season, Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini, who could be ready for Class A Savannah. Who do you see as the better prospect and how do you think the Mets will handle the two of them going forward?

Based on our rankings, the quick answer is Cecchini. The 2012 first-round pick is currently No. 8 on the Mets’ Top 20. Rosario began the year 20th on the list but dropped off through no fault of his own, but because the Mets added talent via the Draft and trade market.

It’s possible Rosario will end up as the better player or at least with more upside than Cecchini. The Dominican Republic native won’t turn 18 until next month but played well in his U.S. debut in the rookie-level Appalachian League. Cecchini, for his part, is a grizzled veteran at age 19, one who just finished his second summer of pro ball in the short-season New York-Penn League.

The conundrum Mike raises isn’t one that’s likely to surface anytime soon. After a solid turn with Brooklyn, Cecchini should move up to full-season Savannah in 2014. But there’s no rush for Rosario. He can spend a summer playing in Brooklyn, and it shouldn’t be surprising if the pair continue that way, with Cecchini a step ahead on the Mets’ ladder.

The Mets have expended a lot of resources in trying to find a replacement for Jose Reyes who signed with the Marlins after the 2011 season without an official offer from the Mets.

Sandy Alderson’s initial plan was to replace Reyes with then second baseman Ruben Tejada, but the move backfired defensively and eventually it caught up with him offensively as well. Tejada, 23, batted .202 with a .519 OPS in 57 games in 2013, and has lost favor both with Alderson and manager Terry Collins.

The Mets eventually gave the starting shortstop job to career journeyman Omar Quintanilla last season. The 32-year old batted .222 with a .559 OPS in 95 games with the Mets.

The Mets drafted two shortstops in 2011, Phillip Evans and Daniel Muno. A year later they selected Gavin Cecchini with the 12th overall pick in the draft. Two months later they would give Dominican shortstop Amed Rosario a record signing bonus for an International Free Agent.

Both Evans and Muno have struggled offensively, with Muno also serving out a 50 game suspension for PEDs. Cecchini played for the Cyclones last season and batted .273 with zero home runs and 14 RBI in 198 at-bats. Rosario batted .241 for Kingsport in 2013.

Alderson has repeatedly stated that he intends to address the shortstop position this offseason either by free agency or trade.

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