John Sickels: New York Mets Top 20 Prospects for 2012

From the great John Sickels of Minor League Ball, here are your 2012 Top 20 Mets Prospects:

1) Matt Harvey, RHP, Grade B+: He can be a number two starter and someone to build around. Some evaluators see him more as a closer if his changeup remains erratic, but I’m cutting him some slack on that issue and am optimistic.

2) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Grade B+: This is actually more like Harvey -A and Wheeler 1-B. They are very close but Harvey is closer to being ready. Like Harvey, I see Wheeler as a future number two starter and staff anchor. He made big strides with his control last year. Like Harvey his changeup needs more work, but I’m optimistic about him given the improvements he’s already made.

3) Jeurys Familia, RHP, Grade B: Control still needs work, but took a major step forward towards harnessing his stuff. Could be a number three starter, perhaps more with additional changeup refinement. Could also end up as a fine closer.

4) Brandon Nimmo, OF, Grade B: Borderline B-. One of my favorite players from the 2011 draft. Strong tools, skills are more refined than you think given his Wyoming background. There’s some risk here but lots of upside too.

5) Cesar Puello, OF, Grade B-: Tough to grade and I’m not really comfortable with this guy. Tools are very impressive and he started tapping into his power. However his strike zone judgment slipped badly, with a dramatic reduction in his walk rate and increase in strikeouts. Power improvement was cancelled out by loss of OBP, and Double-A pitchers will easily exploit his over-aggressiveness. However, many scouts really like him and think he’s going to break through, plus he was just 20 last year. Upside is very high but risk of failure is quite high as well.

6) Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Grade B-: Positives here are solid tools, high walk rate, moderate power (secondary average skills). Weaknesses include high strikeout rate and inability to hit left-handed pitching. I’ve seen him compared to Brett Jackson but Jackson is a better athlete and younger. Kirk looks like a very solid platoon player/fourth outfielder to me. Doesn’t have Puello’s ceiling but a much higher floor. I’ve gone back and forth about 10 times between Kirk and Cesar in the 5/6 spots.

7) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Grade B-: Waiting on Tommy John recovery at this point. I’ve liked him for awhile but he was handled badly by previous administration and it is still unclear if he’s a starter or reliever going forward.

8) Reese Havens, 2B, Grade B-: Borderline C+. I like his power/patience combination and ability to handle second base, but his health care expenses have helped bankrupt the organization. If he manages to avoid injuries he can be a .260 hitter with 15 homers and a fine OBP.

9) Wilmer Flores, 3B-SS, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Still very young at age 20. Switch over to third base increases pressure on his bat. Will he develop sufficient power for that position? He keeps his strikeout rate low but power hasn’t blossomed as Mets hoped, granted he was promoted aggressively. Stock is starting to sag but it isn’t too late yet.

10) Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-: North Carolina State product has sound combination of solid stuff and command. I don’t think he got as much attention as he deserved in pitching-rich 2011 draft class and I expect good things from him.

Click to view Mets Prospects ranked #11 – 21.

Here is last years years 2011 Top 20 Mets Prospects for comparison.