MMO 2012 Mets Top Prospects #’s 21-30

In putting together the MMO Mets Top 20 Prospect List for 2012, one thing became very clear, very fast. There were going to be some deserving players left off the list because of a numbers crunch. So now that the Top 20 are in the rear-view mirror, let’s explore the next 30 or so prospects. This week, I am listing the first group of ten, #’s 21-30. This group is pitching heavy, and has a little of everything, from a player who has yet to throw his first professional pitch, to a pitcher who made his major league debut last season. From kids signed out of high school or as 17-year-old IFA’s, to advanced pitchers who have already been toiling for years in the minors, this list has some quality arms combined with players with some upside, so let’s take a closer peek:

21.   Domingo Tapia (RHP) This 20-year-old, 6’4″ righty from the Dominican Republic opened a lot of eyes this past season, throwing his fastball all year in the mid to upper 90’s, at times touching 100 mph. He also has a change-up with some potential, but his breaking ball is still in need of a lot of work. The role of future closer may be what’s in the cards for Dom, but a lot will become clear as he progresses through the 2012 season. I have him competing with about seven other pitchers for the rotation in Savannah to open the year. If he gets squeezed out because of the log-jam there, he will open up in Brooklyn.

22.   Brant Rustich (RHP) Mets fans have been waiting a long time for Rustich to have a healthy arm, and that time has hopefully arrived. In a recent interview I conducted with Brant for MMO, the 6’6″ right-hander disclosed the nature of his physical problems, the corrective surgery he underwent in 2010 for TOS, and the long rehab to get back to where he once was. Brant, now 26, says he is feeling good and ready to go for 2012, with no limitations. When healthy he throws his sinking fastball in the mid 90’s, his sharp breaking and nasty slider is in the 85-89 mph range, and he has a decent change-up with sink that sits around mid 80’s. If healthy, Rustich’s stay in the minors could be a brief one this year. As soon as he knocks off the rust he should find himself in the bullpen at Citi faster than you can say “what arm problems?”

23.   Brad Marquez (CF) The Mets drafted Brad Marquez out of Texas Tech in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Player Draft. He signed just before the August 15th deadline with the understanding that he would continue to play Texas Tech football, as a wide receiver, from the beginning of August until the school year ended, and devote the remaining time to playing baseball for the Mets. The Mets agreed to this arrangement for one reason, and one reason only. Marquez is an unreal talent. You want an athlete? You got one. One of the best athletes in last years draft. You want a guy who can run like the wind with long athletic strides who can track down drives in the deepest part of the outfield, and when he gets there snatches the ball out of the air with the aggressiveness of a….well, a football player? You got it. At 5’11” and around 173 lbs. he’s not exactly a bruiser on the gridiron, so hopefully the biggest thing he will learn at Texas Tech, is his career will last much longer as a speedy outfielder than it will as a small, fast, wideout in the NFL. The Mets will have him next year from the beginning of the rookie league season, until football camp opens at the beginning of August. I’d like to say he will start at GCL St. Lucie, but there is no more GCL St. Lucie, so look for him to begin his professional baseball career as the starting centerfielder at Kingsport in the Appalachian League. Here’s an exclusive MMO interview Joe D did with Marquez just after he signed with the Mets back in August.

24.   Gilbert Gomez (RF) The Mets signed Gomez as an IFA in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic. At 6’3″ the 19-year-old righty-hitting, right-fielder is a very talented and athletic outfielder. He played at the rookie level in 2009 and 2010, and put up fairly modest numbers, but word started to circulate anyway, about this fast, strong, lanky kid playing in the GCL for the Mets. The 2011 season started slowly for Gomez under the hot sun of the Gulf Coast League. Then on August 12th, the Mets were forced to place RF Cesar Puello, who was playing at St. Lucie in the Advanced-A Florida State League, on the disabled list. They needed a fill-in outfielder fast, so they called Gomez over from the rookie league field. He not only “filled in” he became an integral part of the Division Champions for the stretch run and the playoffs, manning RF and batting in the two-hole, where he hit .307 in 75 AB’s with 4 HR’s and 4 SB’s. He played so well for stretches, including hitting two homers in the Aug. 28th game, that the “buzz” about him returned. Gomez played at such a high level at high-A that I would start him there again. At his young age, the Mets can afford to be patient with him, and if they are they will surely reap the rewards one day.

25.   Logan Verrett (RHP) The Mets got great value when Verrett fell to them in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. An advanced college pitcher, the 6’3″ righty can dial it up to 89-92, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s. There is some belief that with a few tweaks to his delivery he could be in the upper range more consistently. He also throws a projectable slider, and a mid 70’s change-up with sink. With an incredible log-jam of starting pitching at Savannah, and despite never throwing a professional pitch, this former Baylor Bear could force his way into the starting rotation at St. Lucie in 2012.

26.   Tyler Pill (RHP) Like with Verrett, the Mets got great value when they drafted Pill with their 4th round pick in last year’s draft. The 6’1″ right-hander from Cal State Fullerton is another advanced college arm, and a very good athlete. In a recent interview he did with me for MMO, Tyler describes his fastball as 89-93 mph, he also has a good curveball and a very solid change-up. According to Tyler he also throws a cutter which he says is solid but can still use some work. I look for Pill to team with Verrett as two-fifths of the St. Lucie rotation next year.

27.   J.C. Gamboa (SS) If you are thinking J.C. who? Just wait ’til next year. This guy is about to explode onto the scene, and at this time next year he should be a household name to hardcore Mets fans everywhere. The 20-year-old IFA out of Mexico in 2010, stands just 5’7″ and weighs in at 157 lbs., but in this case good things come in a small package. First off he is very promising as a shortstop, and actually looks like he can stay at the position as he moves up. This will only be backed up by the fact that he has a rifle for an arm. Here’s some video of his fielding: video 1, video 2, and video 3. As a hitter, the lefty swinging Gamboa is very selective at the plate and is also a good contact hitter, but best of all, he has shown surprising pop for someone his size. For some head bangin’ excitement, check out Gamboa slamboa. It will be interesting to see how the Mets have Gamboa co-exist with MMO 2012 Mets #14 Prospect Phillip Evans next year. Both will stay at short, so my guess would be that Evans opens at long-season Savannah, with Gamboa starting off in Brooklyn. But it could also go the other way around, or neither, it’s very hard to tell how things will shake out this spring, only time will tell.

28.   Robert Carson (LHP) The big left-hander has been in the Mets minor league system for five years now, ever since they took him out of high school in the 14th round of the 2007 draft. It’s been a tough go for Carson whose ERA has been over 5.00 for each of the last two years. Still only 22, the 6’3″ 220 lb. southpaw throws very hard, and he may have turned a corner lately with a solid stint as a reliever in the Arizona fall league. His fastball is 91-94 mph with glove-side action boring in on right-handers, and has the potential to be a very good pitch. The problem with Carson is the same as with most lefties who are still very young and have grown very fast. Despite being a fine athlete, Carson has struggled with repeating his delivery, release point, and extension on his secondary pitches. When he is hitting a consistent arm-slot and release point, his low 80’s slider has very good movement and tilt, and compliments his fastball. He has a curveball he seldom uses but when he gets good extension it has the makings of a good pitch coming in at around 76-79 mph. He also has a change-up that sits at 81-83 mph which the Mets are trying to get him to throw more, but he lacks confidence in the pitch. After the regular season ended Carson, who had started at AA Bingo all year, was sent to the AFL to pitch in relief. The dude was throwing gas. He was throwing the ball so well that a lot of teams noticed, and it was widely believed had he been left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, he would have been the first player taken. So the Mets added him to the 40-man roster only to lose RHP Rhiner Cruz, instead. Being on the 40-man now, Carson will get a good look in ST as a bullpen option to pair with Tim Byrdak, but will probably wind up at AAA Buffalo. As a 23-year-old next season the Mets can afford to be patient with a lefty that throws mid 90’s. Robert Carson video

29.   Chris Schwinden (RHP) The 24-year-old Schwinnie is no stranger to Mets fans, not since he was added to the 40-man roster and brought up to the big league club in early September. While with the Mets last year, the 6’3″ right-hander started 4 games, and although he is still looking for his first big league win, he pitched very well, and firmly placed himself in the competition for the SP5 role or even a bullpen spot with the major league club next year. Schwinden throws his fastball 90-92 with downward tailing action in on right-handers. He also throws a sinker, an average cutter, a curveball in the high 70’s with good tilt, and a change-up in the low 80’s. Schwinden is a very intelligent pitcher in the mold of Dillon Gee. In an interview I did with Schwinnie in October for MMO, he spoke about what he has had to do to succeed at the highest levels of the minor leagues, and what he needs to do to be successful at the major league level. I look for him to contribute next year much in the same way Gee did in 2011.

30.   Jack Leathersich (LHP) The Rocket put up some scintillating numbers in his brief debut at Brooklyn after the Mets took him in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. After throwing 57 innings during the 2011 college season for UMass/Lowell, the Mets used him out of the pen to limit his innings before they had a chance to assign him a workout plan to build strength and stamina. In 12.2 innings in the New York Penn League, the Rocket, throwing mid 90’s gas, struck out 26, while walking only 3, giving up 6 hits, and 1 ER. The plan next year and going forward will be for him to start, and he should be in the mix for the rotation at high-A St. Lucie. If at some point he falters as a starter, the Mets would not hesitate to put him back in the pen, where his fastball picks up a few mph.

These players are very good prospects, the biggest knock on most of them is lack of minor league experience, which leaves all of them primed for big seasons this year. Check back next week for prospects #31 thru 40! Happy New year!

2012 MMO Mets Top 30 Prospects

1.   Zack Wheeler              RHP

2.   Jeurys Familia            RHP

3.   Matt Harvey                 RHP

4.   Jenrry Mejia                RHP

5.   Brandon Nimmo          OF

6.   Kirk Nieuwenhuis        OF

7.   Juan Lagares              OF

8.   Wilmer Flores             INF

9.   Cesar Puello               RF

10.  Reese Havens             2B

11.  Cory Mazzoni             RHP

12.  Jordany Valdespin      INF

13.  Darin Gorski               LHP

14.  Phillip Evans              SS

15.  Jefry Marte                  3B

16.  Collin McHugh           RHP

17.  Juan Urbina               LHP

18.  Akeel Morris              RHP

19.  Michael Fulmer          RHP

20.  Danny Muno               INF

21.  Domingo Tapia          RHP

22.  Brant Rustich             RHP

23.  Brad Marquez              CF

24.  Gilbert Gomez             RF

25.  Logan Verrett              RHP

26.  Tyler Pill                     RHP

27.  Juan Carlos Gamboa    SS

28.  Robert Carson             LHP

29.  Chris Schwinden         RHP

30.  Jack Leathersich          LHP