2012 Mets Top Prospects: # 31 – # 40

As we continue our analysis of the Mets minor league system through player rankings, I offer you the NY Mets Top Prospects, numbers 31 to 40. Although a few players here have slipped as far as their perceived rankings of the last few years, most listed here are new to Mets prospect rankings. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got:

31. Brad Holt (RHP) Holt was at one time ranked up near the top of this list, but after failing miserably as a starter upon arriving at AA, he regressed for several seasons before seemingly straightening things out towards the end of last year. He has therefore fallen pretty far in the rankings as he tries to re-invent himself as a relief pitcher. I wrote a pretty involved spiel on Holt back in September, in the “Buffalo 2012 Preview” piece, entitled ‘Help On The Way’. Here’s some of what I said:

“Holt’s 2011 season wasn’t eye-popping, but he is definitely making progress. His overall numbers this year are average, 8-8 with a 4.71 ERA, but most of the runs he gave up were in the first half when he was being utilized as a starter. Since being converted to a relief pitcher full-time, he has been quietly doing a superb job, going 6-2 with a 4.09 ERA, in one and two inning stints. In his last eleven games out of the pen Holt is: 4-1 with a 4.02 ERA, and opponents are hitting .203 off him.

The biggest improvement Holt has made is in his increased command, which has resulted in fewer walks, and that was crucial for him. As a starter last year, his K/BB ratio was 39/42, that’s right, more walks than strikeouts. As a reliever, his K/BB was 35/15. If he can keep moving forward, and make the necessary adjustments to the higher caliber of play at AAA, he could emerge as a “relief ace” for Buffalo, a real lock down 8th inning guy, which is exactly what the Mets see him as in the bigs. Will he be a help to the Mets at sometime in 2012 as a bullpen option? Why the heck not? He’s got the talent, hopefully his mechanics will fall into line.”

32. Cory Vaughn (OF) The 23 year-old Vaughn, who was taken in the 4th round of the 2010 draft out of San Diego State, had his short minor league career hit a wall right in the middle of the 2011 season. I don’t know what could make the Mets do something so stupid as to take a guy who was having a very good year at Savannah, and yank him out of the league rather abruptly at mid-season, to promote him to the Florida State League. Why? Who knows? But it definitely did not have the desired effect as Vaughn’s season fell completely apart. In the first half at Savannah, Vaughn hit .286 in 245 AB’s, while in 210 AB’s at St. Lucie he hit .219. You can say it’s the minors and it doesn’t matter but it couldn’t have done any good for the man’s confidence. And was the second half slump due to injury, or fatigue? Or is it a matter of Vaughn being unable to hit advanced breaking pitches? Now Vaughn finds himself between a rock and a hard place because he is mired in high A ball after having played a brutally bad half-season there. What’s more, there are some very talented outfielders coming up through the system behind him, and the prospects of the big jump to AA, loom ahead. The next year will go a long way to seeing whether Vaughn moves up this list, or drops off it altogether.

33. Greg Peavey (RHP) It was a very successful season for the 23 year-old right-hander despite the fact that his performance was over-shadowed by other highly regarded pitchers in the system. With the sizzling professional debut of Matt Harvey, the continued development of Jeurys Familia, the meteoric rise of Darin Gorski, and the outstanding acquisition of Zack Wheeler, it was easy to forget what a terrific season Peavey had on the farm. Drafted by the Mets in the 6th round out of Oregon State in the 2010 draft, Peavey signed too late to pitch that season. He made his professional debut in 2011 pitching out of the Savannah rotation. There he went 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA over 78 innings, and 14 game starts. He surrendered 75 hits while striking out 69, and walking 11, and his WHIP was 1.10. After making the SAL Mid-Season All-Star Team, he got a call-up to Advanced-A St. Lucie, and continued to pitch well, finishing the year with a combined record of 11-6 with a 3.48 ERA over 24 game starts, and 137 innings. His fastball sits in the low 90’s, and he also throws a slider, change-up and curveball. Although quite advanced, Peavey will, probably need two more seasons, but by then, should definitely be in the discussion about joining the big league team.

34. Albert Cordero (C) The 21 year old right-handed hitter from Venezuela, was signed by the Mets as an IFA in 2008. At 5’11″ and 175 lbs., he was recognized as a good defensive catcher with advanced receiving skills, quick footwork, and an impressive throwing arm. Cordero made his stateside debut with Kingsport in 2010. It was there that he first began opening eyes by hitting .277 with 8 HR’s, 32 RBI’s, and a .466 SLG, in just over 200 AB’s, while at the same time throwing out 43% of would be base stealers (23 of 53). When 2011 started Cordero got off to a very slow start as the regular catcher at Savannah. At the end of May he was hitting only .208 with 1 HR, and his K/BB was 27/1. It was around that time that Cordero decided he had to shorten his swing and stay more in control, and to be more selective at the plate. In June, the first month where he employed his new approach, his OPS was .688. He then gained some solid momentum in July getting hotter as the month wore on and finished with an OPS of .777. By August he was literally on fire, with an OPS for this month of 1.343! In 103 August AB’s, Cordero had: 11 runs, 37 Hits, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR’s, 15 RBI’s, for a .359 average for the month. Keep in mind that he is still very far away from Flushing, the South Atlantic League being a far cry from the majors. But with the development and skills he has shown so far, he has already moved all the way to the head of the Mets minor league catching class.

35. Darrell Ceciliani (CF) This speedy 21 year-old, lefty swinging center-fielder, who the Mets made their 4th round draft pick out of Columbia Basin Community College (Wash) in 2009, is still very raw, and if he does reach the majors, it won’t be before 2014. This past year he was the Savannah Sand Gnats everyday center-fielder. In three full seasons, (two short season, and this one) he has amassed 800 lifetime minor league AB’s, with a lifetime .283 BA. He has a .358 OBP, and a .403 SLG%, but his problem so far has also been too many K’s. His K/BB ratio reads: 173/78, and for a lead-off hitter those numbers need to improve. If he can become a better contact hitter, he has the speed and ability to stay in centerfield.

36. Rafael Montero (RHP) The 2011 Sterling Award winner at GCL St. Lucie, Montero is one of those players you will start to hear more and more about next year. At 6’0″and 170 lbs, this right-hander from the Dominican Republic, possesses a power arm, and three decent offerings. He has good command of his fastball which sits in the 90-93 mph range, topping out at 95, with late life. He throws a below-average change-up and breaking ball, but can throw them for strikes. He is a work in progress but very advanced for a 20-year-old. On the surface his work from 2011 is difficult to analyze by the numbers since he played at four different stops in the Mets system. He logged 18 innings at DSL Mets1, 31 innings at the now defunct GCL Mets, 17 innings at Rookie level Kingsport, and 5 innings at Brooklyn. His combined totals were 12 starts (71 IP), for a record of 5-4 with an ERA of 2.15. He surrendered 55 hits while striking out 66 and walking 13, and putting up a commanding WHIP of 0.96. But the most telling stats, highly significant for a young power pitcher are: 8.37 K/9, 1.65 BB/9, and 7.0 H/9. Montero will be one of eight or nine very talented young arms that will be battling it out in ST for one of the five rotation spots at Savannah. If he gets beat out for a spot, he should wind up in the pen until the NYPL season starts in June. Then he would likely become a starter at Brooklyn.

37. Josh Stinson (RHP) The 2010 season really put Stinson on the map with a big year at Bingo, he finished the year at Buffalo, going 11-5 combined with a 3.90 ERA. The 2011 season started terribly for the 6’4″ right-hander. In 13 starts for Buffalo he was 3-7 with a 7.44 ERA. He was sent to Bingo to figure things out, was moved to the pen, and in his last 10 games there he went 2-1 with a 1.38 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 14/3, with opponents hitting .159 off him. That is how he earned himself a call-up to the Mets, making his MLB debut, going 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA, in 13 innings. He pitched effectively in ten out of 14 games though, giving up all his earned runs in just four of his appearances. Stinson is definitely in the bullpen mix in ST 2012, and will be on the Mets at some time next year.

38. Zach Lutz (3B) What can you say about a guy who hits the way Lutz does? He can fall out of bed, and line a rope up the middle. He can hit a home run in his sleep. He can…oh you get the idea, the guy rakes. The biggest problem regarding Lutz is he can’t stay healthy, and misses huge chunks of time every year. Last year was the perfect example as he was only able to stay on the field for 220 AAA AB’s. He managed to hit .295, however, with 11 HR’s and 31 RBI’s, with an OBP of .380, and a SLG% of .500. Early in his professional career, his physical ailments came in the form of foot and ankle problems. Broken feet, badly broken ankles, surgeries, you name it. It wasn’t pretty. Last year, it was injuries involving his head. A horrendous line-drive beaning while in the dugout, and a couple of pitches to the head featuring “concussion-like symptoms” and 2011 was spent more on the DL, than in the batter’s box. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 draft out of Alvernia College (PA), Lutz needs to play a full season in 2012, just to show he can do it. If DWright spends any time on the DL next year, and Lutz is healthy at Buffalo, he could be the one to take over if DMurph was being utilized someplace else.

39. Tillman Pugh (CF) As the 22-year-old Pugh prepares for his third season as a minor leaguer in the Mets farm system. He is working hard with the realization of just how important this season will be for him. This year he will get the opportunity to open the season in a long season league. Although the competition for spots in the Savannah outfield will be fierce, he should be the starting centerfielder for the Sand Gnats. He will have the opportunity to test himself and challenge himself over the course of a season that lasts well over five months. It will be nice to see what kind of numbers he can put up if he gets 450 to 500 AB’s in one year. He should do quite well. At a solid 6’0″ 190 lbs., Pugh is very fast, and athletic enough to play centerfield. His game is speed and he represents something the Mets don’t have a lot of. A three-way threat, offense, defense, and on the base-paths.

40. Armando Rodriguez (RHP) Signed as an IFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Rodriguez  has good size and strength at 6’3″ and 250 lbs. He throws hard too, with his fastball sitting at 90-92 mph, sometimes hitting 94. The pitch exhibits some arm-side run, and sink, but tends to flatten out and elevate if he overthrows. He has a fringy slider thrown in the 78-81 mph range, that was pretty devastating to hitters in the South Atlantic League, but as he moves up to AA he will need to tighten the rotation, and add some sharpness to the break. His change-up is his weakest offering, thrown in the high 70’s, but with very little command. The deceleration on the pitch is not caused by his grip, but by his arm-speed which he tends to slow down when throwing the change, making it detectable to the hitter, and causing the pitch to elevate. The other factor working against Rodriguez, is that he is about to turn 24 years-old at the end of the month and he has yet to pitch above Advanced-A ball. Last year he pitched sparingly at St. Lucie, starting 16 games and hurling 75 innings. His record was 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA, 60 hits, 74 strikeouts, and 29 walks, with opponents hitting .218 off him, and a WHIP of 1.19. Although a starter since 2008, the Mets will move Rodriguez to the bullpen full time in 2012. Providing he does well, he could split the year between AA Bingo and AAA Buffalo, but the safer bet would be a big league ETA of 2014, if at all.

Not a bad group of players with each one on this list having a solid chance at a big league career. This just reaffirms how far the Mets minor league system has come in the last two years.

Check back next week when I finish up the MMO Top 50 Mets Prospects, by naming #’s 41 thru 50!

2012 MMO Mets Top 40 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

31.  Brad Holt                      RHP

32.  Cory Vaughn                 OF

33.  Greg Peavey                 RHP

34.  Albert Cordero               C

35.  Darrell Ceciliani            CF

36.  Rafael Montero             RHP

37.  Josh Stinson                RHP

38.  Zach Lutz                      3B

39.  Tillman Pugh                CF

40.  Armando Rodriguez     RHP