The top prospects of every minor league system always seem to receive endless amounts of hype. Most of the time this attention is deserved as elite prospects are often potential game changers for their franchises. However, sometimes the prospects that are rarely discussed can make the strongest impact. Mets fans have witnessed this recently with the development of Jacob deGrom and Juan Lagares. Both players were not highly regarded prospects, yet they have emerged into key players at the major league level.
While it is always difficult to predict who the next surprise player like deGrom and Lagares will be, there are numerous underrated prospects in the Mets minor league system that might be able to make a similar impact some day. Here are my top five underrated Mets position players.
5. Luis Guillorme, SS
Luis Guillorme is the type of prospect that always seems to be overlooked since he does not have any exceptional hitting skills. However, he compensates for this by playing tremendous defense at a key position. The 19 year old shortstop is an elite defender due to his excellent range, good hands, and a very strong throwing arm.
Even though some believe Guillorme will not hit enough to start in the majors, his offense is not as weak as many think. While he will not hit for any power, he has showed some promising signs at the plate this season. Guillorme batted .283 with a solid .340 OBP in 274 at bats with the Kingsport Mets. If Guillorme can continue to hit for contact consistently, his defense is good enough to carry him all the way to the majors.
4. Ivan Wilson, CF
On the surface, it seems like Ivan Wilson is not a very impressive prospect. Wilson batted .176 this season for Kingsport, and struck out in 46 percent of his at bats. While these are certainly alarming signs, it is not enough to write him off as a prospect just yet.
Wilson is perhaps the best athlete in the entire system. He has enormous power potential at 6’3” and 220 pounds, and he is also an above average runner. This dangerous combination of power and speed for a centerfielder gives him a high upside and a very promising future. Eventually he will have to translate these raw skills into results, but he still has plenty of time to develop as he is just 19 years old.
3. Jayce Boyd, 1B
Ever since the Mets drafted Jayce Boyd in the 6th round in 2012, he has impressed at every level. Boyd batted .330 with an outstanding .410 OBP last season, and he also had a solid .293 batting average this past season in Double-A. Despite his great overall numbers, many underrate Boyd because of his low home run totals.
Boyd has yet to reach double digit home runs in a single season in the minors, but he has more raw power than his stats indicate. At 6’3” and 185 pounds, he is strong enough to start hitting more home runs.
Another factor to consider is that power is often the last skill that develops for prospects. A recent example of this in the Mets minors is Lucas Duda. Duda struggled to hit for a lot of power early in his minor league career, and he actually posted identical numbers to Boyd. Duda hit just 9 home runs and had.808 OPS in AA, while Boyd hit 8 home runs with a .796 OPS at the same age and level as Duda. It’s not fair to expect Boyd to replicate Duda’s success, but this example is a strong reminder that minor league numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
2. Champ Stuart, CF
While Champ Stuart has started to gain more recognition of late, he still appears to be an unknown for many fans. Stuart is arguably the fastest player in the Mets organization, and he effectively utilizes his elite speed. Stuart stole 29 bases in just 81 games for Single-A Savannah while only getting caught 4 times. His athleticism also allows him to play excellent defense in centerfield.
Stuart has also made a lot of progress at the plate since the Mets drafted him 2013. He has a decent .251 average and a solid .359 OBP as a professional, which is encouraging considering that he was viewed as a very raw prospect coming out of college.
1. Vicente Lupo, LF
After an extremely disappointing season in 2013, most people had forgotten about Vicente Lupo. Lupo was one of the Mets top international signings in 2010, and he was often praised for his excellent power and patience at the plate. Most of this hype disappeared the 2013 season as Lupo batted .220 with just four home runs in 110 at bats for the Gulf Coast League Mets. However, Lupo put together a very strong bounce back campaign in 2014.
In 133 at bats this for Kingsport, Lupo batted .278 with 7 Home runs and.a 918 OPS. What is most encouraging about his performance is that he made tremendous strides as the season progressed. Lupo was almost unstoppable during the final month of the season where he hit .333 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI.
While there aren’t many people talking about Lupo right now, I expect that to change quickly. Lupo carries a lot of power potential, and he is continuing to make a lot of progress. As he advances to higher levels of the minors, Lupo could emerge into one of the Mets most exciting prospects.