Baseball Prospectus released their annual list of the Top 101 Prospects in baseball on Thursday. Three Mets made the list, namely LHP Steven Matz (9), 1B Dominic Smith (86), and SS Amed Rosario (96). The list is headlined by Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who had three hits including a double in 16 at bats against the Mets in the 2015 NLDS.
Here’s what BP had to say about Matz, who was the second left-handed pitcher on the list behind Dodgers flame thrower Julio Urias:
It seems odd to call someone who made three playoff starts for the National League pennant winner a prospect, but Prospect List protocol demands it. A torn lat muscle and a stiff back in the second half kept Matz from accruing enough service time to graduate, but he did pitch enough for the Mets to show off three average-or-better major-league offerings, including a plus-plus fastball and plus curve. He also has begun to work on the vaunted “Warthen Slider,” which you may remember from such 70-grade offerings as Matt Harvey’s and Jacob deGrom’s.
They hit the nail on the head in the first sentence. It’s easy to forget that Matz is still a rookie and has only pitched in nine major league games, although three of them were on the biggest of stages in the playoffs. His plus-plus fastball, a mix of a sinker and a two-seam fastball, averaged around 94 miles per hour last year and netted him 18 of his 34 strikeouts in the regular season, via Fangraphs. Matz’ curveball, which he could dial down to 73 miles per hour struck out eleven more batters. A slider would make Matz’ arsenal that much stronger, and would have to put him as one of the most dangerous number four starters in the majors.
Dominic Smith was one of two first basemen to make the cut (A.J. Reed, Astros, 55), and BP had this to say about the 20-year-old:
Unix programmers follow a guiding philosophy of DOTADIW (Do One Thing And Do It Well). Meet Smith. Dude can hit. He’s a first-base-only prospect, and he has yet to show much in the way of game power in his first two professional seasons, but he has preternatural bat-to-ball skills and started driving the ball into the left-center gap more in 2015. It’s still a difficult profile, and he has a high-maintenance body even for first base, but when you watch him swing the bat, those thoughts drift further from your mind. Now if only we could get you all using mutt for email.
Smith had his finest season as a pro in 2015, hitting .305/.354/.417 with 33 doubles and 79 runs batted in with St. Lucie, en route to a Florida State League MVP. It’s really encouraging to see his progress with the bat since coming out of high school, but the power just still hasn’t shown up. Most thought Smith would benefit from leaving Savannah, where he hit one home run in the entire 2014 season, but he still only managed to knock six balls out of the park last year (two more than his career total coming into 2015). Binghamton should help Smith blossom and build on last season, as should recognition in major league spring training.
Finally, Amed Rosario’s report looked like this:
Rosario has turned into a very different type of prospect than the Mets might have figured when they gave the Dominican shortstop $1.7 million in 2012. Scouts thought he might grow into serious game power but out of the position. Rosario hasn’t really put on mass, and hit zero home runs in the Florida State League (where he was the youngest every-day player) last year, but he has made huge strides with his defense. Rosario now looks like he could be an above-average glove, and he does have incredibly quick wrists that should at least give him gap power as he continues to physically mature. He may not be the prospect we expected, but he’s still a good one. If you were just here for the shortstops, you can quit now. No more, promise.
Shortstop is truly one of the deepest positions in Minor League Baseball, as an outstanding 20 players made the top 101. Rosario certainly has the tools to distinguish himself from the pack – a plus glove, and great speed – but he’s really struggled to get on base consistently at any level. The good news is that he’s only 20 so hopefully the Mets stay patient and give him time to develop into a more complete player in Binghamton.
It’s a bit disappointing to see a weak showing by Mets prospects on the list, but there have been a number of graduations. Last year’s BP list featured Noah Syndergaard (9), Matz (33), Brandon Nimmo (69) Rosario (78), Kevin Plawecki (80), and Dilson Herrera (82). Hopefully the number of guys on the fringe, like Gavin Cecchini and Wuilmer Becerra, take the next step this season.