‘Tis the season of prospect rankings! In the latest release, Jonathan Mayo and the MLB Pipeline staff published their top 30 Mets prospects this afternoon.
To no one’s surprise, Steven Matz topped the list (he was also ranked 15th on the MLB-wide list) and was actually the only pitcher in the top eight. Mayo had great things to say about Matz, citing his two plus pitches, his improving curveball, and his ability to pound the strike zone. On the 20-80 scouting scale, Matz was given an overall score of 60.
Second on the list was Dominic Smith, who was also rated by Mayo as the 51st-best prospect league-wide and third-best first baseman. Mayo raved about Smith’s approach at the plate and his hit tool, while also noting that his power will determine what caliber player he is. Smith hit .305 with a .354 on-base percentage in the Florida State League this year, but only managed six home runs and a .417 slugging percentage. At the same time, he’s still 20 years old and was facing advanced pitchers in a tough league.
Shortstops Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini were listed three-four, and Mayo brought up the possibility of Cecchini moving to second while Rosario becomes the everyday shortstop when Asdrubal Cabrera reaches free agency. Rosario is a year ehind Cecchini, having played mostly for St. Lucie last season, while Cecchini could see time with the big league club this season.
Other notables rounding out the top ten included 2015 top pick pick Desmond Lindsay as well as Wuilmer Becerra. Lindsay is just 19, but with good athleticism and a good bat and power potential, Mayo could see him become an everyday center fielder someday. Becerra, despite his breakout year in Savannah, came in at number eight in the system, lower than some fans would have hoped. Consistency was a bit of an issue for him in 2015, but he has plus power potential. Becerra hit .290/.342/.423 with nine home runs with Savannah last season.
Further down the list were some non-traditional arms who could play roles in the big league bullpen at some point this season. Akeel Morris, with his good fastball-changeup combination, came in at number 17. Mayo says his control will ultimately be what determines his future, but he has the ceiling of a setup man. Dario Alvarez is a 27 year-old lefty who has been holding onto a 40 man roster spot for a while. He came in at number 23. Alvarez possesses a plus slider and will be, at minimum, a left-handed specialist.
Right behind Alvarez is Josh Smoker, who Mayo says has the best fastball in the entire system, a 70 on the 20-80 scale. Smoker is 27 as well, but struck out an eye-opening 60 batters in 49 minor league innings last year.
The system as a whole was quite heavy on shortstops with eight making the top 30. Six total between catcher, first base, second base, and third base made the list. While eleven pitchers made the top 30, the upper half was very hitter-heavy, with Matz being the only elite pitcher left.
As Mayo also notes, the system is a good mix of draft talent and international signees. 17 players in the top 30 were drafted by the Mets while ten were signed as international free agents. Rounding out the top 30 was one of the youngest guy on the list, Ricardo Cespedes, an 18 year-old center fielder the Mets signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.
The system is certainly not as deep as it once was, but it is still a middle-of-the-pack group. Considering all the recent graduations, that is quite impressive.