We continue our list working our way into the top 25 with some younger players who continue to excel at their level. There is an A-ball MVP, a high profile IFA, and a raw right-handed pitcher that hits 96 with his fastball.
#25 RHP Andrew Church
Ht: 6’2” Wt: 200 Level: Low A Columbia Fireflies/St. Lucie Mets High-A
B/T: R/R Age: 10/7/1994(22) Age Dif: -0.9
Acquired: Selected in the 2nd round of the 2013 MLB draft
Preseason Rank: #79
2016 Statistics: 7-4, 2.92 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 95.2 IP, 76 H, 25 BB, 78 K
Profile: Hard throwing right-hander is as much a head scratcher today as he was when he was drafted in 2013 despite barely playing in front of scouts. He as been sitting low to mid nineties and his curveball has become a plus pitch yet the organization has him in Columbia. Though he has pitched in High A with some success, though not missing nearly as many bats as he did in Low A. He continued to dominate in the South Atlantic League (5-2, 2.22 ERA, 0.85 WHIP). While also making a spot start for Las Vegas at the end of the season.
What’s Next: Really anyone’s guess, his play suggests he should have finished the season in High A now competing for a spot in AA next spring. With how he has been handled, one could guess St. Lucie to start next year with a move to AA around the all-star break. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 until after next season, so he has that going for him.
#24 SS Luis Guillorme
Ht: 5’9″ Wt: 190 Level: St. Lucie Mets High-A
B/T: L/R Age: 9/27/1994(21) Age Dif: -1.7
Acquired: Selected in the 10th round of the 2013 Draft out of Coral Springs Charter HS
Preseason Rank: #16
2016 Statistics: 441 AB, 116 H, 16 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 46 RBI, 43 BB, 63 K, 4 SB, .263/.332/.313
Profile: Defense!!! Among the best defensive shortstop in the system (frequently debated among MMN writers) is as smooth as they come in the field. Everything from the routine to the amazing, he makes look effortless in the field. His arm probably falls just shy of a plus grade for the position (though still above average) that plays up with a very quick glove to hand transition. He moved over to second base to accommodate Amed Rosario in St Lucie to start the season, and did nothing to contradict reports (named best defensive 2B by leagues managers) that he has a major league ready glove.
While his offensive profile is improving, it is and always will be only that of a slap hitter. He shows a good feel for the barrel, making hard contact, but he doesn’t have any power to speak of and therefore does not drive the ball. He did hit his first professional home run earlier this season, after 1200 PA. He has a solid approach at the plate, though with his profile he could be more aggressive early in the count.
His foot speed isn’t overly impressive, but he is a good base runner and will steal his share of bases. A heady baseball player who puts the work in, Guillorme recently made the BA Mets mid-season top 10 list. While he isn’t that, his defense will get him to the majors.
What’s Next: His growth will be behind Rosario from here on out, Binghamton next season.
#23 RHP Chris Flexen
Ht: 6’3” Wt: 235 Level: St. Lucie Mets High-A
B/T: R/R Age: 7/1/1994(22) Age Dif: -2.1
Acquired: Selected in the 14th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft from Memorial HS
Preseason Rank: #17
2016 Statistics: 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 134 IP, 125 H, 51 BB, 95 K
Profile: In late 2015, Flexen returned from Tommy John Surgery with a fury, dominating opponents over his last six games posting a 1.87 ERA, with a 1.9 BB/9, and 8.8 k/9. He was a favorite of many who pegged him as a breakout candidate with good reason. He returned with an improved velocity, where it was low 90s pre-TJS, it has been firmly mid 90s and touched 97 since his return. While he hasn’t taken off to be the next great Mets arm, like many predicted, he has pitched well. He has surpassed 100 innings for the first time in his professional career while pitching in Advanced A.
It was rumored that it was his medicals that held up the Jay Bruce trade. How serious that is remains to be seen as he’s had no issues at all this year with the arm.
What’s Next: Binghamton next on the schedule for 2017 and he will be in the conversation to add to the 40-man as he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason.
#22 RHP Merandy Gonzalez
Ht: 6’1” Wt: 195 Level: Brooklyn Cyclones SS A-ball
B/T: R/R Age: 10/9/1995(20) Age Dif: -1.4
Acquired: Signed by the New York Mets as a non-drafted free agent on March 6, 2013
Preseason Rank: #67
2016 Statistics: 6-3, 2.87 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 69 IP, 65 H, 27 BB, 71 K
Profile: An undersized RH pitcher who will have critics stuck on his size saying he needs to dominate to remain in the rotation. That is exactly what he has done. Since coming stateside he has dominated, including throwing a no-hitter last season for the GCL Mets. He features three above average pitches with a fastball that sits consistently in the mid-nineties, including hitting 96 in the later innings of work. His curveball has flashed plus with late break, and his changeup is a work in progress, but does show good arm action on it.
What’s Next: Could start in Columbia next season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they got aggressive and let him earn a St. Lucie rotation spot next spring.
#21 SS Gregory Guerrero
Ht: 6’1” Wt: 180 Level: DSL
B/T: R/R Age: 1/20/1999 (17) Age Dif: -1.2
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2015 for $1.5M
Preseason Rank: #31
2016 Statistics: 247 AB, 61 H, 10 2B, 20 RBI, 28 BB, 51 K, 10 SB, .247/.324/.287
Profile: The high profile international free agent signing from the 2015-2016 signing period from the Guerrero Academy in Dominican Republic, is the latest from the Guerrero family to play pro baseball. The instincts and game knowledge are what you would expect from a player who spent his entire childhood around the ball field.
He has plus bat speed and an advanced approach at the plate with a knack for barreling balls. He has shown better game speed than anticipated. His arm is plus and he has good lateral movement so he could stay at shortstop, though there is some who predict that he will move off as he fills out.
What’s Next: I expect a GCL assignment next season. I fully expect him to be a level behind another fellow 2015 IFA SS Andres Gimenez signing and his assignment will be dependent on how aggressive they are with him.
Both photos courtesy of Ed Delany