When Keith Law publishes his annual preseason Top 100, it serves as a measure not only to the state of an organization’s farm system, but also how a particular prospect is developing. This year, that rang true of a now much maligned Mets farm system that didn’t see their top prospects develop the way everyone believed they would.
For proof of this, we need not look any further than 2016 first round draft pick Justin Dunn. When Keith Law ranked Dunn the 84th best prospect heading into the 2017 season, he wrote in his ESPN Insider piece: “Dunn has always had a good arm and is a tremendous athlete, but he didn’t throw this hard or throw many strikes until 2016. Now, Dunn is throwing 93-96 mph with plus life along with a plus changeup that might end up a 70 pitch, and he throws both for strikes.”
Dunn struggled in St. Lucie during the 2017 season going 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA. This performance would have Law change his tune about Dunn to the point where he left the promising pitcher completely off his Top 100.
To that point, Law places the blame on the Mets organization saying, “You almost look and you say, ‘Nobody caught that?’ Nobody on the player development side looked and said, ‘Hey wait a minute, here are two things we are going to have to work on in instructional league last year and spring training this yer, but we’re sending you out to High-A this year?”
With Dunn not progressing as many believed, Law included, it may cause many to feel more pessimistic about the right-hander and the state of the pitching in the Mets farm system. Such sentiments are premature.
With respect to Dunn, Law still believes he is a “guy who’s stuff is still pretty good, at least in terms of the quality of his pitches.” It’s not a ringing endorsement, but it is an acknowledgement the stuff is still there.
Another Mets pitcher that has the stuff to be good Major League pitcher is last year’s first round draft pick David Peterson.
Law was impressed enough with Peterson that he had no issue saying Peterson had some Chris Sale potential. It should come as no surprise then that he ranked Peterson 58th on this year’s top prospect list.
What is surprising is that even with how Dunn faltered by being rushed too early last year, Law believes Peterson should be pushed as aggressively as the Mets pushed Dunn last year saying, “He was an extremely polished college pitcher who had unbelievable performances.
“He’s a guy who has some deception, has an out-pitch and a slider. That’s a guy who should get to high-A and Double-A at the absolute least by the end of his first full season.”
Overall, Law leaves the impression that Dunn and Peterson are heading in two different directions as prospects. While Law sees Peterson having the talent to make it to Double-A this year, he believes the Mets need to get back to the drawing board with Dunn.