This is the time of year when every talent evaluator or organization begins to provide updates to their preseason Top 100.
As we saw with Baseball America‘s update, the Mets organization is beginning to receive more acclaim with Peter Alonso and Jarred Kelenic joining Andres Gimenez on their updated list. As this season progresses, we could well soon see some players currently in the Mets farm system join the aforementioned prospects on Baseball America’s and other lists.
The prospect who really stands out as someone who should soon emerge onto Top 100 lists is Justin Dunn. In fact, Keith Law of ESPN included Dunn as an Honorable Mention in his Top 50 Midseason update, which would be a sure-fire sign Dunn is going to make Law’s Top 100 entering next season. Speaking of Law’s Top 50, Kelenic made the list at No. 46 after slashing .333/.414/.560 in his first 20 pro games.
This would not be the first time Dunn was featured in Law’s Top 100. In fact, Law’s 2017 Top 100 ranked Dunn No. 84 due to his having a plus fastball and a changeup that could develop into a “plus plus” pitch.
One of the reasons Dunn had dropped off of Law’s list entering this season was Dunn’s struggles in his first year as a starter. Dunn struggled with stamina and command as evidenced by his 4.5 BB/9 and his averaging under 5.0 innings per start. Still, a brief four-game stint in the bullpen showed Dunn could dominate opposing batters if he could just harness his stuff.
He’s done that this year partially due to his having a better mental approach. As Dunn would tell Mark Sanchez of the New York Post, “I was trying to make things happen way too fast. I feel I can do a lot of things that are undoable. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I put more and more pressure and kept thinking about it. This year I’m just going about my business every day. Cut down on walks as soon as possible, that was something that plagued me this year. Fill up the zone and attack.”
He’s done just that, and it also doesn’t hurt that his slider has become a much better weapon that has led to him increasing his strikeout rate significantly from last year.
Already this season, Dunn has two double-digit strikeout games, and he is striking out 10.1 batters per nine. This dominating performance led to him getting called up to Double-A Binghamton where he has pitched well.
In seven starts, he is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. Notably, in five of his seven starts, Dunn has allowed two earned runs or less, and he has pitched at least six innings in all but one of those starts. Put simply, Dunn has been undaunted by the higher competition, and he is thriving the way you would expect a Top 100 prospect would.
Similarly undaunted is 2017 international free agent signee Ronny Mauricio. With his $2.1 million signing bonus, which surpassed the bonus given to Amed Rosario to set a then Mets record, we knew the Mets were high on the shortstop prospect. As noted in a recent MMO article, the Mets were far from the only ones excited about Mauricio’s prospects.
In fact, Ben Badler of Baseball America named Mauricio a 2018 breakout candidate “who could leap on to the next Top 100.” In naming Mauricio as a candiate, Badler noted Mauricio “has grown two inches to 6-foot-4, added much-needed strength to his gangly frame and continues to impress scouts with his ability on both sides of the ball.”
So far this season, Mauricio has made Badler’s prediction look quite good as he is hitting .347/.343/.535 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers, and 21 RBI in 25 games played. This performance is all the more incredible when you consider he’s a 17-year-old who is making his professional debut in a league where he is almost three years younger than the average player. Mostly, this is the type of performance worthy of the preseason Top 100 hype he received.
Another name to mention is Thomas Szapucki, who when healthy was named as a Top 100 prospect by Baseball Prospectus (69) and Law (60). As he returns from Tommy John surgery, he should prove to be a pitcher to once again make quite an impression on scouts.
Overall, with players putting together impressive performances, the Mets organization has a number of players who are worthy of being named among the Top 100 prospects in the game. As these impressive performances continue, and we see other players follow suit, we will see more and more players join Gimenez, Alonso, and Kelenic on future 100 lists.