It’s the time of the offseason when Baseball Instinct goes from Club to Club and we take a look at the Top 10 prospects from each team before opening it up to our Top 21s later in the winter. This year we’re working with some of our friends who share a more focused view of particular clubs.
Today we’re working with Mack’s Mets. Mack Ade graciously polled his writing staff and they came up with a top 10 list for us to share with you. Mack’s Mets’ writer Phlavio was kind enough to take his in depth insight about the Mets and put together a write up of their top 10 prospects. So you’ll not only get one view point on these players with Our Instinct here at Baseball Instinct, you’ll be getting Phlavio’s as well. Be sure to check him and the rest of the staff out at Mack’s Mets for a wealth of info on the Mets, as well as what’s happening around baseball.
Let’s start off with #1 and work our way down. Be sure to be on the lookout for the full Top 21 sometime this winter.
1. Matt Harvey, RHP 03/27/1989 H: 6’4 W: 225 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) Highest Level: AA. Why He’s #1: The Met’s top draft pick in 2010 wasted no time in 2011 establishing his place on the future major league franchise… or in the hearts of Met fans. Harvey came to the Mets with a healthy dose of concerns from scouts. Sometimes… scouts worry for no good reason. Harvey annihilated the Florida State League before moving on to Binghamton and the Eastern League. AA… was a reality check for some of the eager Harvey fans. However he did seem to find his footing in AA after his first couple starts. Matt seems destined for the front end of a major league rotation and if he can take the next step in AA he could be ready to fulfill his destiny as soon as 2012.
Our Instinct – Hard to argue anything Phlavio said here. We ranked Harvey as our #31 Prospect prior to the 2011 season in our Top 100 list. There’s little doubt that we will see Harvey with the Mets at some point in 2012. Check out what Tom Belmont had to say in our Prospect Instinct | Matt Harvey article from October. Harvey came in #1 for Mack’s Mets as well.
2. Zack Wheeler, RHP 05/30/1990 H: 6’4 W: 185 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: A+. The Harvey vs. Wheeler debate rages on. Wheeler’s stuff is slightly better… Harvey already pitched well in AA… Wheeler is over a year younger… Harvey’s got less issues to overcome… Do you know why Harvey PROBABLY ranked higher on this list? It was made by fans… not scouts. Met fans love Harvey because he was ALWAYS ours. We have a special attachment to players our team drafted that go beyond things like an extra MPH or the fact he could fill out his frame more.
Back to Wheeler, he is a stud talent who could be a Cy Young candidate when he reaches his ceiling. He’s got absolutely filthy stuff that will translate into swings, misses and eventually wins. Now… when the Mets got Wheeler there were also a small mound of concerns about his control. His BB/K ratio on the San Francisco affiliate was basically 1 : 2. When he got to Port St. Lucie… apparently he decided he’d show a bit more control. In his 6 games with the Mets he managed a ratio of 1 : 6. Wheeler is likely to be held all year in the minors regardless of his progress in 2012, but he is sometimes projected to be a candidate for the 2013 rotation.
Our Instinct – Ah yes, the debate. Polish vs Upside. You really can’t lose either way. What a problem to have for Mets’ fans. It’s true, guys like Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, and Jerry Koosman were all original Mets. Fortunately for Wheeler, Mets’ fans, like most fans, are a fickle bunch. David Cone, Ron Darling, and Al Leiter all started their careers elsewhere, but they were loved winners in New York. You can check out the Prospect Instinct | Zack Wheeler article that our own Aaron Bentley and Tom Belmont wrote about him back and July. On the page you can find a video that we took that includes Tom’s radar readings. Wheeler came in #2 for Mack’s Mets as well.
3. Jenrry Mejia, RHP 10/11/1989 H: 6’0 W: 205 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: MLB. If not for an injury, Mejia would be part of the major league rotation and not on this list. Because of his set-back, he won’t even likely start the season on time. When Mejia returns from Tommy John surgery, the Mets will send him to AA or AAA and see how he does. There is plenty of talk about him switching into the bullpen and potentially closing in 2013 but we should all wait and see what he does when he returns in June (or so) of 2012. The Mets are likely to let him try to start when he does. If he takes off in the minors it won’t be a long stay for him (assuming there is room in the major league rotation).
Our Instinct - I don’t think there is a reason to knock Mejia down our ranks any further due to an injury. His timeline is shot and as Phlavio said, he’s not going to be back before mid-season. Even then there’s simply no reason to push him. Once back, I expect him to get some rehab starts in the GCL/FSL before being ushered to the Wally Backman lead AAA Buffalo Bysons. Mejia came in #3 for Mack’s Mets as well.
4. Jeurys Familia, RHP 10/10/1989 H: 6’3 W: 185 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: AA. The pitcher who had the best season for the Mets in the minors is ranked fourth on the list. Familia was brilliant in 2011, exceeding the projections people had begun to form after a disappointing 2010. My favorite thing about Familia is that he was statistically solid across the board. He didn’t give out a ton of hits or walks, he had a K/9 over 9.0 and his BB/K ratio was better than 1 : 3. There is very little to complain about. Still… the general opinion on Familia is that he’s the weakest of the Big 4 (which isn’t exactly an insult) because his breaking pitches are less refined. Like Mejia he’s rumored to be bullpen bound eventually but as he’s the farthest developed player of the Big 4 who’s healthy he’s likely to get the first shot at the majors in 2012.
Our Instinct - Bold 2012 prediction for Familia by Phlavio. I like it. I saw Familia pitch at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL. against the Palm Beach Cardinals and the Jupiter Hammerheads. I think a move to the pen would be a waste. I love the upside and confidence I’ve seen on the mound. Will he go back to AA or will he be a Byson until he gets the call to the show? I can’t wait to see. Keep an eye on this pitcher. Familia came in #4 for Mack’s Mets as well.
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF 03/27/1993 H: 6’3 W: 185 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: R. Based on pure raw talent, the Mets selected Brandon Nimmo with their first round pick this season. Nimmo was an interesting choice as he didn’t get the chance to play High School baseball (I think buffalo outnumber people in Wyoming). Nimmo has speed and a big frame that projects to build power. He’s also got a sweet swing that won’t need too much fiddling with to get him to succeed. Beyond what scouts see in his body, it’s hard to judge him from his brief couple of games in the Gulf Coast League. You can bet he’ll be under a microscope in 2012.
Our Instinct – Under the microscope indeed. Nimmo had been projected as a compensation round pick, but the Mets felt they got a steal. Nimmo is amazingly polished for a kid from Wyoming, where weather simply doesn’t allow for a high school season. He did take advantage of American Legion out of state trips as well as playing in the Perfect Game show case events. He’s likely to get some extra work in extended spring training before heading to Rookie Ball. The Mets should really get to see what they’ve got him at that point. Nimmo came in #5 for Mack’s Mets as well.
6. Michael Fulmer, RHP 3/15/1993 H: 6’3 W: 215 lbs – Highest Level: R. Fulmer was just outside of Mack’s Mets’ top 10 list. Really, who could blame them? After a 0-1 start with a 10.13 ERA and a 10/4 K/BB ratio over 5.1 innings in 4 games, how do you appropriately place him in this system? Like Nimmo, Fulmer was perceived to be a tough sign. Picked in the compensation round, the Mets got it done again. He throws a low 90’s fastball, which did hit 97 mph in the GCL. He also serves up a slider and a change-up. While the change-up is still in development, his downward breaking tight slider is already a plus pitch in the mid 80s. He needs to work on getting his weight transfer right, which means his weight isn’t getting over his striding leg until after the release. It’s ever so slight, but once addressed will save him additional stresses on the shoulder.
Our Instinct – Projecting guys like Fulmer can be tricky business. He’s got the polish and the make-up to be a good #3 starter with the upside of a #2 if the Mets can clean up his mechanics a little. He might even add a little more velocity although his body type doesn’t leave room for growth. His floor is probably lock-down 8th inning guy, which theres nothing wrong with that either. Look for him to start 2012 where he left off, in the GCL or get the jump to Brooklyn.
7. Jordany Valdespin, 2B/SS 12/23/1987 H: 6’0 W: 190 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) Highest Level: AAA. Valdespin was a major surprise in 2011. Sure, a lot of us knew the name, but we didn’t all know all the great things he was capable of. Jordany is a physically gifted player. He has lots of speed, a good dose of power and a quick swing. In the field he shows good range and a reasonable arm. What he lacks… is patience and training. The Mets have pushed him all over the diamond from second to short, never knowing where he fit best. 2011 was again a year where he split positions. Right now, Jordany has a VERY real chance of making the pros to start the season if Reyes is no longer on the team. His low walk rate will simply hold him out of the leadoff spot.
Our Instinct – Phlavio is right about him being a surprise. He’s been in the organization for 5 years and really took off midway through 2010 and the 2011 season. The Mets have him playing in the Dominican Winter League, perhaps as a primer to challenge Ruben Tejada for the starting job (assuming they don’t resign Reyes) in 2012. So far it isn’t pretty, with a triple slash line of .222/.288/.352 in 54 at bats with Licey. He’s got to work counts deeper and draw some walks if he’s going to be taken seriously as a potential MLB regular. Valdespin is #7 for Mack’s Mets as well.
8. Reese Havens 2B, 10/20/1986 H: 6’1 W: 195 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: AA. If Reese were not injured 50% of the time he’d be a major league second baseman by now. As it is… with a tremendous injury history he’s still on course to compete for the role by the middle of 2012. That assumes Reese is healthy… which we can NEVER assume. His glove has never been the story, but when you have a decent eye, are capable of hitting over 15 home runs a season and consistently post an OPS over .800… people can overlook your glove-work. That isn’t to say he’s bad in the field, it’s just not his greatest gift. Met fans will likely need to pray for health for him in 2012 if he’s ever going to make the Major League team.
Our Instinct – He has 792 at bats….over 4 years. He’s probably going to get a look this spring and “if” he can stay healthy may make the club in one capacity or another assuming the Mets don’t resign Reyes and don’t address their glaring short comings in the middle infield. Still, I’d prefer to see him back at AA to establish himself as reliable and then make the transition to the majors later in the 2012 season. Havens is #6 for Mack’s Mets.
9. Wilmer Flores, SS 08/06/1991 H: 6’3 W: 175 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: A+. Let us address the 800 pound gorilla in the room. NO, Wilmer Flores will never be a major league short stop. He doesn’t have the range for it. Let us also note that he DOES have a solid arm and good hands, so to say he could ONLY EVER PLAY FIRST… is a bit over-blown. With that out of the way let’s talk about a player who HAD been at the other end of this list a year ago. Was Wilmer’s year that bad? No. His year wasn’t that bad. A .269 Avg and 81 RBI isn’t BAD by any stretch. People simply expect more from Flores’ bat. It’s drawing ever closer to the point where he needs to show he’s developing power and can hack it at the major league level. Where Wilmer plays in 2012 is anyone’s guess. The Mets could throw him back out to play short stop, they could slide him to 3rd, push him into the corner outfield or even try him out behind the plate. Met fans still have faith in Wilmer and look for him to make strides in 2012.
Our Instinct – We had this Gorilla pegged at #99 on our top 100 list for 2011, while a lot of others had him a little too high for our taste. At barely 20 years old now, he has seemingly been around for ever in the Mets system. He back slid in every category from 2010 to 2011, and his Venezuelan Winter League numbers are not encouraging. Theres still plenty of time and he may very well bounce back in AA. Check out Tom Belmont’s recent article Prospect Instinct | Wilmer Flores. Flores was also Mack’s Mets #9 prospect.
10. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF 08/07/1987 H: 6’3 W: 215 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: AAA. Captain Kirk is a fan favorite before he ever gets announced in Flushing. The coaches review his work ethic and drive as second to none and his results have been really good. Still… he can’t shake the tag that he’s an over-achiever who may not cut it in CF long-term. The issue there is his numbers (which roughly translate to a .280 hitter who clubs 15 HRs and steals 15 bases) don’t measure up in the corner outfield spots. Nieuwenhuis is looming in the shadows behind Angel Pagan and Jason Bay and could be called upon as early as opening day if his spring goes well. He ended the year hurt so perhaps that’s a bit too much optimism, but Kirk should see Citi Field in 2012.
Our Instinct – Nieuwenhuis underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder to repair the labrum. He took part in hist 1st ever spring training in 2011, and the Mets just added him to the 40 man roster as to avoid exposing him to the upcoming rule 5 draft. He will get another invite to spring training, but will likely head back to AAA to start the season. Phlavio is correct, he should be in the majors at some point in 2012. Niuwenhuis is also #10 on Mack’s Mets list.
Bonus – Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B 11/18/1991 H: 6’3 W: 210 lbs – (Mack’s Mets – Phlavi0’s take) – Highest Level: A. The Mets don’t have many prospects like Aderlin Rodriguez. He’s a big guy with a big bat and a LOT of power. 17 HRs in Savannah is no small feat and if his power manages to take an up-tick in 2012 with a move to Port St. Lucie his stock will take an up-tick with it. The question with Aderlin is where he’ll play. He’s managing at 3rd base at present, but his range and glove work are definitely not among the best. That could mean a switch to 1st base which… based on his power numbers… would work out just fine. It will be interesting to see if his position gets switched now that he’ll be sharing the field with Wilmer Flores.
Our Instinct – Despite the low batting average, the .151 ISoP isn’t bad for a 19 year old in the South Atlantic League. Having said that, he is so raw, both at the plate and in the field. His lack of plate discipline and inability to take a walk hampers us from seeing what kind of power we are talking about here. His 44 errors in 361 chances is bothersome as well. Frankly, I don’t believe that he’s ready to move to the pitcher friendly Florida State League, the only thing at this point he is likely to share with Flores is his struggles. Being a 20 year old starting another season at Savannah would be a good place for him. There’s no good reason to rush him, especially with the things he needs to work on. He will appear later in the winter in our top 21. Rodriguez is #8 on Mack’s Met’s list.
We want to thank Mack’s Mets, especially the quick responding, eager to contribute Mack Ade, and the well thought out, excellent commentary from Phlavio. Truly, they helped make our Mets top 10 prospect list valuable not just to our Mets’ followers, but to all of our prospects hounds as well.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our recent article in our top 10 series: Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects List and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.