Astromets Top 83 Prospect Series: 10-15 | Astromets Mind

Friday, February 20, 2015

Astromets Top 83 Prospect Series: 10-15

            For this top prospect list series I tried to include as many players as possible, as I watched a lot of talented Mets prospects in 2014, and was following the progression of those I couldn’t watch. I do not include any Dominican Summer League players here, as I know next to nothing about those guys and they are so far away. I started by separating players into different groups and then essentially ranked those groups. Still, a lot of these players become interchangeable beyond the top 25 or so prospects. Also, there are a number of ’50+ future value’ players (per Fangraphs Kiley McDaniel), so the very top of the list is pretty interchangeable too. I don’t think I missed any obvious stateside prospects, but I apologize in advance for when I did, and I'll address them at the end.

Other entries from this series: 1-910-15 | 16-24 | 25-33 | 34-45 | 46-55 | 56-62 | 63-74 | 75-83

*All stats listed are regular season only and from Fangraphs; age to start 2015 season listed; pitchers roles are based on what they did in 2014, not what they might do in the future

Younger Studs
            These guys have already made a name for themselves in prospect circles as the next wave of top Mets prospects, and most have even made top-100 or top-200 major league prospect lists over the past two seasons. Aside from Gabriel Ynoa, who has already made it to AA, these guys should all start 2015 in Savannah, making that probably the most ‘star-studded’ (as far as prospects can be considered stars) roster in the SAL – can we get another first-half title in Savannah?

      10)   Amed Rosario RH/SS (19)
2014 stats:
A-: 68 G, 290 PA, .289/.337/.380, .345 BABIP, 111 wRC+, 11 2B, 5 3B, HR, 16.2K%: 5.9 BB%
(He was given some reps with Savannah before Brooklyn’s season started)

Rosario was so good in extended spring training that the Mets sent him to Savannah for a week before the Cyclones were due to start practicing and playing games. Although everyone said it would just be a reward for his work in XST, I think the Mets were secretly hoping he’d start out hot and force them to keep him up there, as the shortstop who played for Savannah in the 2nd half (Yeixon Ruiz) is really not much of a prospect. Alas, Rosario would only go 4-30 with 11 K: 1 BB, although he did have a triple and a homerun while there – kind of crazy that he matched Dom Smith’s homerun total for the SAL in that one week. With Brooklyn he had a very consistent season, flashing his top-notch tools throughout the summer and making Mets fans drool over the franchises most complete SS prospect since Jose Reyes – Reyes actually did skip low-A ball as an 18-year old (miss you Jose!). Rosario projects to have an above average bat capable of sticking at SS at the major league level. While a little raw in the field currently, he flashed his athleticism in making some tough plays, and his plus arm allows him to make up for other minor mistakes. The only tool that might not be plus by the time he reaches the majors is his speed, though that’s one of the toughest tools to project, and scouts tend to give lower future speed grades due to expectations that a player will lose it as they bulk up. Though he’s not quite on the crazy Jose Reyes path, he’ll only be 19 for the entire 2015 season, and he’s already out of short-season ball. We know he’s starting with Savannah, but I wonder where he’ll end the season.

Didn't make a lot of Rosario gifs, this gives a decent side view of his swing though

      11)   Casey Meisner RH/SP (19)
2014 stats:
A-: 13 GS, 62.1 IP, 67 H (4 HR), 3.75 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 24.2 K%: 6.5 BB%

This 3rd round giant from the 2013 draft looked like a very raw righty when I watched him pitch against Aberdeen early in the season, but finished the season as strong as Molina had been all summer. He ends up ahead of Molina because there are no longer serious concerns about Meisner’s delivery, as he has very clean arm action and made huge strides in repeating his delivery during the season, which had been his biggest red flag. I wonder how much higher Keith Law would’ve ranked him among Mets prospects if he had seen him any start after the one he saw – he watched him struggle to finish one inning in what became a rain shortened appearance against Aberdeen on July 23rd, his 4th start against Aberdeen in 6 appearances. As I mentioned, Meisner finished the season red hot, allowing a 1.51 ERA/1.90 FIP over his final 6 starts (35.2 IP), with a 26.6 K%: 4.2 BB% and only a .589 OPS allowed, despite an average-ish .320 BABIP. He features a fastball that I heard ranging from 90-95 MPH throughout the season, but was more consistently 92-93 MPH per the radio announcers later in the season – his long arms and lunges from his 6’7 frame should make the pitch seem a little faster. While the fastball is clearly his best pitch, his curveball and change-up are currently solid average pitches, with the chance to improve to above average pitches as he progresses. Moving forward, I’d like to see Meisner keep pounding the bottom of the zone like he did down the stretch with Brooklyn, as he can leverage his height into better sinking action for his fastball and change-up. Also, he could probably benefit from beefing up some, as he looked like a string bean on the mound.

Early season gif - Abereen's coverage was inconsistent

      12)   Marcos Molina RH/SP (20)
2014 stats:
A-: 12 GS, 76.1 IP, 46 H (2 HR), 1.77 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 30.7 K%: 6.1 BB%

A surprise top-10 prospect from the well respected Baseball Prospectus last February, Molina went to the NYPL and affirmed almost everything they said in the report – the one thing they got wrong was that he wouldn’t explode overnight. After dominating the NYPL as a teenager (one of only 7 teenaged pitchers in the league, with Meisner one of the other 6), the only concerns about Molina are related to his delivery, which has been described as ‘ugly’ and ‘a risk for injury to his arm’. Of course, every pitcher has a risk for injury to their arm just by the nature of their job, but I’d guess those scouts mean his motion creates additional risk than normal, especially considering the ‘max effort’ needed. Armed with a mid-90’s heater, an advanced change-up, a sharpened slider, and a developing curveball, Molina was far too much for the NYPL hitters. He started red hot, especially with respect to preventing runs, as he had a 19-inning scoreless streak between his 1st and 5th starts – he allowed a .368 OPS over those first 5 starts. Although his ERA and OPS allowed were a little higher the rest of the way, his strikeout rate reached new levels by the end of the season, and culminated in him striking out 38.5% of 130 batters faced in August (aka 50 strikeouts), as he reached double digits in 3 of his last 4 starts. Both homeruns he allowed came against righties in his final start of the season, but he was overall better against righties for the season - .422 OPS vs. R, .518 OPS vs. L. Moving forward, it would be nice if he could clean up those mechanics some, but how much do you want to change what’s working? I’ll trust the Mets to decide the right thing to do with Molina, as the organization has been very successful developing players the past few years. Again, the only reason Molina isn’t higher on my prospect list is because his mechanics are sketchy, but I understand if you think he should be higher, as he already has 3 pitches that look like plus pitches.

Fielding his position well, I'm sure there is better coverage available somewhere

      13)   Gabriel Ynoa RH/SP (21)
2014 stats:
A+: 14 GS, 82 IP, 95 H (7 HR), 3.95 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 18.2 K%: 3.7 BB%
AA: 11 GS, 66.1 IP, 74 H (9 HR), 4.21 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 15 K%: 4.3 BB%

Ynoa gets by on his excellent command of all 3 pitches he throws – a low-90’s fastball, a solid-average change-up, and a fringy slider that flashes average potential – leading to many comparisons to fellow Mets farmhand Rafael Montero. One statistical advantage that Montero had through AA (and that continued in AAA, though not in his Major League cup of coffee) was his ability to avoid the long ball, something Ynoa has had less success doing. After allowing only 3 homeruns over his first 11 starts with St. Lucie, Ynoa would allow 4 over his final 3 starts there, and then he allowed a homerun in 7 of 11 starts with Binghamton – the 3 homeruns allowed on August 1st was the only time with Bingo he’d allow more than 1 in a game. In a sense, it’s not surprising that he allows more homeruns than Montero, as Ynoa appears to be more of a flyball inducing pitcher than Rafa – again, the minor league batted ball data is not always perfect. Command-wise, he allowed 3 walks twice in April (something he never did in 2013), but only reached two walks in 5 of his final 20 appearances. He only failed to finish 5 innings three times all season – those two 3 walk appearances with St. Luce, and the 3-HR appearance with Bingo – and he worked into the 6th inning in 20 of 25 starts (he worked into the 7th in 10 starts, including his last 4). So while the stuff is often criticized as not being good enough to start at the highest level, his control has made it work well enough to consistently work through a lineup 3 times in his starts. I think consistently working deep into his starts gets overlooked, but it allowed him to throw more innings in 2014 than Noah Syndergaard, despite making one fewer start during the regular season – I will point out that Syndergaard was removed early in his last start of the regular season to save him for the postseason, not like that worked out for Las Vegas. Despite similar BABIP’s allowed to L/R, Ynoa had much more success against righties in 2014, as lefties teed off on him for 30 XBH (10 HR) vs. 22 XBH (6 HR) allowed to righties. Also, Ynoa had less success with his K% and BB% rates against lefties – 14.3 K%: 5.5 BB% vs. L for the season including only a 9.4 K% vs. L with Bingo, 19.4 K%: 2.3 BB% vs. R for the season including slight improves with Bingo. These L/R splits are very different than what he managed in 2013, when he had better K: BB rates against lefties and an equal OPS allowed against both sides, so it’ll be important to follow these trends in 2015. These future ROOGY trends were actually concerning enough to bump Ynoa below the two pitchers directly above him on this list. Moving forward, I’d like to see Ynoa sharpen up the slider and figure out how to strikeout lefties again. Perhaps he can get some tips from Warthen on his slider, who Harvey credits with improving his own slider. I think it’s good that the Mets have no choice but to start Ynoa with Bingo in April, as he certainly didn’t conquer the level in his half of a season there in 2014.

Ynoa needs more results like this against lefties in 2015

And this

He might spend too much time at the top of the zone

      14)   Dominic Smith LH/1B (19)
2014 stats:
A: 126 G, 518 PA, .271/.344/.338, .321 BABIP, 95 wRC+, 26 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14.9 K%: 9.8 BB%

Smith’s stock obviously took a big hit in 2014 when he only hit one homerun for the season as a 1B prospect, but try to remember that he spent half of the season as an 18-year old in the SAL, which is 2.5 years younger than the league average. Plus, I think the worst thing he did to hurt his stock was come into spring training a little bigger in the wrong spots – announcers joked he spent the offseason eating McDonalds early in the year. He looked very overmatched in April (.508 OPS for the month), as I saw him rolling over pitches and hitting weak grounders on the infield, and scouts were quick to jump on the Mets for pushing him too quick. However, he seemed to adjust to the league by the end of April, and spent the next 3 months using the whole field to hit a lot of doubles – he hit .333/.392/.409 with 21 doubles and a 15 K%: 8.8 BB% in 307 PA, good for a 126 wRC+. He was still pulling far too many grounders to the right side, but he also created a left-center field hot zone in his spray charts during that stretch. It’s unclear to me if he hit a wall as the dog days approached or the league simply adjusted to him, but he struggled in the final stretch of the season, managing only a .585 OPS over his final 136 PA. It’s possible that his .221 BABIP in that stretch may have been the real problem, as he had an ISO high for a month of .120 in August, and had improved K% and BB% rates over that final stretch. However, looking at his spray charts from during that span, it’s clear he was still pulling the ball on the ground too often. Had he continued his hot stretch through the end of the season, it’s probable that Smith would be heading to St. Lucie out of spring training this year, but I think the Mets should send him back to Savannah for the first few months of the season – he’ll still be one of the younger players in the league.

Double to the left-center field monster off a lefty? - Very nice. My pointer says hello

Smith appeared to focus on going the other way for a long stretch with Savannah
Pulling the ball to the wall off a lefty for a double works too!

      15)   Jhoan Urena S/3B (20)
2014 stats:
A-: 75 G, 315 PA, .300/.356/.431, .356 BABIP, 128 wRC+, 20 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 18.4 K%: 8.6 BB%

Although he came into the season relatively unheralded, Jhoan (pronounced Johan) missed only one game as the Cyclones third baseman in 2014, when he was ejected pre-game for having a standoff with someone on the Staten Island Yankees. Otherwise, he was the most consistent offensive force in a lineup that had its ups and downs. Also, although he had been overlooked as a prospect coming into 2014, he had made enough of a splash in extended spring training that the Cyclones coaches and radio announcers were raving about him from the first week of the season. The biggest knocks on Urena I’ve read is that his body has little room left for projection – he’s listed at 6’1, 200 pounds on BB-Ref – and that he might not improve much at 3B. I know little about projecting what players will look like in several years, but Urena seemed fine at 3B from what I saw – his arm and range are ‘merely’ average, but he was consistent and looked smooth at the hot corner. Consistent would be a good way to describe his season at the plate too, as he rarely went more than one game without getting a hit. Although he managed to hit .300 against both lefties and righties, Jhoan provided more power and struck out less against lefties, which suggests he’s more comfortable from his natural side. I tend to think of that as a good thing, as he’ll likely get more experience against righties throughout the minors. He had the 3rd best OPS of the 13 teenagers who made at least 75 AB’s in the NYPL, and was top-30 among all players in the league. He impressed enough that the Mets sent him to Savannah to help boost their offense for the postseason, and that’s where he’ll be to start the 2015 season.

Slapping an RBI single into LF

Launched this double to the warning track - what a pretty view
Maybe not the most impressive hit, but the only gif I have from the right side

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