Astromets Top 83 Prospect Series: 46-55 | Astromets Mind

Monday, February 16, 2015

Astromets Top 83 Prospect Series: 46-55

            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: 1-9 | 10-15 | 16-24 | 25-33 | 34-45 | 46-55 | 56-62 | 63-74 | 75-83

Upper level relief depth
            Considering the constant turnover in bullpens these days, the more potential arms, the better. The Mets have a number of potentially useful bullpen arms between Binghamton and Las Vegas, and most of these guys should get chances in the majors at some point over the next few seasons. Also, these guys are all at about the same level, and this group could be ordered in a number of different ways depending on the week of the season.

       46)   Dario Alvarez LF/RP (26)
2014 stats:
A: 20 G (6 GS), 61.1 IP, 43 H (2 HR), 1.32 ERA, 1.70 FIP, 23.4 K%: 12.8 BB%
A+: 4 G, 6.1 IP, 1 H, 0.00 ERA, 1.65 FIP, 50 K%: 15 BB%
AA: 5 G, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 FIP, 42.9 K%: 0 BB%
AFL: 6 G, 9.1 IP, 11 H (1 HR), 6.75 ERA, 5.33 FIP, 23.4 K%: 12.8 BB%
(4 September relief appearances with the Mets)

You’ve probably already heard a lot about this southpaws unexpected ascent through the Mets system in 2014 thanks to his September cup of coffee in Queens, so I wont rehash the details here. Dario Naharis Alvarez will be in a competition for the Mets second lefty in the bullpen role this spring, and is certainly capable of winning it. He seems to have some swing-and-miss stuff, but he’ll need to keep those walks in tow to stick around. Also, he has the potential to be a spot starter if needed, as he was used in that role with Savannah last year. It’s a shame that Dario spent so much time with Savannah in 2014, as it seems he could’ve been honing his craft with any of the upper level teams.

No, that is not old footage of Pedro Feliciano

A-ballers had no chance against Dario

He embarrassed righties down there too

       47)   Cody Satterwhite RH/RP (28)
2014 stats:
AA: 48 G, 58 IP, 42 H (3 HR), 2.33 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 26.8 K%: 9.4 BB%

Satterwhite made 8 total appearances in the minors from 2010-12 due to shoulder injuries, so he’s a little old for someone who has yet to pitch in AAA, but he re-established himself as an interesting relief prospect with his strong performance for Binghamton last year. His season stats were actually even better before the last week of the regular season, when he put up back-to-back stinkers against New Britain, but he got himself together for a dominant postseason performance – 5 G, 5 IP, 9 SO: 1 BB (19 batters faced). Satterwhite received an invite to the major league side of camp this spring, and while I don’t think he’ll break camp with the Mets, I expect him to make a name for himself as someone the Mets may want to call upon when need strikes, although he has the disadvantage of not being on the 40-man. He’s got a mid-90’s heater, and he’ll mix in a sharp slider and a splitter. As a side note, he was one of four Binghamton all-stars in the 2014 season.

That ball drops out of the zone last second

Painted this corner on three straight pitches, getting two called strikes

That guy had no chance at hitting this pitch

       48)   Chase Bradford RH/RP (25)
2014 stats:
AA: 23 G, 26.2 IP, 26 H (0 HR), 2.03 ERA, 2.15 FIP, 22.1 K%: 5.3 BB%
AAA: 34 G, 46 IP, 54 H (6 HR), 3.52 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 21.2 K%: 2.1 BB%

Bradford quickly became one of Wally’s go to guys in 2013, as he was one of the more consistent arms in the Las Vegas pen. Impressively, he didn’t allow a walk after the AAA all-star break, a span of 22 innings (19 appearances). That low walk rate would be very nice in any pen, but he was a little too hittable in his Vegas debut. Some of that may just be the offensive environment of the PCL, and opponents were aided by a .340 BABIP against Bradford, but it also could just be the 2011 35th round pick reaching his peak. This is why it’s frustrating having a AAA team in such an offensive environment, as both pitchers and position players stats get questioned all the time. Armed with mid-90’s heat, I expect Bradford to compete for the 51s closer role out of spring training, especially since he’s already on Wally’s good side.

       49)   Jack Leathersich LH/RP (24)
2014 stats:
AA: 37 G, 46 IP, 38 H (1 HR), 2.93 ERA, 1.83 FIP, 39.7 K%: 10.6 BB%
AAA: 11 G, 8.1 IP, 8 H (2 HR), 5.40 ERA, 6.34 FIP, 33.3 K%: 16.7 BB%

It took Leathersich until August to return to AAA, and then he was sparsely used by Manager Wally Backman down the stretch – Wally seems to prefer to win with filler than make sure top prospects get the chance to develop. With Binghamton, Leathersich still posted ridiculous K-rates (though he had a 44.4 K% in 2013) while improving his BB% by two points. His control is still less than ideal for a reliever, but he’s made it work, and is aware that he needs to improve it. Also, his control improved month-by-month with Bingo, and he was down to 8.3 BB% over his final 35 IP there. It’s hard to really glean much from his SSS with Las Vegas, especially since he never seemed to have a defined role. I don’t expect him to win the second lefty bullpen job out of spring training, but he should have a more regular role out of the Vegas pen early in the season, and I think he’ll be pitching in the majors by September.

He was not afraid to throw the high heat to either side

       50)   Erik Goeddel RH/RP (26)
2014 stats:
AAA: 49 G, 63.2 IP, 77 H (6 HR), 5.37 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 21.6 K%: 10.1 BB%
(6 September relief appearances with the Mets)

Erik Van Norman Goeddel was moved to the bullpen prior to the 2014 season, but couldn’t shake the inconsistencies that led to the Mets putting him there. Goeddel can throw a mid-90’s heater, a nice big curve, and a mid-80’s slider; he just doesn’t control them consistently from appearance to appearance. When on, he was nearly unhittable, but he just wasn’t on often enough. Another thing to like about Goeddel is his ability to work multiple innings out of the pen at a time, as he went 2+ IP in 1/3 of his appearances with Las Vegas. If he can find some consistency with either his curveball or slider, he can be a real late inning asset for the Mets, but he needs more than just a good fastball to succeed.

No one is catching up to that high 95 MPH fastball

He easily struck out the side in this performance

It doesn't matter which side you hit from when Goeddel is dealing

       51)   John Church RH/RP (28)
2014 stats:
AA: 18 G, 23 IP, 21 H (1 HR), 3.13 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 29.8 K%: 5.3 BB%
AAA: 26 G, 34 IP, 41 H (4 HR), 4.50 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 18.8 K%: 7.4 BB%

Church has been a consistently decent bullpen option in the Mets system since they drafted him in the 23rd round of the 2009 draft. Making it to the top of the minors is an accomplishment in itself for someone drafted so late, but is this big righty just organization filler or something more? His 2014 season followed the same script as 2013 – dominate in AA (he improved by 3 percentage points on both his K% and BB%), while being a little more average in AAA – but ended with him on the minor league DL. I never heard if the move was due to an injury or to make room for Matthew Bowman. If he was healthy, he probably would’ve rejoined the club in place of Giancarlo Alvarado at the end of the season, but you never know. He’s pretty low down on the depth chart with the Mets, so his best shot at the majors may come after he leaves as a minor league free agent, which he will be eligible for after 2015.

       52)   Jon Velasquez RH/RP (29)
2014 stats:
AA: 44 G, 54.2 IP, 45 H (2 HR), 3.62 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 22.2 K%: 5.9 BB%

Velasquez is the elder statesman on this list, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to include a 29-year old on this list, but his invitation to the Mets major league spring training camp swayed my decision – the Mets obviously see something interesting in him too. He didn’t pitch in the minors from 2011-13, but was an all-star with Binghamton last year, much to his surprise. His arsenal includes a very nice change-up that just disappears on hitters, as well as a low-90’s heater and cutter. Despite the nice change-up, lefties still had considerably more success against him than righties in 2014 - .551 OPS vs. R, .745 OPS vs. L. At his age and with no AAA experience, he’s certainly a long shot to carve out a successful big league career, but I wouldn’t count him out now that he’s got his swagger back.

Nice painting

A Gift for Mr. Ngoepe

       53)   Zack Thornton RH/RP (26)
2014 stats with Mets franchise:
AAA: 50 G, 59.2 IP, 61 H (5 HR), 4.22 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 24.6 K%: 8 BB%

Thornton was the immediate piece acquired in the Ike Davis trade, and the Mets front office seemed to think he could make an impact with the big club in 2014. That never happened though, as Zack was very inconsistent with Las Vegas – that may seem like a common phrase with this group, but if these guys were consistent, they wouldn’t be ranked this low. Thornton features a nice low-90’s sinker, but his secondary offerings are pretty average. Expected to be a late inning relief option for Las Vegas, it wasn’t long before Zack was finding himself limited to the 6th/7th innings of games. His L/R splits were pretty even despite allowing a .378 BABIP against lefties (he allowed a .291 BABIP against righties), so hopefully he can be a ‘crossover’ option out of the pen in the future – aka, a righty who doesn’t have to be removed for every lefty. It’s not clear that the higher BABIP against lefties is due to them hitting him harder either, as all 5 homeruns allowed were to righties.

Nice late movement on both these pitches

       54)   Jeff Walters RH/RP (27)
2014 stats:
AAA: 23 G, 21.1 IP, 38 H (3 HR), 8.86 ERA, 5.34 FIP, 13.5 K%: 7.7 BB%
(His season ended early due to TJS)

The last two on this list are the only two spots that I feel should be set within the group, as these guys are noticeably behind the rest. Walters started last spring with an outside shot to break camp with the parent club after a breakout 2013, but things were not right from the start of camp. After struggling in spring training, he was given the Vegas closers job to start the season, but had a big blow up in the first game of the season. He was still able to be somewhat effective at the back of the 51s bullpen, but he didn’t look right, and his strikeouts were way down. It was almost a relief to hear that he was injured, as otherwise it meant that Walters had reached a wall named AAA. Walters has re-signed with the Mets (he was removed from the 40-man roster due to limited space) and should just be focused on getting healthy and pitching in minor league games by the end of 2015. If all goes right, he could be back to knocking on the major league door by the start of 2016. It’s a shame to see an injury derail his career when he was so close, and I wish him the best of luck moving forward.

       55)                  Chase Huchingson LH/RP (25)
2014 stats:
AA: 25 G, 29 IP, 21 H (2 HR), 3.10 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 21.3 K%: 13.1 BB%

Huchingson has been a bit frustrating as a prospect, as he looks like a promising lefty relief option, but was suspended at the end of 2013 after violating Minor League Baseball’s drug of abuse policy (hopefully just for weed), putting a damper on an otherwise strong campaign. He appeared to take a step back in 2014, as both his K% and BB% went in the wrong directions. He doesn’t allow much hard contact, as evidenced by a low BABIP and SLG against, but that walk rate is his limiting factor right now. His L/R splits have flipped over the past two seasons – he was better against righties in 2014, better against lefties in 2013 – but he’s generally been able to handle both sides equally, with BABIP fluctuations accounting for the differences. I’m not sure there will be enough space with the Las Vegas bullpen for him to start the season, but I think he can force his way into the picture there – if not, it will probably be time to his prospect obituary. He did seem to get better as the season went on, as his OPS against improved every month, and he finished August with a very strong .521 OPS against.

Who doesn't like a side-arming lefty?

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