Astromets Top 83 Prospect Series: 56-62 | Astromets Mind

Monday, February 16, 2015

Astromets Top 83 Prospect Series: 56-62

            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

*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

A+ ballers with the potential to surprise
            Here are a few prospects who finished the season with St. Lucie, are generally overlooked by top prospect lists, but still have the potential to make an impact at the highest level if a few things break their way. These guys already have experience playing multiple positions, so their best shot may be as versatile bench players.

    56)   Phillip Evans RH/SS (22)
2014 stats:
A+: 111 G, 437 PA, .247/.314/.319, .277 BABIP, 84 wRC+, 16 2B, 4 HR, 13.5 K%: 8.9 BB%

Evans prospect status has been in free fall since receiving some glowing reports during his 2012 with the Cyclones. He did not hit with Savannah in 2013, and was forced to St. Lucie to make room for Gavin Cecchini at the start of 2014. Although he’d hit more with St. Lucie, he found himself in a four-man rotation for three spots by midseason, when Cecchini, McNeil and LJ Mazzilli were promoted. Being a part of that rotation may have a positive impact on his career outlook though, as he started gaining experience at 2B and 3B. And while he hasn’t really shown the power potential attributed to him when the Mets drafted him, that’s the main factor that keeps him above McNeil on my list – Evans is also younger and a better defensive shortstop than McNeil. A bit rushed through the lower levels so far, I think repeating A+ will be good for Evans – maybe he can finally show some of that offensive polish that attracted the Mets to him in the first place. He might not have shortstop to himself for that long though, as Amed Rosario will be working hard to move through Savannah quickly.

    57)   Jared King S/OF (23)
2014 stats:
A: 31 G, 132 PA, .231/.371/.375, .250 BABIP, 114 wRC+, 4 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 17.4 K%: 10.6 BB%
A+: 49 G, 198 PA, .287/.343/.392, .347 BABIP, 111 wRC+, 11 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 18.2 K%: 7.6 BB%

King will forever be remembered around these parts as the prospect who angered the baseball gods when he proposed to his girlfriend on the field, and was punished less than a week later with a freak injury to his leg. King would miss nearly two months due to the injury, but found himself with St. Lucie when he returned. He’s mostly played the corner outfields, but he’s also made 5 appearances in center field over his two pro seasons, though I’m not sure of the circumstances that led to him playing there. He’s got a good eye at the plate, but he’ll have to start showing his power in games to be considered an impact prospect moving forward.

    58)   Jeff McNeil LH/UT (23)
2014 stats:
A: 59 G, 265 PA, .332/.401/.461, .379 BABIP, 142 wRC+, 20 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 12.8 K%: 7.5 BB%
A+: 58 G, 241 PA, .246/.329/.319, .275 BABIP, 90 wRC+, 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 10.4 K%: 9.1 BB%

A former golf stud, McNeil has excellent plate coverage, as evidenced by his very low strikeout rates across two levels this past season. McNeil came out of nowhere with that huge first half campaign for Savannah, but came back to Earth after his promotion to St. Lucie. Still, despite being light on offense, he has interesting potential as a future utility infielder who can handle 2B, 3B and SS, which makes him about the 5th best such prospect on this list.

St. Lucie pitchers who need to move to the pen
            These righties had some success starting in 2014, but have already given scouts reason for concern about starting long term. Some pitchers find a new life in the pen, and these guys are probably going to be forced out there due to a numbers game, as the Mets just have too much pitching talent ahead of them on their depth charts.

    59)   Luis Cessa RH/SP (22)
2014 stats:
A+: 20 GS, 114.2 IP, 110 H (7 HR), 4.00 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 17.6 K%: 5.7 BB%
(Made one really rough spot start for Binghamton)

I probably have Cessa lower than most, but I just don’t see much beyond a mid-90’s fastball that’s gone by the 3rd inning. If he can find some workable secondary offerings to mix in with that heat, he has the potential to be a top notch reliever some day, but I think starting should be taken off the table sooner than later. I don’t think it’s a given that he’s moved to the pen to start the season, but I think he’ll be there at some point in 2015, and I predict that he’ll see a Hansel Robles-like boost in performance when he is. His last three starts of the season were extremely impressive (18.2 IP, 9 H, 17 SO: 3 BB, 0.48 ERA, .376 OPS allowed), but radio announcer Adam Mac noted a drop off in velocity throughout the starts.

    60)   Matt Koch RH/SP (24)
2014 stats:
A+: 22 GS, 120.1 IP, 141 H (7 HR), 4.64 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 11.9 K%: 6.1 BB%

After a very impressive 19.4 K%: 1.1 BB% with Savannah in 2013, Koch saw those numbers regress with his promotion to St. Lucie. It wasn’t that Koch didn’t have success with St. Lucie, but that he was very inconsistent, and had a July to forget (12.38 ERA over 16 IP, 1.018 OPS allowed). Considering his potential for above average control and struggles with consistency, I think Koch might benefit from shorter outings out of the pen, where he won’t have to hold back. He did finish strong, with a 2014 month-high 17 K% during August, which is hopefully a signal that he had made the necessary adjustments to the tougher competition.

    61)   Kevin McGowan RH/SP (23)
2014 stats:
A: 10 GS, 59 IP, 42 H (2 HR), 2.14 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 18.4 K%: 9.2 BB%
A+: 11 G (10 GS), 58.2 IP, 57 H (3 HR), 5.06 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 11.6 K%: 9.3 BB%

McGowan had one of the more impressive streaks while pitching for Savannah in the first half of 2014, going more than 37 innings without allowing an earned run (he only allowed one unearned run during that span). He was promoted to St. Lucie two starts after the streak ended, and was mostly successful against the tougher competition, despite less than stellar rate stats – he allowed 3 ER or less in 8/11 starts, and went at least 5 IP in 9/11 starts. Unfortunately, his stuff was no longer getting strikeouts at an average rate, and that is not a good sign for the future. He’s not too old that he can’t make some adjustments for his second go around in the FSL, but I think he’ll be pushed to the pen due to a numbers game.

Injury bugged
            This was going to be a group of second tier Savannah righties, but as I started writing about the other two, I felt they were rated far too low, so I bumped them up and dropped Flexen down a group.

          62)   Chris Flexen RH/SP (20)
      2014 stats:
      A: 13 GS, 69 IP, 75 H (5 HR), 4.83 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 14.5 K%: 11.6 BB%

      Flexen had the season nightmares are made of for pitching prospects – he got off to a rough start in his full season debut and had to go home early for Tommy John Surgery (and the removal of bone chips in his elbow). Perhaps the most frustrating part was that he had begun to turn things around in June, pitching to a 2.57 ERA over 28 IP (5 starts) with a 19 K%: 9.9 BB%, while allowing only a .639 OPS. It seems obvious in retrospect that something was wrong with Flexen, as he tripled his walk total from 2013 in the same number of innings, and just wasn’t getting the same strikeout results. With a healthy 2014, Flexen might’ve been making the conversation about the top of this list even more complicated, but now we’ll have to wait and see what he’s got when he comes back.

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