Who’s Next? The Top Pitching Prospects Left in the System, #3 - Luis Cessa | Astromets Mind

Friday, July 3, 2015

Who’s Next? The Top Pitching Prospects Left in the System, #3 - Luis Cessa

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Re-ranking the Top starting pitchers within the Mets farm system now that Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have graduated.

            Coming into the 2015 season, the Mets farm system was a consensus Top-5 system in the majors thanks to some high-end talent at the top, but they’ve graduated several top prospects, including their top-2 starting pitching prospects, and figure to take a hit in those rankings this offseason. That’s not a bad thing though, because it means that the Mets are starting to improve from within, which is the purpose of a farm system. Also, it means that the door is open for the next crop of prospects to emerge, and the Mets still have some starting pitching prospects with major league upside worth keeping an eye on.

            For this list, I have limited myself to full-season starters, because we still know relatively little about the short-season pitchers, and those guys are far from helping away. Notably absent from this list is Marcos Molina, because he’s too much of an unknown at this point. He would easily rank among the top 2-3 starters left if healthy, and he’d probably be #1 if he could pitch like he did last year in Brooklyn without the scary mechanics – everyone who saw him last year said the same two things: he has great stuff, but his mechanics are big red flags. But, he’s not pitching right now because of a forearm strain, and he’s not having Tommy John surgery either, so what are the Mets getting when he returns? Will he have the same mechanics? If so, why should we expect him to stay healthy? If not, will his stuff be as good? Either way, this is looking like a lost season for Molina, and we still have to wait-and-see if this injury carries over to next season.

Luis Cessa

            I am guilty of vastly under-ranking Luis Cessa this past offseason, and I’m starting to think he might be the most underrated prospects in the system. Few starters in the system can match Cessa’s top fastball velocity, which ranges from 91-96 MPH, and has been reported as high as 97 MPH a few times this year. His primary breaking pitch is a slider in the mid-80's that can get a bit slurvy at times (it looks like a curve at times, but he refers to it as a slider), and he's gaining confidence throwing his changeup more this year.
            He has great control of the fastball, but the large range in velocity suggests the pitch would play up better out of the pen, when he doesn’t have to conserve as much. It sounds like the velocity is there when he needs it though, as I’ll hear more calls in the 95-96 MPH range when there are 2 strikes than normal – this is better than the radio reports of his fastball fizzling out after the first few innings I had from the end of last season.
            His breaking pitch flashes solid swing-and-miss potential, but it looks like he’s still learning when to use it to best effect. Cessa may already be 23 (which is actually 1.8 years younger than the average AA pitcher), but he’s only been pitching seriously since he was 19 – he may have pitched some growing up, but he was signed as an infielder – so there is still room for growth as he learns how to pitch. His changeup gets a similar report to his slider, but it can be a more consistent weapon for him right now because it doesn't vary in shape from start-to-start.
            Overall, I’m still not sold on Cessa sticking as a starter, but he has a higher upside if he sticks in the rotation than the guys below him on this list. I think his most likely role is in the bullpen, where he could be a nice late inning power arm, but there is still a chance that it all comes together and he emerges as much more. He made it to AA on the strength of his power fastball, but he's been improving this year because of his improving secondaries, and an improving plan on the mound.

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