Monday, March 3, 2014

Final Mets Prospect Countdown: No. 1-5

by John Vittas (@JohnVittas3)

Over the course of the offseason, Across the John has posted scouting reports on the top 40 prospects in the Mets system. With Spring Training in full swing, it's time to reveal the top five prospects in the Mets farm system heading into 2014.

Keep in mind, Across the John prospect rankings do not include any player who has already made their Big League debut. Therefore, you won't see names like Travis d'Arnaud or Wilmer Flores.

40. OF Darrell Ceciliani
39. RHP Luis Cessa
38. RHP Cameron Griffin
37. SS Jeff McNeil
36. OF Joe Tuschak
35. 1B Matt Oberste
34. RHP Hansel Robles
33. RHP Akeel Morris
32. OF Champ Stuart
31. OF Ivan Wilson
To read the reports on prospects 31-40, click here.
30. RHP Rainy Lara
29. RHP Luis Mateo
28. OF Dustin Lawley
27. 3B Aderlin Rodriguez
26. OF Jared King
25. RHP Miller Diaz
24. RHP John Gant
23. 2B LJ Mazzilli
22. RHP Cory Mazzoni
21. RHP Tyler Bashlor
For the reports on prospects 21-30, click here.
20. RHP Matt Bowman
19. RHP Robert Gsellman
18. OF Cory Vaughn
17. LHP Jack Leathersich
16. RHP Rob Whalen
For reports on prospects 16-20, click here.
15. RHP Chris Flexen
14. RHP Michael Fulmer
13. RHP Gabriel Ynoa
12. SS Gavin Cecchini
11. INF Dilson Herrera
For the article on prospects 11-15, click here.
10. RHP Domingo Tapia
9. 1B Jayce Boyd
8. SS Amed Rosario
7. C Kevin Plawecki
6. OF Brandon Nimmo
For the article on prospects 6-10, click here.

5. Steven Matz - LHP

Ward Melville HS (NY) - 2nd Round of the 2009 Draft

Opening Day Age: 22

Projected Opening Day Assignment: High-A St. Lucie

General Numbers: gave up just 4.1 hits/start in 2013 (A-ball Savannah)
Relevant Numbers: yet to reach 140 innings in his career

Positives: After two years of rehab, Steven Matz has resurfaced as a prized prospect. The lefty from Long Island registered a full-season-player best 2.62 ERA over 21 starts for Savannah. His emergence in 2013 goes beyond the numbers, as his fastball has returned to the mid-90s. His curveball and changeup are weapons and he’s working on a slider which should help him against lefties (LH batters had more success than righties). His motion is smooth and repeatable and his command was great. I’ll be the first to call Matz a top-5 prospect, and I think that’s where he belongs.

Negatives: Durability and experience are major questions. With only 27 minor league games under his belt, the Ward Melville standout will be the least experienced player of anyone in the Florida State League. The Mets will continue to monitor his innings closely, and it’ll take a while to build up his season-long stamina.

Style: Cliff Lee

Across the John Preseason Rank: 19
ATJ Midseason Rank: 34
Jonathan Mayo Top 20: Not Ranked
Keith Law Top 10: Not Ranked
FanGraphs Rank: 8
Baseball America Top 10: Not Ranked

4. Dominic Smith - 1B

Serra HS (CA) - 1st Round of the 2013 Draft (11th Overall)

Opening Day Age: 18

Projected Opening Day Assignment: Extended Spring Training

General Numbers: .837 professional OPS straight out of high school (GCL and R-Kingsport)
Relevant Numbers: too early for these

Positives: Smith is a pure hitter - the best of the 2013 draft class according to some. It all comes naturally to him. His swing is as pretty as it gets and that may not even be his strongest tool. Scouts have already said he could become the best defensive first baseman in the game. It’s all way too premature, the kid is 18, but the hype will grab your attention. His hands and bat speed are noticeable, and many see him as the top position-player prospect in the system.

Negatives: TBD

Style: Ryan Howard (better defense and less power)

Across the John Preseason Rank: Not in the system
ATJ Midseason Rank: 14
Jonathan Mayo Rank: 7
Keith Law Rank: 3 (37th in baseball)
FanGraphs Rank: 3

Baseball America Rank: 4

3. Rafael Montero - RHP

Higuerito, Dominican Republic - Signed as International Free Agent

Opening Day Age: 23

Projected Opening Day Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas

General Numbers: 3rd straight year with a sub-2.80 ERA
Relevant Numbers: 85 hits in 88 IPs in the hitter-friendly PCL

Positives: Rafael can locate better than anyone. His control has gotten him this far, but its been his velocity to improve and take him up the prospect lists. He hit 96 at the Futures Game in 2013, and his changeup is as good as it gets.’s Sam Dykstra called him the most underrated prospect in baseball.
The other positive is that he’s weeks away from making his Major League debut. I’d bet he beats Syndergaard and deGrom to Flushing in 2014.

Negatives: He’s only played three years in the Minors and has never had more Ks than innings pitched in any of those three years, leaving some worried that he’ll be hittable in the Majors.

Comparison: Jordan Zimmermann (without the breaking ball)

Across the John Preseason Rank: 6
ATJ Midseason Rank: 6
Jonathan Mayo Rank: 3 (85th in baseball)
Keith Law Rank: 4 (60th in baseball)
FanGraphs Rank: 5
Baseball America Rank: 3

2. Cesar Puello - OF

La Romana, Dominican Republic - Signed as International Free Agent

Opening Day Age: 23

Projected Opening Day Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas

General Numbers: 39 XBH in 91 games (Double-A Binghamton)
Relevant Numbers: raised his average 66 points to .326 in 2013

Positives: No one has Cesar Puello ranked this high, but the guy is as close to a 5-tool player as anyone the Mets have. In a season overshadowed by his PED suspension, Puello had a breakout campaign in 2013, turning his elite tools into on-field dominance. Registering an OPS of .950, Puello was on his way to a 20 HR and 30 SB season before the suspension. He’s built like a truck, and Baseball America has tabbed his outfield arm the best in the system each of the past two years. For a team desperate for outfielders, people have consistently overlooked the best position player prospect in Puello.

Negatives: He took drugs, that’s never good. But Biogenesis is gone now, and hopefully Cesar is the same player while clean.

Style: Yasiel Puig (yes, Yasiel Puig)

Across the John Preseason Rank: 9
ATJ Midseason Rank: 2
Jonathan Mayo Top 20: 6
Keith Law Rank: 9
FanGraphs Top 15: Not Ranked
Baseball America Top 10: Not Ranked

1. Noah Syndergaard - RHP

Legacy HS (TX) - 1st Round of the 2010 Draft (38th Overall)

Opening Day Age: 21

Projected Opening Day Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas

General Numbers: did not allow a run in 3 of his last 4 starts (Double-A Binghamton)
Relevant Numbers: 133 Ks, 28 walks in 117 innings

Positives: Where do you even begin? He’s 6-6, 230, throws 98 miles an hour, knows how to pitch, and has the attitude to boot. He’s athletic and has three plus-pitches. A mid-to-upper 90s fastball with sink, a mid-80s change and a h-h-hammer that leaves hitters screwing themselves into the ground. He’s smart, competitive and knows what it takes to be the best. The consensus is that he’ll be up mid-season, some time around July. Get used to saying Harvey-Wheeler-Syndergaard, because that’ll be the front three for at least four years.

Negatives: 2013 was the first time Noah made over 20 starts, and so his innings could be limited the next two seasons.

Comparison: Chris Tillman (but better)

Across the John Preseason Rank: 3
ATJ Midseason Rank: 3
Jonathan Mayo Rank: 1 (11th in baseball)
Keith Law Rank: 1 (24th in baseball)
FanGraphs Rank: 1
Baseball America Rank: 1

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