Here’s part 3 of our prospect countdown, as we crack the top 10:
10. Michael Fulmer – Fulmer was the second player the Mets took in the draft last year and he cracks the top 10 because fresh out of high school he has two plus pitches. The first pitch is his fastball, which is already in the low to mid 90’s, which is exceptional for someone who just turned 19 in March. His second plus pitch is his curveball, which helped him strikeout 10 batters in 5.1 innings in the GCL last year. He’s several years from reaching the major leagues, but less than a year after being drafted out of high school he’s already playing in a full-season league. That’s a big deal and an aggressive assignment, especially considering the policy of the front office to move slowly with its prospects, so the Mets must be really high on him. It may be a long wait with Fulmer, but it should be interesting to see how he develops, because he is loaded with talent.
9. Juan Lagares – While some of the lofty comparisons may be overkill, Lagares has quite a bit of potential if he can put it all together after hitting the snot out of the ball in 2011. He split his season between St. Lucie and Binghamton and finished with a line of .349/.383/.500. He is off to a slow start this year because he is trying out a new approach in order to draw more walks and get on base more often. He’s got plenty of athleticism and defensively he’s capable of playing all three outfield-spots, but he also played the infield at the start of his career. If he can learn patience at the plate he has more than enough tools to become a productive big leaguer.
8. Wilmer Flores – Flores’ standing as a prospect has taken a hit the last couple of years, but he remains in the top 10 for a number of reasons. For starters he’s still only 20 years old and he already has a year and a half of experience playing at the advanced-A level, so he’s still advanced for his age and has plenty of time left, despite already being on the 40-man roster. Flores also has great hand-eye coordination, which allows him to consistently put a bat on the ball. As he continues to grow and fill out power should come about as a result of his ability to consistently make contact, something that has already started with 20 combined homeruns over the past two seasons. Finally, the question of his position appears to be heading towards a conclusion as he is transitioning from shortstop to third base, a position where his size and lack of foot speed is less of an issue and makes sense considering his great arm strength. So, with all that in mind there is reason to continue to believe in Flores as a prospect, it’s just going to take some patience.
7. Kirk Nieuwenhuis – What more can be written about the guy? (http://realdirtymets.com/2012/04/22/sunday-shots-rdmb-writers-give-their-take-on-the-torresnieuwenhuis-situation/). May I add in a little comment though: regression will happen and then we can see what we really have in Captain Kirk. But so far, so good. He’s handled the transition well and so his days as a prospect may well be over.
6. Cesar Puello – Puello has the size, physique, and tools to be a star, which is why the Mets put him on the 40-man roster despite never playing above A-ball. He has a nice 6’2’’ frame and good speed to go along with it, on the base paths and in the field. He has started to fill out, which has brought about an increase in power. All the tools are there for Puello to succeed, it’s just a matter of harnessing them into production and making the necessary adjustments at each level to keep moving up through the farm system. He’s still young and he’s a long way away, but the ceiling for Puello is high and at least for now he’s got a chance to get there.