Here’s a look at RDM’s top 20 prospects at the start of the year and how their stock is looking midway through the season:
1. Matt Harvey – Down a little: Although Harvey has struggled at times he appears to be putting it together. He shouldn’t be too far away at this point.
2. Zack Wheeler – Up: It’s not that Matt Harvey has done anything wrong, but you could easily make the argument that Wheeler is the organization’s top prospect. He’s been better than expected and should be moving to AAA sooner than expected.
3. Brandon Nimmo – Same: Nimmo, in his highly anticipated debut for Brooklyn, has struggled at the plate posting a low batting average. He has still been able to draw a large amount of walks and keep the strikeouts down, which is a good sign for the 19 year-old.
4. Jeurys Familia – Down: Familia has had control problems all year, which has removed all hope of him becoming a big league starter, diminishing his value. He also appears to be further from contributing at the major league level than we thought coming into the season.
5. Jennry Mejia – Same: After recovering from TJ surgery, Mejia came back and pitched well as a starter. Due to a present need at the big league level he was converted to the bullpen, with the expectation being that he could help the Mets in that capacity sooner than he could as a starter. His transition back to the bullpen hasn’t been as smooth as we all hoped, but Mejia still has great stuff and should be a major league contributor at some point.
6. Cesar Puello – Down: An injury has kept Puello off the field for much of the season, but even in the time he has played the numbers haven’t been great. He hasn’t showed much power or a whole lot of patience and he really needs to make a statement in the second half.
7. Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Graduated from list: Kirk has proven himself to be about what one would have reasonably expected: a guy who is probably never going to eclipse 2-3 WAR during his peak, but is a really useful player to have on your team.
8. Wilmer Flores – Up: If we re did the rankings Flores would easily be back in the top 5, possibly the top 3. He ripped apart the Florida State League and has continued to roll after his promotion to AA. His position and place in the organization are question marks if David Wright is signed long term, but the bat is turning into what we all hoped it would become.
9. Juan Lagares – Down: 7-12: Although he has improved his plate discipline, it appears to have come at the expense of his hit tool, as he is batting .273. He still strikes out too much (15.2%), and has not hit for any power so far this season (.362 slug).
10. Michael Fulmer – Up: For a 19 year old to be doing in the South Atlantic League what Fulmer has done this year is nothing short of incredible. He has a 2.70 ERA, a WHIP barely above 1, and he’s struck out 62 in 70 innings.
11. Jordany Valdespin – Up a little and near graduation: 7-12: Jordany has had quite the season, endearing himself to Mets fans by winning a game versus the Phillies, then blowing one against the Nats. One thing about him is for sure: he is plenty talented and as much athleticism as anyone in the system. I believe that he has 15/25 potential, and if he can stick at second that would make him an incredibly valuable player.
12. Reese Havens – Down a little: Havens started the season late and went through some horrific struggles, but is now starting to come out of it. He’s stayed healthy thus far, which is nice, but he’s not getting any younger and still has 0 at bats in AAA.
13. Cory Mazzoni – Same: 7-12: Mazzoni has moved quickly through the Mets system, reaching Double-A Binghamton. He showed that he could handle the Florida State League, posting a FIP of 3.11 over 63.2 IP there this season. At this rate we could see him at some point next season, but that was to be expected as he was labeled as someone who would move quick.
14. Cory Vaughn – Down: The power has been impressive, and will keep him on the radar, but the average isn’t high enough and the strikeouts are too high, which has made Vaughn a bit of a disappointment this year after a hot start in April.
15. Domingo Tapia – Up, up, and up: 7-12: When I said in April that he was skyrocketing, I was dead on. Tapia is easily a top-10 prospect at this point, perhaps even top 5. His mid-upper 90s sinking fastball is a plus major league pitch, and if he can develop his change-up and slider he could become a front of the rotation piece. When your worst-case scenario is late-inning reliever, you know you have something special.
16. Matt Den Dekker – Up some: With a strong first half in AA Den Dekker earned a promotion to AAA, so he’s advancing. His defense is incredible and he’s proven he’s got some pop in his back, but the strikeout rate is high and his ability to hit lefties is still in question, so scouts are still unsure if he can start on a first-division team.
17. Juan Urbina – Down, a lot: Urbina did not have a very good extended Spring Training, failing to make Brooklyn’s rotation. He then got demoted back to Kingsport as his fastball couldn’t get out of the 80’s. His stock has plummeted very fast.
18. Aderlin Rodriguez – Up: In his second season in Savannah A-Rod’s improvement has been remarkable. His average has gone from .221 last year to .274 this year; his OBP from .265 to .336 and after hitting 17 homers last year, he already has 16 this year. He has as much raw power as anyone in the organization.
19. Erik Goeddel – Down: Goeddel has decent numbers and he’s had several real good starts, but he’s had command issues and his strikeout numbers have been erratic. There’s no question he has great stuff, but his numbers don’t indicate a guy with plus stuff. He should be pushing towards a AA promotion, but he’s not, which is disappointing.
20. Akeel Morris – Down: In his third professional season Morris is still not out of Kingsport. His electric arm is still having control problems and he’s not having that much success in a league he pitched in last year.
Now for a few guys outside our original top 20 that would get strong consideration if we were to redo the list right now:
Jefry Marte – Just like last year Marte had a hot April and then cooled down some. But if you look at his line of .260/.333/.384 and consider that he’s one of the youngest players in the Eastern League he looks like an intriguing prospect.
Wilfredo Tovar – Only recently has Tovar started to get the attention he deserves. He’s got the defensive skills at shortstop to play in the big leagues and has also shown the ability to put the ball in play; if he can continue to do that he’ll play in the majors.
Rafael Montero – I had Montero at #30 on my personal list, and I don’t know what I was thinking; Montero is easily a top-20 prospect. Montero’s success the first half in Savannah has carried over to St. Lucie and while he doesn’t have front-end stuff, he’s certainly capable of becoming a solid MLB starter at the back end up of the rotation.
Travis Taijeron – Taijeron is just what the Mets need: a right-hand hitting outfielder. He’s got some power and has handled the promotion to St. Lucie well. He’s got a lot left to do to prove he can be a big leaguer but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Also, a few more guys to keep an eye on for the second half of the season include Brooklyn SS Phillip Evans, Brooklyn starter Luis Mateo, Kingsport SS Gavin Cecchini, Brooklyn catcher Kevin Plawecki, Savannah SS Matt Reynolds, Brooklyn reliever Tyler Vanderheiden, Kingsport outfielder Brad Marquez, and Kingsport starter Steven Matz.