Here’s the final installment of the official RDM top-prospect list. Thanks for reading everybody. I’m looking forward to covering the minors for you again this year. So, without further adieu, here are your top five prospects for 2013:
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF – By all accounts Nimmo’s summer in Brooklyn in 2012 can be considered a success. He hit .248/.372/.406 and showed off all the tools we had heard about when he was the Mets top draft pick in 2011. Nimmo displayed some power and an impressive walk rate for a player his age. He remains a high-ceiling prospect with a lot of projectable tools, which is why he’s a top-5 prospect, despite being several years away from the majors. The journey continues in 2013, as Nimmo will experience full-season ball for the first time, most likely in Savannah, which should be fun to watch.
4. Wilmer Flores, 3B – Flores had a bounce back year in 2012, crushing the ball for both St. Lucie and Binghamton, as his bat is getting very close to being major-league ready. He has just 251 at bats above A-ball, so there’s a need for some more seasoning, but with the way he can recognize pitches, square up pitches, and drive the ball he’s all but ready for the challenge of major league pitching. Of course, his place on the field defensively complicates things. He has the arm for third base, and it’s the position he’s played most outside of shortstop, but obviously that spot is taken up in Queens for the rest of the decade. He will play both third and second base in the minors this year, but he has such poor foot speed that he will be below average, if not well below average at second (the same goes for the outfield, so anyone who suggests he play there, please stop). First base is an option, although the Mets may not have an opening there and have no plans to play him there at the moment. If there’s an injury and an opportunity to play in the big leagues at some point in June or later, it could be Flores that gets the call up, so in a lot of ways it’s a waiting game. Bottom line: he can really hit, he’ll be a liability on defense anywhere he plays, and at some point something has to give.
3. Noah Syndergaard, RP – He’s a big reason why the Dickey trade was such a major accomplishment for Sandy Alderson. Syndergaard gives the Mets another pitcher with front rotation potential. He was probably even more impressive than Michael Fulmer in 2012, at the same age and at the same level. He has great control with his fastball, especially considering the mid 90’s velocity of the pitch. The fastball, like Domingo Tapia’s and Jacob DeGrom’s, is a heavy sinking fastball that made him a groundball machine last year. He also has two potentially plus secondary offerings in the making. He was drafted in 2010, so he has 20 more career starts than Fulmer, which means the Mets can be a little more aggressive with him, meaning a mid-season promotion to AA is possible if all goes well in the first half. Synergaard will likely need two more full seasons in the minors before he’s ready, but he’s next in line behind Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler as a guy that has the potential to be at the front of a big league rotation.
2. Travis d’Arnaud, C – The newly acquired d’Arnaud jumps straight to number 2 on the list. Aside from some injury concerns, d’Arnaud appears to be a sure bet to be the Mets catcher of the future, and is considered to be either the best or second best catching prospect in baseball. He’s projected to be an above-average catcher defensively, while also giving the Mets a much-needed right-handed bat in the middle of the order that has plenty of pop. During an injury shortened 2012 season, d’Arnaud hit .333/.380/.595 in AAA, with 16 homeruns and 21 doubles in 67 games. Those numbers are probably a little inflated, being in the PCL, but they are impressive nonetheless. He’ll have a chance to make the team out of spring training, but the more likely scenario is that he’ll spend the first month or so of the season in AAA, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll make his Mets debut soon thereafter, beginning what will hopefully be a long and fruitful career in New York, which will be especially satisfying when you consider the fact that he was originally drafted by the team in Philadelphia.
1. Zack Wheeler, RP – Wheeler edges out d’Arnaud for the top spot because pitching is just a little more important than catching. He has two plus pitches and the kind of stuff that can put him at the front of the rotation. Wheeler is almost a finished product, as he has some control issues to iron out, but other than that, he is real close to being big league ready. The Mets will give him a look in spring training, but if everyone is healthy, all five rotation spots appear to be spoken for. That being said, Wheeler will be making his big league debut at some point during the 2013 season, it just depends on when there’s an opening and when the Mets feel he’s ready to go. Wheeler is the future of the Mets rotation, and the future is both very bright, and almost here.