New York Mets Top 15 Prospects: 6-10

The 2015 Mets Farm System may finally obtain the organizational balance that New York has been craving ever since the drafting of Matt Harvey in 2010.

The Mets’ farm system is still pitching-heavy, but the fact that three positional prospects made our #6-10 list may represent a turnaround that will give the Mets depth to make trades or simply sit back and watch their youngsters develop.

Most of the prospects we detailed yesterday in the #11-15 rankings jumped up the depth chart with solid 2014 performances, but two prospects within the #6-10 portion of our rankings took quite a large fall in just one year.

Now, it’s time to take a look at some more elite players in the New York system and see how they could contribute at Citi Field in the future.

#10

Dominic Smith – 1B

Age: 19

H/W: 6’0”/185 lbs

B/T: Left/Left

2014 Stats:

YearAgeAgeDifTmLgLevAffGABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
201419-2.5SavannahSALLANYM1264615212526114455177.271.344.338.683

Analysis: Selecting high school players in the first round of the MLB Draft is quite a gamble, but it looked worth the risk when the 18-year-old Dominic Smith, selected 11th overall in the 2013 June Amateur Draft, batted .301 with an .837 OPS in his first season of professional ball.  The Mets’ brass believed this performance (along with scouting reports noting Smith’s pure sing and maturity) merited skipping Smith to Single-A and allowing him to begin the 2014 season with the Sand Gnats.  It would be forgiving to say that the 19-year-old smith struggled in 2014.  The young first baseman played his home games in the infamously large Grayson Stadium, but even that does not excuse Smith’s minimal power: he hit a single home run in 461 at-bats, unacceptable for a player that counts raw power among his top tools. Furthermore, while Baseball America dubbed Smith as the “best pure hitter in the prep class” prior to the draft,, 2014 scouts were extremely unimpressed by Smith’s swing, approach, and footwork.  Here’s what RotoScouting had to say about the Mets’ top first base prospect, the report was published in April 2014.

“On offense, Smith struggled to make solid contact, repeatedly beating balls into the ground…Smith has a tendency to fly open with his front foot. When this happens, he spins off the baseball instead of driving through. Combine this with a flat plane swing and it appears as if Smith is selling out for power, while generating none.”

I’m not ready to give up on Smith just yet, evident by his top-10 ranking, but it certainly seems that the Mets have a lot more developing to do than they originally planned.

2015 Prognosis: Given his lack of success with Savannah, I expect the Mets start Smith again with Savannah and go from there.  Lucas Duda’s 2014 breakout season takes some pressure off Smith, so expect the New York front office to take things more slowly and develop the big lefty’s skills before exposing him to the higher levels.


MLB ETA: MLB.com says 2016, but that seems too optimistic at this point.  Smith should join the big league roster by midseason 2017.

#9

Marcos Molina – RHP

Age: 19

H/W: 6’3”/188 lbs

B/T: Right/Right

2014 Stats:

YearAgeAgeDifTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOWHIPH9HR9BB9SO9SO/W
201419-2.5BrooklynNYPLA-NYM73.7001.77121276.1461815218910.8385.40.22.110.75.06

Analysis: After posting a mediocre 4.39 ERA and giving up 56 hits in 53 innings for the GCL Mets, it wasn’t surprising that Marcos Molina didn’t make many top prospect lists before the 2014 season. But after dominating the New York-Penn League in 2014, he has vaulted himself into the conversation as one of the best arms in the entire Mets system.

In 76.1 innings pitched with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Molina easily paced the NYPL with a stellar 1.77 ERA and 91 strikeouts against only 18 walks, an outstanding 5.1 K/BB ratio. Furthermore, the Dominican phenom allowed only two home runs and finished the year with a superb 0.84 WHIP, even more impressive when you realize that Molina is only 19 years old.

2015 Prognosis: Considering Molina’s recent success and a fastball that can reach 96 MPH, the 2012 signee is certainly a Top-10 prospect in the Mets’ system. While it’s not hard to get excited about Molina’s 2014 performance, the righty’s first exposure to full-season ball in 2015 will be a big test of his organizational standing. He has been overshadowed by the Mets’ incredible pitching depth, but if his power arm can carry 2014’s success into next season, Molina may challenge Steven Matz for the coveted title of the Mets’ top pitching prospect by the end of 2015.

MLB ETA: If everything breaks right, Molina will be pitching for the Binghamton Mets by the end of 2015.  That would put him in prime position to latch on to the big club in late-2016 as a reliever or possibly open the 2017 season as a member of the starting rotation.

#8

Rafael Montero – RHP

Age: 24

H/W: 6’0/185 lbs

B/T: Right/Right

2014 Stats:

YearAgeAgeDifTmLgLevAffWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOWHIPH9HR9BB9SO9SO/W
201423-3.53 Teams3 LgsAAA-A+-RkNYM64.6003.45181886.0744433435871.2677.70.43.79.12.49
YearAgeTmLgWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOFIPWHIPH9HR9BB9SO9SO/W
201423NYMNL13.2504.0610844.1442120823425.141.5118.91.64.78.51.83
Analysis: Heralded as one of the two arms (Noah Syndergaard being the other) that would eventually lead the Mets back to the World Series, Montero’s lack of progress during the 2014 season caused him to be surpassed by the wily veterans Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon, as well as upcoming prospect Steven Matz on the depth chart.  But despite receiving noticeably less attention than he did a season ago, Montero continued to pitch well in the minors, finishing out the year with a 6-4 record and a 3.60 ERA for Triple-A Las Vegas and even seemed to hold his own in the big leagues (4.06 ERA in 8 starts).  However, it was the loss of his control, the skill that made him so talented, that caused a precipitous drop in Montero’s prospect stock.  During 2011-2013 minor league seasons, Montero’s BB/9 rates sat at 1.6, 1.4, and 2.0, respectively, extremely impressive considering the Dominican pitched over 348 innings total in those three seasons.  For some reason, however, Montero’s walk rate rose to almost 4.0 BB/9 in the minors during 2014 and to nearly 5.0 during his time in the bigs.  With the Mets, the rookie looked uncomfortable, unprepared, and hesitant, surprising considering scouts raved about Montero’s pitching knowledge and IQ years before he reached the big stage.

2015 Prognosis: It’s clear that Montero has nothing left to prove down in Triple-A, but the Mets have at least six starters that are more ready to help them win games right now.  That means that the 24-year-old Dominican is likely headed to the bullpen, a fate the Mets’ front office was hoping for him to avoid, at least to start the 2015 season. 

MLB ETA: N/A, reached the Majors in 2014.

#7

Michael Conforto – OF

Age: 21

H/W: 6’1/211 lbs

B/T: Left/Right

2014 Stats:

YearAgeAgeDifTmLgLevAffGABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2014210.0BrooklynNYPLA-NYM42163305410031931629.331.403.448.851
1 Season42163305410031931629.331.403.448.851

Analysis: Conforto was praised as the most polished college bat in the 2014 June Amateur draft, and the former Oregon standout proved his worth right out of the gate.  In his first experience of pro ball with the Cyclones, Conforto batted .331 with an .851 OPS in 186 at at-bats, even earning a promotion to Single-A Savannah to participate in the playoffs at the end of the season.  Some analysts felt the Conforto pick was too safe a move, especially when Trea Turner, a player that filled the Mets’ need at shortstop, was available.  However, Mets scout Tom Gamboa, with over 40 years of baseball experience, had this to say about the newest Mets prospect.

“It’s just rare to see that kind of selectivity in somebody that is so young… Everything we had heard — he was one of the top college hitters in the country — has proved to be true in pro ball.”

Tommy Tanous, the Mets’ scouting director, backed up Gamboa statment’s with praise of his own.

“He really opened our eyes”

2015 Prognosis: Considering rave reviews on Conforto, it’s clear that he is highly valued within the organization.  The Mets’ recent signing of Michael Cuddyer allows Conforto plenty of time to develop, so the 21-year-old will likely begin the season with Single-A Savannah.  Due to his advanced age and plate approach, however, I would not be surprised if Conforto is playing in Double-A Binghamton by season’s end.

MLB ETA: 2016, likely after the super two deadline.

#6

Amed RosarioSS

Age: 18

H/W: 6’2″/170 lbs

B/T: Right/Right

2014 Stats:

AgeAgeDifTmLgLevAffGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTBGDPHBPSHSFIBB
18-3.0BrooklynNYPLA-NYM682902663977115123731747.289.337.380.71710153220
18-3.5SavannahSALLANYM7313024011400111.133.161.300.461900000

Analysis: The Mets’ shortstop issues have been well-documented over the last few seasons, but while many analysts are proposing that the Mets acquire a player outside the organization, the answer may actually lie within, if the Mets are willing to wait.  Amed Rosario has been steadily climbing the Mets’ organizational ladder during the last two seasons, showing improvement each stop along the way.  Rosario, only 18 years old, broke out during the 2014 season with Brooklyn, and his performance may be a harbinger of things to come for the talented shortstop.  He batted .289, posted a .717 OPS, and knocked 77 hits in 68 games (all career highs).  While Rosario’s career highs are not particularly impressive, the fact that the young prospect posted these marks at an age when most players are still in high school demonstrates that this teenager is ready to match his talent to production.  Amed’s quick hands, elite bat speed, and incredible defensive potential will give him the chance to become a solid starting major league shortstop sometime in the future.

2015 Prognosis: Rosario will likely continue his steady ascension through the system with Single- A Savannah.  Should he continue to improve his approach and refine his tools, Rosario has a chance to reach High-A St. Lucie, if the Mets believe he’s ready.  If all breaks right, Rosario will be a Top-100 prospect in baseball and could challenge for the top prospect spot in the Mets organization.

MLB ETA: Best-case he’s in Queens by midseason 2017, but it’s more likely he challenges for a roster spot during the spring of ’18.

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