The Mets patience in their farm is starting to pay significant dividends to their major league ball club, recently in the emergence of Jacob deGrom, Juan Lagares, and Jeurys Familia as star-like talents.
Now, it seems like no matter which player makes the trip from the farm, be it deGrom and Dilson Herrera last year, Kevin Plawecki this week, or even the less-heralded Eric Campbell and Danny Muno, they make a solid impression on Mets brass and the fanbase in limited time.
But amidst a Mets team with a league-leading record and a farm system still flooded with top-tier major league ready talent, there also exists a bundle of intriguing names that are a bit further away.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with MLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis, who has been covering prospects and the draft since 1988, in hopes of uncovering some of these potential diamond-in-the-roughs.
I hope this serves as an intriguing and educational discussion for some of you. Enjoy.
Quinn B: First a general question before we get to the Mets. I was wondering if you could weigh in on the frequency of suspensions at both the minor and major league level. How far do you think baseball will go to get PEDs and other drugs out of the game?
Jim Callis: Call me cynical, but I don’t think PEDs and other drugs will ever be totally out of the game. I don’t think there’s enough testing, enough foolproof testing or stiff enough penalties to scare everyone from using drugs. It’s like the NFL — a handful of guys get caught each year, but do we really think they’re the only ones using? Guys are so much bigger and faster than they were a generation ago — that’s not normal human development.
Quinn B: Now onto our Metropolitans, starting with Wuilmer Becerra. What kind of ceiling does this kid have, and what are the chances he reaches that potential?
Jim Callis: Becerra was an interesting guy to get in the R.A. Dickey trade. He has a nice ceiling, fits the right field profile very well with plus raw power and solid arm strength. It will take him a while to get there, because he’s only 20, has barely played in Class A at this point and will have to make a lot more contact. He’s a high-risk, high-reward type of guy who’s certainly worth watching.
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Quinn B: There has been a lot of buzz on my site around the undrafted T.J. Rivera, who batted .350 in 2014. Do you think he could turn into a major league ballplayer?
Jim Callis: He’s a good story but a fringe prospect. He had a nifty batting average last year, but he was 25 and splitting time between high Class A and Double-A. His physical tools don’t grade out well. He’s more of a good organization guy.
Quinn B: Milton Ramos opened a lot of eyes last season with an impressive array of tools. What kind of player could we expect him to be if he reaches the major leagues?
Jim Callis: Some scouts thought Ramos was the best defensive infielder in the 2014 draft. His glove will always be what stands out most, but he has enough wiry strength to him to hold his own at the plate if he can make consistent contact. His upside is as a Gold Glover who probably hits near the bottom of the lineup, maybe you dream a little bit and he blossoms into a No. 2 hitter but that’s probably a stretch.
Quinn B: Continuing the discussion of shortstop farmhands, do you believe Gavin Cecchini will become an effective major league regular, and how long do we have to wait?
Jim Callis: I could see Cecchini as a second-division regular, hard to call him an everyday guy on a contender. He’s kind of a classic glass half-full or half-empty guy. You can see what you want to see. He doesn’t have a glaring weakness outside of hitting for power, the least important tool for a shortstop, but he doesn’t have a true plus tool either. He knows how to play the game and do the little things. Amed Rosario is the shortstop of the future for the Mets.
Quinn B: Who would you deem as the Mets organizational sleeper?
Jim Callis: I’m still not sure how good he is, but 2014 fourth-rounder Eudor Garcia fascinates me. He put up huge numbers at El Paso (Texas) CC, not the easiest place in the world to scout a kid, and could be a guy who hits for average and power and draws a lot of walks. He’s not really a third baseman and I want to see him against better competition, but he intrigues me.
Quinn B: Champ Stuart is off to a blazing start for a stacked St. Lucie team. He’s already 22, so it’s conceivable that the Mets could move him a few levels this year. What do you think is his ceiling? Do you see him panning out as an eventual starter?
Jim Callis: He has blazing speed going for him, but as you mention, he’s a bit behind for his age level. His ceiling would be as a speed/OBP guy who could be a regular in center field. We need to see him make a lot more contact and prove he can handle advanced pitching before I buy into that.
Quinn B: Do you see anything special from Ivan Wilson? Or is his contact tool (.195 BA last two seasons) too weak to make him a true prospect?
Jim Callis: The big raw power and the impressive athleticism for his size are exciting, but he’s going to have to prove he can hit before you can get too excited about him.
Jim Callis: Taylor is lefthanded and has a higher ceiling, while Whalen has had more success to this point. Whalen’s stuff is pretty average and plays up because he commands it well, but he’s going to have to prove himself at every level. Taylor showed enough in high school to get drafted in the second round by the Pirates, though his stuff and control haven’t been as good in pro ball.
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Quinn B: Jhoan Urena showed promise in a short stint at Brooklyn last season. Still, his aggressive approach contrasts with the Mets organization’s notoriously patient strategy. Could develop into a successor to David Wright?
Jim Callis: That’s a good call about Urena eventually succeeding Wright, unless you think Wilmer Flores winds up at third base (and even that might be a stretch defensively). Urena is a young, raw player who may never walk a ton. But he could hit for some power and average and get the job done defensively. I don’t think he’ll be as good as Wright, but Urena could be a big league regular at third base.
Quinn B: Regarding the Mets 2015 Top 10 prospects on MLB.com: which do you think is the ‘safest’ player to have a solid MLB career and which player do you consider the biggest chance to bust?
Jim Callis: I think Noah Syndergaard is the safest bet among the Top 10. Few minor league pitchers can match his combination of stuff and polish. Kevin Plawecki has a high floor too, maybe higher because of the health risks with pitchers. Plawecki’s tools don’t blow scouts away but he’s just so sound in all phases of the game. I still like Dominic Smith, but he’s the obvious guy for bust potential based on his performance in low Class A. I know Savannah is a tough place to hit, but one homer is one homer, that’s not all the ballpark. He did hit for average, and he did control the strike zone, but he slugged .338.
Quinn B: Lastly, I’d love your opinion on Casey Meisner and Luis Guillorme. He has an excellent glove while Meisner has a very projectable body at 6’7” and 190 pounds. Do you consider either player a breakout candidate for the 2015 season?
Jim Callis: They’re both interesting guys. Meisner is very projectable and can show you two plus pitches. Guillorme is terrific defender with a light bat, sort of like Milton Ramos. Meisner is more of a breakout candidate because I’m not sure Guillorme is ever going to put up numbers at the plate.