A Look Into The Future
At the writing of this article, the New York Mets are currently in 1st place by 3.5 games. While this team is still riddled with injuries, the present looks great. The pitching staff is incredible their current top 3 of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker all have an ERA below 2.50 and the bullpen is easily the best its been in years with acquisitions like Trevor May and Aaron Loup playing their roles beautifully and Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia having resurgences. While half the lineup is still hurt, guys like Francisco Lindor, James McCann and Dom Smith who were struggling the first two months have really turned their seasons around over the last two weeks. Along with replacement guys such as Billy McKinney and Jonathan Villar stepping up in huge ways, the current team is in great shape. But as good as it looks right now, good teams are always looking towards the future and what better way to do than to take a look at how the current top 10 prospects for the Mets are doing right now.
#10: Thomas Szapucki
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Szapucki has been in the Mets top 10 prospects since 2016. This year in four starts he’s 0-1 with a 2.05 ERA. He’s been constantly brought up as a name the Mets could be bringing up this year as a starter or more likely an opener. He’s a two pitch pitcher who’s biggest weapon is his curveball which is effective against both lefties and righties. His weakness though, he has control issues. His BB/9 for his career is 3.6 and its 4.5 for his career. If he wants to finally make it to the next level, he’s going to have to clean up those control issues. A combination of injuries and a lost COVID season has stalled his progression a bunch making him an interesting case as a guy who’s 24 but only has 167 total innings and a Tommy John surgery in his career. Expect to see Szapucki in the majors by the end of the season.
#9: Alex Ramirez
Ramirez was an international signing by the Mets in 2019. Signed for $2.05 million, Ramirez became the Mets biggest international signing to date. At only 18 years old he is an extremely raw talent but the scouts love his speed and arm strength. Tommy Tanous, Mets vice president of amateur and international scouting said “Ramirez ran a 6.34 on a very short track, but he ran it like a gazelle and showed every bit of a (double-plus) arm in the outfield”. The area of his game that needs the most improvement is his bat. He is currently slashing .056/.190/.056 in A ball. Don’t expect to see Ramirez in the big leagues for a few years but many in the organization believe he could eventually become a 5 tool outfielder when he fully develops.
#8: Mark Vientos
A former 2nd round pick in 2017, Vientos has been one of the top names in the system for a few years now. Given some time at Shortstop earlier in his career and some First Base reps at the alternate site last year, he has the arm and power potential to profile at Third Base. In his last full minor league season, he hit 12 homers and 62 RBIs while slashing .255/.300/.411 for Single A Colombia in 2019. The lower averages can be attributed to him only being 19 playing a little to high in the system but the power numbers are the real eye catcher here. He is still struggling this season being moved up to Double A where he’s only hitting .218. His ETA is projected for 2022 but if he continues to struggle with his average, I could see him being held out another year especially if another Third Baseman in this system continues to shine.
#7: Khalil Lee
Lee was a 3rd round pick by the Royals in 2016 who the Mets acquired as the 3rd team in the Andrew Benintendi trade. We saw a little bit of Lee in the Majors this league as a replacement to the replacements and to say he looked lost would be an understatement. In 18 at bats, he struck out 13 times and only collected one hit (Granted that one hit was a go ahead double in the 12th inning).
Its hard to really be mad at Lee though as he definitely wasn’t ready for that type of role in the majors yet. Some attributed the struggle to him needing more seasoning other said he needs to swing a smaller bat. Whatever the case is, the Khalil Lee you saw in the majors, isn’t the one who appearing in the minors. In Triple A Syracuse, he’s batting .353 while slugging .529 with six doubles in only 34 at bats. He is going to have to lower his strikeout rate if he wants to have any success at the next level but hopefully that cup of coffee in the majors can help him know exactly what he needs to adjust to be successful.
#6: JT Ginn
Drafted in the 2nd round last year by the Mets, Ginn was also a former 1st round pick of the Dodgers in 2018 before electing to go to Mississippi St. He had a stellar freshman year going 8-4 with a 3.13 ERA and a 10.9 K/9. He would unfortunately suffer an elbow injury one start into his sophomore year that would require him to have Tommy John surgery. His great freshman year and his potential was enough for then GM Brodie Van Wagenen to use a high pick on him and gave him a huge signing bonus of $2.9 million to make sure he didn’t go back to school. He’s hard to project because he hasn’t really pitched in two years but before the surgery his fastball was sitting 91-95 with sink along with a mid-80s slider and a developing changeup. He was finally able to get on the mound for Single A Port St. Lucie where he went three innings, two walks and a strikeout. He won’t be ready for a few years but the former regime had some really high hopes for him and you can see why.
#5: Pete Crow-Armstrong
Crow-Armstrong was selected 19th overall by the Mets in 2020. Drafted out of high school, Crow-Armstrong won a gold medal for the 18 and Under USA team in the 2018 Pan American Championships. He’s only 19 but scouts say his defense is already MLB ready. He’s graded between 65-70 (Plus-Plus to Well Above Average) in fielding where most are saying he’s already the best defender in the 2020 class. Along with Plus speed and arm, Crow-Armstrong projects to be a multi time Gold Glove winner by the end of his career. His hitting on the other hand, is not as far along. He still projects as an Average to Above Average hitter with Below Average power. He got off to a hot start in Port St. Lucie slashing .417/.563/.500 before suffering a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder that he would be getting major surgery on essentially ending his season. If he can develop his swing he could be the perfect leadoff hitter and solve the defensive woes in centerfield and if he doesn’t he could still be a valuable 4th outfielder off the bench as his floor.
#4: Brett Baty
Selected 12th in the 2019 draft, Baty is also ranked as the number 76th prospect in all of baseball. Everytime I look at Baty, I just see David Wright. I say that not in the sense of play style per say, but I just see him as being the next guy at the hot corner for many years. He has the ability to hit for power to all fields and is absolutely showing out in Single A Brooklyn this year slashing .367/.468/.622 with five homeruns and 28 RBIs. He’s still a work in progress on both offense and defense. While he has a plus arm, threw 92 off the mound in high school, his defense still needs to be polished if he wants to be a major league third baseman. Mets haven’t had a guy like that since Wright and everything I’ve seen from him this year points to him being the guy. It will either be late next year or 2023 where he finally gets his chance and every Mets fan should be excited.
#3: Matt Allen
Allen was selected by the Mets in the 3rd round of the 2019 MLB Draft and is currently the 61st ranked prospect in all of baseball. A lot of scouts said that Allen was the top high school arm available in the 2019 Draft and he would’ve gone in the first round had he not had a huge price tag and a reported strong commitment to the University of Florida turned people away. He pitched pretty solid in his limited time in 2019 pitching to a 2.61 ERA in five starts between two teams in the lower minors. Many were very impressed with him at the alternate site in 2020. His best pitch is easily his fastball, it sits 96 and has even been registered a little higher on occasion. He also has a plus curveball and an above average changeup to add to his impressive repertoire. Not only does he have the eyes approval of the scouts and coaching staff, but he caught the eye of the best pitcher in the game Jacob deGrom. During spring training this year Allen was constantly warming up along side deGrom and stated that he was mentoring him in a way. With a combination of a plus-plus fastball and some plus secondary pitches, there are many reasons to be excited in Allens future front line starter potential. A UCL tear this year will halt his growth and he wont be up till 2024 probably but that shouldn’t make you any less excited about this future star in the works.
#2: Ronny Mauricio
Mauricio signed as an international free agent with the Mets in 2017 for $2.1 million. He was the Mets number 1 prospect in 2019 and 2020 and is currently the number 53 prospect in the league. At 6’3”, he’s well above the average height for a shortstop and he uses that frame with his plus power. In 26 games this year for Single A Brooklyn, he has six homeruns along with six doubles and a .486 slugging percentage. He possesses impressive athleticism and arm strength coupled with above average fielding ability. He does have a few negatives to his game that will need to improve. Mauricio is an average hitter only hitting .248 with an OBS of .274. Those numbers just wont fly in the majors even with the declining MLB averages. The other problem is that the Mets have a player locked up at shortstop for the next 10 years so Mauricio is going to have to find a new position if he wants to be a major league starter. Its hard to predict where Mauricio will eventually play in the majors just due to the sheer amount of offensive talent the Mets have all around the diamond. With the athleticism he possesses, I think he could adopt a new position with ease and with his already plus defensive attributes, he could be ready for the majors as soon as next year even at 21 years old.
#1: Francisco Alvarez
Alvarez was signed by the Mets in July of 2018 for $2.7 million and is currently the number 37th ranked prospect in all of baseball. At 19 years old, you can superstar potential in this kid. He possesses great skill at the plate slashing .312/.407/.510 with seven homeruns and 26 RBIs in rookie ball in 2019. Scouts at the alternate site in Brooklyn last year raved about him saying he was one of the better hitters in all of the site and it has continued this year against tougher competition. In 89 at bats in A ball this year, Alvarez is slashing .337/.474/.551 with four homeruns, seven doubles and 20 RBIs. He has plus arm strength but his overall catching skill needs some more polish. But according to many in the organization, Alvarez has excellent leadership skills and possesses a desire to improve in all facets of the game. This guy has the makings to be one of the premier catchers in the league and be the catcher the Mets have been searching for since Mike Piazza. James McCann is playing great right now but he was always going to be a stop gap until Alvarez is ready to go which might not be ready for another two or three years.
The future of the Mets looks very bright at the top with Baty, Alvarez, Allen and Mauricio as guys who certainly have the potential to be corner stones of this team in a few years. Guys like JT Ginn and Pete Crow Armstrong have had some injury setbacks but there’s a lot to love with those two and with the draft about a month away, you hope that the Mets can continue to build this farm system. I will say this too, as bad as Brodie was as a GM, some of the guys I’m most excited about, were his draft picks so credit where credit is due.