While the Mets are destined to struggle at the big league level in 2013, there is a ton of solid talent in the minors.
My Top 10
1. Travis d'Arnaud C
2. Noah Syndergaard SP
3. Zack Wheeler SP
4. Brandon Nimmo OF
5. Gavin Cecchini SS
6. Wilmer Flores 2B/3B
7. Rafael Montero
8. Luis Mateo
9. Domingo Tapia SP
10. Michael Fulmer
Age by 4/1/2013: 24
Notes: The Mets traded away the reigning NL Cy Young award winner and d'Arnaud was the reason they felt good about doing it. Despite some injury concerns, d'Arnaud has the offensive and defensive skills to become one of the best catchers in baseball.
With my own eyes (video): The only criticism I have of d'Arnaud is how much pre-swing movement there is in his hands. It works out great as a timing mechanism when on, but could lead to prolonged slumps if his timing is off. Other than that, d'Arnaud shows good bat speed and an advanced ability to make consistent contact.
Upside: .300/.370/.500 with 20-plus home runs annually.
Downside: Injuries continue to be an issue, but when healthy he still provides value.
Fantasy potential: Catcher with his offensive ability are extremely valuable.
Noah Syndergaard SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 20
Notes: Another one of the pieces to the Dickey trade, Syndergaard shows advanced command and strikeout ability. Should continue to keep the ball on the ground more often than not.
With my own eyes (video): Simple, repeatable delivery. Good sink and tail on his heat. Offspeed stuff has plus potential.
Upside: Excellent #2 starter on a championship level ballclub.
Downside: #3-4 starter with very good WHIP numbers.
Fantasy potential: Depends on whether or not the strikeout numbers continue at the upper levels, but still above average.
Zack Wheeler SP
Age by 4/1 2013: 22
Notes: Continues to show excellent strikeout ability, but command and arm action leave some room for concern.
With my own eyes (live): Wheeler's stuff is impressive, but his arm drags way behind in his delivery. This not only affects his control, but could lead to injury down the road.
Upside: #2 starter with above average strikeout numbers.
Downside: His control continues to be a struggle, limiting him to a #3-4 potential.
Fantasy potential: The strikeouts should be solid, but I don't think he's the lock of a prospect as some do.
MLB Regular Potential
Brandon Nimmo OF
Age by 4/1/2013: 20
Notes: Nimmo has continually displayed good plate discipline, but he still needs refinement in terms of tapping into his power.
With my own eyes (video): Swing seems a tad bit long. Improvement in hand speed could take his offensive game to the next level.
Upside: Might seem like a long-shot, but he could be a 20-plus home run outfielder with above average OBPs.
Downside: He continues to be just a project with potential and never produces enough to play everyday.
Fantasy potential: Solid mid-round outfielder if everything comes together.
Gavin Cecchini SS
Age by 4/1/2013: 19
Notes: The numbers weren't great in his first pro action, but we're only talking about 212 plate appearances at the age of 18. Cecchini is well known for his hard work, passion for the game and solid, but not great, skills.
With my own eyes (video): His swing won't win any beauty pageants, but he certainly does not over-complicate things. His hands take a direct path to the ball, creating a level swing-path. It seems like his front shoulder jerks toward third base too soon.
Upside: Above average major league shortstop with enough bat to comfortably slot into the bottom of a lineup.
Downside: His lack of above average skills cause him to struggle mightily against advanced pitching.
Fantasy potential: Since a lot of his value will come on defense, fantasy owners won't value him as highly.
Wilmer Flores 2B/3B
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: Still very young, Flores has played across many levels already and he has continued to show progress along the way. His defense still needs the most improvement.
With my own eyes (none): Level swing and quick wrists lead to above average contact ability. Still has some power potential to tap into.
Upside: I'm not convinced he'll ever hit .300 or post an above average OBP in the big leagues, but he could be a slightly above average regular if his defense improves.
Downside: His defense does not improve and the bat isn't anything special, giving his manager reasons to keep him out of the lineup.
Fantasy potential: Will have to tap into his power in order to have mixed league value.
Rafael Montero SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 22
Notes: Advanced command and has shown the ability to miss bats.
With my own eyes (video): Good tailing action in to righties. Shows the ball a bit really in his delivery, but mechanics are solid.
Upside: #3 starter that doesn't hurt himself by putting runners on base.
Downside: #5 starter
Fantasy potential: Decent if strikeout numbers stay consistent.
Role Player Potential
Luis Mateo SP/RP
Age by 4/1/2013: 23
Notes: While his numbers in Rookie Ball and Low-A look impressive, keep in mind that he was old for both levels. The stuff is solid with above average potential, but I'd like to see how his offspeed stuff plays at the higher levels.
With my own eyes (video): His fastball is explosive, but he is a max-effort guy.
Upside: Mid-rotation arm with potential to rack up strikeouts.
Downside: Back-end starter or bullpen arm if his max-effort delivery limits his stamina.
Fantasy potential: Strikeouts will be the key.
Domingo Tapia SP/RP
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: Very hard throwing righty that needs to develop his secondary offerings, but even that doesn't develop, he could be a high leverage reliever.
With my own eyes (video): 3/4, almost sidearm delivery in which he "whips" his arm across his body. This allows for some wicked movement, but may not translate over a 200 inning season.
Upside: Tons of swings and misses due to development of his offspeed pitches. Might even have #2 upside, but not a high probability that that happens. If he ends up in the pen, he has "closer potential."
Downside: He's nothing more than a hard thrower in the middle of a bullpen.
Fantasy potential: High upside as a starter or reliever.
Michael Fulmer SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 20
Notes: Solid all-around stuff, but nothing overpowering.
With my own eyes (video): Herky-jerky delivery is not exactly pleasing to the eye, but his arm gets through the drive zone just fine. Fastball has good tailing action and complements his slider. Throws across his body a bit, which is an injury concern.
Upside: Continued progress gives him back of the rotation upside.
Downside: Just average bullpen arm.
Fantasy potential: Maybe he sprinkles in a mid 3s ERA now and again.
About the author: Charlie Saponara is a former college baseball player who has coached at the high school and collegiate levels. He currently works for the Visalia Rawhide, high-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can find examples of his scouting reports from Project Prospect here (Mike Trout), here (Tyler Skaggs), and here (Billy Hamilton).
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2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question
This Is My Nightmare
Top Ten Prospects