Minor League Keeper Thoughts: New York Mets

Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Hunt takes a look at some of the top fantasy prospects in the New York Mets organization.

Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.

Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.

Previous Reviews

NL West: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee
NL East: Atlanta, Miami
AL East: Baltimore, Boston
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles

System Overview

The Mets are at a bit of a crossroads in terms of their farm system. They had a large amount of graduates from their system in 2012, although a number of the players are low impact for fantasy purposes. The biggest name out of the system this year was clearly Matt Harvey, who should be joined at some point in the 2013 season by their other top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler. Once Wheeler is out of the minors, many of the top prospects in the Mets' system will be in the low minors, a few years from contributing.

Graduates in 2012

Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, Jeremy Hefner, Matt Harvey

AAA or Higher in 2012

These are players who reached the Mets' International League affiliate in Buffalo in 2012 or higher. They will likely see time in the Majors in the 2013 season, and could be a significant contributor there.

Zach Wheeler (BBRef Statistics)

Acquired from the Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade, Wheeler started the season at AA but finished up with 6 excellent starts at AAA Buffalo. Overall, he finished the season with 148 strikeouts against 59 walks in 149 innings pitched, and an ERA of 3.26 in total.

Wheeler features four different pitches which reports have indicated are at least average or better (FB, CB, CH, SL), and is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the minors right now. Long term, you are looking at a pitcher who probably will provide similar numbers to his future teammate, Matt Harvey - a high strikeout rate, solid ratios, with the potential to be a tad high due to walks. Realistically though, we're nitpicking here, as he looks like he will have the potential to be a top 30 starting pitcher for fantasy purposes in the Majors, and could be in New York before the end of the 2013 season.

AA in 2012

These are players who reached the Mets' Eastern League affiliate in Binghamton in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.

Wilmer Flores (BBRef Statistics)

It seems like we have been talking about Flores for so long that he should have used up his prospect status, but he will still be just 21 years old to start the 2013 season. Flores had an excellent season between High-A and AA last year, hitting .300/.349/.479 with 18 home runs and 75 RBI. Flores was primarily a shortstop until this year, but was moved to 3B this season, and did see time at 2B also.

Long term, his defense is considered very likely to be passable at best regardless of the position, and his bat is expected to carry him regardless of the position. He is expected to be an above average hitter who will hit for power in the majors as well. Overall, he makes a lot of contact (just an 11% strikeout rate in 2012), and has really cemented his prospect status with an excellent season. We have not completed our 3B prospect rankings yet, but I imagine he will end up in the top 10 most likely. I will also be interested to see what Flores' role becomes in light of the David Wright extension.

Low-A in 2012

These players reached the Mets' Sally League affiliate in Savannah, and are at least 3 full seasons away from contributing in the Major Leagues.

Michael Fulmer (BBRef Statistics)

Fulmer was considered the third best high school pitching prospect from Oklahoma in his draft, and the Mets took him in the supplemental first round back in 2011. After 4 appearances that year, the Mets were aggressive with Fulmer, sending him to a full-season assignment for 2012, where he posted excellent numbers (101 K/38 BB in 108.1 IP, 2.74 ERA).

Right now, Fulmer has two pitches which have the potential to be plus pitches (fastball, slider), and according to Baseball America he is working on a changeup as well. As with most high school draftees, the key to whether Fulmer will be able to stay in the rotation long term will rest on how that changeup turns out. Minor League Ball's John Sickels ranked him as his #46 pitching prospect when he released his preliminary rankings back in October, and is definitely worth watching for most dynasty formats.

Short Season in 2012

These players made it to one of the Mets' short season affiliates in the Gulf Coast League or New York Penn Leagues. They are likely to be at least 3 or more seasons away from contributing at the Major League level.

Brandon Nimmo (BBRef Statistics)

Nimmo was the top draft pick of the Mets in the 2011 draft, but was only able to get into 10 games last season. Drafted out of a Wyoming high school, Nimmo was sent to short season ball for the 2012 season in Brooklyn, where he hit .248/.372/.406 with 6 home runs and 40 RBI in 69 games.

Nimmo has been playing center field for the Mets, and it sounds like he will be able to stay there with more reps at the position. Overall, the reports really seem to point to a player who will be a top of the lineup type, but needs more work, which isn't unexpected given his background. I believe he will be given a full season assignment to start the 2013 season, and I would bet on him to take another step forward in 2013. We could be looking at a high batting average, decent power type as he progresses, but that is likely to be a few years from now.

Gavin Cecchini (BBRef Statistics)

Cecchini was the Mets' top draft pick, taken 12th overall in the 2012 draft. Drafted as a shortstop, Cecchini is likely to be able to stay at the position in the long term, as reports on his defense are extremely positive. He was limited to DHing by the end of the season due to a broken finger, but should be good to go come spring.

Cecchini's bat isn't considered amazing by any stretch, and it sounds like the most likely occurrence for Cecchini will be that he provides batting average, but little in the way of power or speed. He is absolutely a prospect where his value to the New York Mets will be substantially higher than it will be to fantasy owners, but he is worth watching since he will likely be a shortstop in the Majors.

Luis Mateo (BBRef Statistics)

Mateo had signed with both the Giants and the Padres before catching on with the Mets, but only after missing a year due to identity concerns and also an elbow injury which derailed his contract with the Giants. He made his stateside debut in 2012, posting an 85/9 K:BB ratio in just 73 innings in the NY-Penn League.

Baseball America rated him as the #5 prospect in the New York Penn League, and while there are concerns whether he will be a starting pitcher or a reliever in the long term, it will be interesting to see what the Mets do with him in 2013. A full season league is probably the most likely answer, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was moved quickly this year given his age.

Others of Note

Kevin Plawecki ( C ) - I wrote briefly about Plawecki when we ranked him as our #13 catching prospect.

Jeurys Familia (SP) - Familia reached the Majors in 2012 after an interesting season at AAA Buffalo. Familia seems likely to get a shot at a starting rotation spot in 2013, but realistically will need more time in the minors to work on keeping his walk total down. Long term he may end up as a reliever.


Statistics from Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, and Fangraphs

You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball

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