Minor League Keeper Thoughts: New York Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 05: Matt Harvey #70 of the New York Mets pitches during a preseason game against the Washington Nationals at Digital Domain Park on March 5, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

We're down to the last three teams in the series now, including today's organization, the New York Mets. The goal with each team I look at is to discuss a couple players who are likely to have an impact in the Majors in 2012, a couple who could be ready by the start of 2014, and a few more who are a long ways away, but could be interesting as well. You can find links to the previous teams below:

AL West: Los Angeles Angels | Oakland | Seattle | Texas

AL Central: Chicago White Sox | Cleveland | Detroit | Kansas City | Minnesota

AL East: Baltimore | Boston | New York Yankees | Tampa Bay | Toronto

NL East: Atlanta | Miami (3/28) | New York (3/26) | Philadelphia (3/28) | Washington

NL Central: Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati | Houston | Milwaukee | Pittsburgh | St. Louis

NL West: Arizona | Colorado | Los Angeles Dodgers | San Diego | San Francisco

Prospects Traded Post-Review Of New Team (3/30)

The remaining reports will be coming out on the dates in parenthesis next to their names, so if there are specific prospects that you'd like to hear about from those organizations, please let me know in the comments and I will see what I can find out for you

2011 Graduates

Justin Turner, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee

Overview

The Mets are a bit of a system in flux at the moment. You have two excellent starting pitcher prospects, both of whom should help to anchor the rotation for years to come. But you also have a "shortstop" prospect where the luster has left after another season where his tools didn't really translate to results in the field. You have another pitching prospect who continues to get divided reviews about his future. You also have some other prospects who have shown potential in past seasons, but for whatever reason may have taken a step backwards last year. Overall, the system is in a better spot than they have been in past seasons, and will look to continue to improve in 2012.

Ready in 2012

Matt Harvey

The Mets' first round draft pick in the 2010 draft, Harvey did not make his debut until 2011 as a result of signing late. The Mets gave him an aggressive assignment to start the year, sending him to High-A, and he made them look very good. Prior to being promoted, Harvey made 14 starts and struck out 92 batters in 76 innings. He finished the year making 12 more starts at AA, and while he posted similar strikeout numbers there, his walk rate went up somewhat (3.5 per 9 in AA). A brief scouting report on Harvey, from Nathaniel Stoltz of Seedlings to Stars:

Harvey throws a power sinker that sits in the 92-94 mph range and complements it with a good power curveball. His changeup is a solid third pitch, and he has a low-maintenance delivery that allows him to spot all three offerings nicely.


Harvey's offspeed stuff is so advanced that he was actually much better against lefties than righties in 2011, so he's unlike a lot of sinker-oriented pitchers in that he doesn't have any problems with opposite-side batters. He's got a big frame and should be a bigtime workhorse at the big league level.

Harvey sounds to me like a pitcher who is already extremely polished, and could continue to move through the minors very quickly. He seems likely to start back at AA to at least start the season, but could move up to AAA fairly quickly if he can show solid numbers. Once he's in the Majors, I could see him profiling as a #3/#4 starting pitcher for fantasy owners, who should provide excellent strikeout numbers, albeit with a slightly elevated WHIP possibly. I could also see him getting called up in September, so keep an eye on Harvey.

Jeurys Familia

Familia was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2006, but did not make his stateside debut until 2008 in the Gulf Coast League. He has moved through the system somewhat slowly, but really put it all together between High-A and AA last year. Combined, he posted a 2.90 ERA with 132 strikeouts and 43 walks in just 124 innings pitched. Familia's stuff has been electric at times, but not always with the command needed to be a starting pitcher long-term. From Marc Hulet of Fangraphs:

Familia looks like a dominating force on the mound and he has the fastball velocity - 93-97 mph - to back it up. Unfortunately, his secondary pitches (slider, changeup) are both still developing with the breaking ball showing the most promise of the pair. Familia has pitched almost exclusively out of the starting rotation as a pro but he's a long-term, high-leverage reliever at the MLB level.

There seems to be some mixed reports on whether or not Familia will be able to remain as a starting pitcher long-term, given the control issues and the lack of quality secondary offerings.The Mets aren't really going anywhere this season, so there really should not be a rush to get Familia into the Majors as a reliever. He will still be just 22 years old for this season, and if there is any potential for him to be a valuable piece in a starting rotation, the Mets should continue to develop him that way. If that doesn't work out, it sounds like he has the potential to be the closer long-term as well, which would also provide fantasy value.

Could Be Ready By 2014

Wilmer Flores

Signed out of the Dominican Republic, Flores has been on top 100 lists for the past few seasons, but has dropped off of nearly every list this year. A shortstop prospect, Flores reached High-A in 2010 as an 18 year old, and even hit reasonably well there, posting a .300 batting average with 4 home runs in 67 games there. The Mets sent him back to High-A to help work on his fielding, and he took a bit of a step backwards in terms of his prospect status. John Sickels dropped him down to #9 in the Mets' system, and had this to say about him:

Switch over to third base increases pressure on his bat. Will he develop sufficient power for that position? He keeps his strikeout rate low but power hasn't blossomed as Mets hoped, granted he was promoted aggressively. Stock is starting to sag but it isn't too late yet.

It's hard to remember sometimes that Flores will be just 20 years old this season, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of hope that he'll be able to stick at 3B either. As of now he hasn't shown power particularly, but it is still early. He seems likely to be sent back to High-A again to start this season, especially given that he will be learning a new position. 2012 will be a big season for Flores, as it could very well determine whether or not he can still be a valuable prospect to the Mets.

Zack Wheeler

Acquired from the Giants for Carlos Beltran, the Mets did extremely well to get a pitcher with the upside of Wheeler for half a season of Beltran. Drafted one pick ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 draft, Wheeler did make his debut that season in the Sally League and posted 70 strikeouts but 38 walks in his 58 innings that year. The Giants sent Wheeler to San Jose for the season, where he posted a 98/47 K/BB rate in 88 innings prior to the trade. He was sent by the Mets to their High-A affiliate, and posted a much better 31/6 K/BB rate in 27 innings to finish up the year. The control issues he showed in San Jose are a bit concerning, but there's a lot to like here. Kevin Goldstein ranked him as the #2 prospect in the Mets' system, and raved about his stuff:

Wheeler has plus-plus heat with a 92-98 mph fastball that he threw more strikes with as the season wore on. Scouts are equally bullish on his classic over-the-top curveball that features heavy late break and can freeze hitters in the zone or induce them to chase in the dirt. He has a projectable frame and a smooth delivery.

It doesn't seem like Wheeler and Harvey are too far apart in terms of potential, as many top 100 lists were split on which of these prospects are ranked higher. Wheeler seems to me like he has a slightly higher upside than Harvey, with #1 potential for both fantasy and real-life purposes. However, his floor could be a bit lower, especially given that he has shown control issues so far. He'll likely move up to AA for the 2012 season, and I think that if he shows the same control problems he could spend the full season there.

Last Season's Draft Picks

Brandon Nimmo - Last season's top draft pick, Nimmo is a bit of an unusual case for a top pick. He was drafted out of a high school in Wyoming, despite there not being any high school baseball in his area. The Mets gave him a $2.1 million bonus, but it definitely comes with a lot of risk. As a result of the fact that he did not have high school baseball, he is considered to be extremely raw, but considered to have very high upside. Nimmo seems like he will be sent to extended spring training to start the season, and could be sent to either a short-season league during the year or possibly Low-A if they feel he has shown enough progress.

Michael Fulmer - A high school pitcher drafted out of Oklahoma, Fulmer signed soon enough to pitch 5 1/3 innings with the Mets' Rookie League affiliate. Obviously, the 10 strikeouts in that timeframe look really good, but 4 walks and 6 earned runs dont' so much. I can see Fulmer being sent back to the Rookie League this year, and I'll be very interested to see what he can do this season.

Others to Watch:

Jenrry Mejia - Talk about a mismanaged prospect. Mejia finished the 2009 season at AA as a 19 year old, but struggled somewhat while he was there. So what did the Mets do? Of course they used him in the bullpen in the Majors instead of sending him back to AA or AAA to continue to improve. He missed a majority of the 2011 season due to injury, and will look to return to AAA and hopefully get back some of the prospect status he had previously.

Reese Havens - We have been hearing about Reese Havens for a few years now, but injuries have really derailed his path to the bigs. This year is critical for him, as he will be 25 years old this season and has yet to advance past the AA level. He seems like a better real-life prospect, as he hasn't really shown any particular power or speed for fantasy owners thus far, but if he can't stay healthy it's all moot.

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