New York Mets’ Top 20 Pitching Prospects
New York Mets' Top 20 Pitching Prospects
The New York Mets are trying to rebuild, and they’re doing their best to rebuild as quickly as possible. The Mets are trying to make moves this offseason to help speed things up and become competitive next season, but the basis of their rebuilding effort is their pitching, specifically the young pitching that’s working its way up the farm system. If the Mets ultimately get things turned around and become a contending team at some point in the near future, it’ll be due primarily to their young pitchers.
We’ve already seen the Mets' young pitchers begin to appear in the majors, with Matt Harvey having a dominating 2013 season until being sidelined at the end of the season with an elbow injury that will force him to miss the entire 2014 season. Zack Wheeler also made his big league debut in 2013 and appears to be a key part of the rotation moving forward. It won’t be long until the next wave of Mets pitching prospects start making their way to the big leagues and helping out the Mets at the major league level.
With so many talented pitching prospects that have the potential to pitch in the big leagues, we have put together a list of the top-20 pitching prospects in the Mets’ farm system. Pitching is obviously one of the strengths of the farm system, and this deep list of prospects is the main reason why Mets fans should be hopeful about the future. They are loaded with pitching, and here are the 20 best arms that they have:
20. Matthew Bowman
Bowman has fairly average stuff and he’s no taller than 6-feet, so there’s little on the surface that makes him stand out. However, he has a delivery that’s reminiscent of Tim Lincecum's, which allows him to hide the ball from hitters and make up for not having ideal size. He able to outsmart hitters as well. Bowman had a lot of success in A-ball in 2013, and while pitchers in his mold generally struggle a bit in the upper levels, he has the intangibles that can help him continue to succeed in the upper levels. He can ultimately get to the big leagues, even if he has to move to the bullpen.
19. Rainy Lara
Lara was a little old to be pitching in A-ball in 2013, but he had a successful season with a 2.85 ERA in 21 starts. He’s big (6-foot-4) and has a nice fastball-slider combo that will give him a chance to pitch in a big league bullpen if he can’t develop a reliable third pitch and remain a starter.
18. Jack Leathersich
There were whispers that Leathersich would get a major league promotion last summer, but he struggled too much after his promotion from double-A to triple-A. Leathersich is a strikeout machine, striking out 102 batters in 58 innings in 2013, but he has serious control issues. His strikeouts won’t matter in the big leagues if he’s walking a batter per inning, which he did in triple-A. Nevertheless, Leathersich is close to the majors and if he can cut down on his walks, he’ll be a nice lefty specialist for the Mets.
17. Erik Goeddel
The Mets added Goeddel to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, which is a sign that the team likes him and has a plan for him. Although he’s been a starter his whole career, a move to the bullpen is inevitable due to his inconsistency and durability issues. If he can become more consistent, Goeddel has the stuff to be a useful reliever in the big leagues with an above-average fastball-slider combination.
16. Andrew Church
The Mets made Church the 48th overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft. He didn’t have a great pro debut in the Gulf Coast League this summer as he’s quite raw with his mechanics and his secondary stuff. However, he has no trouble throwing in the low to mid 90s at age-18, and his ceiling is roughly that of a no. 2 starter even though he’s a long way away.
15. Casey Meisner
Meisner cracks the top-15 among pitching prospects because of his great size (6-foot-7), projection and an ERA barely above 3.00 in his first pro season after the Mets drafted him in the third round of the 2013 MLB Draft. There are some concerns about his mechanics, but if he can fill out his frame, he should have no problem hitting the low to mid 90s with his fastball. He’s far away from the majors, but his ceiling is incredibly high, which makes Meisner a prospect worth watching.
14. John Gant
Gant had a good 2013 season, putting up a 2.89 ERA in short-season ball while averaging more than a strikeout per inning. His 6-foot-3 frame is starting to fill out so he’s able to hold his velocity in the low 90s, while his curveball has made progress as well. He also as good control, and that combination gives him a real chance to stick as a mid-rotation starter down the line.
13. Hansel Robles
The Mets removed Robles from their 40-man roster after an average season in A-ball in 2013 and a mediocre stint in the Arizona Fall League this year. Robles is under 6-feet tall and didn’t have a good strikeout rate or a particularly impressive WHIP last season, so he’ll likely have to move to the bullpen eventually. That said, look for the Mets to be aggressive with him next year to see if he can push for a spot in the big leagues by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
12. Luis Mateo
Mateo should be a lot higher on this list, but health matters, and he missed most of 2013 with elbow problems. Tommy John Surgery will keep him out until the latter half of 2014, which is a concern for a pitcher that will turn 24 early next year. If Mateo is able to come back healthy, he should be able to make an impact at the major league level in some capacity. He has a plus fastball as well as a slider that’s at least average, which gives him a chance to be a late-game reliever or possibly a starter if he can develop a change-up. Once he’s healthy again, Mateo should be able to move through the system quickly and look like a guy that deserves to be among the top-five pitching prospects in the Mets’ organization. However, his age and his injury problems keep him considerably lower on this list.
11. Luis Cessa
Cessa isn’t yet out of A-ball, but he does have a mid 90s fastball and a pair of serviceable secondary pitches. If he continues to develop, he could become a mid-rotation starter. His strikeout rate increased, and his walk rate decreased from 2012 to 2013, so his development is obvious. If he continues to improve over the next year or two, the Mets could have something special on their hands.
10. Chris Flexen
Flexen had a phenomenal season in 2013, going 8-1 for short-season Kingsport with an ERA of 2.09 and a WHIP under 1. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s 6-foot-3 and already has a mature body even though he won’t turn 20 until next July. Flexen has an average fastball in the low 90s as well as a slider that shows flashes of being a plus pitch, which is a great combination to have for a pitcher that’s still quite young. He’s still a few years away and his ceiling isn’t quite clear just yet, but he’s an exciting prospect to watch.
9. Cory Mazzoni
Mazzoni missed the final two months of 2013, or he might already be in the big leagues. He’s been a starter throughout his career, but he projects as a reliever in the majors because he’s barely six-feet tall. He has mid 90s velocity and had a high strikeout rate last year in double-A, so he should be a useful middle or late-inning reliever for the Mets, and he should be able to make his big league debut at some point next summer.
8. Jeff Walters
Walters was magnificent as a closer in double-A in 2013, and his combination of a low to mid 90s fastball and a quality slider will be enough to pitch in the big leagues. He probably won’t be anything more than a middle reliever in the majors, but of everyone on this list, he has the best chance to make the Mets’ opening-day roster in 2014, and the Mets could certainly use more hard-throwing relievers in their bullpen in 2014.
7. Gabriel Ynoa
Ynoa had the most impressive performance of any pitcher in the Mets’ farm system in 2013, making him a prospect to watch closely. He has great control as well as a good three-pitch mix, and he stands out above the pack because he’s still just 20-years-old. Ynoa doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as some of the other prospects on towards the top of this list, but he’s a good bet to be back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues a few years down the line.
6. Domingo Tapia
Tapia’s stock has dropped considerably over the past year after he had all kinds of problems with his control in 2013, walking 63 batters in 101 innings, which contributed to a career high ERA of 4.62. What saves Tapia and keeps him towards the top of this list is that he has incredible stuff, highlighted by a heavy sinking fastball that should allow him to pitch out of a major league bullpen if he can get his problems under control.
5. Michael Fulmer
Injuries set Fulmer back a little bit in 2013, limiting him to just nine starts. But the good news is that he’s still young, and if he’s healthy at the start of 2014, he should be ready to move up to double-A by the midway point of the season, which would have him on schedule for reaching the big leagues by the end of the 2015 season. Fulmer has a chance to have two plus pitches, a fastball and a slider, and if he can develop a viable big league change-up, his ceiling is a top-of-the-rotation starter. His floor is that of a late-inning reliever, possibly a closer if he has just two well-developed pitches. Either way, he’s a prospect with a lot of upside for the Mets.
4. Jacob deGrom
The Mets added deGrom to the 40-man roster because he’s close to helping at the major league level and can add a much-needed power arm to their pitching staff. He finished the 2013 season in triple-A and should be ready to make his big league debut at some point in 2014. He is still working on his curveball and change-up, and if those pitches improve, he could be a starter in the majors. He’ll likely begin 2014 as rotation depth for the Mets in triple-A. However, if his secondary offerings don’t pan out, deGrom has two fastballs that should be effective in short outings as a reliever. So if nothing else, he should give the Mets a hard-throwing setup man for their bullpen.
3. Steven Matz
Injuries have held back Matz throughout his career, which is why despite being drafted in 2009, he’s only pitched in the minors during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. However, Matz had an exceptional 2013, and even though he’s at least two years away from the big leagues, the Mets added him to the 40-man roster because they couldn’t risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft. Matz throws a good fastball in the low to mid 90s, and he has a change-up and curveball that have shown promise. If he stays healthy and develops those secondary pitches to complement his fastball, he could be a mid-rotation starter a few years down the line.
2. Rafael Montero
Montero is the Mets’ second best pitching prospect because he’s ready to help the team at the major league level right now. He doesn’t have flashy stuff, but he has a good three-pitch mix, clean mechanics and exceptional control, which should allow him to pitch at the back-end of a major league rotation for many years. Despite lacking ideal size for a starter, Montero has moved quickly through the system over the last two seasons. He made 16 starts in triple-A in 2013, putting up an impressive 3.05 ERA in a hitter-friendly league and an even more hitter-friendly home ballpark. He has a real chance to be on the Mets' Opening Day roster in 2014, but if not, he’ll be the first one called up when they need a starting pitcher.
1. Noah Syndergaard
Syndergaard is a big reason why the Mets are huge winners in the R.A. Dickey trade, as he’s one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He has great size (6-foot-6) and he knows how to use it, as he has an easy delivery and throws in the mid to upper 90’s with good control. Syndergaard also has a breaking ball and change-up that could end up being above-average pitches, giving him an incredible arsenal and the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He blew away batters in double-A the second half of last year, which should put him on a similar schedule as Matt Harvey in 2012 and Zack Wheeler in 2013. He could be making his major league debut sometime next summer, providing a boost to the Mets if they’re able to stay in contention that late into the season.