When Sandy Alderson took over as GM of the New York Mets prior to the 2011 season, one of his biggest priorities was to rebuild the farm system and use it as the basis for the Mets’ reclamation project. After three years of drafts, signings and trades under Alderson, what is the state of the Mets’ farm system?
The biggest strength of the Mets’ farm is on the mound, where the team has a wealth of top pitching prospects. The group is led by Noah Syndergaard, who could be ready to join the major league rotation at some point during the 2014 season as part of a trio of recent minor league graduates (alongside Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler) that will soon headline the team’s rotation.
The Mets also have a substantial amount of pitching prospects that profile as back-of-the-rotation starters like Rafael Montero and Gabriel Ynoa, as well as pitchers that will likely end up being hard-throwing relievers like Jeff Walters and Cory Mazzoni. What makes the Mets’ farm system strong is that many of these pitchers should be ready to contribute at the major league level within the next year, while the next generation of young pitchers is starting to come together with players like Michael Fulmer and Chris Flexen.
But while the Mets are strong on the pitching front, there are significant holes in the farm system at several positions. The Mets have few impact players among their outfield prospects and are also weak at both corner infield positions, where many of their prospects are young and far from making it to the big leagues. The top prospects they have at the middle infield positions are also not close, so there’s no way for the Mets to get immediate help at those positions.
If there’s a silver lining to the Mets’ farm system among position players, it’s behind the plate. Not long ago, catcher was a huge weakness for the Mets, but after trading for Travis d’Arnaud last offseason and drafting Kevin Plawecki in 2012, that has turned into a position with great depth for the Mets.
Alderson has done his best to strengthen the farm system by drafting high-ceiling position players out of high school with the team’s first round pick in each of the last three seasons. However, while there was talent added to the farm system with those picks, the high school players taken in the first round have been predictably slow to move through the system.
In fact, no player drafted since Alderson took over has reached the big leagues, which means the system needs more time to improve and the GM’s work is far from finished.
When judging the Mets’ farm system as a whole, the amount of pitching they have, along with a limited number of promising position players like d’Arnaud, Plawecki, Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith are enough to make their farm it better than those of most other teams. However, there are concerns about the amount of talent and depth at several positions, and those weak points still need much improvement in the years to come.