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3 New York Mets Prospects to Watch in 2015
Movers and Shakers
Sandy Alderson. Love him or hate him, for long-suffering Mets fans it's a breath of fresh air to finally have a widely respected minor league system, stocked with some highly-regarded young pitching and position player prospects that are on the cusp of contributing on the big league level.
That the system remains so highly-regarded despite a number of former high-end pitching prospects having already graduated to the big league provides further reason for excitement. Moreover, there is true depth in the system, as there are a number of prospects in the
ipeline, such as Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario and Jhoan Urena, who will themselves be on the cusp of pushing for playing time in New York in 2016 and beyond.
Until selecting Michael Conforto with the 10th pick in the 2014 draft, Sandy Alderson has focused heavily on selecting high school kids early in the draft, which explains partially the fact that the majority of their top prospects in recent years have arrived via trade (Wheeler in the Beltran trade, Syndergaard and d'Arnaud for RA Dickey, and Victor Black and Herrera from the Pirates for Marlon Byrd.)
However, we are starting to see Mets' draft picks become more prominent at the top of their list of prospects close to being ready for the bigs. Let me know what you think in the comments section.
He appears to have embraced his nickname
Noah Syndergaard, LHP
Syndergaard, a 22 year old hard-throwing 6'6" and 240-lb. lefty flamethrower out of Texas, arrived via the RA Dickey trade in December of 2012. If he ultimately reaches his potential as a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, it will likely surprise many to learn that it was not he, but Travis d'Arnaud, who was widely considered to be the primary compensation realized from that trade.
He compiled a 9-7 record at AAA Las Vegas in 2014, striking out 145 batters in 133 innings. Over the course of his minor league career thus far, he has 474 strikeouts in 426.2 innings. While on an island, his 2014 ERA and WHIP (4.60 and 1.481, respectively), might otherwise be cause for some concern, any such concern is greatly mitigated because the 51's field at AAA Las Vegas is a notorious hitters' park. While he still has plenty of work to do in this regard, one of the reasons underlying Syndergaard's crowning as a top prospect is that his control is more advanced that it was originally thought to be back when the trade took place.
Despite probably being ready for the big show, in order to maintain team control over him as far into the future as possible, the deck is stacked against Syndergaard coming out of the gate for the 2015 season with the big league team, but barring injury or severe regression, it is considered a given that he will be brought up later in the season. As frustrating as this is for us fans who have been comping at the bit to see him throwing seven different kinds of smoke at Citi Field, patience in essential in this regard, it is clearly in the best interest of the team in the grand scheme of things.
Herrera celebrates one of his three MLB home runs in 2014
Dilson Herrera, 2B
Dilson Herrera, a diminutive 5'10" second baseman, arrived with Victor Black in the Marlon Byrd trade in August 2013. Only 20 years old, in 18 games with the Mets in 2014, Herrera hit .220 with 3 HR, 6 runs scored, and 11 RBI. Per Baseball America, "A line drive, gap-to-gap hitter, the righthanded Herrera slashed .323/.379/.479 at high Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton before his callup."
Before his call-up when the rosters expanded in September of last year, he had shot through the ranks in the Pirates' and Mets' organizations. He was called up straight from AA because he was absolutely mashing the ball in Binghamton after being moved up from single-A Port St. Lucie, where he was acquitting himself well. In total, in 128 games split between single-A Port St. Lucie and AA Binghamton, Herrera scored 98 run while hitting at a .323 clip with 13 HR and 71 RBI with and an .858 OPS. Needless to say, Herrera's meteoric rise is a source of great optimism for the Mets, who have become accustomed to a high level of production at the plate from the 2B spot.
Presently blocked at the MLB level by professional hitter Daniel Murphy, it is unclear at this time what role Herrera will have, if any, with the big league club this year. It is widely speculated that Murphy will be moved at or before the 2015 trade deadline, for the purposes of both allowing Herrera to take on the starter's role and get something in return for Murphy and, shamefully, to allow the Mets, a team that plays in the league's biggest market, to cut costs.
Local product Matz, has emerged as a top LHP prospect after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010 at the age of 18
Steven Matz, LHP
Matz's rise to prominence was stunted almost as soon as it began, in 2010, when what started as elbow discomfort ended with him undergoing Tommy John surgery. As a result, he didn't make his minor league debut until June 20, 2012, with the Kingsport Mets in rookie ball.
Selected with the Mets' first pick in the 2009 MLB draft with the 72nd overall pick (they forfeited their 1st-rounder to the Angels in connection with signing Francisco Rodriguez, the Ward Melville product was thought by some to lack polish, and surely missing an entire year to recover from Tommy John surgery wouldn't help his case.
But apparently no one told Matz he was so far behind the 8-ball, because in limited time in rookie ball during the 2012 season, he went 2-1, pitching to a 1.55 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched with a WHIP of 1.138. A small sample size though it may have been, his abridged 2012 season wound up being a harbinger for things to come insofar as Matz's rise through the minor league ranks is concerned.
Matz stepped up to A-ball in 2013 and had a respectable 2.62 ERA and a 1.166 WHIP with 121 strikeouts in 106.1 innings.
Between single-A Port St. Lucie and AA Binghampton in 2014, Matz's combined ERA was 2.25, his WHIP 1.193. While he had less strikeouts per inning pitched (131 strikeout in 140 innings pitched), he appeared to make significant strides insofar as his overall control is concerned, because he walked 3 fewer batters in 33.9 more innings, despite actually pitching 2 more innings at the AA level (71) than he did in A-ball (69).
A post on amazinavenue.com nicely summarizes his stuff as follows: "[Matz] featured a fastball sat in the low 90s with late life, a promising curveball that was seen as his best breaking pitch, and a developing slider and changeup." ( http://www.amazinavenue.com/2014/9/14/6145035/mets-steven-matz-prospect-new-york ).