Reviewing Baseball America’s 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #21 Adonis Uceta

Adonis Uceta. Sounds familiar right? Like sounds like a player you may have spent a lot of time, for a short time, talking about and then slipped from your memory and you’re not completely sure why? That was my experience at least writing this article. Adonis Uceta landed himself at the #21 spot on BA’s Top 30 Mets prospects because in 2017 in Columbia he absolutely dominated pitching 43 innings in 29 games as a reliever posting a 1.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP.

For Uceta, it was his first sustained run at success since signing with the Mets and playing with rookie level teams from 2013 thru 2016. He was above the average age, just slightly when he played in the DOSL at age 19 (by 0.2 years) and his amazing year in Columbia, he was 1.1 years above average (he ended the season as a younger player in Binghamton).

What happened? Why did his stock suddenly rise up? The Mets converted him into a reliever in 2017 and it just clicked for him. BA even notes that his velocity went up throughout the season going from 92-94 to 96-99 at the end. He even earned a non-roster invite to major league camp.

But then he strained his hamstring at camp and was assigned to minor league camp. And then after struggling at the beginning of the season for Binghamton he got injured again and didn’t come back for a while. Overall he posted a 6.04 ERA over 16 games and 25.1 innings in Binghamton last year. He was never an elite prospect so he just slipped to the back of our collective mind about young Mets arms.

Uceta will most likely start the season again at Binghamton. But there is another wrinkle. Uceta is eligible for the Rule V draft this year, again. He wasn’t selected last year  and his play this year didn’t help his stock but it is still a possibility.

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Reviewing Baseball America’s 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #22 Quinn Brodey

The Mets drafted Brodey in the third round of 2017 as an outfielder (he was a two-way player in college). Coming into 2017 Brodey needed to develop, something. “If Brodey fails to develop a plus tool, as some scouts project, he could be an outfield tweener who doesn’t defend well enough for center or produce enough power for a corner.” (Baseball America) The Mets already have plenty in the latter category and don’t have enough that can stay healthy in the former.

Despite struggling to show power in Brooklyn in 2017 (.257/.303/.348) over 210 AB’s he took a minor step up in the power department in Columbia over 35 AB’s to close the season (.229/.300/.400).

Last season he split time between Columbia and St Lucie. In Columbia he was 0.7 years above the average age and in 314 ABs he hit .217/.287/.387, a slight step back but then he played 102 AB’s at St Lucie, where he was below the average age for the league and hit a better .245/.313/.382.

Ultimately Brodey hasn’t taken that significant step yet as he heads into 2019 where he will be 23 years old. He will most likely start the year at St Lucie where he will be slightly above the average age. If something clicks, if he finds some power, or develops a better instinct to the ball, maybe he finds himself in double A and being discussed more prospect blogs. He still has “unlocked, solid-average power” (Baseball America), maybe it finally comes out!

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Mets Officially Reveal the Syracuse Mets

At the start of the Mets off-season we made a list of things to look forward to before Opening Day 2019. While most were Mets team released (GM/free agent signings/internal decisions as to who is playing what) on our list was “what will the Mets AAA Syracuse Club be named?”

Yesterday we found out that the Mets went with the safe choice and revealed the Syracuse Mets:


This is a lot better than the Syracuse Chiefs / Sky Chiefs and definitely fits the mold of branding upstate as Mets country too. Albeit a little boring. Binghamton recently went through the process of changing their name from the Mets (25 years) to the Rumble Ponies and in the process relaunched excitement about minor league baseball in the Southern Tier. Renaming the team was just part of that, the new owners, who demanded the name change, invested quite a bit in the stadium, the promotions got considerably better and then there was Tim Tebow:

Speaking of Tebow, other regional Triple A teams are anticipating a Tebow, Syracuse reunion:


Overall I don’t hate the rebranding, I just think it’s a little bland. If the Mets didn’t change their double A team this would have the last four stops of development on a player’s journey:

  • St Lucie Mets
  • Binghamton Mets
  • Syracuse Mets
  • New York Mets

The Mets also have the Kingsport Mets, which essentially use same logo for their hat (at least St Lucie changed theirs a bit). On the positive side, with so many teams calling themselves the Mets it will give us an opportunity to see some crazy Mets promotional jerseys throughout the season.

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Reviewing Baseball America’s 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #23 Jacob Rhame

Players ranked 23-25 are all familiar to Mets fans as they all have made their major league debut’s either this season or last. At #25 was Gerson Bautista, acquired in the Addison Reed trade in 2017, then at #24 was PJ Conlon and now at #23 is Jacob Rhame who the Dodgers sent to the Mets for Curtis Granderson. Rhame made his debut in September 2017 and one outing dominate his entire pitching for the season. The ledger says he pitched 9.0 innings in 9 games with a 9.00 ERA. However in one game he allowed 5 runs over 0.1 innings. He still had more outings allowing a run (5) than clean sheets (4). The hope was Rhame would move up to the next level at some point in 2018.

BA talks about how when the Dodgers drafted Rhame, his only reliable pitch was a fastball, so they turned him into a reliever. This should ring a bell for Mets fans because pretty much every pitcher traded for in 2017 threw serious heat and the hope was 1-2 of them would end up developing into a dominate reliever. He has developed a change-up with the Mets and an average to below average slider, neither of which are an out pitch yet.

Rhame got his chance last year due to injuries on the Mets but it wasn’t a great season for him at first. Over 30 games he pitched 32.1 innings posting a 5.85 ERA, 5.48 FIP, 1.423 WHIP and 64 ERA+. He ended the season on a 6.2 inning scoreless streak over 6 games and had only a 3.14 ERA in his last 12 games (which was every game after he allowed 6 runs over 2.0 innings against the Nationals in a game the Mets lost 25-4, so take that for what its worth). It is also worth noting he was one of the few pitchers who did not struggle in Las Vegas this year posting a 3.06 ERA over 25 games and 32.1 innings.

Out of other young relievers trying to push into the bullpen next year, Rhame has a leg up due to a higher volume of work last year at the major league level, his improvement over the last couple of months and the velocity of his fastball. If he impresses at camp, he will have an inside track to the active roster, otherwise he’ll be on the short list for injury replacement call-up at Syracuse.

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Reviewing Baseball America’s 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #24 PJ Conlon

The 24th player on BA’s list may be the Mets funniest minor league player on twitter. The Northern Ireland born hurler was a target of intrigue heading into the season, way more than a #24 ranking would suggest. It was his second season in a row receiving a non-roster invite to camp and despite having low velocity numbers, heading into the season he was dominating all over the minors. Like Gerson Bautista (#25), he would make his major league debut this year, leading to his cap being displayed in the hall of fame because of how rare an Irish born player actually is.

BA gave him a grade of 45 with a High risk rating (one of the lower risk ratings given to anyone in the farm system, which speaks to the state of the farm system, I think there are a handful of medium risk and everyone is high, very high or extreme). BA describes him perfectly here, “Conlon depends on command of a fringe-average fastball, plus changeup and plus control…sells and excellent change up with arm speed and deceptive delivery that prevents batters from easily picking up the ball.”

Conlon bounced around with the Mets and Dodgers this season, when he got called up he allowed 3 runs over 3.2 innings in a start and followed that up three weeks later with 4 runs over 2.0 innings. He was then claimed by the Dodgers before finding his wa back to the Mets were he made one outing, a relief appearance where he shut out the Phillies over 2.0 innings. In 2017 the Mets switched him in the minors to be a reliever, it isn’t surprising the Mets switched him back to being a starter because the Mets always seem to botch these things.

Conlon struggled most of the season in Vegas posting a 6.55 ERA over 23 games in 114.0 innings. All of the Mets pitchers struggled in Vegas this year. In this way, despite having completely opposite stuff of Bautista, he is exactly like Bautista.

Conlon, if not cut from the 40 man this year, will need a strong spring training to make his way to Queens, if that doesn’t happen, he’ll probably find his way to Queens eventually anyway due to injuries and lack of quality bullpen pitchers. Conlon is interesting: he’s a finesse pitcher, he’s coming off of the first season of pro-ball where he struggled, he clearly has a positive personality. Here’s hoping he comes back this season strong!

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Reviewing Baseball America’s 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #25 Gerson Bautista

Gerson Bautista is the first player on the Top 30 prospect list that played in the majors in 2018! Bautista came over with Callahan (#17 according to BA) and Nogosek (not ranked but the Mets sent him to the Arizona Fall League this year) in the Addison Reed trade during the 2017 season. He had never played at a level above A+ before 2018 and in 2018 he played in AA, the majors, AAA, the majors again and AAA for the rest of the season.

In his April and May stint at the major league level he struggled, allowing 8 hits over 6 runs in 4.1 innings. He was called up in April due to a combination of factors:

  • He has an impressive fastball topping out above 100 mph
  • He was intriguing in Spring Training
  • The Mets were injured (what else is new)
  • Binghamton is so close to Queens. Las Vegas is not.

He wasn’t lights out in Binghamton when the Mets called him, posting a 4.82 ERA over 6 games and 9.1 innings but 100 mph fastball is a 100 mph fastball and you don’t know what will happen when you put that on the mound. He struggled the rest of the season Las Vegas posting a 6.81 ERA over 39.2 innings. Its worth noting that:

  • We all know about pitching in Las Vegas and the PCL in general
  • He was 3.6 years younger than the league, despite being 23
  • The Mets at that point had bounced him AA-Majors-AAA-Majors-AAA

Through most of his minor league career he dominated posting good ERAs in the DOSL, Gulf Coast League, New York Penn League and the Southern Atlantic League. When the Mets acquired him, he was hitting his first real rough patch with the Red Sox A+ team, posting a 5.16 ERA over 45.1 innings but with the Mets in St. Lucie he posted a 1.26 ERA over 14.1 innings.

Ultimately, we know we are going to Bautista again next season. This can happen through the positive route or the inevitable out of his control route:

  • Positive Route: Bautista rebounds and finishes 2018 strong with a good 2018 Arizona Fall League campaign, comes into camp and blows everyone away, essentially demanding the Mets give him a roster spot
  • Inevitable Route: Bullpen injuries on the Mets are frequent, the Mets don’t sign enough arms this winter, whoever is the darling of Spring Training camp fizzles out by May and the Mets need a new arm. The Mets mismanage their bullpen and due to weather issues have to play 8 games in 7 days and need a fresh arm. The Mets are going to call up Bautista again next year. They have to.

 

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Reviewing the Baseball America 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #26 Luis Carpio

Luis Carpio is a middle infielder that Baseball America has graded at 50 with extreme risk (which is the bulk of the Mets farm system according to BA before the 2016 season). Coming into 2018 the story for Carpio was still his recovery from 2016. But let’s start from the beginning.

The Caracas born shortstop (and now mostly second basemen) played his first year of professional ball with the Mets in 2014 at the age of 16 in the DOSL .234/.347/.301. Even through his injuries, his plate discipline/approach have been listed as one of his most positive attributes. This earned Carpio a spot in Kingsport in 2015 (jumping the Gulf Coast League). At the age of 17 he was 3.6 years younger than the average APPY player that year and hit an awesome .304/.372/.359.

The next spring he tore is right labrum and essentially missed the entire 2016 season (he had a few DH appearances) since then the question has been how will he return? In Columbia in 2017 he hit .232/.308/.302. Still showing considerably more walks than hits but he was definitely still struggling in recovery. Last year in Columbia (and one game in Binghamton) he put up a different looking slash line at .219/.290/.364, losing some of his On Base potential, but grabbing quite a bit of powering raising his OPS by 44 points. In 2017 he hit 18 doubles and 3 homers but last year he hit 21 doubles and 12 homers.

Power has never been his Carpio’s calling card. Next year will be the third year removed from his major injury. At 21 he would still be below the average age at Columbia so starting the season in Columbia wouldn’t be out of the norm but depending on what the Mets see this spring (or this winter if he moves from the reserve squad to the active squad for Leones) maybe he starts the season in St. Lucie.

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Reviewing Baseball America’s 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #27 Ali Sanchez

We continue our journey today through Baseball America’s top 30 Mets prospects with #27, catcher Ali Sanchez. His name should sound familiar to you right now as he earned one of the coveted spots the Mets have for Arizona Fall League ball and he was named the Mets sleeper Fall League prospect in the Fall League by MLB.com (the marquee Fall League prospect being Peter Alonso).

The 21 year old Catcher was signed out of Venezuela in 2013 and played his first season for the Mets in the DOSL in 2014 at the age of 17 slashing .303/.406/.394 despite being 1.3 years below the average age in the league. This earned him an immediate promotion next year to the Gulf Coast League where he played 46 games hitting .278/.339/.315 and a short stint in Kingsport where he had 2 hits in 11 AB’s. The next year, at age 19, a full 2.1 years below the average age in the league, he found himself in Brooklyn where he hit .216/.260/.275 and followed that up in Columbia in 2017 with a .231/.288/.264. These last two years of work are probably why he ends up so low on the prospect list going into the 2018 season. But we already know that his 2018 story ends with him Arizona, what happened?

Well first, as Baseball America points out, “hit just .223 outside of the complex Rookie leagues, but his defensive tools are so tantalizing – and catchers develop later than other position players – that he remains a prospect of interest.” Thus earning a grade of 50 with Extreme risk. The Mets in the last decade are not numb to high ticket catching prospects that have struggled either coming up the system or once they get to the major leagues (Fransciso Pena, d’Arnaud, Plawecki and now Nido), so we know for catchers this is a jagged line journey to the top. BA was impressed with his fast release of the ball and accuracy, his ability to call a game at his age and raw power that comes out during Batting Practice.

He split 2018 with Columbia and then St. Lucie. For Columbia, where he was practically the average age, in 205 PAs he slashed .259/.293/.389, a significant improvement over previous years and then in 142 PA’s with St. Lucie, where he was 1.4 years below average age, he slashed a .274, .296, .385 (practically the same OPS due to more hits and less walks).

Now Sanchez has a lot of Mets attention being one of four position players on a Fall League roster and arguably the best catcher in the system after Nido. My gut says he opens 2019 with St Lucie and at some point will move up to Binghamton.

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Reviewing the Baseball America 2018 Top 30 Mets Prospects: #28 Adrian Hernandez

Adrian Hernandez was signed out of the DR and 2018 was his first year play professional ball which he did at age 17 in the Dominican Summer League. He’s graded at 50 with Extreme Risk. From Baseball America, “Hernandez had never lifted weights prior to signing, so his power to his pull side and the middle of the field speaks to his present strength and and bat speed”.

In the DOSL he slashed .261/.351/.386 hitting 5 homers and 12 doubles over 285 plate appearances. He spent the bulk of his playing time in Center Field with a just a couple of games at the corner spots and 2 where he came in only as a hitter. He committed 0 errors in 124 chances and recorded 119 putouts with 5 assists. This is remarkable only because the closing like to the Baseball America blurb about him was “Regarded as a hard nose player, Hernandez will begin to working to improve his defensive instincts.”

He’s young and is still quite far away. Most likely he starts next season back in the DOSL or in the Gulf Coast League given his age. Even at 18 next year, there’s a chance he will still be below the average age (or just ever so slightly above it) in the DOSL, the Gulf Coast League is the next significant step for him. If he ends up playing all of next year in the DOSL, then the following year he probably goes straight to Kingsport where he will be at 19 still below the average age at that level. (For this, I’m using Edgardo Fermin as a guide).

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Reviewing the Baseball America Top 30 Mets Prospects: #29 David Thompson

Coming into 2018 there was disagreement across prospect sources evaluating Mets talent. MLB pipeline called David Thompson the Mets #21 best prospect. Baseball America was much more muted, thinking #29. David, who will be 25 during the 2019 season, is coming off a season where he missed significant time due to hairline fracture in his hand. Further complicating his path: the Mets still have Todd Frazier and they traded for Will Toffey. While Toffey isn’t elite, neither is Thompson right now.

The injury this season was the first health set back for Thompson as a pro. In college he had surgery on his shoulder twice and one for thoracic outlet syndrome (the same situation Harvey was in and Wahl, who the Mets acquired with Toffey).

In 2017 Thompson slashed a .263/.325/.429 in Binghamtom and last year he hit .258/.329/.379.

Last season was mostly a wash for Thompson, and he may be able to use the Mets odd log jam at third base (competing with Toffey, Frazier for a whole season) to his advantage and capitalize on a strong 2019 minors campaign.

He does have two more hurdles. First, what if the Mets sign a third basemen to a long contract this off-season? He could still be called up later as a bench player. Second, and more pressing for Thompson, if the Mets don’t add him to the Rule V draft, he could be picked up by another team in December (which means he would have to make his MLB debut with them or come back to us).

BA gave him a 45 with a High Risk last year. We agree here.

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