C – Endy Rodriguez – There’s a lot meat to chew on when you scan over the Mets catching situation. With the team on the verge of contending in the suddenly intriguing National League East, new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen reached out into free-agency and nabbed one of the top catchers available, Wilson Ramos, signing him to a 2-year/$19M dollar deal with a club option in 2021. Often-injured Travis d’Arnaud is set to backup Ramos, as 2012 – 1st round draft pick Kevin Plawecki was shipped to Cleveland in early January. This pretty much keeps the catching position at bay until the organization can hopefully produce more homegrown talent, which they are highly acclaimed for doing so. Sure, you can see veteran signee Devin Mesoraco, with high minors Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika catchers too, but unlike Ramos, this is enough to even make Linda Blair’s head spin again. So, like you’d expect, we reach further down and despite all the glut at the top, it’s still fairly mediocre at the bottom. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018, the 6’0”- 170 lb. Endy Rodriguez started out his career with the DSL2 squad and impressed, batting .385 with three extra base hits, six RBi and seven runs scored in 11 games. He was shipped to the the DSL1 roster in late July, but failed to bat over .200, posting a .197 average, but blasted his first two home runs as a pro, and drew 15 walks to 17 strikeouts in 24 games. Defensively, he played the majority of his games behind the plate, logging a .987 fielding percentage, but also served time at first base, where he went errorless. Other than what Wilson Ramos will bring, I think it’d be difficult even for Nastradamus to predict what that will happen below him at catcher moving forward.
1B – Chase Chambers – If you follow the Mets exclusively or just baseball and prospects in general, you’d have to be in solitary confinement to not know Mets first base phenom Pete Alonso. Simply put, the kid is pure fire and there’s an outside chance he could make the major league squad out of spring training. I doubt it because of the business side of the game, but he’s not only knocking down the door to the big leagues, but drop kicking it. He has .250 – 25-30 home run potential right out of the gate. Therefore, it almost seems like a mute point to talk about UTR OAS because regardless of who we’ve chosen, Alonso is the man. However, we’ll talk about raising the floor, talk about those kids who help bring up the organizational talent pool, so let’s talk about 2018 draft pick Chase Chambers. The Mets selected the 6’1”- 250 lb. lefty in the 18th round out of Tennessee Tech. He came to the Mets with two main attributes: hugh power upside and a plus defender. As a four-year starter in college, he finished his career with a .320/.436/.557/.993 slashline with 49 home runs and 216 runs batted in. As a pro he held his own logging 13 doubles, three home runs, while batting .281, drawing 21 walks, taking 43 strikeouts, and posting a .989 fielding percentage. Chambers makes for a good follow despite him being a little older for the level, but I could see him starting 2019 with LoA Columbia where he can work on establishing himself as possibly the new top first base prospect in the system once Alonso hits the majors.
2B – Luis Santana – And here I thought the catching position was suffering a log jam. In all the teams we’ve highlighted so far this OAS season, there may not be an organization more loaded with shortstop prospects than the New York Mets. Heading into his third year in the majors, Amed Rosario sits atop the mountain, and with the signing of defensive wizard Adeiny Hechavarria a month ago, it seems that shortstop will be well preserved for quite awhile. So, what do you do with all those prospects?? The Mets house three studs inside Baseball America’s Top 10 with Andres Gimenez leading the way at #1, Ronny Mauricio at number 3, and Shervyen Newton coming in at #7. We understand that not all these kids are poised to make their splash all at once, but Gimenez is close. He could see AAA Syracuse this coming season, yet with Rosario in his way, he could shift to second base. But wait, the Mets traded for closer Edwin Diaz and future Hall-of Famer, second baseman Robinson Cano. Quite the conundrum I’d say, but a good problem to have as well. Therefore, much like first base, this allows us to mine deeper and add to the clutter, yet choose a guy who is (thankfully) no longer a part of it in Luis Santana. The 5’8”- 175 lb. Dominican was part of the early January deal that (also) sent outfielder Ross Adolf and catcher Scott Manea to Houston for infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis. In his first two seasons with the organization’s DSL squads, Santana batted a combined .317 with 16 doubles, 10 triples and three home runs, along with 63 RBi, 50 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. Last season he saw a promotion to Rookie Kingsport and had a mini breakout, setting (short) career highs in batting (.325), home runs (4) and registered 27 walks to 23 strikeouts, which actually is a smaller ratio than in 2017, when he drew 12 more base on balls (34) than he suffered strikeouts (22). Santana is a real solid prospect who now starts anew in Houston for the 2019 season.
3B – Mark Vientos – Three, maybe four seconds is all it took to choose Vientos as the Mets third base UTR OAS this season. By a far and wide margin, Vientos blew away the Mets competition this season and rightfully so. The 2017 – 2nd rounder out of American Heritage HS (FL) was among the Appalachian League leaders in home runs (11), ranked second with 52 RBi and among the league’s top six in total bases (109) as an 18-year-old. The 6’4”- 185 lb. righty ranks fourth on Baseball America Mets Top 10 prospect list heading into the season. He ironically shifted from playing shortstop to third base due to his power potential and strong arm, which is more suited for the hot corner. There is little to no reason to question Vientos’ talent as an up-and-coming fielder, but his power potential is what will vault him up prospect boards, as he’s already a fringe top-100 overall minor league prospect. If you’re in a fantasy league where minors can be plucked and stashed, go get Vientos now.
SS – Shervyen Newton We talked about the extraordinary stockpile of young shortstops in the Mets system in the second base profile above. And I’ll be the first to agree that #1 prospect Andres Gimenez is the real deal. As a 19-year-old, to do what he did in the HiA Florida State League last year is remarkable. Then to finish his season with Double-A Binghamton against competition five years his senior? More remarkable. So, for UTR sake, sifting through the shortstops was like loving summer, but wishing for rain during a drought. You want the rain, but you can’t help but appreciate the blinding sun. Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio and this years UTR OAS shortstop Shervyen Newton are the blinding sun. Newton might be listed third on the top shortstop prospect depth chart, but he played well above that booking, leading the APPY League Kingsport Mets squad in runs scored (50), doubles (16), ranking second in RBi (41) behind Vientos (above) and third in total bases (93). My personal prediction: either trade bait as he improves his overall game, or the Mets future super-utility infielder (ala Wilmer Flores). Newton should spend all 2019 with the LoA Columbia Fireflies.
LF – Yoel Romero – We talked about how the Mets are one of the organizations most likely to produce and successfully promote homegrown talent to the majors. As it stands at press time, the Mets are poised to start the 2019 season with three homegrown players in the outfield: 2014 – 1st rounder Michael Conforto in right field, 2011 – 1st rounder Brandon Nimmo in center, and 2013 – 12th round draft choice Jeff McNeil in left. Probably the thing that stands out the most is that none of the three have yet to reach their 27th birthday. Therefore, we’re going young again in our pursuit to raise the prospect floor. Yoel Romero fit the mold in 2018. The Mets signed the Venezuelan native in July 2014. He came to the organization with more of a defense profile than bat with good agility and solid arm, but his offense is marked more for gap power with the possibility to hit for more pop as he fills out and an average runner. His first two seasons with the DSL, he batted a paltry .163 with only 15 extra base hits, 22 RBi and 11 stolen bases in 99 games. The following season (2017) he rightfully repeated the DSL and a switch went off, as he increased his average by over 200 points (.364) and matched his extra-base total (16) from his first two seasons. He also stole 17 bases and he drew as many walks (31) as he struck out (32). In 2018, he saw a promotion to Rookie Kingsport and pound-for-pound continued to improve regarding per-game production.
CF – Jarred Kelenic – One and done. That’s pretty much how you can describe the impact Mets 2018 – 1st round draft pick Jarred Kelenic had/will have on the organization, and did here, earning the UTR OAS nod in center field. I think I was just as surprised as many others when I saw the 6’1”- 195 lb. lefty slugger included in the trade that brought shutdown closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robbie Cano to New York. I mean, I get it. You have to give quality to get quality, but Kelenic? After the year he had and the promise he brought? Yet, the Mets want to compete now and that’s a great thing and the fun Kelenic brought during his time with the Gulf Coast League and APPY Kingsport was worth it. He ended the season with a combined .286/.371/.486/.839 slashline with 10 doubles, 6 home runs, and 15 stolen bases over 56 games. He’s money and will be for Seattle too, who already has a smorgasbord of young outfield talent.
RF – Ross Adolph – If you’re saying, “Hey, I read his name already”, with all due respect, it’s because you have; in second baseman Luis Santana’s OAS bio above. For the Mets OAS right field spot, the talent at the position is suspect at best. Several Mets who posted high numbers last season were “repeat offenders”, meaning they spent a few years repeating levels only to ‘breakout’ so-to-speak at their next stop. That’s definitely not the case with Adolph, whom the Mets selected in the 12th round in 2018 out of the University of Toledo. However, in spite of the flurry of conventional talent at the right field position, I really wanted to firmly throw the 6’1”- 200 lb. lefty against the wall, hoping he sticks because he’s pretty darn good. But as mentioned above, Adolph was sent packing to Houston along with OAS second baseman Luis Santana. For Mets fans, this is actually a shame. In his three seasons with Toledo, he batted .289 with 22 home runs, 97 RBi with 13 triples and 24 stolen bases. His junior (and final) season with Toledo, Adolph tied the MAC conference record with 15 home runs. He was sent to SS Brooklyn to begin his pro career and for lack of better word, he did not disappoint, leading the Cyclones in hits (64), runs scored (47), triples (12), home runs (7), RBi (35), stolen bases (14), SLG% (.509), OPS (.809) and total bases (118). I think you know where we’re going here. Adolph played every outfield position in 2018 and committed zero errors. The Mets truly had a late round gem on their hands, capable of stealing the show once again in 2019. He’ll no doubt receive a promotion to HiA Buies Creek to begin 2019. Adolph was my absolute favorite Mets prospect to follow heading into the new season. That won’t change now that he’s an Astro. Adolph is as true an under-the-radar prospect as they come.Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained 1. RHP Tony Dibrell – (21.5) / LoA Columbia ** Dibrell took the UTR radar at full force in 2018. After spending his debut season (4th round -2017) in relief with short-season Brooklyn, Dibrell started 23 games at LoA Columbia. He posted nondescript stats in a 7-6 record, 3.50 ERA, 2.72 K/BB rate. The 6′ 3″ 180 lb right-hander was one of three pitchers that led the SAL with 147 strikeouts, but control issues tainted that stat with his 54 free passes. His fastball ranges in the low-mid 90’s, topping out at 96 mph, and his plus offerings would be a sharp slider and changeup, which has good movement and sink. Dibrell remains raw but very projectable. If he can work out his control issues this season, watch his star to rise quickly. 2. RHP Joe Cavallaro – (16) / Double-A Binghamton **Cavallaro made 2018 a breakout season. Selected in the 24th round in 2017, the 6′ 4″ 190 lb right-hander threw 34.2 innings during his debut in the Appy League. The 22-year old was assigned to LoA Columbia, where he glided to a 8-2 record, 2.09 ERA, and striking out almost a batter per inning (9.7 K9), and outstanding 6.7 H9 rate. Those numbers came back to normal during his 9 appearances (8 starts) at HiA St Lucie, a promotion that came after an emergency spot start at Binghamton. 3. RHP Chris Viall – (14.5) / LoA Columbia ** Another UTR pitcher that needs to reign-in his control. Those issues may have stemmed from nagging injuries in 2018 and ended up seeing him shutdown in August. The bulky right-hander (6′ 9″ 253 lb) is imposing on the mound with his mid-90’s fastball that has touched triple digits. The 6th round pick in 2016 walked 41 batters in 66.1 innings, but possess the stuff to generate swings-and-misses (94 K’s). The tricep problems that caused his season to abruptly end will be something to watch in 2019. 4. LHP Anthony Kay– (13.5) / HiA St Lucie ** The former 1st rounder might be unknown by some readers. You see, the southpaw was drafted in 2016, but saw his first action as a pro in 2018. The 6′ 0″ 218 lb lefty saw a heavy workload during his time at UConn and was diagosoed with a UCL ligament issue in his draft year. Though he missed the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Kay has the repertoire and comp (Mark Buehrle) to rank within the Mets Top 15 according 2017 Baseball America’s Handbook. The organization carefully moved Kay across two levels where he made 23 starts, but nearly half of those lasted 5 innings or less. 5. LHP David Peterson – (12.5) / HiA St Lucie “Solid Stash” ** Believe the hype with Peterson. His resume coming out of Oregon (1st round-2017), as their ace, was eye-popping and was the top left-handed pitcher in the 2017 draft class. Had the club left the 6′ 6″ 240 lb southpaw unharness his potential last season, Peterson would have easily scored higher within my system. Despite only reaching HiA last season, Peterson could make his way to the Big Apple sometime this season. Peterson’s fastball runs in the low 90’s, but he commands it very well. He also generates a ton of groundballs, and posted a 64.5% rate which ranked near the top in the minors. Top 3 Relief Pitchers –(Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained 1. RHP Steve Villines – (18) /Double-A Binghamton ** Side-winding righty posted a 13.0 K9 rate in 66.2 innings (96 strikeouts) in 47 appearances. He’s also able to give left-handed batters fits, as he held them to a .167 batting average. 2. RHP Carlos Hernandez – (8) / HiA St Lucie 3. RHP Conner O’Neil – (8) / LoA Columbia