Prospect Report: New York Mets 2024 Imminent Big Leaguers

Anne-Marie Caruso/NorthJersey.com/ USA TODAY NETWORK

Below is an evaluation of the prospects in the New York Mets farm system who readers should consider “imminent big leaguers,” players who might reasonably be expected to play in the majors at some point this year. This includes all prospects on the 40-man roster as well as those who have already established themselves in the upper levels of the minors but aren’t yet rostered. I tend to be more inclusive with pitchers and players at premium defensive positions since their timelines are usually the ones accelerated by injuries and scarcity. Any Top 100 prospects, regardless of their ETA, are also included on this list. Reports, tool grades, and scouting information for all of the prospects below can also be found on The Board.

You may be able to infer that is not a top-to-bottom evaluation of the Mets farm system. I like to include what’s happening in minor league and extended spring training in my reports as much as possible, since scouting high concentrations of players in Arizona and Florida allows me to incorporate real-time, first-person information into the org lists. In the Mets case, I’ll be heading to Florida in April for extended spring training to complete the entire list. Skimming the imminent big leaguers off the top of a farm system in the meantime allows time-sensitive information to make its way onto the site more quickly, better preparing readers for the upcoming season, helping fantasy players as they draft, and building site literature on relevant prospects to facilitate transaction analysis in the event that trades or injuries foist these players into major league roles. There will still be a full Mets prospect list that includes Ryan Clifford, Marco Vargas and all of the other prospects in the system who aren’t Top 100 guys and also appear to be at least another whole season away. As such, today’s list includes no ordinal rankings. Readers are instead encouraged to focus on the players’ Future Value (FV) grades.

For new readers, let’s revisit what FV means before I offer some specific thoughts on this org (seasoned vets of the site can skip the next couple paragraphs). Future Value (FV) is a subjective valuation metric derived from the traditional 20-80 scouting scale (where 50 is average and each integer of 10 away from 50 represents one standard deviation) that uses WAR production to set the scale. For instance, an average regular (meaning the 15th-best guy at a given position, give or take) generally produces about 2 WAR annually, so a 50 FV prospect projects as an everyday player who will generate about that much WAR during each of his pre-free agency big league seasons.

Why not just use projected WAR as the valuation metric then? For one, it creates a false sense of precision. This isn’t a model. While a lot of data goes into my decision-making process, a lot of subjectivity does too, in the form of my own visual evaluations, as well as other information related to the players’ careers and baseball backgrounds. A player can have a strong evaluation (emphasis on the “e”) but might be a great distance from the big leagues, or perhaps is injury prone, or a superlative athlete. Context like that might cause me to augment the player’s valuation (no “e”). Using something more subjective like Future Value allows me to dial up and down how I’m interpreting that context.

There are also many valuable part-time players who can only generate so much WAR due to their lack of playing time. As such, FV grades below 50 tend to describe a role more than they do a particular WAR output; you can glean the projected roles from the players’ reports. In short, anyone who is a 40+ FV player or above projects as an integral big league role player or better.

Now some Mets thoughts. The Mets have a new person at the helm of baseball operations, with former Brewers president of baseball ops David Stearns moving into New York’s POBO role after a disappointing 2023 season. He inherits a farm system that was substantially improved by the work of the previous regime and its pro scouting department, members of which are still around as Stearns assumes control. I’m sure that every Mets employee and fan would rather that the team have been good in 2023 and not been motivated to trade Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and others, but the trades were executed in a way that added a diverse mix of both near-term talent that should facilitate a quicker turnaround as well as some exciting lower-level hitters. The Mets have a healthy farm system even after graduating a few top 100 types last year, though nobody has Francisco Alvarez’s the level of ability quite yet and the current group is more about depth than high-end impact. It’s plausible the system could continue to improve even more via a Pete Alonso trade at some point in the next several months.

The big league roster probably does not have the starting pitching to compete with the mighty Braves and Phillies. Kodai Senga may be the only pitcher in the rotation who sticks around long enough to be on the next Mets playoff team. While a lot of the prospects on this list are pitchers who could feasibly come up at some point in 2024, the way Stearns tends to operate would point toward September call-ups that preserves option years and 2025 rookie eligibility for as many players as possible. After more of the veteran pitching has been traded ahead of the deadline, we might see Hamel, Vasil, and others.

Conversely, the big league lineup is stacked, and it will probably be difficult for the hitting prospects on this list to find playing time barring a rash of injuries to the entrenched starters. Instead, the key things to watch from this group are whether or not Luisangel Acuña or Alex Ramírez stabilizes, and how Jett Williams‘ defense develops. I have a 45 FV on Ryan Clifford, which is why he isn’t on here. The Lucas Duda comp I made at the trade deadline still holds. I understand his power-on-contact data is sexy, but I think advanced pitching is going to expose a hole in his swing that causes his strikeout rate to climb. I have him evaluated as a power-hitting platoon guy at the bottom of the defensive spectrum. That’s still a good player, just not a Top 100 type for me.

Lastly, I want to mention a few other relievers who have a fair shot to make it this year but who, usually because of really rocky command, I’m not as confident will debut. Eric Orze sits 95 mph, has a plus changeup, and struggles to throw strikes. Former Giants Rule 5 pick Dedniel Núñez has pumped upper-90s gas since he returned from Tommy John a couple of years ago, but he has zero idea where it’s going. Minor league free agent Cam Robinson has a north/south fastball/breaking ball attack that misses bats, but he’s walked six per nine the last couple of seasons. Data-driven evals like Stuff+ kind of like Hunter Parsons, especially his changeup. He’s the best strike-thrower of this group, but his stuff was a tad too light to stack him next to Lavender, Jarvis, and the other 35+ arms.

Mets Imminent Big Leaguers and Top 100 Prospects
Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
Drew Gilbert 23.3 AA CF 2024 50
Jett Williams 20.2 AA CF 2026 50
Jeremy Rodriguez 17.7 R SS 2028 50
Christian Scott 24.6 AA SP 2025 50
Ronny Mauricio 22.8 MLB SS 2025 45+
Dominic Hamel 24.9 AA SP 2025 45
Mike Vasil 23.9 AAA SP 2024 45
Luisangel Acuña 21.9 AA 2B 2024 40+
Alex Ramírez 21.1 A+ RF 2025 40+
José Butto 25.9 MLB SP 2024 40
Tyler Stuart 24.3 AA SP 2025 40
Trey McLoughlin 24.6 AA SIRP 2024 35+
Josh Walker 29.2 MLB SIRP 2024 35+
Victor Castaneda 25.4 AAA SP 2024 35+
Justin Jarvis 24.0 AAA MIRP 2024 35+
Nate Lavender 24.0 AAA SIRP 2024 35+
Max Kranick 26.5 MLB SIRP 2024 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Tennessee (HOU)
Age 23.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 50/55 40/50 60/60 45/50 60

Before the 2022 draft, Gilbert was written up here as a potential top-of-the-order catalyst who I thought was more likely to be a good fourth outfielder due to modest power. So far in pro ball, Gilbert is performing more like a do-everything player with a balanced hit and power skill set, and just enough center field defense to project there in the big leagues. He reached Double-A with Houston during the first half of 2023, then was traded to New York as part of the Justin Verlander deal and slashed a fantastic .325/.423/.561 during his post-trade time with Binghamton.

Gilbert has gotten stronger since signing (he was already yoked) and takes a mighty rip for a 5-foot-9 guy. He is a very dangerous low ball hitter, capable of tracking and adjusting to breaking balls mid-flight. When Gilbert collapses his back side and leans on one, he’ll show you emphatic pull-side lift, and he does most of his extra-base damage by yanking doubles down the right field line. While Gilbert shows some other hitterish characteristics with the occasional oppo liner, he is less of a bat control master than he is just a twitchy, short-levered hitter who is tough to beat because of how concise his swing is. His barrel is in the zone for a long time and he tends to find a way to put the ball in play, using his strength to muscle balls past infielders. He made what is roughly an average rate of contact for a starting big league center fielder in 2023, but also hit the ball harder than expected. It’d be surprising if Gilbert hit 25-plus annual bombs because pitchers can stay away from him and limit his power, but he’s going to ambush 18 or so and hit a ton of doubles, which is great for a capable center fielder.

A plus runner, Gilbert can go get it in center field and has a great arm. His range is fine, but his hands and ball skills aren’t the best, and there are some scouts who think he’ll be plus in a corner rather than stick in center. Gilbert plays with an edge, the kind of guy you love to have on your team but hate to play against, with his on-field persona toeing the line between “fiery” and “excessively abrasive.” He’s a spicy heel with the ability to be a well-rounded regular and he’s on pace to debut ahead of his stock 40-man timeline.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Rockwall-Heath HS (TX) (NYM)
Age 20.2 Height 5′ 6″ Weight 178 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/55 30/50 70/70 40/60 45

Williams added significant strength between his junior and senior years of high school, which is how he elevated his stock into the first round of the 2022 draft. He then dominated A-ball in his first full pro season before he looked overmatched during a late-season cup of coffee at Double-A Binghamton. Williams posted walk rates near 20% at Low- and High-A, hit 13 homers and stole 44 bases in 115 games, and forced his way to the upper levels while still just 19 years old. He is a plus athlete, a 70 runner, and a short-levered gap-to-gap hitter who has the catalytic qualities of a dangerous leadoff man.

It’s too soon to call him a do-everything, five-tool prospect, but Williams isn’t far off. He has a sizable hole in his swing at the top of the strike zone, which is atypical of a compact hitter like this. But his feel for the strike zone is excellent, his hitting hands are super explosive, and Jett can adjust to breaking balls by bending in his lower half in a way that is rare even for good hitters. I do think the belt-high hole in his swing is more likely to be exposed in a meaningful way now that he’s reached the upper minors, but the power and OBP combo here will still be enough for him to profile as an everyday player.

He also has more developing to do on defense. Williams is athletically capable of playing all three up-the-middle positions but requires polish. In 2023, he played shortstop most of the time and got a start in center field about once a week. The reliability of his hands and arm strength are both on the fringe of what’s viable at short. Williams simply mishandles the baseball too much to be a good shortstop right now and doesn’t have a “from the hole” cannon. He is such a rangy, high-effort athlete that I consider him a “maybe” long-term defender there, and the makeup report on Williams indicates he’s going to work to improve in the areas he’s lacking, but young prospects whose defensive scouting reports read like his at the same age (the Roman Quinns and Billy Hamiltons of the world) tend to end up in center field. Even though Williams played once a week in center, whole games would pass without him seeing any action out there. His reads and routes are not comfortable yet, but his speed and ability to adjust when he has to flip his hips and change directions is incredible. While it might be more valuable for Williams to stay at short, I think his chances of becoming a special defender are greater if he and the Mets commit to center field. He projects as an impact up-the-middle player even though the specifics of the defense are still cloudy.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (ARI)
Age 17.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 30/40 20/40 50/50 40/55 55

Acquired from Arizona in the Tommy Pham trade, Rodriguez’s skill set compares favorably to the high school infielders who tend to go in the first round of the domestic draft. He’s a skilled, well-rounded player with an unusually high floor for a teenage prospect thanks to his defense and bat-to-ball ability, the latter of which is heightened by his excellent plate discipline. I wrote Rodriguez up as a more of a utility guy when he was an amateur because he lacks the big-frame body projection typical of a star players, but now that he’s accumulated a DSL season’s worth of data, both his plate skills and contact ability are profile-driving attributes. We’re talking 86% contact, 93% in-zone contact, and only 19% chase. DSL metrics like this are only so meaningful, but put on Rodriguez’s tape and he looks like a really good hitter. He tracks pitches with bird-of-prey precision and makes flush, high-quality contact with a lovely and effortless left-handed swing.

Rodriguez is also a good shortstop defender. His exchange on slow rollers in on the grass is sometimes clunky, but otherwise he can make the requisite shortstop plays, his hands and range are plus, and I think something closer to prototypical arm strength will arrive with physical maturity. This is not a monster-ceiling’d DSL prospect — Rodriguez is more in the Brayan Rocchio-ish, high-probability bucket. Once again, using recent draft prospects as a way to triangulate more correct list placement for DSL guys would slot Rodriguez behind the Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlars of the world, and closer to the Colt Emerson/Jett Williams tier of player who often belong in the 10-15 range of a draft board.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from Florida (NYM)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/50 50/55 94-95 / 97

Another of the many recent pitching prospects who were squeezed out of the rotation at the University of Florida by the program’s terrific depth, Scott worked out of the Gators’ bullpen throughout his college career but has been stretched out as a starter in pro ball; he shifted into a rotation in 2022, then broke out in 2023 as he enjoyed a little velo spike. After starting the year on the IL with an oblique strain, Scott mowed through A-ball hitters and quickly reached Binghamton, where he spent most of the year. Across as career-high 19 starts and 87.2 innings, Scott struck out 107 hitters and walked just 12 while not only holding his usual velo, but increasing it to 94-95 mph on average.

Scott has a huge wingspan and gets way down the mound, traits that combine to give him huge extension and a shallow approach angle. His fastball really jumps on hitters, and he missed a ton of bats with it at the top of the zone even though it’s technically a sinker. He’s always had a pretty juicy slider, but now Scott seems to have altered his changeup into a firmer split (its average velo has increased by about five ticks, often 84-88 mph), giving him a pretty complete mix. Some of what Scott is doing mechanically is pretty violent (he has a pretty nasty head whack), and you can see why he was ‘penned in the past, but he’s thrown a ton of strikes in pro ball (this is definitely a control over command guy) and has mostly proven he can sustain an impact fastball across a starter’s load of innings. From a craftsmanship standpoint, Scott is close to being big league ready. He still needs to build innings and doesn’t have to be put on the 40-man until after the 2024 season, so it possible he doesn’t debut until 2025. Scott projects as a mid-rotation starter.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 70/70 45/60 40/40 45/50 70

Poor Ronny Mo tore his ACL while running the bases in a mid-December LIDOM game and will miss the entire 2024 season. With veterans Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil occupying the middle infield spots, Mauricio was likely going to battle Brett Baty and Mark Vientos for playing time at third base, which was his primary position with Licey before he was injured. The Mets began to play him all over the place in 2023 (including in left field) looking for pathways to playing time, as they were clogged at many positions and Mauricio was hitting well at Triple-A. He slashed .292/.346/.506 (a 108 wRC+, which gives you an idea of the run environment), and Mauricio had his third consecutive season with at least 20 homers, his second consecutive 20/20 campaign, and was fresh off winning the LIDOM MVP the winter before.

Mauricio is a huge-framed switch-hitting shortstop with power from both sides of the plate and a rocket arm, but his swing decisions are often so reckless that even though he’s met expectations since his high-profile signing, he’s still an extremely volatile prospect. Because he’s gotten stronger and added huge power while remaining just agile enough to play shortstop, his chase issues are palatable. Mauricio has historically had a chase rates near 40% and has a career .311 OBP in the minors. His secondary pitch recognition isn’t good, and he’s very vulnerable to soft stuff in the bottom of the zone and below. There are some players who are as aggressive as Mauricio (or more so) who find a way to be impact big leaguers anyway, and almost all of them tend to make enough in-zone contact to buoy their overall offensive output. Ronny Mo is on the very edge of viability in this respect, with in-zone contact rates of 83-85% the last few seasons, which is right around what successful chase-prone, low-OBP hitters like Ozzie Albies and Jonathan Schoop have shown. Hopefully a year of relative inactivity doesn’t impact Mauricio’s defensive ability so much that he can’t play shortstop anymore, as his capability there is an important aspect of his profile. A projected typical slash line for Mauricio looks like juiced ball-era Freddy Galvis, low OBP seasons with 25-to-30 homers and plus infield defense.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Dallas Baptist (NYM)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 55/55 40/45 40/45 92-96 / 98

After he struggled early in 2022, Hamel turned a corner in the middle of the season and has never looked back. He has demonstrated rare durability for a pitcher with just two full pro seasons under his belt, working about 120 innings each of the last two seasons while maintaining mid-90s velocity.

Hamel has had elevated walk rates for his whole career because of his approach to pitching. Inefficiency is inherent in the way his fastball plays best, at the belt and above, where it’s tough for hitters to get on top of it. Hamel also has two good breaking balls, both of which play best when working in sequence with these high fastballs. Though his slider doesn’t finish down and away from the zone with great consistency, it’s nasty enough that the ones that back up can still freeze hitters. Hamel’s mid-70s rainbow curveball (it sits 73-77; the sliders sometimes have curveball shape but are consistently 80 mph and above) has cartoonish depth and is tough for hitters to square even if they spot it popping out of his hand. Hamel’s changeup usage waxes and wanes, and increased late in 2023. It has enough sink to be a viable fourth pitch, something that can steal the occasional strike or get a groundball. He also seemed to introduce a cutter (which currently isn’t good) to his repertoire in 2023.

Like quite a few upper-level Mets prospects, Hamel is a bit more advanced than his chalk 40-man roster timeline. He could absolutely debut in 2024 if the Mets have enough big league injuries, since he’ll likely be at Triple-A all year. But because he doesn’t have to be put on the 40-man until after the season, it’s more likely Hamel is up in September and competes for a rotation spot in 2025.

Drafted: 8th Round, 2021 from Virginia (NYM)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 50/50 40/45 50/55 92-95 / 97

Vasil looked like a late first/comp round prospect in high school, then had an untimely injury as a senior and only pitched a little bit before the draft, sitting his usual 92-95 mph. He ended up at Virginia anyway, where he regressed, and was sitting 91 throughout his draft year.

Like a lot of pitchers who leave Virginia, Vasil has had a rebound in pro ball. He’s back to sitting 92-95 and reaching back for 96-97, velocity he’s held for the last two seasons. His slider has also gotten much harder, up from 82-83 in college to his present 85-88 mph range at peak. Vasil will flash an above-average changeup and his curveball’s shape is much different than that of his slider. Much more about control than precise command, Vasil’s craftsmanship as a pitcher is still a bit of a mixed bag. For instance, he throws a ton of strikes but tends to live in the very middle of the zone with both his fastball and slider. He’ll ideally polish his feel for locating those pitches at the letters and on the glove-side edge of the plate, respectively. His comfort throwing right-on-right changeups and using his curveball as a back-foot weapon against lefties makes it tough for hitters to sit on either of those other pitches. He worked 124 innings in 2023 and spent the back half of the season at Syracuse. Though he doesn’t have to be put on the 40-man until after the 2024 season, Vasil’s basically ready for primetime in every way and projects as a rock steady no. 4/5 starter on a good team.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (TEX)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 181 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 30/50 60/60 40/45 45

This is a fairly drastic re-evaluation of Acuña compared to 2023, when he was coming off an electric 2022 Fall League stint and began 2023 shot out of a cannon at Double-A Frisco. After slashing .315/.377/.453 as a Rough Rider, Acuña was part of the Max Scherzer deal, and his surface performance tanked rather surprisingly as soon as he arrived in Binghamton while his peripherals (18% K%, 9% BB%) remained roughly the same. Even when Acuña has hit well in the past, he has had issues with chase and plate coverage. Remarkable bat speed, which generates surprising power for a hitter his size, was what made Acuña a potential impact shortstop who lived toward the back of the Top 100 list. The way his body rotates about his hips as he swings is beautiful, and he has a certain verve and power potential that few 5-foot-8 hitters possess, but Acuña has only performed for fits and starts of the last couple of seasons, and his explosion and twitch were not as apparent after he arrived in Binghamton.

That extended to Acuña’s defense. His arm strength is only fair for shortstop, and Acuña’s hands on defense can be clumsy. He’s mostly played the middle infield, but prior to the trade the Rangers also gave him some reps in center field and it’s possible Acuña’s best chance of playing a premium position well would be for the Mets to give that a go, as he certainly runs well enough for it. I was surprised at how different Acuña looked on tape in September compared to June or July, and frankly I’m a little flummoxed as to where to value him. His end-of-season look wasn’t great, and it’d be tough for a second base-only defender to profile with a hit/power combination like that. Priced into this grade is the possibility of a bounce back, that the change of scenery was simply something Acuña needed to adjust to late last year and that he’ll be a more dangerous hitter in 2024.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/60 35/55 55/50 40/50 60

Ramírez is coming off a lackluster 2023 spent entirely at High-A Brooklyn, where he ended 2022. He now owns a .240/.316/.354 line in 174 games at that level. If you had told me a year ago that Ramírez was going to partially remedy his free-swinging approach in 2023, I would have told you that he’d had a breakout that placed him among the top 50 or so prospects in baseball. Instead, even though his swing rate dropped five percentages points and his chase rate dropped seven, Ramírez had a mediocre year marred by poor quality of contact and struggles against fastballs. The exciting buggy whip bat speed that made Ramírez a top 100 prospect last year is still present, but the amount of movement and length it takes to get his barrel going has become a problem, or at least I’ve now realized that it’s a problem.

One other issue here is that Ramírez is becoming tougher to project in center field. Even though he mostly played center in 2023 and has the ball skills to play there, his routes are not crisp and Ramírez is only running 4.3 from home to first, which is a slower than is typical for a good center field defender. His wispy frame has room for another 20 or maybe 30 pounds, and with that weight and strength could come more raw power, but it will also probably be the nail in the center field coffin. There is still sizable long-term upside here if all the power arrives, but my Jose Siri, streaky late-bloomer comp of the last couple of years is evaporating due to changes in my defensive projection for Ramírez, whose overall stock has begun to teeter.

40 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYM)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 40/40 60/60 50/50 93-95 / 98

Butto is just a couple of roster days and innings away from losing rookie status. He was up and down several times in 2023, made seven solid big league starts, and looked like the fifth starter he’s been projected as for the last couple of list cycles. He has a fastball-heavy approach and inelegantly bullies hitters with 93-95 mph fastballs that serve to set up his excellent mid-80s changeup and curt upper-80s slider, both of which miss bats at an above-average rate. Butto was throwing more strikes in the low minors but adopted more of a power pitcher’s approach with his fastball a couple of season ago, and now tries to attack hitters at the top of the strike zone. He can beat hitters who struggle with that location, but his fastball doesn’t have quite enough carry to play as a bat-misser in the meatier parts of the strike zone. He might be better served throwing more secondary pitches. He’s a backend/spot starter who may trend toward a long relief role as he runs out of option years.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2022 from Southern Mississippi (NYM)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 9″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/55 40/50 30/45 91-95 / 97

The gigantic Stuart had a 1.55 ERA, struck out a batter per inning and generated a 50% groundball rate during 14 starts with Brooklyn. He was promoted to Double-A for the last month and a half of the season, and while he’s more likely on a two-year track to the big leagues, he’s polished enough that he stands a puncher’s chance to debut in 2024. He has a tailing heater that sits 93-94 mph early in starts and loses a tick or two late. He can run it back over the glove-side corner of the plate or blow up hitters in on their hands even though it isn’t all that hard and, partly because of Stuart’s size, hitters take a pitch or two to adjust to the line on his heater. His sweeping, two-plane slider is nasty when Stuart locates it, and it’s his preferred strikeout pitch, but it is very juicy when it finishes in the strike zone. Stuart’s changeup isn’t especially nasty but he has pretty good feel for locating it. This is a pretty impressive developmental place to be considering Stuart spent most of his college career in the bullpen, he held up under a 110-inning workload, and reached Double-A within a year of being drafted. He’s a high-probability backend starter who looks like a great Day Two draft pick.

35+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 16th Round, 2021 from Fairfield (NYM)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/50 60/60 50/55 90-92 / 94

McLoughlin was part of the Fairfield squad that made beat Arizona State en route to a Regional finals loss to Texas in 2021. In part due to shoulder bursitis, McLoughlin didn’t pitch a ton during his third and fourth years at Fairfield. He’s been healthy and productive as a pro reliever, climbing all the way to Binghamton and the Arizona Fall League in 2023. McLoughlin has three big league-quality pitches. His fastball only sits 92, but it lives off of deception and McLoughlin’s ability to locate it up and to his arm side with consistency. He has a nasty splitter that looks like his fastball out of hand before dropping off the table, and McLoughlin commands his slider to his glove side. All the pieces of McLoughlin’s repertoire fit together, his command makes each of his pitches sing, and he mixes them evenly enough to keep hitters guessing. He’s a high-probability low-leverage reliever.

Josh Walker, SIRP

Drafted: 37th Round, 2017 from New Haven (NYM)
Age 29.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
45/45 60/60 40/40 92-94 / 97

A late-round Division II success story, Walker rocketed through the minors in 2021, pitched at Triple-A during parts of the next few years and debuted in Flushing in 2023 before an oblique strain sent him to the 60-day IL. Walker is a great-framed lefty with a stiff, overhand delivery that generates depth on a good curveball despite it lacking much spin. It’s a nasty enough pitch to play as a backfoot weapon against righties, as well as in a left-on-left capacity. He’s an up/down option in 2024 if healthy and could be a bullpen’s consistent second lefty if his command develops beyond this projection.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (MIL)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
30/30 50/50 55/55 45/45 50/50 45/45 90-92 / 95

I’m still not sure what was going on with Castaneda that caused him not to pitch for the Rays until August last season. He was acquired as the PTBNL for converted reliever Javy Guerra in March 2023 but was nowhere to be found until the last month of the season. Through September and in winter ball with Culiacan in Mexico, Castaneda has looked like his usual self. He’s sitting 90-92, he mixes in a ton of secondary pitches including a cutter and two different offspeed pitches, and he throws enough strikes to be considered a luxury spot starter option. He signed a minor league deal with the Mets over the winter and is pretty likely to pitch for them in an injury replacement capacity at some point in 2024.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Lake Norman HS (NC) (MIL)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 50/55 45/50 40/45 93-95 / 96

Jarvis was on the fringe of prospect lists at FanGraphs for years while he was with Milwaukee, but his combination of below-average velocity and control (despite his fastball’s other traits) always kept him toward the bottom or off the list entirely. In 2023, he had a two-tick velo spike and was sitting 93-95 with plus-plus riding life early on. Jarvis pitched well at Double-A Biloxi, was promoted to Nashville, and soon after was traded to the Mets for Alison Roman first pitch recipient, Mark Canha. Jarvis’ performance tanked after the trade and he surrendered an 8.04 ERA in nine starts with Syracuse as his velocity keeled off a little bit. The Mets left him off of their 40-man roster.

Jarvis is built like Zach Davies and has a due north arm slot that helps impart carry on his fastball and 12-to-6 shape on his curveball. His command has never been very good, but his type of fastball gives him in-zone margin for error, so as long as he can throw hard, he should be able to get hitters out with a fastball-heavy approach. That may ultimately take a move to the bullpen to sustain, as Jarvis hasn’t shown consistently good stuff as a starter. There’s enough raw stuff here in terms of the fastball’s traits and Jarvis’ raw breaking ball quality to consider him a prospect, even though he wasn’t rostered or taken in the Rule 5, because I want to see what happens to his arm strength if/when he’s shifted to the bullpen.

Drafted: 14th Round, 2021 from Illinois (NYM)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/40 45/50 40/40 90-92 / 95

Lavender struck out 86 hitters in 54.1 IP last year and has a career K/9 of 13.7 even though his fastball, which he throws 65% of the time, sits just 91 mph. It’s because Lavender has one of the more deceptive deliveries in the minors. He almost looks like someone who learned to throw with their left arm later in life. There are some Hideki Okajima elements to his delivery, including Lavender’s head whack, which prevents him from seeing his target at release. He gets way down the mound, his arm action is super whippy, and the line on his fastball is incredibly difficult for hitters to get on top of. The rest of his repertoire isn’t great, but on the back of his fastball alone Lavender smells like an up/down reliever.

Max Kranick, SIRP

Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Valley View HS (PA) (PIT)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
35/55 55/55 40/40 45/45 40/40 92-96 / 98

Kranick was called up in a relief role and right on the cusp of graduating from prospect eligibility in May of 2022 when he blew out and needed Tommy John, which kept him shelved until the very end of 2023. In the offseason, the Pirates DFA’d Kranick to make room for Martín Pérez on their 40-man roster and the Mets claimed the Lackawanna County native off of waivers. Kranick’s final pitch prior to his 2022 TJ was 97 mph, while his fastball during his month-long rehab last season averaged 92-93. At his best, a fully healthy Kranick sits 94-97 and has the looks of a typical middle reliever. He’s out of options and is squarely on the 40-man bubble with his status likely dependent on his early spring look.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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sadtrombonemember
28 days ago

Maybe I’m missing something but you told me to pick:
(1) A guy in AA striking out over 11 batters ever 9 innings and acceptable walk rates with a plus slider, or
(2) A guy in the DSL whose best trait is that he is “high probability” rather than “high upside.”

I am taking guy #1 every time. I don’t see how anyone in the DSL can be “high probability.” Ever,

Bum Ho Lee
28 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The rest of the words in the write-up are the part that’s missing. The two sentences without context sound a bit weird, but details like guy 1 pitching a career high 87 innings between high A and AA as a 24 year old and Guy 2 having the skill set of a mid-1st round draft pick makes it easy enough to rationalize.

slz
28 days ago
Reply to  Bum Ho Lee

Gavin Cecchini was a mid-1st round draft pick, so I’m going to remain skeptical on that one.

40oztoSteamer
28 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

“Acceptable”? He had some of the best walk rates in the entire minors

sadtrombonemember
28 days ago
Reply to  40oztoSteamer

I’m referring to Hamel, not Scott.

wanderboymember
28 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Idk man. What Jeremy did as a 16 year old is rare. Looks like he has an elite hit tool and will be able to stick at short.