Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the New York Mets. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not New York’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Mets system who are most ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they’re likely to receive the opportunity to do so). No attempt has been made, in other words, to account for future value.
Below are the top-five prospects in the Mets system by projected WAR. To assemble this brief list, what I’ve done is to locate the Steamer 600 projections for all the prospects to whom McDaniel assessed a Future Value grade of 40 or greater. Hitters’ numbers are normalized to 550 plate appearances; starting pitchers’, to 150 innings — i.e. the playing-time thresholds at which a league-average player would produce a 2.0 WAR. Catcher projections are prorated to 415 plate appearances to account for their reduced playing time.
Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts — which is to say, there has been no attempt to account for the runs a player is likely to save in the field. As a result, players with an impressive offensive profile relative to their position are sometimes perhaps overvalued — that is, in such cases where their actual defensive skills are sub-par.
t4. Cory Mazzoni, RHP (Profile)
After recording just 66.0 innings in 2013 — all in a starting capacity — Mazzoni didn’t surpass that total by much in 2014, owing to a lat strain that forced him to miss roughly three months of the season. Upon returning, he proceeded to produce almost the precise strikeout and walk figures (75:20 K:BB) as he had the previous year (74:19 K:BB) — although most of them in his first exposure to Triple-A, in this case. Perhaps because of his health difficulties or for other reasons, the notion persists that the Mets will move Mazzoni to the bullpen. It seems like he’d be entirely competent there, but that he also appears to have the tools (if not the health) to survive as a starter.
t4. Matt Reynolds, SS (Profile)
Reynolds entered the 2014 season having only played one game ever above High-A. He ended it, though, having recorded more plate appearances with Triple-A Las Vegas than the Mets’ Double-A affiliate in Binghamton. Reynolds’ refulgent batting line at the latter (.355/.430/.422) was the product, in no small part, of a .433 BABIP. He proceeded to benefit from a .400-plus BABIP at Triple-A, as well. Steamer doesn’t assign much weight to those results, however — especially just one year of them — calling for a major-league .280 BABIP (or its equivalent) from Reynolds in 2015. With Reynolds’ defensive skills, though, that still produces a player worth something better than replacement level.
t2. Dilson Herrera, 2B (Profile)
McDaniel has noted on multiple occasions Herrera’s non-traditional way of loading his swing, also pointing out that Herrera possesses the necessary bat speed to account for what, in a lesser hitter, might represent a real hindrance. For however peculiar the means are, the result is a player who’s entering his age-21 season having already contended reasonably well with major-league pitching and exhibited the ability to play second base. He’s an excellent injury replacement at this point, with obvious promise for more.
t2. Noah Syndergaard, RHP (Profile)
With the exception of a .378 BABIP, the right-handed Syndergaard was almost precisely the same pitcher at Triple-A Las Vegas last season as he’d been in his first four professional seasons. Syndergaard entered 2014 having produced strikeout and walk rates of 27.8% and 6.8%, respectively. Last year, he recorded a 24.9% strikeout and 7.4% walk rate. Not as impressive, that, but also nearly as impressive and also the product of a 21-year-old pitching in the rather hostile Pacific Coast League. Per Steamer, it’s unlikely that Syndergaard is prepared to dominate major-league hitters immediately. The combination of age and present talent are impressive, however.
1. Kevin Plawecki, C (Profile)
Plawecki has played at five minor-league levels over three professional seasons, recorded between 150 and 300 plate appearances at each of them, and posted strikeout rates always between 8.5% and 12.5%. As that last point illustrates, Plawecki’s contact skills are impressive. Consider: his projected strikeout rate for 2015 (12.4%) would have placed him 27th among the league’s 146 qualified batters by that measure. That sort of offensive ability in tandem with the ability to catch conspires to produce a solid, probably major-league ready prospect.
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.