Top 30 Prospects: New York Mets by Eric Longenhagen April 2, 2021 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the New York Mets. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. Each blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report if there were any. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in my opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on my lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2021 2020 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Mets Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Francisco Alvarez 19.4 R C 2023 55 2 Ronny Mauricio 20.0 A SS 2023 55 3 Matthew Allan 20.0 A- SP 2023 50 4 Mark Vientos 21.3 A 3B 2022 50 5 Brett Baty 21.4 A- 3B 2023 45+ 6 Pete Crow-Armstrong 19.0 R CF 2025 45 7 J.T. Ginn 21.9 R SP 2024 45 8 Khalil Lee 22.8 AA RF 2021 45 9 Alexander Ramirez 18.2 R CF 2025 40+ 10 Thomas Szapucki 24.8 AA MIRP 2021 40+ 11 Shervyen Newton 21.9 A SS 2022 40 12 Jaylen Palmer 20.7 R 3B 2023 40 13 Junior Santos 19.6 R SP 2023 40 14 Ryley Gilliam 24.6 AAA SIRP 2021 40 15 Franklyn Kilome 25.8 MLB SIRP 2021 40 16 Sam McWilliams 25.6 AAA SIRP 2021 40 17 Robert Dominguez 19.3 R SP 2024 40 18 Freddy Valdez 19.3 R RF 2023 40 19 Jose Butto 23.0 A SP 2022 40 20 Joshua Cornielly 20.2 R SP 2023 40 21 Carlos Cortes 23.8 A+ 2B 2021 40 22 Jordany Ventura 20.7 R SP 2023 40 23 Yennsy Diaz 24.4 MLB SIRP 2021 35+ 24 Marcel Renteria 26.5 AA SIRP 2022 35+ 25 Tylor Megill 25.7 AA SIRP 2021 35+ 26 Joander Suarez 21.1 R SP 2023 35+ 27 Adrian Hernandez 20.2 R CF 2022 35+ 28 Will Toffey 26.3 AA 3B 2022 35+ 29 Michel Otanez 23.7 A- SIRP 2022 35+ 30 Desmond Lindsay 24.2 A+ CF 2020 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 55 FV Prospects 1. Francisco Alvarez, C Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (NYM) Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 50/55 25/50 45/40 45/55 55 Throughout the last year, there is no prospect about whom I have received more “Hey, move that guy up your list” feedback than Alvarez. Young catchers are notoriously slow to develop as they adjust to the physical and mental demands of the position, which often stymies their offensive production. But Alvarez’s first pro season was statistically impressive. He only played in 42 games, but he hit .312/.407/.510 (mostly in the Appy League) while playing very good defense and appearing more svelte and conditioned than he had as an amateur. His swing (his front foot is down very early) could stand to be a little more athletic to take advantage of his movement skills, but he rotates hard anyway and his hitting posture enables him to lift pitches in various locations. The receiving, lateral mobility, and arm strength are all promising on the defensive side, too. Teen catchers are risky and often take forever to develop, but Alvarez’s track record of hitting extends back to amateur play. I was low on Alvarez last year, and he and Luis Campusano are in a talent tier of their own beneath Rutschman among catchers on the top 100. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 2. Ronny Mauricio, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 45/55 30/50 50/50 45/50 60 As an 18-year-old in 2019 full-season ball, Mauricio hit .283/.323/.381 before fading in August. He’s begun to pack noticeable mass onto the frame that had made him such an exciting amateur, the kind of prospect who could carry 30 more pounds and add power without losing the agility to play shortstop. Even though he’s clearly gotten stronger (he’s still listed at a comical 166; I felt I had to manually adjusted a bunch of listed weights in this system), Mauricio simply doesn’t have the pure explosiveness of someone like Marco Luciano or Bobby Witt Jr., and while he might continue to get bigger and stronger, and add power that way, I don’t think he’ll end up having thunderous raw. There’s still a pathway to stardom here; Mauricio is a switch-hitting shortstop with pretty good feel for contact after all. He’ll need to refine either his swing or approach to be an everyday player, and probably both to be an impact one. Because he’s so young, there’s time for that to happen. Even if he only ends up with an average hit/power combination, that’s a really valuable everyday shortstop. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 50 FV Prospects 3. Matthew Allan, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Seminole HS (FL) (NYM) Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/70 45/60 30/45 93-96 / 97 The Mets put a lot of their 2019 draft eggs into a few high-upside baskets, and one of them was Matthew Allan, who had huge stuff in high school — plus velocity, a plus breaking ball, and a plus changeup now and then — but was often pretty wild. The Mets made a $2.5 million bet on him in the third round, one of several multi-million dollar bonuses they gave to high schoolers that year. It meant the Mets had to target signable seniors earlier than other teams, but that also meant they got the best ones. Allan signed, went to the GCL, and was 92-95 in his early work there. He cleaned up his frame (which I think gives him a better chance to repeat his delivery more consistently) and was parked well into the mid-90s at both the alt site and instructs. I’ve grown a little more skeptical of pitchers with rainbow breakers like Allan’s, but if it turns out to be a problem, I think he has the feel for spin to quickly add a slider. His physical transformation is an indicator to me that he’ll work to make that adjustment when asked. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 4. Mark Vientos, 3B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from American Heritage HS (FL) (NYM) Age 21.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/70 35/60 40/35 35/40 60 Vientos arrived at the Mets’ alternate site in September, then played during Fall Instructional League, before being signed by Escogido in the Dominican Winter League (which also rostered Wander Franco, Vlad Jr., and Julio Rodríguez); he did some pre-season training with the team but didn’t play. He’s undergone a few minor swing changes since entering pro ball, and the latest iteration features a wider stance and toned-down leg kick, and is a close bedfellow to Spencer Torkelson’s swing. Long-levered, corner-only prospects like Vientos are extremely risky, and the way his strikeout and walk rates trended in 2019 — combined with the possibility that he might outgrow third base — has led to some industry trepidation regarding his inclusion on the Top 100. But I like that he’s been able to make swing adjustments, and Vientos also put up an above-average statline in full-season ball as a teenager and has some of the most exciting, frame-based power projection in all the minors. He torched balls in 2019, averaging just over 91 mph off the bat and putting 47% of them in play at 95 mph or above, which, for context, is a 65 on the scale. And he still has room for another 20 pounds on the frame. Proprietary metrics sourced for this list indicate that even though he only slugged .411 in 2019, his expected SLG based on the quality of his contact was closer to .480. I’ve seen Vientos get on top of elevated fastballs and drive stuff the other way with authority in a way that’s uncommon for a hitter with levers this long. He’s quite risky, but is also a potential middle-of-the-order anchor. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 45+ FV Prospects 5. Brett Baty, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Lake Travis HS (TX) (NYM) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 65/65 30/60 45/40 45/50 50 The gap created by the lack of a 2020 season makes it somewhat more difficult to evaluate a prospect like Baty, who was a full two years older than other, younger high schoolers picked in his draft. Because of his age and size, which portends an eventual move to first base in the eyes of many scouts on both the amateur and pro side, this is the type of prospect for whom statistical performance is rather important. In this case, we have very little of that. Baty showed advanced feel to hit as a prepster, then struck out a ton against age-appropriate Appy League pitching in 2019. He spent 2020 at the alternate site and instructs, then got some run during 2021 spring training. Not only has Baty kept his body in check but it’s actually better now than it was in high school. It gives him a better chance of staying at third base for a while but he’s just so huge that I still think he’ll ultimately end up playing first base. Video analysis of Baty at the alt site and in 2021 spring training, as well as a scout source’s in-person look during the fall, indicate this is a guy with limited barrel precision, and that most of his offensive output is going to come from his advanced feel for the strike zone and light tower power. It’s hard to say someone is tracking like a three true outcomes type of hitter when there’s almost no statistical evidence to support that, but that’s indeed what the visual reports on Baty suggest we’re about to see. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 45 FV Prospects 6. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Harvard Westlake HS (CA) (NYM) Age 19.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/50 45/50 20/40 60/60 50/70 50 Crow-Armstrong was one of the earliest 2020 high schoolers identified as a likely first round talent because of how well he performed against older showcase competition and SoCal varsity pitching. He had a rough pre-draft showcase summer, and while he rebounded later in 2019 with Team USA, he didn’t have an extended opportunity to do so in 2020 because of the pandemic. Crow-Armstrong did, however, come out having added substantial muscle and some teams think he’ll hit for more power than the industry would have projected based solely on 2019 looks. The headline skill here, though, is PCA’s defense in center field, which was the best in the draft class regardless of demographic. It’s fun just watching him shag balls during BP. Like Blake Rutherford before him, Crow-Armstrong has a pretty swing geared for low-ball contact. He’s especially adept at lifting breaking balls in the air but may struggle against velocity at the letters. His potential Gold Glove-caliber center field defense makes him a likely big leaguer, but issues with top-of-zone velocity may prevent him from being a complete offensive player. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 7. J.T. Ginn, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Mississippi State (NYM) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/60 45/50 35/50 91-94 / 96 Even though Ginn had some relief and age-related risk coming out of high school, he had an extra bit of negotiating leverage knowing he’d be an eligible sophomore just two years later. Though the Dodgers picked him in the back of round one, they couldn’t get a deal done. His first year in Starkville, Ginn was up to 96, flashing the same plus slider he had in high school, and (more importantly) walked just 19 hitters in 86 innings. He entered his draft-eligible sophomore year (2020) in the middle of a crowded group of first-round college arms, but tore his UCL during his first start and needed Tommy John. He’ll be back late in 2021 and projects as a No. 4 starter. (TJ Rehab) 8. Khalil Lee, RF Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Flint Hill HS (VA) (KCR) Age 22.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/60 35/50 55/55 45/55 60 Lee was a two-way high schooler with more of a leadoff skillset until he got yoked as a senior and showed up to the AZL with surprising power. He had four years of statistical success while with Kansas City but his in-game power output has come down as he’s climbed. During Lee’s 2019 season at Double-A, he hit .264/.363/.372 with a 12% walk rate and a whopping 53 steals. Then Lee spent 2020 at the Royals’ alternate site and went to play winter ball in Puerto Rico for the second consecutive offseason. He didn’t hit well there but did look pretty good in center field. In February, Lee was part of the Andrew Benintendi three-team deal and ended up with the Mets. He wasn’t as good during his few defensive opportunities this spring and, as he always has, Lee continues to strike out a lot. He is a power-over-hit type of prospect who takes giant hacks, often falling to one knee as he finishes. His big, long, uppercut swing and huge bat speed generate considerable raw power but also lead to lots of strikeouts, and he can really only lift pitches in the bottom of the strike zone. He has the tools of a three true outcomes right fielder, one who potentially plays above-average corner outfield defense. Maybe some of this is due to how intense his swings are, but I get 40-grade run times on Lee from home to first, and I don’t see him stealing a ton of bases or playing center field in the big leagues. The quality of his at-bats against elite competition has been mixed, at best. It’s likely going to take a swing adjustment to get Lee hitting for relevant power in games. I think he could be the larger half of a corner platoon if either more of that pop shows up in games or Lee’s approach eventually enables him to make more contact. (Alternate site, Puerto Rican Winter League) 40+ FV Prospects 9. Alexander Ramirez, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 18.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/55 20/55 55/55 40/50 55 If there’s a prospect in this system with a chance to absolutely explode over the next year, it’s probably Ramirez, who readers should be cautious not to conflate with the Angels’ Alexander Ramirez, who has a similar profile and also has a chance to blow up. Scouts’ looks at the Mets’ fall camp were variable because the last two weeks of the team’s camp were cancelled due to positive COVID tests in the group and also played a lot of intrasquads. In Ramirez’s case, he was seen a lot taking swings off high speed pitching machines. The combination of body projection, bat speed/rotation, and present pull-side power here is really exciting. This is a young man who might grow into huge raw power. He’s a little narrow in the waist but has the room to add at least 30 pounds as he enters his mid-20s. With that could come 30-plus homer power. We still know next to nothing about the hit tool, which is the only thing keeping Ramirez out of the 45 FV tier right now. (Fall Instructional League) 10. Thomas Szapucki, MIRP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Dwyer HS (FL) (NYM) Age 24.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 60/60 40/45 40/45 88-94 / 96 Szapucki’s velocity was down pretty considerably at the 2020 alternate site, more in the upper-80s and peaking in the 91-92 area. In his sole 2021 spring training inning, he sat 92-94, which is in line with his early-game velocities from 2019. We’re talking about a 24-year-old who has never thrown more than 62 innings in a season and has had several bouts with injury, so it’s increasingly likely Szapucki ends up pitching in relief. But we’re also talking about a lefty with a plus curveball who has struck out more than a batter per inning when healthy, so there’s still potential impact here. Even at its typical velocities, which are just below the big league average, Szapucki’s fastball has garnered above-average rates of swing-and-miss in the minors (a 13% swinging strike rate on his fastball based on the 2019 minor league data I sourced) thanks in part to its flat angle. If he can continue to live in the 92-94 range like he has this spring, then Szapucki will end up with at least two above-average pitches and be a fine relief fit. If his changeup can actually develop, which still feels possible considering how many reps he has missed, then perhaps he can work in a multi-inning role or one of more significant leverage. That Szapucki is on the 40-man and yet was given just one in-game look before being optioned is perhaps not a great sign here, but it still feels like there’s a middle relief floor with a chance for more impact than that at peak. (Alternate site) 40 FV Prospects 11. Shervyen Newton, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Netherlands (NYM) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/70 30/50 50/50 40/50 55 Reviews of Newton at 2020 instructs mimic his prior year’s report. He’s a sneaky good defender at shortstop and will probably stay there even though he’s a huge-framed guy who’s built like an SEC wideout right now and will probably look like an NFL tight end at maturity. Newton remains an extreme-risk hit tool prospect and a scout who has seen a bunch of him the last couple of years told me they don’t think any progress was evident at 2020 instructs. He had run two consecutive years of strikeout rates up around 32% and the quality of his at-bats is wildly variable. He’s still growing into his body, so perhaps more reliable bat-to-ball skills will arrive once he does. Even if he only cuts the K’s down to the 25% range, we could be talking about a valuable everyday big leaguer because of Newton’s power and likely defensive home. (Fall Instructional League) 12. Jaylen Palmer, 3B Drafted: 22th Round, 2018 from Holy Cross Academy HS (NY) (NYM) Age 20.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/60 35/50 50/40 40/45 55 This is one of the, if not the highest variance prospects in the entire system. Unearthed in the Mets’ backyard as an overslot 2018 Day Three pick, Palmer surprised the industry by going to Kingsport and performing well above what was expected of him. There’s a gap between the contact performance (Palmer hit .250) and actual skill at this point, but that’s okay for such a lanky, cold-weather, out-of-nowhere high school prospect. The measurable power Palmer generates on contact is shocking. He’s tied with Mark Vientos and Brett Baty for the highest average exit velo on this list and he’s arguably more physically projectable than either of them. His long-term defensive profile is still unclear: the Mets played him all over the field during 2020 instructs and will continue to do so in 2021. Palmer’s ability to make contact and recognize offspeed stuff is raw, and like Newton there’s a chance that he never makes enough contact to be a viable big leaguer. It’s possible he becomes a whiff-prone corner outfielder and falls off the list in two years, but he might also stay on the dirt and develop passable feel to hit and huge raw power. (Fall Instructional League) 13. Junior Santos, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 45/50 40/50 20/45 89-93 / 95 There’s no change here as Santos was not at 2020 instructs: A slight dip in velo and a strike-throwing regression weren’t enough to slide Santos down the pref list at this point last year, not as his age, nor at his size, and especially not when you consider both. This is a giant teenager with a good arm and some breaking ball and changeup feel (for creating movement, not for locating) who was pushed hurriedly to an affiliate when he was still 17. The arm action looked a little less fluid and was a bit compromised in 2019, but I’m still on Santos as a long-term projection arm with an elite frame. (At-home dev) 14. Ryley Gilliam, SIRP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Clemson (NYM) Age 24.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 55/55 20/55 55/55 30/35 94-95 / 96 Gilliam was the ace starter for Kennesaw Mountain High School, which was one of the most prospect-laden prep teams in the country in 2015; it also had current top 100 prospect Tyler Stephenson (Reds) and center fielder Reggie Pruitt (Blue Jays), who got a $500,000 bonus in the 24th round. Gilliam could’ve received a low-to-mid six figure bonus out of high school but instead went to Clemson, where he mostly relieved, a role that agreed with his aggressive approach and fastball/curveball combination. Gilliam traversed three levels and reached Triple-A in his first full season (2019) but had rashes of wildness, especially toward the end of the year. According to a non-Mets source, he exhibited a bump to both his fastball and curveball spin at the 2020 alt site (up from 2400 and 2600 rpm to 2600 and 2700), and during 2021 spring training experimented with a slider that wasn’t there before. There’s a chance for three impact pitches here if Gilliam can find a more consistent release. (Alternate site) 15. Franklyn Kilome, SIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (PHI) Age 25.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 40/40 60/60 50/50 40/40 92-96 / 97 This is a guy who’s thrown a total of 11 real, competitive innings since returning from Tommy John but it’s probably time to call the ball on Kilome’s role. His longer arm action, mediocre athleticism, and inconsistent strike-throwing all point to the bullpen, as does his increasingly compressed roster flexibility. Kilome has fantastic stuff, though. His changeup has indeed gotten better since he was acquired by the Mets (though his curveball spin rate in 2020 is below what I sourced from 2018, when it was about 2400 rpm) and he has three real weapons with which to attack hitters, and as many as five if you count his four- and two-seamers as different pitches. It’s possible there will be a knockout offering here at some point that enables Kilome to work in higher leverage innings, but at nearly 26, I’m not going to bet on that and think he’ll just settle into a middle-inning role. (Alternate site, MLB) 16. Sam McWilliams, SIRP Drafted: 8th Round, 2014 from Beech HS (TN) (PHI) Age 25.6 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 30/40 94-97 / 98 Still only 25-years-old, the Mets are McWilliams’ fifth org. Originally a frame-based projection high schooler selected by the Phillies, McWIlliams was traded to Arizona (2015, Jeremy Hellickson) then later to the Rays as one of two PTBNL in a bigger deal (2018, Steven Souza). Then he was selected by the Royals in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, had a bad spring and was returned to Tampa. They eventually lost him for nothing as McWilliams became a six-year minor league free agent and landed a big league deal with the Mets for $750,000. He throws really hard (95-98 last year, 94-96 and touching 97 so far this spring) and his fastball has huge spin. McWilliams just has very little feel to locate and it impacts slider quality/consistency and makes him walk-prone. McWilliams’ stuff is a middle relief fit but his command pulls him more toward an up/down option year role. (Alternate site) 17. Robert Dominguez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (NYM) Age 19.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/60 40/45 20/50 93-96 / 99 There’s no change here, as Dominguez did not come to the States for instructs: Dominguez was a known and not all that highly-regarded pitching prospect at the beginning of 2019. He was a 17-year-old Venezuelan righty with some effort who sat 90-93, which is typically a $10,000 to $25,000 bonus pitcher. Then he was 94-97 at an event in the summer, which caused teams to reconsider him, though some clubs wanted to see it another time or two to make sure it wasn’t an anomaly. The Mets moved quickly, but Dominguez’s bonus, which I was told was $95,000, reflected that level of uncertainty. Between when Dominguez was waiting for his contract to be approved and the end of Dominican instructs, he continued to sit in the mid-90s and hit 99, flashing a plus breaking ball at times. A scout who saw him during that period indicated he would “blow the doors off” of the GCL this time next summer. He’s only thrown a handful of times since the velo spike and not even all of the Mets upper level decision makers have seen him yet, but the talent level is on par with a compensation or second-round pick. There’s just significantly more uncertainty and less track record than even later-developing players taken in that range, like Josh Wolf. (At-home dev) 18. Freddy Valdez, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 19.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/50 50/55 20/55 40/30 40/45 45 Valdez is an absolute behemoth of a corner outfield prospect who is likely to end up in the Franmil Reyes size/strength area at maturity, though right now he’s built a little more athletically than that. This guy makes the bat look like a toothpick in his hands and he has thunderous raw power with pretty crude feel for contact coming from a swing that scouts don’t really like. His 2019 exit velos are below what you’d probably guess from someone this big and strong who performed the way he did in the 2019 DSL (certainly they’re below what I’d guess). I think that’s more an in-game contact quality indicator, but a front office source from a team that seems to like contact-oriented players told me they thought Valdez should be higher here. I’m more inclined to move a guy like this after he performs on paper and I think Valdez is physically mature enough to be tested in full-season ball this year. (Fall Instructional League) 19. Jose Butto, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYM) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/40 45/50 55/60 50/55 89-94 / 96 It sure seems like the Mets like this guy a lot, though not enough to put him on their 40-man even though he was Rule 5 eligible last offseason; no other teams liked him enough to take him. A person with a team that had trade discussions with New York during the offseason told me they thought Butto was highly-regarded within the organization based on the weight the Mets thought he would carry in a deal, which is odd considering they didn’t roster him. A scout who saw him in the fall thought Buttó looked pretty generic. He throws a ton of strikes, lives in the low-90s, and can really execute a great changeup over and over again. Buttó has a fantastic strike-throwing track record in the low minors and guys with good command and changeups tend to be pretty stable backend rotation prospects, so that’s where I’ve got Buttó graded right now. (Fall Instructional League) 20. Joshua Cornielly, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYM) Age 20.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 40/50 45/55 40/55 88-93 / 95 While he isn’t your typical huge-framed teenage arm, Cornielly has a lot of starter traits. He’s a plus athlete with a squeaky clean delivery, and advanced changeup feel and fastball command. The breaking ball needs work, but it’s a shape problem more than a raw spin one, and I think Cornielly is athletic enough to develop in this area. He has a realistic shot to be a backend starter down the line, and a non-zero chance to develop a premium change, command, or both, and be more. (Fall Instructional League) 21. Carlos Cortes, 2B Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from South Carolina (NYM) Age 23.8 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / S FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 55/55 45/50 40/40 20/30 40 Still a unicorn of sorts, Cortes spent the winter playing several positions in Australia. He’s a switch-thrower who uses a righty infielder’s glove when he plays second base, but a lefty outfield and first baseman’s mitt at other times. Cortes isn’t a good defender at any of those spots but it’s tempting to make him into a versatile player who can be hidden wherever the ball is least likely to be hit to try to get his bat into the lineup when you can. Cortes has an excellent track record of hitting dating back to high school. He hit .274/.378/.528 during his career at South Carolina, and walked more than he struck out. His contact/power blend has looked more vanilla as he’s climbed the minor league ladder, and his 2019 minor league expected stats indicate a wOBA of about .320, which is in the Logan Forsythe/Yangervis Solarte area. That’s the sort of role player Cortes projects to be, provided he can actually find a way to be a viable defender at second base. (Fall Instructional League, Australian Baseball League) 22. Jordany Ventura, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 20.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 50/55 40/50 40/50 91-94 / 95 Did you mean, “Yordano Ventura?” This Ventura began the 2019 summer in the DSL but had reached Kingsport by August. He doesn’t have a big frame to dream on but he’s very athletic, his 2019 TrackMan data indicates he can really spin it, and his fastball had plus carry and some cut action. Plus, he already throws pretty hard for someone his age, and he’ll show you an occasional plus slider. I did have an in-office source tell me that Ventura’s 2020 instructs data was a little below what I have from 2019, which may be the result of poor unit calibration at either site. Right now this is a young, lower-variance pitchability prospect. (Fall Instructional League) 35+ FV Prospects 23. Yennsy Diaz, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/45 55/55 35/35 93-96 / 98 Diaz has projected as a single-inning middle reliever for quite some time, even though he had been developed as a starter throughout his entire minor league career. He held mid-90s velocity deep into games as a minor league starter and sat 94-98 during a horrendous single-game debut in 2019, seemingly unable to time his arm swing and find a consistent release point during a disastrous inning against the Orioles. That wasn’t sufficient justification to slide Diaz’s FV down on its own, but then he missed all of 2020 with a severe lat strain and only began pitching in games again for Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Winter League, where he again sat in the mid-90s (94-97 according to a source). The Mets acquired him from Toronto in January for Steven Matz. The development of Diaz in the rotation improved his changeup enough that it became a sinking/tailing low-90s weapon and his best secondary pitch. He’s going to bully hitters with velocity and that changeup, and command consistency will dictate whether it’s in an up/down capacity or whether Diaz stays on the Mets big league roster consistently. (Injury rehab) 24. Marcel Renteria, SIRP Drafted: 6th Round, 2017 from New Mexico State (NYM) Age 26.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 50/55 70/70 30/35 93-95 / 96 Renteria struck out a batter per inning at High-A in 2019 and he did most all of that damage with his breaking ball, which has elite spin. His fastball only generated a 4% swinging strike rate that year even though it was sitting 93-96. He was one of the older players invited to Mets instructs and threw well enough there to get a 2021 NRI. He was more 93-94 in his only big league spring outing, and he was quite wild, but boy does Renteria have a good breaking ball. If he can refine his fastball command, he’ll be a lock middle relief piece. The wild version has more of an up/down look. (Fall Instructional League) 25. Tylor Megill, SIRP Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from Arizona (NYM) Age 25.7 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/55 40/45 90-93 / 95 Megill came to 2021 spring camp in great shape and was 94-96 in his lone big league outing. That’s way above where he sat during the 2019 regular season, though he would peak around that area at times. A below-average athlete with below-average command, he’s a low-variance option-year reliever. (Fall Instructional League) 26. Joander Suarez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYM) Age 21.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 50/55 40/50 40/50 91-94 / 95 There’s no change here: There are some elements of Suarez’s delivery that need to be ironed out if he’s going to locate consistently enough to start, but he’s strong of build, has a loose arm, and can spin a two-plane slider from his current three-quarters arm slot. He’s an interesting developmental follow for now. (Fall Instructional League) 27. Adrian Hernandez, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 20.2 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 50/55 25/50 50/55 40/50 50 Like Desmond Lindsay, who is further down this list, Hernandez is muscular, explosive, tightly-wound, and suffered a severe soft-tissue injury (a torn hamstring) that cost him most all of 2019. He wasn’t part of New York’s 2020 instructs contingent, so we have basically no new information from the last two years. Healthy Hernandez ran well enough to stay in center field and had sizeable raw power for a teenager. The cement on the bod is pretty dry, and while I think that means limited power projection, it also probably means Hernandez’s chances to stay in center field may be a little more stable, assuming he has his pre-injury speed when he returns. While his 2018 slash line was strong (yeesh it feels scary to write that — it’s been a long time since this guy has played), there were some underlying swing-and-miss issues that might rear their ugly head in a more meaningful way in 2021. (At-home dev) 28. Will Toffey, 3B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Vanderbilt (OAK) Age 26.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 50/50 30/40 50/50 50/55 70 Toffey has been a notable player on the national stage going all the way back to high school and has been a similar guy that whole time. He’s got solid feel to hit and works counts, but has more of a role player look due to mediocre raw power and bat speed. Toffey proponents will note he’s made offensive adjustments at each level and improved the more he’s played there; detractors would argue he’s been old for those minor league levels. He’s a solid defender with a plus arm who probably fits best as a lefty platoon corner bat. He was neither at the alt site nor instructs and was passed over in the Rule 5, so I’d feel more comfortable leaving Toffey here if he goes out and hits immediately in 2021. (At-home dev) 29. Michel Otanez, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYM) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 30/40 90-97 / 99 Otanez touched 99 and sat 90-96 back in 2019. He has a giant, broad-shouldered frame, though he’s a well below-average on-mound athlete. But when he’s been healthy, Otanez has missed bats and avoided walks two out of his three pro seasons. He missed a year because of TJ and then 2020 because of the pandemic. The Mets did not invite him to instructs. If he can find a bat-missing secondary, he could end up as a viable reliever. He’s also the sort who might blow up with a remade physique. (At-home dev) 30. Desmond Lindsay, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Out of Door Academy HS (FL) (NYM) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 60/60 45/50 60/55 45/50 50 New York’s 2015 second rounder, Lindsay is an explosive, tightly-wound patience/power/speed prospect who has struggled with strikeouts and health. He posted three consecutive above-average offensive seasons to begin his career and then his performance tanked in 2018, when Lindsay was coming back from nerve transposition surgery and again dealt with several injuries. He went to the Fall League that year and definitely looked like a big swing-and-miss risk, but he also got to a ton of his power in games. Lindsay only played for a couple of weeks the following year before he again got hurt, and then we had no 2020 season to check in with him again. Maybe there’s someone-look bias here but I like the approach/power combination Lindsay brings to the table. He needs to come out of the gate and hit to stay on here and it’s not a great sign that the Mets didn’t include him in their fall group. (At-home dev) Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Younger Developmental Types Stanley Consuegra, RF Blaine McIntosh, CF Yohairo Cuevas, OF Yeral Martinez, DH Robert Colina, RHP Benito Garcia, RHP Consuegra would be above Valdez on the main list based on tools and long-term physical projection but he missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL. McIntosh was a multi-sport high schooler committed to Vanderbilt who the Mets got done on Day Three of the 2019 draft. He’s toolsy but raw. Cuevas signed in January 2021 and is a twitchy, lefty-hitting outfield projection bat. Martinez is a thick DH type with big present power for an 18-year-old. Colina is a loose teenage arm up to 93 with positive spin axis traits. Garcia is the oldest player in this cluster at 21 (McIntosh and Espino are the youngest at just a few months shy of 20) and sits 90-93 with above-average spin. College Bargains Brandon McIlwain, OF Jake Mangum, OF Anthony Walters, SS I was a huge Brandon McIlwain fan when he was in high school but he chose football instead and went to South Carolina, then Cal, and barely played at either place. He’s a power/speed sleeper who the Mets signed after the last draft. He’s almost two full years younger than Mangum, a contact-oriented outfielder who is the all-time career hits leader in the SEC. Walters is also a hit-first infielder who was an under-slot target to facilitate other picks. Depth Arms Oscar De La Cruz, RHP Tony Dibrell, RHP Tommy Wilson, RHP Reyson Santos, RHP Brian Metoyer, RHP De La Cruz was once a big time Cubs prospect who had injury issues and a PED suspension while with Chicago. At his best, he’ll give you 93-96 with a plus slider and would be fine in a single-inning relief role. Santos, 22, has been up to 96 but the breaking ball is still a work in progress. Dibrell is a spot starter type. Wilson has been up to 96 and he’ll flash a plus changeup. His dad was Biff in the Back to the Future films. Metoyer has a breaking ball with elite spin. System Overview This system hasn’t really had a chance to get better on paper because the young developmental group in the honorable mentions didn’t get a 2020 season via which to raise their stock, and the shortened 2020 Draft didn’t help. The draft day strategies that have netted higher-upside talents like Matthew Allan have also compromised some of the depth here, but hey, Allan looked incredible in the fall. Of course the Lindor trade, which sent two high-variance prospects and a low-variance, everyday shortstop in Andrés Giménez to Cleveland, also siphoned some talent away. As such, this system is not good right now even though there are a couple potential stars and 30-homer thumpers near the top. The club made a concerted effort to sign the top-of-the-market minor league free agents this offseason, and generally behaved in a way that sought to create as much depth as possible behind a talented big league roster, as if to make it as resilient to injury and COVID as possible. The multi-faceted acquisitions of McWilliams, De La Cruz, Drew Ferguson and Drew Jackson, as well as the Jordan Yamamoto trade, are all good examples of this. There’s still enough at the top of the farm system to make a huge deal this summer if the team wants to, though the weight the top prospects carry in a trade is going to vary from club to club; not everyone digs Ronny Mauricio, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Mark Vientos. Lastly, it sounds like Mets instructs was pretty tough to scout. I had one source use profanity to describe how disorganized they thought it was, and express frustration with the club not playing in the stadium, which may have helped scouts distance better to avoid COVID. The offseason upheaval (new owner, new GM) that later morphed into a gross and disappointing scandal probably had something to do with this, as did the logistical complexities of coordinating travel for players all over the hemisphere during a very chaotic and dangerous time.