7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Syndergaard, Plawecki head Mets' updated Top 20 list
Seven players, including two draftees, were named after being unranked in preseason
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 13 (Preseason: 11)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65
After being acquired by the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal in December 2012, Syndergaard made a splash in his first season in his new organization. He reached Double-A Binghamton and started the 2013 All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field for the U.S. team.
Syndergaard is a classic power right-hander, and he uses his big frame to throw downhill and induce ground balls. His fastball regularly reaches 98 mph and runs inside on right-handed hitters. Syndergaard's 12-to-6 curveball is his best secondary pitch, though his changeup has the potential to be a third plus pitch in his arsenal. He has excellent command and posted a 4.75 K-to-BB ratio in 2013.
Many expected Syndergaard to follow the path that Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler blazed and reach Queens early this summer. But some minor injuries and on-field struggles at Triple-A Las Vegas slowed down Syndergaard's progress this season. He still profiles as a front-line starter and remains on track to make his Major League debut at a younger age than either Harvey or Wheeler.
2. Kevin Plawecki, C
Preseason rank: 8
MLB Top 100 rank: 67 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 35 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Plawecki was named the 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year, and he then made a good impression on scouts in '13, his first full professional season. He took another step forward this season, reaching Triple-A Las Vegas and starting the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game behind the plate.
Plawecki has impressive bat control and a knack for making contact. His swing is built more for hitting line drives than for power, but his natural strength gives him a chance for more pop in the future.
Defensively, Plawecki is a good receiver and earns praise for his leadership skills. He has an average arm and his game calling is making strides. Plawecki's play has alleviated pre-Draft concerns about his ability to stay behind the plate, and he now looks like he'll be more than capable of being an everyday player in the big leagues.
3. Brandon Nimmo, OF
Preseason rank: 7
MLB Top 100 rank: 68 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Growing up in Wyoming, Nimmo didn't have many opportunities to face top competition. His high school didn't have a baseball team, but he managed to play his way into the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Despite his atypical background, Nimmo has a mature approach at the plate. He lines balls from gap to gap and he knows how to work a walk. Nimmo's swing has a little length to it, and he has been prone to high strikeout totals early in his career.
Nimmo is a center fielder now, but his average speed may eventually force him to into an outfield corner. His game still needs refining, but Nimmo's on-base skills and quick hands give him the potential to be a solid Major Leaguer in time.
4. Michael Conforto, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
MLB Top 100 rank: 86 (Preseason: 2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Conforto has athletic bloodlines, as his father Mike was a Penn State linebacker and his mother Tracie (Ruiz) won two gold medals in synchronized swimming at the 1984 Olympics. Conforto picked baseball, which proved to be a wise choice as he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2013 and was drafted 10th overall a year later.
Conforto's signature tool is his left-handed power, which could produce 25-plus homers on an annual basis once he gets to the Major Leagues. He doesn't get cheated at the plate, taking a big uppercut hack that produces nice loft on his drives.
While Conforto is willing to take a walk when pitchers won't challenge him, he swings and misses too much to hit for a high average. Most of his value comes from his bat, because while he has some athleticism, he's limited to left field by his range and arm strength.
5. Dominic Smith, 1B
Preseason rank: 4
MLB Top 100 rank: 88 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
Smith was perhaps the best pure prep hitter in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft class, and the Mets grabbed him with the 11th overall pick. He looks like the total package at first base, combining solid athleticism and defense with a sweet left-handed swing.
Smith has the potential to hit for both average and power. His hand-eye coordination and advanced pitch-recognition skills allow him to get on base often, while still driving balls.
Smith is a below-average runner, limiting him to first base. He has all the skills necessary to develop above-average defense at the position. Even if Smith's defense does develop as expected, there will always be pressure on his bat. Scouts are confident he will provide enough offense to make him a solid Major Leaguer in time.
6. Rafael Montero, RHP
Preseason rank: 3
MLB Top 100 rank: NA (Preseason: 85)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Montero was already 20 years old when he signed with the Mets in 2011, but the late start to his professional career hasn't held him back. He has sped through every level of the Minor Leagues -- starting the 2013 Futures Game at Citi Field for the World team -- then returned to Queens less than a year later to make his Major League debut.
Montero's fastball sits in the low-90s, and it can reach 95 mph. He mixes his fastball with a sweeping breaking ball and a solid changeup. Montero's secondary stuff isn't as impressive as his fastball, but all of his pitches play up thanks to his exceptional command.
Though Montero is slightly undersized for a right-hander, he should have no problem pitching in the middle of a Major League rotation. After getting his first taste of the big leagues, Montero should soon be ready for a full-time role with the Mets.
7. Amed Rosario, SS
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 65 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Rosario received the largest international signing bonus in franchise history in 2012, then skipped past the complex leagues to make his professional debut in the Appalachian League as a 17-year-old in '13. He proved to be up to the challenge and has built on that success in the New York-Penn League this season.
Rosario creates excellent bat speed, which will help him produce more power as he physically matures. There's plenty of room for his pitch recognition to improve, but his approach is already more advanced than most teenagers.
Rosario has all the tools necessary to be a solid defender. He has good infield actions, a strong arm and soft hands. Rosario may have the highest ceiling of any Mets prospect, though he remains a long way from the big leagues.
8. Dilson Herrera, 2B
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
The Pirates have had success signing talented players out of Colombia, and they found another good one in Herrera. It'll be up to the Mets to develop him, however, after they acquired him as a part of the August 2013 deal for John Buck and Marlon Byrd.
Herrera already has shown he has a good understanding of what to do at the plate. He has a balanced swing and he makes hard, consistent contact. Herrera generates surprising power from his compact frame, but he is at his best when he's hitting line drives to all fields.
Herrera has a solid arm and he shows good infield actions. He is still improving as a second baseman, but he looks like he'll be an everyday big leaguer in time.
9. Steven Matz, LHP
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Matz was New York's second-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, but he didn't make his professional debut until 2012 after a long recovery from Tommy John surgery. Now healthy, the Long Island native is starting to move quickly through the Minor Leagues, reaching Double-A Binghamton in 2014.
Matz's fastball sits in the low-90s, and it can reach 96 mph. The fastball has good movement, helping him create a lot of ground balls. Matz's curveball and changeup both have the potential to be solid offerings. His command has improved as he has gotten more innings under his belt and further away from his injuries.
Matz has proven he still has the stuff to be a solid starter. With health finally on his side, he is looking like the kind of pitcher the Mets expected him to be when they drafted him.
10. Gavin Cecchini, SS
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Cecchini comes from a strong baseball family. His older brother, Garin, is a prospect in the Red Sox's Minor League system, and their father coached both brothers in high school.
While his older brother is a pure-hitting third baseman, Gavin is a smooth defensive shortstop. He has a strong arm and good range, allowing him to get to a lot of balls. Cecchini's bat, however, isn't quite as advanced. He makes contact well enough, but he isn't strong enough to drive the ball for extra-base hits. Even as Cecchini develops more power as he physically matures, his game is always going to be geared toward hitting line drives.
Cecchini has battled injuries as a professional and simply needs to stay on the field so he can get enough playing time to develop.
11. Milton Ramos, SS
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 65 | Overall: 50
Ramos is a smooth shortstop, and many evaluators considered him to be the best defender at any position in the 2014 Draft. New York, which lost its second-round pick as compensation for a free-agent signing, was happy to grab him in the third round -- making him the second member of its Draft class.
Ramos' defensive prowess begins with his slick infield actions, soft hands and above-average range. His range comes from a combination of his plus speed and first-step quickness, allowing him to get to a lot of balls. Ramos' high baseball IQ adds to his raw tools, helping him to make highlight-reel plays.
Ramos' bat isn't as advanced as his glove. He is an aggressive hitter, and his compact swing allows him to spray line drives to all fields. Ramos has minimal power now, but scouts expect him to develop power as he gets stronger.
12. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Curveball: 40 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 45
New York has become adept at developing pitchers with exceptional control. The Mets' prized pupil is Ynoa, who had the lowest walk rate (1.1 per nine innings) in the Minor Leagues in 2013 and was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year.
Ynoa's fastball isn't overpowering, but he has increased its velocity every year of his career, and it now sits in the low-90s and reaches 95 mph. His changeup is his best secondary offering, though his slider shows the potential to become a solid pitch with a little more development. Ynoa's impeccable control allows all of his pitches to play up.
Ynoa's stuff isn't the biggest in the system, but he has the tools to be a solid big league starter in time. He reminds some Mets officials of Rafael Montero.
13. Cesar Puello, OF
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Puello has long tantalized scouts with his impressive tools, but until 2013, he had been unable to put everything together. That changed at Double-A Binghamton, where he won the Eastern League batting title. But even that excitement was tempered when Puello's breakout year was cut short by a 50-game suspension as a part of the Biogenesis investigation.
Puello has true five-tool potential. He has an aggressive approach, but he squares balls up well and uses the whole field to hit. Puello has big raw power and showed he can tap into it in 2013. Defensively, he profiles best in right field, where his plus arm can be a weapon.
Puello hasn't been able to carry his momentum over into 2014, however. His tools still give him a chance to become a solid all-around player, but Puello still needs to prove his breakout performance wasn't a one-time thing.
14. Cory Mazzoni, RHP
Preseason rank: 13
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Splitter: 45 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Mazzoni started his professional career quickly, reaching Double-A Binghamton in his first full season. His ceiling is somewhat limited, but his advanced feel for pitching and three-pitch arsenal make him a solid prospect.
Mazzoni throws his fastball in the low-90s, with good movement. He throws a splitter in lieu of a changeup, and his slider has good late break to it. Mazzoni will need to be a little more consistent with his secondary stuff, but both pitches have the potential to be average offerings.
Mazzoni missed the first few months of the 2014 season due to a right lat strain, but he quickly got back up to speed once he returned to action. Though New York still sees him as a starter, his power stuff would play up in the bullpen. Mazzoni is nearly ready for a chance to contribute in either role in the Major Leagues.
15. Jack Leathersich, LHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
As a starter at UMass-Lowell in 2011, Leathersich struck out 12.7 batters per nine innings, the second-best mark in Division II. A move to the bullpen in the Minor Leagues has only helped his strikeout numbers, as he averaged 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings in his first two full professional seasons.
Leathersich's delivery makes it difficult for left-handers and right-handers alike to pick up the ball against him, rendering his fastball-curveball combination nearly unhittable. His low-90s fastball has enough tailing life to generate swings and misses, and his hard curveball gives him a good second pitch. Leathersich also occasionally mixes in a changeup.
While Leathersich's stuff is good, his below-average control can get him in trouble. If he can tighten it just a bit, he'll soon be ready for the Major Leagues.
16. Marcos Molina, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
New York signed Molina out of the Dominican Republic in January 2012, and he made his American debut the next summer in the Gulf Coast League. There, he began to make noise, and he has built on that momentum with a breakout 2014 in the New York-Penn League.
Molina has a power arsenal and attacks hitters with a fastball that reaches 96 mph. He has an advanced feel for his changeup, his best secondary pitch. At its best, Molina's slider gives him a third solid pitch, though it has a tendency to get slurvy.
Molina is an above-average athlete and repeats his easy delivery well, enabling him to fill up the zone with all his pitches. Just 19 years old, he remains raw, but his stuff and strong work ethic give him the chance to develop into a special pitcher.
17. Blake Taylor, LHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
A projectable left-hander taken in the 2013 Draft, Taylor rose into the second round with a strong spring. He was then acquired by the Mets a year later as the player to be named later to complete the Ike Davis trade. It might take Taylor a while to move up the ladder, but the Mets could have found a good value if they are patient.
Taylor can throw his fastball in the low 90s with ease, and with room to add strength, there could be more in the tank. His curveball has the chance to be an above-average pitch.
Taylor needs to work on his changeup and his command, not uncommon for such a young hurler. When those aspects of his game round into shape, he has the chance to be a big league starter.
18. Michael Fulmer, RHP
Preseason rank: 17
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
After impressing during his full-season debut in 2012, Fulmer was hampered by injuries in '13. He missed the first half of the season after undergoing surgery during Spring Training to repair a torn meniscus.
Fulmer is now back to full strength and looks as good as ever. He throws his fastball in the low-90s with heavy sinking action, mixing it with a solid slider and a changeup. Fulmer does a good job of throwing strikes and keeping the ball down in the zone.
Fulmer was a part of the same Oklahoma high school class as Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley. Though he doesn't have their upside, Fulmer has what it takes to be a big league starter.
19. Matt den Dekker, OF
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 65 | Overall: 45
A wrist injury in 2013 slowed den Dekker's progress through the Minor Leagues, and it allowed Juan Lagares to jump ahead of him on the organization's depth chart. Den Dekker recovered in time to earn a late callup, and he returned to Queens again this season.
There is solid power in den Dekker's smooth left-handed swing, but it comes with a lot of swing and miss. He still must prove he can make enough contact against Major League pitching to be an everyday player.
Scouts have long lauded den Dekker's defensive skills. His above-average speed helps him cover ground well in the outfield, but he also shows good instincts and takes good routes to the ball. Thanks to his power and defense, den Dekker should at least be able to carve out a role as a fourth outfielder.
20. Logan Verrett, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 40 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 60 | Overall: 45
Verrett doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he fits right in with the rest of New York's strike-throwing starters. He issued 44 walks in his first two professional seasons, averaging 1.59 walks per nine innings.
Verrett's above-average command helps his whole four-pitch arsenal play up. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, and he isn't afraid to come right after hitters with it. His slider is his best secondary offering, and he mixes in a curveball and a changeup as well. Verrett has been susceptible to home runs, partially because he has a tendency to leave his fastball up in the zone.
Verrett's upside is limited by his lack of premium stuff. But his pitchability and control give him a chance to fit into the back of a Major League rotation.