These four Mets pitching prospects all have the potential to one day be an impact arm for the big-league Mets...
1) RHP Michael Fulmer
6'3", 200 lbs
Acquired: Supplemental First Round (44th overall), 2011 Draft (Deer Creek HS)
Born: March 15, 1993 (Oklahoma City, OK)
2014 Overall Rank: #14 ('13: #6; '12: #11) | Stats
This is the lowest I have ever ranked Fulmer in his four years as a professional. Knee and arm (biceps) troubles have limited him to 26 starts in Advanced-A over the last two years. In the Florida State League, Fulmer's results have been decidedly mixed. He's a top 20 guy for his pitcher's build (6'3", north of 200 lbs, and barrel chested) and plus fastball (93-95 mph). I think his slider could become a big league weapon, perhaps even a plus tool. Two-plus pitchers should be enough for a long, productive bullpen career, even if his changeup or his command never progress to the point where he can go through a big league lineup multiple times.
Fulmer's second half of 2014 was rather impressive (2.75 ERA, 24% strikeout rate and a 7.5% walk rate). He earned one start at Double-A at the end of the year for the Championship-bound B-Mets, but it did not go well.
Best-Case Scenario: MLB setup man
Worst-Case Scenario: A guy who gets hit hard in Double-A
Projected 2015 Start: Double-A Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2016
2) RHP Robert Gsellman
Height/Weight: 6'4", 200 (+) lbs
Acquired: 13th round, 2011 (Westchester HS)
Born: July 18, 1993 (Santa Monica, CA)
Gsellman moves up six spots from a year ago, because he progressed as 2014 went on and is one year closer to becoming a capable, back-end MLB starter. Gsvllman had an odd year in a way: he was very good at the beginning and end. His middle was ok, but less spectacular beginning with a hamstring injury in late April, he returned and was fine in late May, June and early July before finding his groove again.
Through his first four starts of the year in April, Gsellman, working as a 20-year-old, had a 1.48 ERA with a 23/6 K/BB rate in 24.1 innings. Then he hurt his hamstring and seemed to lose his mojo for a few months. Then, for four starts from July 18 through August 9, before the Mets put him in a semi-shutdown to save his arm for the SAL playoffs he was unhittable: 26.2 IP, 21 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 25 K with a 0.67 ERA, a 24% strikeout rate and a 4% walk rate.
What else is there to like about Gsellman? He looks like a pitcher at a solidly constructed 6'4", and north of 200 lbs. He looks like a big league pitcher. He uses his size well on the mound to repeat his delivery. He does not need to strain to reach 91 mph on his fastball. It's a tick below average. However, he has the makings of a plus changeup and an average curveball that already flashes plus that he really should throw more in game situations. He throws strikes and attacks hitters well.
Best-Case Scenario: MLB #4
Worst-Case Scenario: Felix Doubront?
Projected 2015 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie
MLB Arrival: 2020
Fun True Fact: His last name is pronounced "Gazelle-man," like the animal who runs and jumps meets a man.
3) LHP Blake Taylor
6'3", 220 lbs
Acquired: Trade with PIT for Ike Davis
Born: August 17, 1995 (Mission Viejo, CA)
2014 Overall Rank: NR | Stats
Taylor is all about the dream of a mid-rotation MLB starter. Lets get this out of the way first: pulling any prospect of value from Pittsburgh for Ike Davis, who was later non-tendered after barely surpassing replacement level in his age 27 season, was a nice move.
Unfortunately, he had not reported to Kingsport when I saw the K-Mets early in the Appalachian League season. Taylor and I talked by phone
about the early period of adjusting to life as a Met. At Amazin' Avenue, Jeff Paternosto
saw Taylor throw and talked to K-Mets Pitching Coach Jonathan Hurst about Taylor's transition to a Mets organization with a different pitching philosophy than the Pirates. Taylor has a nice build, but is still loose. According to Jeff, he was in the upper 80s, and he showed the makings of a decent curve and changeup (maybe). Basically, if Taylor keeps improving he'll have a chance to be a Major Leaguer, but he has lots of work to do.
Best-case Scenario: #4 starter
Worst-case Scenario: Tops out in double-A
Projected 2015 Start: Extended Spring Training and then Brooklyn (Although it would be fun to see the Mets push him to Savannah, I suspect the organization will feel
that there is no rush.)
MLB Arrival: 2019
4) RHP Domingo Tapia
Height/Weight: 6'4", 190 lbs
Acquired: NDFA (12/16/09)
Born: December 16, 1991 (Santo Domingo, DR)
2014 Overall Rank: #17 ('13: 10; '12: 14) | Stats
Tapia slips in these rankings from a year ago because, after his second attempt at taming the FSL as a starter, it is now abundantly clear that his future lies in the bullpen. The Mets have made the move, and Tapia has started appearing in Double-A spring training games out of the bullpen in March of 2015.
In the last two years, Tapia has made 43 appearances, 42 starts in advanced-A and pitched to a 4.28 EAR with 114 strikeouts against 100 walks. The time has come to put him in the bullpen and let it rip. There's still plenty to like in Tapia as an impact reliever. he's a sturdy 6'4" with strong legs and long arms. He can whip a baseball up to home plate at 96-98 mph with sinking/boring moving. His changeup still dives. That sounds to me like a nice short reliever in the modern game.
Best-case Scenario: 8th inning, for me, thank you.
Worst-case Scenario: Command issues doom him to replacement level in the big leagues and a career with a lot of Las Vegas
Projected 2015 Start: Double-A Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2015