In RHP David Peterson, 3B Mark Vientos, SS Andres Gimenez and 1B Peter Alonso, the Mets have four prospects that are getting the attention of rival scouts and top prospect lists.
Unfortunatley, insiders repeatedly tell me Sandy Alderson's farm system is lacking depth, despite adding six hard-throwing relievers during last summer's sell-off of veterans.
"They have projectable talent to lean on and at positions they're going to need," a friend with an NL East player development department recently told me. "If those guys don't pan out, they'll be thin. But, they have a few guys that can be everyday players, no doubt."
So, what has happened to the pitching prospects Alderson acquired last summer?
In case you forgot, in exchange for Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Curtis Granderson, the Mets last season added relievers Jacob Rhame, Drew Smith, Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista, Ryder Ryan and Stephen Nogosek to their farm system.
Two weeks ago, when the bullpen created a historic run of losses because they kept coughing up games, Alderson's 2018 trade acquisitions were nowhere to be found...
In his defense, at the time of those deals last summer, most everyone in baseball complimented Alderson's work. However, based on his comments in early August, I thought most of those arms would be ready and able to help as soon as this season.
"The Mets did well given what they were working with," a friend and rival team's assistant GM told me last August. "They basically gave up nothing from (2018) and added five hard-throwing, young pitchers, which is something they're lacking in that system."
I was encouraged by the above quote when I heard it through the phone. Also, I watched Bautista, Rhame, Callahan, Smith and Tyler Bashlor with my own eyes and left spring training very impressed. There is talent here, it's just clearly not as ready as Alderson and other evaluators initially thought.
The thing is, to date, only Rhame and Bautista have pitched for the Mets this season and have combined to give up 16 runs in just 17.2 innings. Rhame is currently with the Mets, while Bautista is back in the minors.
It's also worth noting that, despite all of the above pitchers receiving praise for their "stuff," none of them appear among the system's best pitching prospects.
Callahan, 23, who the Red Sox drafted during the second round in 2012, is the highest ranking of the bunch, according to MLB.com, but he still only checked in as the farm system's eighth-best arm. And he's headed for shoulder surgery.
Meanwhile, how come it feels like every team is promoting can't-miss hitting prospects, while the Mets can only wait on Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto? And while we're at it, what happened to Dominic Smith, who MLB.com and ESPN's Keith Law considered the game's top prospect at first base less than a year ago?
These days, most teams are winning with ridiculously young, controllable, power hitters, such as Ozzie Albies (Braves), Trevor Story (Rockies), Javier Baez (Cubs), Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), and others, all of whom are younger than 30, in the National League and have already hit 10 home runs this season.
Meanwhile, during the Alderson Era, the Mets have only promoted two home-grown position players that eventually hit 20 home runs in a season (Conforto and Lucas Duda). And, while Conforto was drafted by Alderson's front office in 2014, Duda was actually drafted by Omar Minaya's staff in 2007.
Daniel Murphy went on to hit at least 20 home runs in two seasons, but he did it for the Nationals, after being drafted by Minaya in 2006.
Brandon Nimmo, who was Alderson's first pick in New York, is currently on pace to hit 22 home runs this season, so hopefully he adds his name to the mix.
Speaking of Nimmo, who is not on this year's All-Star ballot, he is on pace to end this season with 5.2 WAR and a .409 wOBA, which would mean he's been one of the top three or four most-productive outfielders in the NL.
It also looks, reads and sounds like Alonso might eventually also hit 20+ home runs for Alderson, who drafted the power-hitting first baseman in 2016.
In the meantime, while Rosario, Conforto and Smith may be three players that were once highly touted, they have yet to solidly plant their flag among Major League Baseball's top, productive, young hitters. And, while Alonso has potential, there doesn't seem to be much power behind him in the team's upper-level pipeline.
This is why most every MLB insider I talk with hammers home the notion that Alderson should begin trading at least some of his pitching to add more young, position players to his system.
"The Mets are on the reverse plan from everyone else, which is not necessarily a bad place to be if they can take advantage of it," a rival front office member told me. "The Astros needed pitching, so they dealt from their crop of young hitters to get Verlander and Cole. The Cubs did the same. The Yankees will do it this season, just watch, as will other contenders."
In this one insider's opinion, if Alderson deals Jeurys Familia and/or Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, the current market should net him at least one or two everyday hitters that can be promoted this or next season.
"I'd keep Jacob deGrom, but strike now on Noah Syndergaard," the insider said. "He brings back the young, power position player they need."
I think I agree, though I'm still on the fence about Noah if for no other reason than I'd really miss watching and rooting for him every five days. Also, trading him is a Catch-22, because, while dealing him may net a can't-miss impact hitter, it also creates the need for a No. 2 starter. And, the next two year's worth of free-agent arms are not even close to as promising or effective as Syndergaard.
Familia and/or Wheeler, Gsellman and Lugo still have legit value, though. And I feel the same way about the current trade market as the rival executive.
In other words, considering all of the above, plus having several young, powerful relievers on the horizon, the Mets would be wise to deal at least Familia -- if not more. Because, given the current landscape and baseball economy, they have to start increasing their chance of promoting new power hitters to help as soon as next season.
Otherwise, they'll have no choice but to to continue betting on risky, injury-riddled veterans and hoping Conforto, Nimmo, Rosario and Alonso can make up the difference when it matters...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!