Matz is the best Mets pitching prospect outside of Noah Syndergaard, and safely one of the organization’s top five prospects overall, after his second straight healthy and productive season. In 2014, he conquered advanced Single- and Double-A, while showing the stuff that could make him a mid-rotation starter or maxing out at a No. 2 on a playoff team if he continues to develop. He capped Double-A with his best work as a professional, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a game which Binghamton went on to win the bottom of the ninth to clinch an Eastern League Championship.
He has an excellent pitcher’s build at a lean 6’2”. Coming off his 2010 Tommy John surgery, he’s become diligent about maintaining his strength and flexibility. As a result, he’s added velocity and now sits 93-95 mph and can crank it up to 97 when he needs it. He’s had some good feel for his changeup for two years now, and the pitch should play to average at least in the big leagues. He made his curveball a focus throughout 2014. The deuce was not a relevant weapon for him as late as the 2013 playoffs in Single-A. Thanks to the offering’s improvement, he picked up strikeouts with in the Double-A playoffs in 2014.
Matz had a tendency to lose his release point in years past. However, he displayed much better control in 2014, running a 6.5 percent walk rate in Double-A and 7.5 percent overall between Double- and advanced Single-A. All the while, he missed bats, running a 32 percent strikeout rate in Double-A.
Matz has a really good argument to be the No. 2 prospect in the Mets’ system. He’s accomplished more at Double-A than Brandon Nimmo or guys who have not moved past Single-A, like Michael Conforto or Amed Rosario. Among guys who have had success in Binghamton, he has a higher ceiling that Kevin Plawecki or Matt Reynolds.
Taylor, the young lefty the Mets acquired from the Pirates for Ike Davis, did not have an impressive statistical debut in the New York Farm system. The Mets started him off with three appearances in the Gulf Coast League to help him adapt to the team’s pitching philosophy and throwing program.
Promoted to the Appalachian League, he ran a 5.34 ERA in 30 1/3 innings with a 15 percent walk rate and a 13 percent strikeout rate.
Still, Taylor is the only lefty in the system besides Matz who projects to have a chance to start in the big leagues.
He’s a well-built 6’3” who sits in the upper 80s with his fastball and has been in the low 90s in the past. Jeffrey Paternostro of Amazin’ Avenue, who watched Taylor in the Appy League, thought that his curveball, which the Pirates took away, could be a plus pitch, and the changeup had promise.
However, putting Taylor in the big leagues requires that you expect nearly all of his pitches to jump a full grade as he rises through the minors. That’s not impossible, just difficult.
At age 25, Dario Alvarez began the 2014 season as a swing-man and a low priority in a-ball in Savannah and ended up collecting Big League meal money for a couple of weeks with the Mets. This is as unusual a development path as you will possibly find. Oh, and he did not pitch in affiliated professional baseball in America from 2010-2012 after washing out of the Phillies organization. After winning a pitcher of the week award in May, in Savannah, the Mets rewarded him by moving him off the roster in a paper move to make room for another player.
Alvarez works off a fastball at 90-91ish, that can get up to 92, that Brooks Baseball calls a cutter for its movement and a big sweepy slider. He does not throw his changeup much at all. Against lefties, he throws his slider about 60 percent of the time, while that drops to 30 percent against righties although that hops up to 50 percent with two strikes.
At first he was happy for his second chance in baseball. Now, he might be a second left-handed reliever.
The Mets added Leathersich, who turned 24 in July, to the team’s 40-man roster in late November. The scouting report has not changed on the fifth-round pick from 2011, in the last three weeks.
Here’s what we wrote then:
The left-handed reliever largely repeated Double-A this year doing what he’s always done, strike guys out in big numbers, while walking too many opponents. This year, he ran a 2.93 ERA in Double-A with a 40 percent strikeout rate and a 11 percent walk rate in 46 innings. That’s pretty similar to 2013, when he had a 1.53 ERA on a 44 percent strikeout rate and a 13 percent walk rate
He’s largely a fastball and curveball guy with a very seldom used changeup who got his first look at Triple-A in 2014 where he ran an ERA over five in 8 1/3 innings. He works up in the zone with a fastball that’s mostly 92-94. He’s not a lefty specialist, however. This year in Double-A, he held righties to a .527 OPS while yielding a .732 OPS to lefties.
Leathersich, with his high walk rates and reverse platoon splits is a funny piece. His results were not very good in Triple-A and I’m skeptical he will ever repeat his delivery well enough to have enough command to be a reliable piece of an effective bullpen. The Mets passed over Leathersich in favor of Alvarez when they needed an arm late in the season, so he's a little bit down on the fluid bullpen depth chart at the moment.
Secrest was a value signing in the 10th round of the 2014 draft. Secrest, the all-time leader in games pitched at UNC Wilmington, had little leverage as a senior sign, and turned pro for $10,000. It was the third straight year under the new CBA that the Mets signed a player in the ninth or tenth round for $10,000 -- a group that also includes Richie Rodriguez in 2013 and Patrick Biondi in 2013. (Paul Sewald ($1,000 in 2012 iin the 10th round) still has the award for the smallest bonus by a Top 10 round draft pick under the new CBA.)
I saw Secrest throw for Broooklyn, where he relied heavily on a four-seam fastball at 89-92. He showed one or two slow curveballs at 75. He just learned the pitch in his final year of college, and if he’s going to grow up in the Major Leaguer will need to improve the offering fairly dramatically.
With the Cyclones, Secrest ran a 1.82 ERA in 24.2 innings with a 28 percent strikeout rate an 11 percent walk rate. At 23 years old, he’ll begin the year in the Savannah bullpen and should finish in St. Lucie.
Here's the thing about lefties: as Dario Alvarez will tell you, a little tweak here and there can produce a surprise big leaguer.