I am not (nor consider myself) a baseball scout. I do not regularly watch the team's top minor leaguers, so I have never bothered to create a top 10 prospect list. To me, that wouldn't be fair to the talent.
However, I talk to lots of people in and around baseball. I listen to people within the Mets organization. I read every list published online, and I talk to a variety of minor-league reporters, experts and scouts. As a result, I end every offseason with a notebook full of names that are mention most when I ask about the team's farm system.
Based on that notebook and comments by professionals, here is my list of the 10 most popular prospects in Brodie Van Wagenen's farm system.
Mentioned every time
1) Peter Alonso, 1B, 23 years old (ETA: May 2019)
Alonso was by far the most talked about player in Van Wagenen's system. Experts were enamored with his power and seemed far less concerned about his fielding skills than has been portrayed by my writing. Aside from his light-tower power, they consider him an average overall hitter, slow on the bases and with an average arm.
"His power plays," one scout told me, echoing what most others had to say. "His power should provide an immediate impact for the Mets. But, he'll have to continue fighting off bad pitches and use the entire field when making soft contact. He's made strides in that area during the past year, but I think he'll struggle with it when first facing big-league pitching. How he adjusts will be his story next season."
2) Andres Gimenez, SS/2B, 20 years old (ETA: 2020)
Gimenez was talked about as being far from a slam dunk. He was universally praised his glove, arm and ability to make contact. And what he lacks in power, which is a lot, they say he makes up for with a quick, consistent swing, working counts, drawing walks and hitting the ball hard to the gap.
"He's predictable, though," a rival evaluator said. "He's never going to be home run guy, but he needs to find some lift and turn those singles in to doubles and triples."
My hunch is he'll get another full season in Double- and Triple-A, despite being very eager to join the Mets. At this point, though, after working so hard to improve their depth, Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway have more than enough people on their 25-man roster to turn to in case of emergency. This is probably best for Gimenez, evaluators say, all of whom want to see him get more punch at the plate.
Mentioned once in a while
3) Tim Tebow, OF, 31 years old, (ETA: 2019?)
Tebow was often mentioned more out of curiosity and fascination than someone being praised for their talent. Nevertheless, there he was, coming up again and again.
Van Wagenen, who was once Tebow's agent, said the outfielder will likely start the 2019 in Triple-A, which would put him one level away from joining the Mets.
In terms of his baseball talent, evaluators seem to truly think Tebow is developing well ... for a prospect. But that's the thing: He's not a prospect. He's an old minor leaguer. The fact is, he's 31 years old and not yet played above Double-A. This alone is reason to doubt his upward mobility.
"What's up with Tebow? Do you really think they'll promote him?" Those were the questions nearly every MLB person I spoked with over the past three months asked. Again, baseball is intrigued, but hardly impressed.
4) Franklyn Kilome, SP, 23 years old (ETA: 2020)
Experts know Kilome mostly from his time with the Phillies, when he was once a top-five prospect in their organization. He has since struggled, been traded and will now miss this season after having Tommy John surgery. His name often came up because people wonder how he was doing, when he'll back and where he fits in to the Mets' future.
"He's the definition of a high-ceiling pitcher," a Phillies source told me after the trade. "He'll need to keep from leaving his fastball over the plate, though. He gets away with it now, but MLB hitters will crush him."
Evaluators love his effortless delivery. Like Dunn, people talk of him as a possible reliever more than as a starter., especially since he hides the ball so well. In the end, Kilome's big hurdle will be how he recovers from surgery and picks up working around the strike zone.
5) William Toffey, 3B, 24 years old (ETA: 2020)
The Mets acquired Toffey, 22, via trade last summer from the Oakland A's. The consensus seems to be that Toffey has the drive and talent to quickly develop into a big-league third baseman.
People that watch him say he has to work on improving his bat speed; otherwise, he will struggle to develop his power, especially against upper-level pitching. That said, he is universally praised for his attitude, leadership and drive to win.
The top prospect sites all project he'll be ready for the big leagues by 2020, though whether he sticks at third base is often debated. I've seen some sites suggest he could move to second base, as well as catcher or first base, where his bat may be better suited.
"He absolutely has the potential to be the guy we all look back on and say the A's were foolish to give up on for just a rental reliever," an AL Central source in player development told me. "He has to settle in to a position and stay healthy, though. Otherwise, he'll could quickly become that 27-, 28-year-old career minor-leaguer."
6) Ronny Mauricio, SS, 17 years old (ETA: 2021)
Mauricio was a hot topic late last spring when talking to MLB insiders and his name kept being mentioned the rest of the year. According to people familiar with the development of the deal, Mauricio was frequently requested by Seattle during trade talks for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
"The Mets were smart to hang on to this kid," an NL evaluator told me. "He's got the potential for plus power and is a natural at shortstop and he's a switch hitter."
No one I spoke with had concerns about his tools. Instead, people felt his success sits squarely on if he can remain healthy when building up his body during the next few years. If he does, he'll rocket up Baseball America's Top 100 list, where he debuted this past week at No. 93.
7) Carlos Cortes, 2B/OF, 21 years old (ETA: TBD)
Cortes came up a lot by people less due to his talent and more about him being ambidextrous.
Cortes is naturally left-handed, but learned to throw right-handed to help increase his value on field, especially since his smaller for a big league player at 5-foot-8.
The thing is, most people see him lacking any one exceptional tool, at least to the extent that he can be anything more than an interesting storyline for a big-league team.
His swing is described as "short" and "compact," making him more of a contact hitter, though most feel he could grow in to his power when getting out of his league and moving up the ranks.
In the end, though, questions about him were framed like speaking about a circus act more than a baseball player, which is not to say he doesn't have a bright future. However, for now, people I talked with were less curious about his talent and more intrigued by his moment-to-moment ability to throw with both hands.
Rarely mentioned, but on a lot of radars
8) Shervyen Newton, SS/3B, 19 years old (ETA: 2022)
Evaluators love Newton's size. He's 6-foot-4 and looks like a young, wirey Alfonso Soriano.
"It's not hard to look at this kid and imagine how, in a few years, he'll have the power, size, fluidity and skills on the field to be a wonderful big league player," a veteran scout told me.
Evaluators often mentioned his "size," "instincts" and ability to "stay in on the ball," as well as how he's a commanding presence on the infield, where no one believes he will remain as he gets bigger and more powerful.
"He's either a third baseman or corner outfielder when he gets to the call," the same scout said. "There's a lot of potential here -- star potential -- but size and swing mean he has to remain smart during his development."
9) Mark Vientos, 3B, 19 years old (ETA: 2021)
The people I talked with all praise his bat speed and consistent swing.
"He's as close to a professional hitter as you'll find in the minors," one person said. "He's got raw power, but he'll need to go the other way more and reduce the hitch in his swing to fight off upper level pitching."
In the field, he's said to be "OK," only capable of making routine plays, which will be a concern the closer he gets to the big leagues.
"He's a prime choice trade guy," a scouting director said. "He's intriguing, a natural, but flawed, which means that team will probably have no issue making him a nice added prospect during a mid-summer deal.
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!