Sterling Player of the Year - 2B Dilson HerreraSterling Pitcher of the Year - LHP Steven Matz
Triple-A: IF Matt ReynoldsDouble-A: C Kevin PlaweckiAdvanced Single-A: OF Brandon NimmoSingle-A: LHP Dario Alvarez and RHP Akeel MorrisShort-season Single-A: RHP Marcos MolinaRookie - Appalachian League: OF Vicente LupoRookie - Gulf Coast League: OF John Mora
Player of the Year: Dilson Herrera
The 20-year-old blew through the system, climbing from advanced Single-A in April to Double-A by midseason to the big leagues in August, becoming just the second man named Dilson to play a Major League game. In the minor leagues, he hit .323, with a .379 OBP and .479 SLG with a better walk rate, a lower strikeout rate and more pop than he did the year before in Single-A. He and St. Lucie hitting coach Joel Fuentes credit eliminating his leg kick to give Herrera better balance and timing at the plate.
He's an excellent athlete with tools -- speed, strength, hands -- that play at second base. Sure, he will make mistakes (and already has) but he's gifted and smart enough to adapt. The better he plays in the next two weeks, the more palatable moving Daniel Murphy is this off-season.
Combined with Vic Black, Herrera is an outstanding return for one month of Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
Pitcher of the Year: Steven Matz
In a season in which Noah Syndergaard, the Mets top pitching prospect, had his up and downs, Matz steadily graduated from advanced Single-A to Double-A. As we pointed out in the August review, in five starts in the month, the southpaw had a 0.90 ERA, with 24 hits, four runs — three earned — with 32 strikeouts (28 percent) against five walks (4 percent) in 30 innings. He's focused on improving his curveball this summer. With mid-90s heat from the left side, a changeup that could be an average or better pitch, Matz is very close to a 2015 big league debut.
Triple-A: Matt Reynolds
Baseball's roster rules are perhaps the only thing that kept Reynolds in Triple-A while Herrera got a big league look in September. Reynolds, the Mets' second-round pick in 2012, hit .333, with a .385 OBP and .479 SLG in 68 games in Triple-A this year, with a seven percent walk rate, a 20 percent strikeout rate and a .404 BABIP. In part, this is a season-achievement award. Once one corrects for the permissive run environment of the PCL, Reynolds' wRC+ declined from 144 in Binghamton to 124 in Vegas. That decline is due in part to the slip in his walk rate from 12 percent in Double-A. If he's going to be an everyday hitter in the big leagues, he needs to walk in almost 10 percent of his plate appearances to make up for his light power.
The detailed math behind Reynolds' age-23 season is here.
Double-A: Kevin Plawecki
Plawecki hit his way out of Binghamton by bopping .326 AVG, .378 OBP and .487 SLG (wRC+ - 140) in 58 games in the first-half. In the second-half, he did something similar, going .283 AVG, a .345 OBP and .421 SLG (wRC+ - 99) in Las Vegas. The 23-year-old is an aggressive hitter who walks a little over 10 percent of the time and rarely strikes out. This year, he combined for 24 doubles and 11 home runs between the minors' top two levels. He has mostly gap power, but he'll put one over the wall a few times a month with regular playing time.
My observation was that he looked like he was more toned this year, which is a credit to his work ethic. He's not a great defensive catcher. He's an ok blocker and receiver, but has worked extensively on his throwing, as we discussed here.
He'll make his MLB debut in 2015 either as Travis d'Arnaud's backup or as an injury replacement.
Advanced Single-A: Brandon Nimmo
Nimmo, the Mets' first-round pick in 2011, bashed to a .322 average, .448 on-base percentage and .458 slugging percentage in 62 games in St. Lucie to earn his way to Double-A, good enough for a 165 wRC+. After a slow start in Binghamton, he finished up hitting .238, with a .339 OBP and .396 SLG, which was still above-average for the league at a 107 wRC+.
An extremely patient hitter, Nimmo, at age 21, is still coming into his power after popping 14 in 127 games this year. There's 20 home runs as an everyday player in here. He could handle center early in his career, or be a plus defensive left-fielder.
Nimmo's off-season at IMG made him bigger, faster and stronger and set him up for his big 2014.
Single-A: RHP Akeel Morris and LHP Dario Alvarez
Both Morris and Alvarez were dominant. Morris ran a 0.63 ERA with a 42 percent strikeout rate during the regular season to Alvarez's 1.32 ERA with a 39 percent strikeout rate.
Frankly, it was odd that the Mets left Alvarez in Savannah as long as they did (61 1/3 IP). His low 90s fastball (91-93 consistently, as a starter), touching 94 or 95 out of the bullpen late and big sweepy slider were too much for SAL hitters all the way through the season. Same deal for Morris. He creates enough deception with his delivery and brings enough heat 92-94, touching more, that when paired with his changeup, he can blow away SAL batters.
Morris still ran a 10 percent walk rate, which indicates his real command and control issues. His wild pitch in game two of the Gnats' Southern Division Championship Series allowed the eventual winning run to score for Asheville. His slider is still not a very useful weapon. All the same, I like his stuff a whole lot more than Gonzalez Germen, and Germen made his way into a big league bullpen. I expect Morris to do the same either by late 2015 or 2016.
Short-season Single-A: Marcos Molina
The 19-year-old Molina was the best pitcher in the New York-Penn League. He led the circuit in ERA (1.77) and strikeout rate (30 percent) and opponents batting average (.169). In August, he struck out 50 batters (38 percent) and walked 8 (6.2 percent).
When I saw him in late August, I was a little disappointed. All the same, it would have been hard to live up to the glowing reviews for Molina that began before the season with Jason Parks now formerly at Baseball Prospectus, and once the season started with Jeff Paternostro of Amazin' Avenue.
Molina is listed at 6'3", 190, and has a lean, broad-shouldered build. The night I saw him throw, August 24, I didn't quite see the same stuff that had Parks and Paternostro raving. Molina was 92-93 for me. He could spot his glove side (away to a righty) very well, and froze multiple right-handed batter by painting low and away at the knees. He could sink the pitch and get groundouts against NYP hitters. He complemented his heat with a slurvy slider at 87 mph that did dive and a changeup, I think, at 86 that did not move much. He was clearly trying to throw the changeup more than was optimal to simply get outs to put it in game situations. He didn't need it and it got him in more trouble in counts than it helped. I like Jenrry Mejia's stuff in the NYP better than Molina's.
As Jeff and Keith Law pointed out, his delivery is almost all arms. He simply does not generate much power from his legs. There's an MLB starter in here if everything clicks, a reliever if it doesn't, or a shoulder that goes, leaving him stuck in the minors.
Rookie - Appalachian League: OF Vicente Lupo
In his age-20 season, Lupo hit .278 with a .415 on-base percentage and .504 slugging percentage in 44 games with 16 extra-base hits, 29 walks and 52 strikeouts. He's the third-best prospect in his own outfield behind Wuilmer Becerra and Ivan Wilson, but had the more productive 2014, at least by OPS. Lupo is a leftfielder only - and a slow, awkward one at that, who at 6'0", does not offer much physical projection. Still, he hit in 2014.
Rookie - Gulf Coast League: OF John Mora
After earning Sterling Award honors in the DSL last year, the Mets moved Mora to the GCL this year where the 21-year-old hit .318. He had a .433 OBP and .427 SLG.
As a reward for that effort, he moved up to Brooklyn where he finished up at .292/.327/.348 in 99 PA over 24 games. He's a little guy at 5'10, 165 lbs who was 17-for-23 stealing bases this year. Perhaps his best attribute, he appears to hit himself twice in the head before getting into the batter's box. He could be the third or fourth outfielder on the Mets 2015 South Atlantic League affiliate to begin the year.