Part one looked at players who were on the Pre-Season Top 41 list. Part two, looked at guys who were not on the pre-season Top 41, but joined the organization since Opening Day 2014. Now, we look at guys who have jumped into the top 41, who were Mets’ employees at the start of 2014. We looked at some of these gentlemen, in less detail, in June and July.
The "other" guy in the R.A. Dickey deal, Becerra's career has gotten off to a slow start, thanks in part to a pitch that broke his jaw two years ago. Given a full year in the Appalachian League, he hit .300, with a .351 OBP and .469 slugging percentage with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 14 walks and 55 strikeouts in 228 PA over 58 games. His August didn't look like much from a bating average perspective at .258 AVG, a .333 OBP and .393 sLG with four home runs, a triple and two homers in 26 games, but he did draw nine walks, his most in any month of the 2014 season.
He looks the part of a right-field prospect at a lean, strong 6'4", with good to add muscle. He has enough arm for the outfield corner and plenty of speed. The prospect question is simply whether his bat and approach will develop enough. At the plate, he was hitting out of a wide stance, and didn't use his lower body much, but still had the hand-eye coordination to poke singles, although he struggled with velocity and picking up breaking balls. I saw him crush balls in batting practice, but he did not bring that power into the games I saw.
Why was he not rated: While repeating the GCL in 2013, at age 18, he hit .243, with a .351 on-base percentage and .295 slugging percentage in 52 games.
Now: He's a Top 20 guy in the system
Our July feature on him is here.
RHP 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).
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.
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.
Why was he not rated: GCL and short-season pitchers terrify me.
Now: He's a Top 15 guy in the system and one of the best pitching prospects not named Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz. He will likely start 2015 in Savannah, where he could put up more dominant numbers in pitcher-friendly Historic Grayson Stadium.
INF Matt Reynolds
Reynolds, the Mets second-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Arkansas, had a really good August to finish off a really strong 2014 season that stretched from Double-A to Triple-A. In August in Triple-A, he hit .353 with a .404 OBP and .521 SLG, with a .406 BABIP, a 17.5 percent strikeout rate and a 6.6 percent walk rate. With seven doubles and three homers in the month, that was far and away the most pop he has shown so far. However, he was playing in the PCL.
The math of his production suggests he would be a below average starting MLB player. However, his skills, defensive versatility, contact, the ability to draw a walk, would make him a very nice bench piece as a third middle infielder. With a little more power, or a few more walks, he could be a starter.
Why was he not rated: Reynolds hit .226, a .302 on-base percentage and .337 slugging percentage with a .263 BABIP and a 7.4 percent walk rate in St. Lucie last year.
Now: He's a Top 20 guy in the system who might even have a chance to earn a MLB spot out of spring training after a trip to the Arizona Fall League where he says he still needs to work on his "hands and footwork" to play second base or shortstop in the big leagues.
3B Jhoan Urena
The switch-hitting Urena hit .327 in 28 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones in August and September, with a .371 OBP and .471 SLG, and celebrated his accomplishment with his 20th birthday on September 1, and a trip to Savannah for the South Atlantic League playoffs. Urena can hit and the swing works well enough.
However, he might fall into a tweener category where his soft body prevents him from playing third everyday, and he doesn't have the power to profile at first.
Why was he not rated: Good question. He should have been on the pre-season Top 41.
Now: He's a Top 25 guy
INF Jeff McNeil
The left-handed hitting McNeil popped on the scene with a big first half for the Savannah Sand Gnats in a-ball. A second baseman and outfielder in 2013, he learned third base on the fly in 2014 and became a very steady presence over there. Promoted to advanced Single-A at the end of the first half, he hit .246 with a .329 OBP and .319 SLG in 58 games in advanced Single-A with 22 walks against just 25 strikeouts. A very fine amateur golfer, he has terrific feel for the bathead, but velocity up, lefties and good spin give him trouble.
There's never going to be a ton of power here, but his speed, contact ability and defensive versatility - he could play 2B, SS, 3B and an outfield corner will keep him employed for a while, certainly up to Triple-A, and give him a chance at a big league career as a utility piece.
Why was he not rated: I saw a speedy guy in the Appalachian League who just slapped at the ball and was beating up on younger competition. He started driving it better in 2014. He improved.
Now: He's somewhere in the back half of a Top 41 ranking.
RHP Rob Whalen
The right-handed Whalen missed the better part of two months with complications from a right hand infection, but he was really good for Savannah all year long. From August 1 through the end of the season, he ran a 2.40 ERA in 30 innings over five starts with an opponents' batting line of .221/.294/.248 with 22 strikeouts against eight walks. At 6'2" and over 200 pounds, he's pretty maxed out physically. The righty mostly sits 88-90, although he can reach back for 91 or 92. He works off a four-pitch arsenal with a slider and curve that have different shapes, and which he throws a lot. He'll get to double-A, but might not have enough fastball to keep upper level hitters honest.
Why was he not rated: I saw a poor start from him in Kingsport and did not see the stuff to project MLB success
Now: He's battling for the last spots on the Top 41.