According to a recent list published by Baseball America, the Mets have the No. 19 overall farm system in baseball, which is up from No. 27 before the season.
The bump in ranking can mostly be attributed to the emergence of prospects Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso and Justin Dunn, all of whom now appear on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list, whereas they were not on the list this past winter.
According to a small survey of MLB insiders, Gimenez's stock has risen most out of the above names. He was recently promoted to Double-A Binghamton, where, at 19, he is the second-youngest player in the league. His age, as well as his .786 OPS in 15 games so far for Binghamton, have helped get him on the radar of other teams.
I watched him closely during spring training where he showed better pitch-selection than most hitters on the current 25-man roster. He's small, wirey and may never be a home run hitter, but he ostensibly always hits the ball square, super-hard and with a nice, compact, quick, left-handed, slap-style swing. He reminds me of a throwback, Luis Castillo-like No. 2 hitter.
Gimenez played 12 games at second base in 2016, otherwise he's been a shortstop most of his career. This may be partly why the Mets have discussed using Amed Rosario in the outfield, as the NY Post's Kevin Kernan reported earlier this week. Rosario will almost certainly remain at shortstop, which means they may want to consider again getting Gimenez time at second base.
Similarly, Dunn was started to be talked about as being a 'bust.' However, thanks to a well-timed comeback in Double-A this season, his star is also on the rise.
Dunn, 22, was drafted with the team's top pick in 2016, but then missed a full season's worth of games after having Tommy John surgery. In 19 starts this season between Single-A and Double-A, the right-handed Dunn has a 2.97 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 107 innings.
The scouts I talk with that have watched him all felt, and now feel again, that he can easily be a mid-rotation starting pitcher sooner than later, mostly due to his low-90s fastball, slider and ability to work effortlessly work around the strike zone. They all say to elevate his game he'll need to add a bit of strength, which should make his mechanics more stable and sound and hopefully add movement to his currently-heavy fastball.
The Mets see Dunn as a starting pitcher, as do most people that watch him. However, I've heard from people in St. Lucie say he'd also be a terrific a closer, which is where he thrived in college throwing close to 100 mph. Also, as a closer, he could eliminate his second-rate off-speed pitches and focus entirely on mixing in just his slider and changeup.
Dunn and Gimenez may be piquing people's interest, but it's Alonso who is receiving the most consistent national attention this season.
"He combines elite exit velocities with strong plate discipline to produce huge right-handed power," Matt Eddy wrote for Baseball America last month after Alonso represented the Mets during MLB's Futures Game. "He profiles as a middle-of-the-order masher."
The 23-year-old Alonso lit up Double-A earlier this season, but stumbled after being promoted to Las Vegas. That has since changed. The first baseman is batting .311 with 8 HR and 30 RBI during his last 22 games, which has renewed calls from fans and radio hosts for him to join the big-league team sooner than later.
Unfortunately, Mets co-GM John Ricco recently said Alonso will likely remain in Triple-A this season.
In either case, Alonso's power and talent will need to be addressed at some point soon, either by him being traded or starting for the Mets next season, because his bat will become too tempting for a big-league team in constant need of more run production.
In addition to the emergence of the above talent, the team's farm system also got a boost this past July after adding flamethrower Franklyn Kilome from the Phillies (in the deal for Asdrubal Cabrera) and 3B William Toffey from the A's (in the deal for Jeurys Familia).
Kilome was once a top 5 prospect for the Phillies, but he started slipping for them during the past year. That said, people that have watched his this season say he still has the potential to be an impact, big-league pitcher within the next two years.
"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 can get away with it now, but it's easy to see how MLB hitters will crush him. But, he has time and is more than capable of improving."
In watching video of him, I love his effortless and consistent delivery. Frankly, like Dunn, he looks like a natural reliever, which is helped out by him being 6' 6" tall. He hides the ball well, which helps to make his low-90s, two-seam fastball appear quicker and with more sink than it is.
The downward movement on his fastball also make his 12-6 curve ball that much more effective. Again, as a closer, this combination would be wicked. I'd love to see him develop a better changeup, though, because it would complete his arsenal.
In the end, Kilome's big hurdle will be how he works around the strike zone. Because, just like the Phillies source said, if he doesn't improve in this area, he'll end up being a batting practice pitcher like Rafael Montero.
Toffey, 22, is also intriguing. I've talked to as many people in Oakland and around baseball that think he could be a terrific big-league third baseman as I have people who think he'll be a career minor leaguer constantly changing positions and only ever hitting doubles.
In either case, he's clearly an advanced left-handed hitter with excellent judgment, gap-to-gap drive and a quick glove at third base, but this can probably be said of a lot of minor leaguers.
"He's got a discerning eye," A's Single-A manager Rick Magnante told AthleticsFarm.com earlier this month. "He has power. And I think, by his own admission, he would probably say that he's certainly a work in progress at the plate. But he definitely has a feel to hit and is able to be selective enough to not chase too much and swing outside of the zone, and that's probably allowed his on-base percentage to be a legitimate number."
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 this kid for just a rental reliever," an AL Central player development friend told me.
It's also worth noting that 17-year-old infielder Ronny Mauricio and pitchers David Peterson and Anthony Kay were all considered to be among the "best of the rest," just missing out on Baseball America's Top 100, which was updated in July before the trade deadline.
I was also told this past spring to keep a close eye on 3B Mark Vientos, who doesn't yet appear on most overall prospect lists, but he will eventually.
Vientos was drafted with Alderson's second pick in 2017. At just 18-years-old, he's said to have incredible bat speed and a consistent swing. In time, as he builds muscle and sees more pitches, he is expected have significant pop in his bat. Again, he's just 18 and yet to play above Single-A, so he's not likely to hit the mainstream radar for another year or two. However, when he does, I think people will be projecting Vientos as a legit, long-term option on the infield.
The point is, while it's easy for fans and media to rag on this team's farm, the improved ranking matches up with what I heard this spring from scouts and executives around baseball.
Insiders may criticize the system's lack of depth, but that's starting to change and they all said the team does have a handful of prospects with high ceilings that are intriguing to other organizations.
"They have projectable talent to lean on and at positions of 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, I see at least few guys that can be everyday players."
By the way, the Mets are on pace to have the the seventh pick in next year's draft, which should further increase the likelihood of a better ranking and big-league talent in the future.