Welcome back to my annual off-season series that has a quick-and-dirty review of all 30 minor league systems around baseball. This feature began way back in 2008.
If you were perusing the series last year you would have read:
The Draft Pick: Mark Vientos, SS/3B: One of the youngest hitters in the 2017 draft, Vientos doesn’t turn 18 until next week. Despite that, he already has 50 games of professional baseball experience under his belt — and he held his own in Rookie Ball. The infielder is already 6-4 and projects to add more strength to his frame, which would eventually help him hit 20+ homers. He’s still raw at the plate with an inconsistent swing but he has the potential to be an average-or-better hitter. A shortstop, he’s expected to eventually move over to third base as he fills out and slows down a bit.
Now on to the new stuff:
First Taste of The Show: Jeff McNeil, 2B: McNeil was a pretty fascinating rookie. He pretty much came out of nowhere at the age of 26 to play an important part on the 2018 Mets. He success came from creating a ton of contact (9.7% strikeout rate), an all-fields approach and some athletic plays at second base. McNeil is successful at the plate because he doesn’t try and be someone he’s not; he rarely gives away at-bats. He also has a quick, short path to the ball. It’s easy to see why the club didn’t want to part with him in last winter’s deal with Seattle. It sounds like he’ll spend time backing up second base, third base and left field in 2019.
The Draft Pick: Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP: With first-rounder Jarred Kelenic already traded to Seattle, we’re going to talk about Woods-Richardson. He has an intriguing fastball-curveball combination so it’s easy to see why the Mets liked him enough to pop him in the second round. My main concern with him is the delivery. He’s not in control of his delivery and is often all over the place, leading to poor command and control issues. But Woods-Richardson is also quite young and will pitch the entire year in 2019 at the age of 18. If I’m the Mets, I hold him back for a year of extended spring training and short-season ball but they might be tempted to move him to low-A ball after a successful pro debut (albeit just 17.1 innings).
The Riser: Ronny Mauricio and Andres Gimenez, SS: Why talk about just one exciting shortstop prospect when you can talk about two? Gimenez, 20, was originally known as a light-hitting, strong-fielding shortstop but he took another step forward with the bat in 2018 after adding some good weight and muscle. He’s now displaying some solid gap pop to go along with good speed and the aforementioned strong defence. What he needs to do is show more patience and focus on getting on base more to take advantage of his wheels. Mauricio is just 17 and showed a very mature hitting approach in rookie ball. He also has a quick bat and frame (with lots of room for good weight) that combine to suggest above-average pop is just around the corner. He’s athletic but not a great base runner and is probably destined for third base, which would allow shortstop to be owned by Gimenez or Amed Rosario, who is still just 23.
The Fallen: Desmond Lindsay, OF: A former second round pick, Lindsay has been moved steadily along through the Mets system despite much success at the plate. He was even assigned to the Arizona Fall League despite hitting just .218 in high-A ball during the 2018 season. Still just 22 and with an athletic frame, Lindsay has lost a fair bit of development time to injuries. But he’s running out of time to show he can hit. His stats suggest an all-field approach but I wonder if part of it is being late on the ball more than actually trying to use the whole field. In the video I’ve seen of him, he seems to struggle to pick up pitches and location and actually starts his swing late. He also lets decent pitches go by and then swings at questionable ones. The 2019 season is probably a very important one for Lindsay’s future.
The 2019 Contributor: Peter Alonso, 1B: The Internet was a buzz after the Mets first spring training game, which saw Alonso go deep (He was the most searched minor leaguer on FanGraphs that day). And I get the hype. He generates massive, easy power and has produced some pretty exciting minor league numbers. Alonso should produce a lot of homers and post solid on-base numbers. He gets in trouble when he tries to over-swing and when he expands the zone (He seems most vulnerable down and away). He also needs to keep an eye on his conditioning. He’ll no doubt get his shot at the Majors in 2019 but I’m not sure he’ll hit for average. You can definitely pitch to him and get him out; and don’t give him anything above the knees on the inning half of the plate.
The 2019 Sleeper: Tony Dibrell, RHP: The pro strikeout rate definitely jumps out at you: 10.10 K/9 in 2018. But he’s also 23 and spent the entire year in low-A ball last year. He has a very quick arm and I don’t love the arm action; it’s hard to see him having even average control at the big league level but it’s also part of what makes him successful. He has good — but not overpowering — velocity to his heater. Hitters just struggle to pick up the ball out of his hand because of the quick actions. Although he has a body that could probably provide lots of innings, Dibrell is probably best suited for relief work where he could focus on a fastball-slider combo.
The 2019 Lottery Ticket: Shervyen Newton, SS: Newton is an exciting prospect but he’s also very, very raw. He has a very quick swing and the ball jumps off his bat when he makes contact. And he has an enviable, athletic frame that has lots of room to add good weight. The downside is that he has a raw approach at the plate and is extremely susceptible to breaking balls; add in the fact that he’s a switch-hitter and it could take a while for the hitting light bulb to click on. He’s very loose and moves well so he might be able to stick at shortstop despite being on the taller side. If I’m the Mets, I’m taking my time moving Newton up the ladder — especially with Andres Gimenez and Ronny Mauricio ahead of him.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.