This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.
In a Nutshell: The Mets have a lot of promising young players, which is good news for a team with question marks at third base, second base, shortstop and in the outfield. Sophomore catcher Travis d’Arnaud is also no sure thing given his always-present health issues.
1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP: The Mets began to reap the benefits of the 2012 R.A. Dickey deal in 2014 with the emergence of catcher Travis d’Arnaud but the ’15 season should bring another talented prospect to The Show. The hard-throwing Syndergaard stubbed his toe a little bit in Triple-A in ’14 but he still had an encouraging season for a 22-year-old starter in Triple-A. He has the stuff and the build to be a top-shelf starter for years to come.
2. Kevin Plawecki, C: As alluded to above, the Mets organization has already benefited from the development of one young, talented catcher but another one is on the cusp of challenging for big league playing time. Plawecki, the 35th overall selection in the 2012 draft, has done nothing but swing the bat as a professional and reached Triple-A in just his second full pro season. He’s also played solid defense. It will be interesting to see if the Mets can eventually find a way to get both Travis d’Arnaud and Plawecki appropriate playing time or if a trade is in the cards.
3. Dilson Herrera, 2B: Just 20, this native of Colombia had a strong offensive season in Double-A in 2014 when he showed the ability to hit for average, gap power and even steal some bases. With the future of Daniel Murphy up in the air, Herrera could be poised to assume the full-time second base gig in 2015. My biggest concern is that he might strike out a lot in the short term before making adjustments.
4. Rafael Montero, RHP: The Mets project to have a talented, young starting staff in 2015 with the return of Matt Harvey and the likes of Zack Wheeler, Jake deGrom, and possibly Syndergaard. That leaves Montero on the outside looking in, barring injury. It’s possible that he could serve as Triple-A insurance or a long-man in the big league rotation — but he could also be trade bait this winter as the club looks to improve its offense. The young Dominican could be a solid No. 3/4 starter for someone.
5. Brandon Nimmo, OF: The club gave playing time to both Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt Den Dekker in 2014 but neither look like huge offensive threats. And, even with the surprise addition of free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, the offense needs help. At 21 with just 65 games above A-ball, Nimmo likely won’t be ready to break camp with the Mets in 2015 but he could provide a boost to the offense in the second half of the year. He swings and misses a bit too much but he gets on base and has developing pop.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.