The New York Mets prospect pool isn’t the strongest in baseball. They continue to prove that in the AFL, though there are a few bright spots.
The minor league baseball season may have ended in early September, but that was only a short break for many prospects. Most top prospects that are past their first full season in the minors get sent to the Arizona Fall League. The New York Mets‘ prospects were no different.
The Mets sent eight prospects to the AFL this year. Two of those eight are consensus Mets’ top 10 prospects. It is worth noting that the majority of the Mets’ top-10 prospects were either in their first season of full-season ball or haven’t reached that level yet.
Only three of the Mets’ top 10 prospects have spent multiple years in full-season ball and one of them, Thomas Szapucki, is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
Despite the fact that most of these prospects aren’t in the Mets’ top 10, they are important, nonetheless. Many of these guys are near major league ready and could make an appearance with the team next year.
With that in mind, here are the eight prospects and their performances to this point.
7 GP, 25 AB, .200/.286/.280, 0 HR, 2 2B, 0 RBI, 7 K, 3 BB, 0 SB, one CS
The 22-year-old shortstop spent the majority of his season at AA this year. Carpio had a breakout year with the bat this past season. He hit .282/.361/.380 this year across A+ and AA. That’s the best offensive season Carpio has ever had.
Carpio is known for his defensive ability. He is often talked about as being one of the better defensive SS in all of minor league baseball. the question was always about his bat. That came around this year, but it also showcased how limited he is.
Carpio is a slap hitter that often relies on his BABIP to carry his offense. He isn’t going to have many extra-base hits, nor is he going to steal many bases to up his offensive potential.
The hope was that Carpio would continue his breakout campaign in the AFL. That way, the Mets would feel comfortable putting him in AAA next year. He would be one step away from fulfilling his likely role as a bench bat/late-inning defensive sub.
Sadly, Carpio hasn’t hit well at all. His trademark defense has been there, but that’s not enough. Carpio’s bat is going to need to be at least playable at the majors for him to have any hope of even being a bench bat.
This showing has been a major disappointment for a prospect who had a career year. It is worth noting that Carpio has mostly come off the bench for his AFL team. It’s possible that the lack of regular playing time has weighed on Carpio and made it harder for him to find his rhythm.
Whatever the case may be, the Mets need Carpio to keep hitting the way he did during the regular season. If he can do that, Carpio will have a long career in MLB in a role similar to Adeiny Hechavarria.
If he continues to play the way he has in the AFL this year, it’s very possible Carpio never sees time in the MLB.
0-0, 7 GP, 9.1 IP, 0.96 ERA, .205 BAA, 1 HR Allowed, 11 K, 2 BB
Gilliam is the Mets’ top relief pitching prospect. He had a phenomenal year in the minor leagues his first in full-season ball. Gilliam moved all the way up from A+ to AAA during the season.
However, his fantastic season was cut short when he suffered a season-ending injury. That injury had caused his success to halt at AAA where he allowed 14 runs in 9.1 IP.
Due to the injury, the Mets wanted Gilliam to pitch more innings, so they sent him to the AFL. Gilliam has picked up where he left off before his injury. He has been completely dominant in the AFL.
Gilliam has recorded 28 outs so far in the AFL, and 11 of them have come via the strikeout. That’s a ridiculous 39.3% of batters. That’s nothing new though for Gilliam, who struck out 37% of batters in A+ and AA this year.
The Mets are in desperate need of bullpen help and Gilliam could help fill that void next year. Now that it looks that his injury is in the past, the Mets can look forward to Gilliam potentially joining the bullpen in 2020.
Even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, it’s almost certain that Gilliam will pitch for the Mets at some point in the 2020 season.
16 GP, 62 AB, .355/.403/.581, 2 HR, 4 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 14 K, 4 BB, 2 SB, 0 CS
Andres Gimenez is one of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. However, he was coming off an incredibly disappointing season at AA. That said, Gimenez had multiple minor injuries this year that might have contributed to that slide.
That seems to be the case, as Gimenez has absolutely torn apart the AFL. Those offensive numbers are some of the best in Gimenez’s career and build on his end to the AA season, which saw him hit .276/.316/.444 from July through the end of the season.
Gimenez has always been a fantastic defensive SS, but the bat has always been a question. That’s especially true of Gimenez’s power potential, but he has shown recently that he can hit for power.
If Gimenez is able to keep up this level of offense on top of his defense and prolific base-stealing ability, he could reclaim his status as one of the best 50 prospects in baseball.
The kid will likely start next season in AAA, which means there is a real chance he makes his Mets debut in 2020. The question is going to be what position he plays. Gimenez has played mostly SS his whole career, including in the AFL this year, with a few games at 2B here and there.
The issue is that both of those positions are occupied long term by Amed Rosario and Robinson Cano for the Mets. Does Gimenez move over to third where J.D. Davis starts next season, or maybe he plays some center field where the Mets are in desperate need of help?
It’s also possible that Gimenez becomes a valuable trade chip for the Mets due to the fact they have nowhere to play him. How the Mets handle the Gimenez situation will be interesting to watch unfold next year.
1-0, 4 GP, 11.2 IP, 0.77 ERA, .222 BAA, 0 HR Allowed, 8 K, 4 BB
Jordan Humphreys is an incredibly important pitching prospect for the Mets. Humphreys had a breakout campaign in 2017 but required Tommy John surgery in 2018. That cost Humphreys his entire 2018 season and almost his entire 2019.
Humphreys pitched just two innings in the regular season this year. However, the Mets feel he’s finally healthy and want to get him innings before 2020.
Humphreys has spent his entire career with the Mets as a starting pitcher, but he’s been coming out of the bullpen in the AFL. The fact that Humphreys has pitched nearly three innings an appearance is an indicator that he’s likely getting stretched out for starting pitching, but it’s worth noting he’s been coming out of the bullpen.
Humphreys has been absolutely brilliant in the AF, though with some flags. Humphreys’ ERA is sparkling as his BAA. In that regard, he has proven to be an effective pitcher. The issue is his Ks and BBs.
Those numbers indicate that he isn’t dominating these hitters, rather he’s been lucky with balls put in play. This is okay for now; Humphreys has never pitched above A-ball before and this level of competition is much higher than that.
In that regard, what Humphreys is doing is astonishing. He’s been better than the Mets probably could have hoped. However, it’s important to put those numbers in context because it’s likely that Humphreys is due for regression based on these numbers.
Looking ahead, Humphreys is likely going to be on an innings limit in 2020 much like Thomas Szapucki. The hope is that Humphreys would shoot through the system the same way Szapucki did. That way, when he’s fully back in 2021, he’s near MLB ready.
Humphreys is a prospect to watch in the future. Prior to his injury, he was one of the Mets’ top 10 prospects. If he can come back and play at the level he has in the AFL, it could make up for dealing a prospect like Simeon Woods-Richardson.
12 GP, 43 AB, .140/.159/.163, 0 HR, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 12 K, 1 BB
Patrick Mazeika is more organizational filler than a prospect at this point in his career. However, he is listed as a top 30 prospect in the Mets’ system by MLB.com.
The 26-year-old C/1B prospect has never played a game above AA. His performance at the AFL is proof of why. Mazeika is a bad defensive catcher with a history of knee injuries. He also has plate discipline problems.
He’s shown off that poor plate discipline in the AFL with a whopping 12 Ks and just one BB. Mazeika is striking out in 28% of at-bats, which is just awful.
He has some power, but he rarely taps into it due to his inability to make contact. That power is what keeps him in these Mets rankings because there are scouts who believe Mazeika will eventually make enough contact that his power will be able to carry him.
However, Mazeika’s AFL performance is much closer to his actual performance on the field during the regular season.
Mazeika is likely scheduled for a third straight season at AA next season. He’s likely never going to make the majors, but if he does somehow make his way to the Mets it will because his power has finally shown up in a big way.
0-1, 4 GS, 13 IP, 3.46, .327 BAA, one HR Allowed, 13 Ks, eight BBs
David Peterson is the Mets’ second-best pitching prospect and remains a cautionary tale pertaining to reading minor league stats.
Peterson is a heavy ground ball pitcher who tends to pitch to contact. He’s very similar to Marcus Stroman in that way. He’s also an innings eater due to his large body and great stamina.
The issue is that Peterson often runs into issues with poor minor league defenses. That leads to a high BABIP allowed and a higher ERA than he should have. That’s why his FIP has outperformed his ERA each of the last two years. in 2018 Peterson had a 4.33 ERA but a 2.98 FIP, and in 2019 he had a 4.19 ERA and a 3.19 FIP.
This has carried over to the AFL, as can be seen by his .327 BAA. However, that does not absolve Peterson of any wrongdoing. Peterson has put himself in trouble time and time again in the AFL this year with eight walks in 13 IP. That’s an unacceptable rate of walks.
In a league where the home run ball is king, ground ball pitchers are in higher demand than ever. If the Mets can put a strong defense behind Peterson and he can find the strike zone, something that hasn’t been an issue in the regular season, Peterson could be an incredibly valuable pitcher.
It’s likely that Peterson is going to start 2020 in AAA and make his MLB debut during the season. Peterson has the potential to be a 3-5 pitcher in an MLB rotation. However, if he is put out there with a poor defense, the Mets had the second-lowest DRS by a team with a winning record in MLB history, he’s being set up to fail.
If the Mets want to make the most out of a rotation that is likely to feature Stroman and Peterson in 2020, they will need to figure out how to put a good defensive infield behind them.
12 GP, 35 AB, .229/.317/.257, 0 HR, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 6 K, 5 BB
The AFL has been a disappointment for one of the Mets’ breakout prospects of 2019. Sanchez has been getting better and better with the bat every year he’s been in the minors. Now, 22-years-old, Sanchez reached AAA this year.
Sanchez’s defense is outstanding, the best of any catcher in the Mets organization. Yes, Sanchez is a better defensive catcher than Tomas Nido. The question has always been whether or not the bat would be playable.
This year Sanchez took a huge step in that direction hitting .261/.326/.322. The lack of power is a huge issue for Sanchez, but you take a .648 OPS when the catcher provides potentially gold glove level defense.
For example, Yadier Molina didn’t have an OPS of .700 or better in any of his first three seasons. It almost always takes catchers longer for their bats to catch up to their defense.
Sanchez was doing even better than that before he got to AAA, where he struggled. Sanchez wasn’t getting consistent playing time in AAA. He was playing behind Rene Rivera for almost his entire time there.
The hope is that Sanchez continues to do what he does. Get better with the bat every year, especially now that he’ll likely be the everyday catcher in AA in 2020.
However, Sanchez’s performance in the AFL has been poor. That’s not something to overlook. He has been getting better though, in his last four starts Sanchez has hit .333/.333/.400.
Hopefully, Sanchez carries this hot streak through the end of the AFL and takes that momentum into 2020.
0-1, two Saves, seven GP, nine IP, 2.00 ERA, .156 BAA, 0 HRs Allowed, 11 Ks, two BBs
Blake Taylor has been in the Mets system forever, he was acquired when the Mets traded Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates. Injuries have set him back quite a bit, but Taylor has found new life as a relief pitcher
He few through the Mets minor league system this year going from A+ to AAA. He did so with a 2.16 ERA and striking out 10 per nine. It was a transformative year for Taylor who had been a starter his whole life up until this point.
He’s carried that success into the AFL where he has been closing games for his team. His .156 BAA and 11 strikeouts to two walks are phenomenal. He is clearly dominating that level of competition.
Taylor’s sudden transformation into a potential impact reliever is huge for the Mets. They need as many relievers as they can get their hands on and turning a failed starting pitcher prospect into a good relief pitcher prospect would be massive for them.
Expect Taylor, like Gilliam, to compete for a spot in the bullpen in spring training in 2020. Whether or not he wins a spot in the bullpen to start the season Taylor will almost certainly make an appearance for the Mets in 2020.
Those are words that no prospect evaluator would have dared to say before the 2019 season.