Want to read something scary?
Minor league baseball (MiLB.com) is asking fans to vote for the Top 10 Offensive Baseball Players in 2014… and, of the 10 players lists (includes players like Mookie Betts and Corey Seager)… three are Washington Nationals.
And two of them are outfielders.
Here’s what they say about these players:
Wilmer Difo, SS - .315/.360/.470, 31 2B, 14 HR, 90 RBI, 91 R, 49 SB - MLB Organization: Nationals - Among the five Minor Leaguers who stole 40 or more bases and also reached double digits in home runs, Difo was the only one to bat above .300. The South Atlantic League MVP led the circuit with 176 hits, and his 263 total bases were one off the league lead.
Steven Souza, OF - .345/.427/.577, 25 2B, 18 HR, 77 RBI, 28 SB - MLB Organization: Nationals - Having led the Nationals system with a .345 average, Souza also was in the organization's top five in home runs, RBIs and stolen bases. The all-around production earned him Nationals Minor League Player of the Year honors, and he was a key factor in Syracuse's first division title since 1989.
Michael Taylor, OF - .304/.390/.526, 20 2B, 23 HR, 64 RBI, 37 SB - MLB Organization: Nationals - Taylor spent the bulk of the year with Double-A Harrisburg before joining Triple-A Syracuse, where five of his 10 hits over 12 games went for extra bases. In addition to his 23 homers, he continued to tear up the base paths, piling up 133 Minor League steals since 2010.
I know that the odds on the division rival Nats helping the Mets out is slim, but Bryce Harper (2015 - $2.25mil/ARB-1) and Jayson Werth ($21,57mil through 2017 + team option 2018) are going nowhere and you have to assume that they will do everything they can to renew Denard Span’s contract.
At the same time, many pundits would consider Kevin Plawecki being an upgrade from sitting catcher, Wilson Ramos.
I don’t think the Nats would consider either Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, or Bartolo Colon as an upgrade to their own talented, young staff… and I also don’t see the Mets offering up one of their young arms (Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Steven Matz) to the team they have to eventually beat.
No this would have to be a one-for-one prospect catcher for outfielder… or nothing at all.
The Internal evaluation continues with our look into starting pitching.
In Queens, the current rotation is Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jonathan Niese, and Dillon Gee. Rafael Montero acted as spot starter in September and, frankly, was more successful than most of the guys I had listed ahead of him. Matt Harvey returns next spring. We know that there is even more prime beef coming down the pipeline (Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz) from Las Vegas next year so something has to give here. This post is not designed to tell you where I think all these guys will wind up in 2015. This post is an evaluation piece involving a look at each position and I can’t think of a team in baseball that has nine guys like this that can hold their own at the major league level. We’re going to talk about a lot more pitchers here, but, if the organization didn’t have any other pitchers, these nine guys could carry this team into the next decade. For now, the important thing is most of them are team controlled and haven’t even started their arbitration process. This is just the start of pitching dominance from this team. This is a very exciting time.
In Las Vegas, we still haven’t even got to the rest of the guys that are finished at this level. We know than Syndergaard and Matz will be back here awaiting their Super 2 qualification for one more arbitration season. Should we assume that will be the same for Logan Verrett (28-starts at AAA, 11-5) who really has nothing more to prove at this level? There’s also no place for him to go which is problem number two. Problem three… make room for returning Darin Gorski (10-G, 9-ST, 4.56), Cory Mazzoni (9-starts, 4.67), and Mathew Bowman (7-G, 6-ST, 3.47). And, we didn’t even promote anyone that finished the season at the AA level. In addition, last year’s starter, Giancarlo Alvarado, will either move on or move over to the pen.
In Binghamton, everything is clogged up in Vegas and I can’t see much movement here on opening day. I do expect; however, them to operate with at least one piggy-back situation in April, that will set up an early six man rotation. Gorski, Bowman and Matz have already moved on. Two other moves I hope for… a continuation of the conversion of Hansel Robles to the pen (Sept 2014: 10-G, 1-ST, 1.89) and the movement of Angel Cuan (8-ST, 6.23) to join him there. This leaves Tyler Pill (22-G, 21-ST, 3.83, 1.16), Greg Peavey (18-ST, 2.90, 1.03), Rainy Lara (20-ST, 4.31, 1.37) and Gabriel Ynoa (11-ST, 4.21, 1.30). The question mark here would be Peavey who has had two unsuccessful attempts at the AAA level.
In St. Lucie, by my estimates, there are two open slots in Binghamton for last year’s starters here. My vote would be Domingo Tapia (21-ST, 3.96, .142) and Michael Fulmer (19-ST, 3.97, 1.50), even though Fulmer wound up on the DL right before the season ended. My guess is both of these guys are going to someday wind up in the bullpen for different reasons… Tapia has an electric series of pitches but has always had control problems and Fulmer’s arm just might be breaking down as a starter. I would give them this last chance’ to prove they should stay a rotation pitcher… other 2014 starters here that have already moved on are Matz and Ynoa… this leaves a return of Luis Cessa (20-ST, 4.00, 1.19) and Kevin McGowan (3-5, 5.06), and Seth Lugo (27-G, 4-ST), who returned to being a starter late in the season.
In Savannah, there were three starters that went start to finish here and all deserve to begin the 2015 season for St. Lucie. They are John Gant (21-ST, 2.56, 1.20), Robert Gsellman (20-ST, 2.55, 1.34), and Ricky Knapp (20-ST, 4.34)… seven other pitchers started here last season, but Dario Alvarez has moved on (and up) as a reliever, McGowan finished with Lucy, and I expect Alex Panteliodis (13-ST, 4.52, 25-yrs old) will head to some pen also. This leaves Chris Flexen (13-ST, 4.83), Miller Diaz (11-ST, 2.25), Rob Whalen (10-ST, 2.01, 1.01) , and Logan Taylor (8-ST, 2.77, 1.13) to return in hopes of completing a DL-less season, and the continuation of Octavio Acosta (5-G, 4-ST, 3.14, 1.36). Look, this is some serious low level talent and there is no reason to rush these five guys. There will be room for at least two of them in St. Lucie by the All-Star break… there should be room for three of last year’s Brooklyn starters in Savannah. Maybe four. You know how the Mets love to stack up the Sand Gnats early with piggybacks... the first is obvious… Marcos Molina (12-ST, 1.77. 0.84) may even ship out directly to St. Lucie… Corey Oswalt (12-G, 11-ST, 2.26, 1.03) and Casey Meisner (13-ST, 3.75. 1.36) have also earned a promotion… my guess for the fourth would be Martires Arias, who finished 12-G, 7-ST, 1.11, 1.04 for Kingsport-Brooklyn
We don’t project small season pitchers here. They’re simply too young and they are pitching against too many flaky hitters… basically, come April, they all are on the same extended team, but there are a few ‘special ones’ that already have showed some signs of being able to climb the ladder… guy like Blake Taylor, Yoryi Nuez, Erik Manoah, Tyler Badamo, Kevin Canelon, Adonis Uceta (yes… Adonis), and Luis Carreno are names you might want to jot down.
Overall Observation – You already know how high I am about the current group of starters that finished the 2014 season either in Queens or Las Vegas. Frankly, the Mets may not need another one until the next decade… the last great pitcher in this group will be Steven Matz and then it’s all guesswork, but there sure seems to be an awful lot of guys that dominated their division this season, and isn’t that the real test of talent?
I’m going to stay conservative here. I’ll say that the Mets have potentially two more ‘great’ starters in their organization, Rob Whalen and Marcos Molina… who could be replacements for pitchers like Matt Harvey that leave via free agency.
But there are easily 10-15 more that could make quite a decent living in this game someday if they keep pitching the way they do now.
This is an incredible amount of talent.
Overall Rating: A+