Mack’s Morning Report – Positional Analysis – SPs, Michael Conforto


Good morning.

Our last positional analysis is the strength of the team… starting pitching.
The Mets will open up 2016 with four front end starters… Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz.

My guess, right now, is Jonathan Niese will remain a Mets starter until Zack Wheeler comes back to the rotation in the end of June. Wheeler will become the fifth starter that can throw a ball 94mph+ and, barring injury, this is how your rotation should remain until Harvey leaves via free agency (and he will) in 2019.

My second guess is Niese will then fall in line as the first lefty out of the pen. The renegotiated contract the Mets gave him could turn out to be the best of both worlds for both sides.

And that leaves us Rafael Montero, who should be ready to set up to a full time rotation role for the third time in his career. Due to injuries, Montero didn’t pitch much in 2015 (12-games, five with the Mets), but he was only 24-years old and still is considered highly projectable. Reports are that he is now 100% and I expect him to either start the 2016 season in Las Vegas (as the emergency sixth starter for the Mets) or will be used in a trade package to improve the team at another position.

The problem is, past Montero, the quality of starter pitching prospects has close to have disappeared after cleaning out the system at the last all-star break to build a playoff team.

In my opinion…

The best out there, and maybe the only currently additional projectable major league starter someday, would be Chris Flexen. Flexen is one of those high risk-high reward Alderson and Company high school starters that had a killer 2013 (at 18-years old) for Kingsport (11-starts, 8-1, 2.09, 0.94, 69.0-IP, 62-K).
I expected so much from this kid in Savannah in 2014 ( was sitting behind the plate on his first three home starts) and it just didn’t happen. Eventually, after 13-starts (4.88), he had TJS and bone chips removed and was shut down for the remainder of the season.

2015 was basically a rehab year for Flexen, who finished the season back in Savannah (6-games, 5-starts, 4-0, 1.87, 1.04, 33.2-IP, 33-K). He still was only 20-years old.

I project him to move on to St. Lucie on opening day and he could easily become the next Mets minor league pitcher that is dealt away for help in the 25-man roster.

Past that, I simply don’t currently project any other pitcher making it as a starter in the majors someday. The good news is the Mets probably won’t need one for quite a while.

Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman (AA: 16-starts, 3.51, 1.25, 92.1-IP, only 49-K), Rainy Lara (AA: 19-starts, 3.44, 1.20, 110.0-IP, 82-K), Tyler Pill (AAA: 18-G, 17-starts, 7.45), and Gabriel Ynoa (AA: 25-G, 24-starts, 3.90, 1.23, 152.1-IP, only 82-K) should all be fighting with Montero for a rotation spot in Las Vegas, though one might wind up being held up in Binghamton to join the projected Kevin McGowan (St. Lucie: 24-G, 23-starts, 4.50), Michael Gibbons (St. Lucie: 3-starts, 3.50), Logan Taylor (St. Lucie: 24-G, 22-starts, 3.69), and, the wild card, knuckler Mickey Jannis (St. Lucie: 8-G, 7-starts, 2.98). Jannis was a reclamation project that changed into a knuckler and went 6-2, 1.18 in 16 games for Long Island in the Atlantic League during the first part of last season.

The next wave of possible prospects that should join Flexen in St. Lucie are Corey Oswalt (Sav: 23-starts, 11-5, 3.36), Martires Arias (Sav: 20-starts, 2.43, 1.10) 111.0-IP, 110-K), Scarlyn Reyes (Sav: 16-starts, 3.40), and Ricky Knapp (Sav: 21-G, 16-starts, 2.60). In addition, Casey Delgado (17-G, 16-starts, 3.17) will try and sneak his way into the Lucy rotation.

Lastly, any one of eight possible ex-rookie league pitchers could make their way to Columbia for opening day. They are Nabil Crismatt (K-Port: 12-G, 8-starts, 6-1, 2.90, 1.03, 62.0-IP, 63-K), Josh Prevost (Sav: 12-G, 12-starts, 3.75), Matt Blackham (Brooklyn: 6-starts, 3.82), Tyler Badamo (Brooklyn: 14-starts, 3.10), Kevin Canelon (Brooklyn: 14-G, 13-starts, 4.09), Andrew Church (Brooklyn: 9-G, 8-starts, 5.18), Gaby Almonte (Brooklyn: 14-starts, 3.68), and A.J. Pinera (Brooklyn: 16-G, 11-starts, 2.44). Church, the ex-2nd round 2013 draft pick, has been particularly disappointing and needs a breakout year in 2016.

Summary – I could spend many more paragraphs on the pitchers in the minor league Mets system, but that isn’t necessary this year. The fact is that the major league Mets currently have the most depth and talent in baseball at this position. Zack Wheeler your future SP5? Are you kidding me?

Tom Brennan and I will keep you up to date throughout the season on anyone that breaks loose from the pack here, but, trust me, your only problem here would be the possibility of future injuries.

Rating:  A++

The Mets’ first round draft pick from 2014, Conforto immediately jumped on the fast track when he joined pro ball and found himself playing in the World Series in 2015 He actually tapped into his power better in the Majors than he had in the minors and his overall game was impressive — especially given his lack of experience as a pro. The emergence of Conforto makes the Michael Cuddyer signing look so, so bad — and his presence is why I didn’t expect the rookie to see enough playing time to be relevant in ’15.

Mack – This is why you don’t piss away your first round pick on a qualified offer. Successful teams are built by successful first round picks that should never be lost to deals like the one the Mets made for  Cuddyer.

Baring injuries, the Mets don’t have to wonder about left field for a very long time. Hopefully, in a few years we will be able to say the same thing about first base and Dominic Smith. And let’s not forget what round Matt Harvey went in.

Lastly, with the possibility that Daniel Murphy signs elsewhere, the Mets actually will have an opportunity to draft two of the top 40 players in the draft. Make them both stud college juniors, put them on the same track Conforto was put on, and you could have two more on the 25-man by the 2017 playoffs.

Keep your first round picks. It will pay off for you in the long run.


Tom Brennan said...

Lots of pitchers. My favorite below Flexen on the lower minors is Martires Arias. We'll see if he can parlay 2 straight strong seasons into dominance vs higher competition.

Cuddles (at least that is how my tablet spelled it) Cuddyer had some sort of midsection surgery right after the season, so maybe he was impaired and we get something positive out of him next year. Not holding my breath. Colorado Old Timers games may not be too far off.

Unknown said...

I like Gilmartin as a starter. I believe he can be a better option than Niese as a #5. I think he is a MLB quality starter. He would be a true #4 or #5 unlike Matz who is a #1 or #2 pitching in the 4 spot. This year the Mets have total control of him so they can start him in the pen and than send him down to the minors to stretch him out of the need comes up.
Then there is always Meija.

Ernest Dove said...

I wish the Mets were a big market team who could simply buy a few hitters to go with their dominant pitching staff.........wait what...........

Tom Brennan said...

Good points, Richard. I agree. As disgusted as I am with Jenrry, he still is a good talent, and he has no more chances. If he screws up again, he'll be pitching in Korea. Hard to believe he is that stupidm

Tom Brennan said...

Let's think clearly for a moment. If you were a Yankee fan, and had the Mets team, you'd be virtually 100% certain that the owners would do some big things this off season to cement the team's dominant position.

With the Mets, the feeling is always that somehow, they will fall short.

I sure hope I am wrong. The rentals at the trade deadline were out of character, and nice, but merely a short term tactic. Let's see some real action.

Mack Ade said...

Morning all -

To all -

Regardless whether the Mets go big in the off-season or not, the important thing is they will have this kind of pitching next season.

I also like the Gilbartin idea. Didn't think of that.

bgreg98180 said...

Doesn't it seem like Corey Oswalt has been in the Mets organization forever?

bgreg98180 said...

What information is there about Jeremy Hefner?

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

Hefner is healthy and is pitching in winter ball, but he is no longer property of the Mets

Dallas said...

Mack, you left Verrett completely out of the conversation, where does he fit into plans? I'm confused at what you said, do you think Montero will get a chance at a spot in the rotation if he is healthy and is not traded? If he dominates in AAA like he has in the past I think you have to do it. Niese looked pretty good out of the BP in the playoffs (though yes he would be overpriced as a RP)

Reese Kaplan said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't we told the club would spend when they won and fans arrived at the ballpark to watch?

Did we just get to the World Series?

Why then are they talking about the BIG acquisitions being mediocre bats like Gerardo Parra?

bgreg98180 said...


Thank you Reese.

Not many teams have a realistic opportunity to set themselves up to have a dominating "Dynasty " type of team for 3+ years.

Investment in the team now is needed to result in awesome rewards.

This small-time "scaredy-cat" thinking could easily result in wasting this unprecedented opportunity.

Sometimes when you have 4 Aces in your hand, you have to bet to maximize the pot you want to win.

Build the best team you can possibly build while weighing in youth for the next 3+ years.
There will be plenty of rewards.
Just look at how profitable in money and fan base growth this season was.

Mack Ade said...

Dallas -

You're right. I have left Verrett out of the equation and, frankly, I guess the only future he has in 2016 is in the pen.

As for Montero, again, with Niese under contract and Wheeler due back latest July 1, I don't see Montero getting a fair shot at a rotation slot. You know I'm a big Montero fan and I'd much rather see the Mets trade Niese and promote Montero to SP5 but it just isn't going to happen. Spot starter and long man maybe. Trade bait definitely.

Tom Brennan said...

So having Verrett, Niese, Gilmartin and Montero. Some teams might have all 4 in starting rotation

Mack Ade said...

Right. There is plenty of depth for the SP5 until Wheeler gets back.

And, at least two of these could be traded for needs elsewhere.

Unknown said...

Reese I totally agree we SHOULD BE past the "we need to hold the payroll down" nonsense and with the increase in revenue from a W.S. run and its benefits going into 2016 I foolishly thought they would increase the payroll as needed but i see i'm wrong. I now think they will make some 2nd tier moves and wait to see how it all shakes out come July. The thing to remember here is if Sandy's original deal for Gomez went through we would be having a whole different conversation now. Mack as far as Harvey goes he'll be gone long before 19' as he should be the chip to help replenish the farm system next off season. Also what's up with Edgin?

Peter said...

Hey, you seem to be into DFS. Do you use lineup websites like https://www.dailylineups.com/ to buld up your teams?

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