Obviously, you're reading an Ernest Dove post, so why not go ahead and list right up front all of my man crushes within this organization, shall we?
First and foremost is Amed Rosario, the top shortstop prospect in the Mets system to date. Rosario has been my fav for over a year now. On 5/29/15 I published a post on Rosario, among other St. Lucie Mets prospects I watched the previous night. I already labeled Rosario a "legit defensive shortstop", discussing plays being made with ease, showing range, speed, quickness with the glove and arm strength. Rosario has a quick bat as well, and has ability to go the other way with it, make solid 'doubles' power contact, and fly around the bases.
I've seen the talk suggesting that maybe Rosario try his hand at 3rd base, especially with Rosario now being currently assigned to return to the St. Lucie Mets where Luis Guillorme is now at the same level and same SS position. I can understand the argument. Rosario in my opinion does possess the range, quick reactions off the bat and arm strength to handle the position. But another fancy term we like to throw around these days is 'player value'. And, at this time, I still Rosario having the highest value to the Mets organization as a shortstop. I guess, like all of you, I will look to 2016 as a year to find about more in regards to Rosario power potential, especially once he gets out of the hot sun in south Florida and eventually heads up to Bingo for AA ball action full time. If Rosario can begin to show 15+ homer potential at the upper levels, perhaps the Mets can re-evaluate his status regarding position, especially once also learning more about Guillorme as well as Cecchini who is already knocking at the door of major league baseball.
Either way there is no rush to move the 20 year old Rosario up too fast, so perhaps expects him to spend a couple of months letting me enjoy his talents in St. Lucie, and then head to AA ball before or after minor league all star breaks.
Next up is the man, the myth, the legend, one Dominic Smith :) on that same May evening in 2015 I witnessed a man who definitely has a different 'look' then the kid drafted out of high school. But, guess what folks, Dom Smith wasn't drafted to be a SS, 2B, 3B or CF, he was drafted to play FIRST BASE and FIRST BASE only. And he does it extremely well. I'd put his glove quickness up against anyone, right now, in the league. He is a vacuum with the 1B glove. He can scoop it as needed.
As far as hitting, I've witnessed Smith's POWER to drive the ball, make solid contact, and hit to all fields. I would prefer nobody in the organization attempts to change his swing AT ALL to add power numbers and potential. Dom can make contact, hit for average, and spray the ball to all fields, both in the air and on the ground. As in the case during this game I watched, a ground ball between the 3B and SS counts as a HIT, and an RBI when there's a runner on base, which is what you would want from a middle of the order bat.
I would like to project out Dom to continue being a middle of the order bat as he continues his climb from his April 2016 start at AA ball and into Vegas and the Metsies. I still would count Dom Smith as a solid potential #5 hitter in the MLB. I can envision a .290+ hitting, with double digit homers, doubles, 90 RBI's and top 3 now and again for gold glove contention at the position.
The final love of my life of the trio is Jeff McNeil. What can I say about my guy? I love em. I simply love the way he plays the game.
The middle infield has become extremely crowded in the Mets farm system. And even though I've heard through the grapevine that Jeff has made strides and self goals to put on weight and tap into more power potential, I'm not sure if being a full time 3B is in the cards for him. However, defensively, I believe Jeff can handle himself as AT LEAST an average fielder at 3B, SS and 2B at the major league level. Which is why I've been screaming for over a year now about his potential and project him out as a contributing major league utility guy.
I would look to see Jeff, at least down at the AA level, to hopefully get plenty of at bats from the leadoff spot. Jeff is a scrappy guy who can lay down leadoff bunts right from the start of a game. He can steal bases, he can go first to third and second to home with ease, and I expect him to hold his own with the bat at the AA level, hitting for average. My concern is that Jeff spent that entire second year back in High A last year, and so he's not getting any younger. I don't wish for him to get caught up in the numbers game, and end up being another 25-27 year old solid minor league hitter who finds himself fighting off younger talent with draft pick value spent on them, and push him further down the list.
Catcher Colton Plaia will once again have plenty of competition at his position for 2016 season, now playing for AA Bingo. I like Colton as a player. My number one observation is of his power. Not just simply talking about stats and homers, but my thoughts about a guy with strength. I've seen Colton make solid contact numerous times at the A ball level, and would like to look into 2016 at the 'show me' level and see if he can maintain hitting for average, and then look to the internet for further information on development from the defensive standpoint.
Center fielder Champ Stuart is a bit of a mystery. I did not lay eyes on any of these players until May 2015, which bypassed the incredible April Champ had coming out the gate for St. Lucie in 2015. The positive remains the same, his speed. I can feel safe envisioning Champ to be a solid fielder and base stealer at the A ball level again this year, and into the higher levels. My concern remains the same, hitting/contact ability. I hope to see Champ play again this month, and will be watching very closely his ability to hit the fastball. I'm not worried about homers, doubles or anything, all I want from Champ and expect in 2016 is for Champ to improve his contact rate and decrease his K rate. Obviously easier said than done, but I'm rooting for our systems possible version of E.Y. Jr. to continue to go for his dreams and perhaps make it one day to the major league level.
In June 2015 I got to watch Matt Oberste, who is starting the year in Binghamton and will perhaps look to be the backup 1B to Dom Smith and a DH. Overall, my observations, along with the observations of my close friend and die hard Mets fan Scot Cohen remain the same, he is a solid contact guy, with strength, who also appears to be a man without a position defensively. Matt will be 25 years old in August, so I'm interested to see where the organization goes with Matt during 2016.
Of course, my luck, most of the pitchers I saw were later traded during the deadline to acquire needed veterans for the playoff push. One that remains is Dave Roseboom. The lefty pitched around the 89-90 MPH range, and I felt like I was watching a 'junk ball' type arm. He looked good at pitching multiple innings in relief, but I would interested to see, as he progresses, if the organization will look to have him project out as a LOOGY. So, please keep a specific eye out on not really specifically his ERA as the season begins, but look into how he pitches against opposing lefies.
Well that's it for now. Please please please keep an eye out in the next two weeks for pending future LIVE FROM TRADITION FIELD post in mid April when I will be planning to head out there and watch the new crop of talent at the high A level.
And I will be LIVE tweeting (@ernestdove) throughout the game. Oh, and this year I will FINALLY use an actual damn digital camera ;)