Everyone has their top prospect lists...Top 10, Top 20, Top 50 and the like. I'm quirky.
I thought I'd do an Up and Comers list, divided into 2 parts. It would be the prospect players I am most interested in watching the progress of heading into 2017, split between guys who have been around for a while and those who still have not progressed as high as regular play at least at the AA level. Here goes on my top 10 that I WANNA WATCH:
1) Phil Evans - he is not my top prospect, nor anyone else's, but I am intrigued by a guy who, frankly, had not hit much for years, started out struggling again in St Lucie at the start of 2016, seemingly going nowhere...and then Jeff McNeil goes down for the season after 12 ABs, so light hitting Phil gets promoted to AA...and proceeds to win the AA batting title at .335, while adding some power. So...one year wonder, or the start of a resurgent career? Can't wait to watch.
2) Amed Rosario - ranked as MLB's # 11 prospect (and 15th on Fangraphs, making Rosario only their 6th highest ranked SS) started out terrific in A ball, then was just as terrific after his promotion to AA. Can't wait to see what he does to dazzle us with an encore, in what could be in 2017 his last step before a long Queens career.
3) Gavin Cecchini - two straight fine hitting years, albeit with a lack of power, coupled with a gosh-awful SS error rate. Will he hit, hit with more power, and drastically tighten up his defense at 2B in 2017? Must-watch TV, if you ask me.
4) Brandon Nimmo - I hate to add him here, because after hitting nearly .380 in Vegas last year after a 10-55 start, and playing decently in limited time with the Mets, I'd hope he does not see a day in the minors in 2017. The fact that he is not a Top 100 MLB Prospect is telling, so if he ends up in AAA at the start of 2017 due to an unresolved logjam, I will keenly watch for 2 things: a hot start and a doubling of his power game. Add power, play more in the bigs. Simple.
5) Dominic Smith - "Where's the power, where's the power?" To all his clamoring critics, it started to show up in 2016. May he hit .350 with 25 homers in Vegas in 2017. And be the Mets' starting 1B in 2018.
1) Tom "Terrific" Szapucki - it is about time we had another Tom Terrific in this organization. And, after all, I hear Tom is a terrific name. This hard throwing lefty had a jaw dropping season in rookie ball until his back tightened in mid-August leading to an early summer vacation. I'm hoping David Wright is not his idol. Full season ball awaits, and here is hoping he drops more jaws in 2017. He may be a fine and cheap replacement for a Wheeler or Harvey in the Mets' 2019 rotation.
2) Desmond Lindsay - the best hitter in Brooklyn last year, this guy looks like a future star in Queens, and we'll get a full season to watch him develop in 2017. A bit early to project, but I hope he is a starting Mets OF by mid-2019.
3) Peter Alonzo - the slow footed Cyclones 1B was a hitting machine for average and power until he missed the last month with an injury. Will he become that rarest of Mets' commodities in 2017, a prospect slugger who hits .300? I hope so, and I'll be watching.
4) Justin Dunn - almost every 3 inning-limited outing for the Mets' 2016 first round pick was a strong one for Dunn with the Cyclones last year. 2017 in an full season league with less innings restrictions should give us a real read as to whether he turns into a good major league starter or fine bullpen arm. Hopefully, we see him in Queens in 2018.
5) Wuilmer Becerra - will we see a healthy Becerra who was absolutely lights out in early 2016, or a guy still limited by injuries? Hopefully the former, and we see a .300 hitting extra base hit machine in AA this year.
That's my Top 10 list of guys who I will watch most avidly in 201I.
Two just barely out of the Top 10 are PJ Conlon, the not-so-hard throwing lefty who had a scintillating pitching season in A ball last year...can he stay stellar in AA this year? And Jeff McNeil, who had bulked up prior to 2016 to add power to his already fine hitting and fielding skills, but missed virtually all of 2016 due to a sports hernia. Do we see a new and improved Jeff, or damaged goods Jeff in 2017? Hopefully the former.
Keep watching. They're up-and-coming.