Two years ago, the Mets had lots of high performing minor league pitching that was shipped out of Dodge to get the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, and others.

The thought then was the minors pitching pipeline had been severely set back due to the trades of Fuller and others. Even two of the better ones, Marcos Molina and Chris Flexen, were dealing with the dreaded TJS malady.

Rob Gsellman was liked as a decent prospect, Seth Lugo less so, going into 2016. Overall, the pitching pipeline looked broken.

Mets fans were going to have to hope for health and longevity from their elite major league starters (Matz, Thor, Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, and perhaps Montero).

The first 5 of that contingent have instead each had their challenges, but the return to form of Gsellman and Lugo has helped stabilize the staff.

 Still, the dreams of several years of durable, top tier performance from the elites has gotten a splash of reality water in the face.

So, given that the pipeline has taken on greater importance due to the signs of mortality to what we hoped to be the immortal starter elite, how is that pipeline looking now?


Marcos Molina started 2017 on the DL, a worrisome thing.  But he has been simply great in his recent starts for St Lucie.  Hopes (to me) are that he has returned to phenom status and will be starting in Citifield by some point next year.

Chris Flexen was not considered as highly as Molina, and like Marcos, started out 2017 with a prolonged stretch on the DL.  That left me concerned.  I am concerned no more, as his outstanding pitching since returning has me wondering if he could also be ready to start in Queens sometime next year.

PJ Conlon - the crafty lefty slowed a bit in AA after flat out dominating in 2015 and 2016 at lower levels.  Time will tell if his lack of high heat will allow him to be a pen arm in Queens or a # 5 starter, but he looks Mets-useful down the road.
Corey Oswalt - I was not sold on him at all pre-season, but he is starting to look like a possible back-end rotation or pen arm by late 2018.  Time will tell.

Justin Dunn - after his Rocky start to 2017 in St Lucie, he has really pitched like a first rounder of late, including last night's outing (6 IP, 1 run).  My guess? He shows up in the pen next year, possibly in the rotation in 2019.

Nabil Crismatt - all he does is pitch really well.  Currently, he is superior in St Lucie.  My guess is like the others, a realistic back end of rotation or pen guy probably in 2019 is what he will be.

The law firm of Humphreys, Gonzalez and Szapucki - Humphreys and Gonzalez (17-2) have been two of the best pitchers in the entire baseball minor leagues this year....certainly hopeful in terms of both being rotation pieces in Queens by mid-2019 or 2020.

Szapucki, the ace of the Mets Minors system last year, started this season on an extended visit to the DL.  But he is now back and starting well, and if he stays healthy, there seems no reason that he could not be a rotation piece in 2019 or 2020.

There could be a few other real hopefuls, like Cameron Planck and rehabbing Anthony Kay and others, too, further down the road.  Even Blake Taylor, the 0-6 record being deceptive...his last 6 starts for Columbia, 35 IP, 12 earned runs...and 52 Ks in 55 innings this year.

Overall, it appears that with the return, successfully, of Matz and Lugo over the weekend, and the likely return of Syndergaard by mid- August, the current Mets staff has enough glue to hold it together for the rest of 2017, at least.

But long-term durability remains one issue for the elites, and long-term affordability the second.  Multiple replacements to the rotation could be needed by 2018 or 2019.

And those replacement pieces may very well reside in the current Mets pipeline, which is looking pretty darned good, if you ask me, even if it is thin in terms of 2017 help.  
I'm very optimistic in that regard for years 2018 and forward.  

Put THAT in your pipeline and smoke it.
Let me update this post-draft.
A NY Mets website article says this (see my highlights):
At the upper levels of the Mets' farm system, position players rule. Amed Rosario has established himself as one of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball. Dominic Smith is not far behind. Years of drafting and signing talented young hitters has given the Mets, understandably, a glut of talented young hitters. (TB COMMENT: What "glut of talented young hitters"?   Rosario and Smith are pretty much definites, but after that, mostly question marks in terms of the next echelon of minor league hitters, in my opinion.  Meanwhile, many minor league pitchers look great.)  
Years of graduating some pitching prospects to the Majors and trading away others, conversely, have left the Mets lacking impact arms at the upper levels of their farm. The team began addressing that need during the 2016 Draft, and continued doing so in this year's Draft. (TB COMMENT: While the system may currently lack arms in AAA, in my opinion, arms are abundant in AA and on the two A ball teams).
First-round pick David Peterson highlighted a Draft haul that included seven college pitchers in the first 10 rounds, and another 20 arms on Day 3.  (TB COMMENT:  a whopping 27 of 40 drafted are pitchers!!)

"We did go hitter-heavy in previous years," Mets vice president of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous said. (TB COMMENT: but the hitting overall in the minors is below par: Vegas is 9th of 16 in the PCL at .265, despite one of the most hitter-friendly parks; Binghamton is 2nd of 16 in hitting at .265, but LAST in homers at 32, and its 3 top hitters have shown almost no power in 2017; St Lucie is 9th of 12 in hitting at .244, and 8th in runs; and Columbia is 11th of 14 team sin hitting at .241).  Objectively, that does not reflect "hitter-heavy" successful results.) 

"But the last few years with the success of the team, we picked 19th and we picked 20th. Just how the Draft has gone and how other teams draft, it can be a little more difficult to take that special hitter with the picks we have. There's a little bit more volume of pitching there."  (TB COMMENT:  I don't care if hitting volume is lower - you only need to select correctly on a few hitters to be successful in drafting hitters - but 13 picks out of 40 being hitters, with very few in the top rounds, seems foolishly skewed to me).


Reese Kaplan said...

I spit my morning energy drink through my nose when I read about the glut of hitting in the minors. Someone is off their meds (whoever wrote that article you cited!)

Thomas Brennan said...

It is astounding, Reese. Even the best upcoming hitters, like Kaczmarski, lack power, which automatically turns then into utility players, as guys without power or huge raw speed just don't start in the bigs.

Thomas Brennan said...

I did not write on last night's game, but them not following my pleadings to sign Murphy and trade Duda may be the biggest mistake this organization made since the trades of Ryan and Seaver.

203 games, 778 at bats, 64 doubles, 7 triples, 36 homers, 149 RBIs, 130 runs, .346. Astounding. HE is the reason the Nats are better than the Mets. And he wanted to stay a Met for reasonable money.

Also, I had posted a while back on Lagares' highly stupid recklessness, summarized as: is catching one ball spectacularly worth getting injured and missing a half season over and over woth it? Anyone NOT STUPID would quickly figure that out...be more cautious and you are still a superior fielder. Right now, I field as well as he does because neither of us is actually playing.

Eddie Corona said...

I never wanted murphy back as a 2B but have always said that if the team felt that Murphy as a 1b and 3b Insurance then I cannot argue that... Have to admit that the Loss of murphy had truly hurt this team in so many ways... I dont think he would have had those numbers but he would have been the 3 hitter and would have improved the line up as much as Cespedes does...

Thomas Brennan said...

Eddie, Murphy to me had an epiphany late in 2015. I think he has the same #s with the Mets as with Nats.

Molina moves right up the pipeline the same day as my article. Maybe we see him in Queens in August

Gary Seagren said...

Thomas right on again about Murphy. I get letting Turner go as who would have thought he would turn into the player he is but Murph was different based on his amazing post season success as well as the fact he WANTED to come back as it turned out for chump change and here we are so Sandy now what? No Rosario because "we have players here"....what? At least this season is looking so lost that we won't have to hear the old "were still in it" at the trade deadline and the question of being buyers or sellers will be moot.

Thomas Brennan said...

Fine and solid efforts from Humphreys, Szapucki, and Molina the past few days since this article.

Mack's Mets © 2012