How do Mets' top prospects fit New York's needs?
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Mets:
Once Matt Harvey returns, he should be the focal point of a strong rotation. Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee are solid for now. A fifth starter remains elusive.
For this season, right-handed prospect Noah Syndergaard could potentially fill the roll as a fifth starter.
Syndergaard, a huge right-hander at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, uses a high-velocity fastball and a devastating curveball to miss bats and control a game. Pitching downhill with his large frame, the ball reaches the hitter in a flash.
The Mets' bullpen has been successful at times and has been problematic as well. Adding Kyle Farnsworth could help.
Rookie right-handed relief pitcher Vic Black has the velocity and arm strength that can help get the game to the back end of the bullpen. But he has to be able to consistently throw strikes to be effective.
Pitcher Jeurys Familia is a big, strong right-handed pitcher with a limited repertoire that is best suited for the bullpen. Familia has trouble finding a consistent release point, resulting in spotty command and control. There is little question his arm is strong enough to be meaningful in the mid-to-late part of a game. Familia could claim a role in the Mets' 'pen this spring.
PROJECTED 2016 METS LINEUPProjecting the Mets' 2016 lineup based on players currently in their system
Offensively, the Mets have been challenged to find consistent power and run production from players other than Daniel Murphy and David Wright. Not enough impact hitters exist to drive in runs.
For example, the catching position needs stability and consistency on a day-to-day basis. No. 2 prospect Travis d'Arnaud got his first opportunity to play with the parent Mets late last season, and he could be a long-term answer for the club behind the plate. Hampered by injuries in the past, d'Arnaud has the type of steady bat that can make a difference in the middle of the lineup.
The Mets' bench has been underwhelming in the recent past. Infield prospect Wilmer Flores has a chance to add some utility depth off the bench. A solid hitter, Flores lacks some of the range required to play every day at either second base or shortstop. But he can offer the team some much-needed offense and infield depth. Flores can even spell Wright at third base if needed.
Right-handed-hitting outfielder Cesar Puello (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) has speed, and a strong arm. If he adds power, he will be an important option. Puello hit 16 homers at Double-A Birmingham, showing that his power is coming.
Right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero has a 2.51 career ERA in three Minor League seasons. His WHIP is 1.01, and he is an excellent starting pitching option.
Right-hander Jacob deGrom may join Montero as a rotation starter. deGrom lost some development time to injury in the past, but his plus fastball and slider may work well in the future Mets rotation.
One bright spot might be outfielder Brandon Nimmo. He has a chance to be a good hitter for average with a bit of pop in his bat. Nimmo knows the strike zone well, but he's had trouble adjusting to breaking pitches and is striking out a bit too much.
Shortstop Gavin Cecchini is an important player for the Mets' future. He should be able to add some infield depth, but he is more than two years away. Cecchini is an athletic, well-coordinated, solid-hitting shortstop with an ability to get better with repetition and more development.
Even a bit behind Cecchini in development, shortstop Amed Rosario, an international free agent signed in 2012 from the Dominican Republic, is very highly regarded as a potential five-tool player. He just turned 18, and he has the raw tools that might translate into an impact player.
The Mets' pitching could be bolstered by additional pitching prospects.
Right-hander Michael Fullmer could provide future help as a mid-rotation starter. Currently pitching with inconsistent command, he has to keep the ball down to be effective. A mid-90s fastball and good secondary pitches offer a full repertoire for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound former first-round (supplemental) Draft choice.
Still a few years away, Domingo Tapia has one of those rare power arms that make scouts sit up in their seats and dream. While he gets sink on his pitches and induces ground balls, his walk rate climbed last year to over five per nine innings.