The Mets' farm system was not immune to an offseason of change in Flushing. New York dipped into its young depth, dealing graduated Top 100 talent Andrés Giménez and 2019 second-rounder Josh Wolf, to complete the blockbuster trade that put Francisco Lindor in blue and orange. In fact, of the 30 players ranked among the Mets’ top prospects prior to the 2020 season, six have been dealt elsewhere as the organization tries to stake a claim as the best team in a crowded National League East.
But there are more than a fair share of familiar faces, particularly at the top. Despite all the moves, the Mets managed to hold onto four Top 100 prospects in Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Matthew Allan and Brett Baty. Alvarez has moved into the top spot after an impressive summer at the club’s alternate training site in Brooklyn, making the jump in what would have been his age-19 season. The additions of Pete Crow-Armstrong and J.T. Ginn in the 2020 Draft add to the ceiling of what is, for the most part, a top-heavy collection of prospects.
That said, a definite theme develops at the back end of this year’s preseason Top 30 list, and that is international right-handed pitching. Eight of the final 20 players ranked on the list were right-handers signed by the Mets off the international market. Two others (Franklyn Kilome, Yennsy Diaz) were right-handed hurlers picked up in trades, and two more still (Sam McWilliams, Oscar De La Cruz) were signed just this offseason as free agents. Coming off the 2020 Minor League season lost to the pandemic, it’s this group of arms that might deserve the most attention to see how they can bounce back from innings limited to alternate sites and instructional league play.
Don’t expect many of the group’s top talents to be banging down the door to Queens, at least not yet. The most help to the big club is likely to come through the bullpen, with McWilliams, Kilome, De La Cruz, Diaz and Ryley Gilliam ticketed to provide relief depth. Thomas Szapucki -- the only left-handed pitcher ranked among the Top 30 -- could be poised for a Major League debut, but needs innings to develop as a starter after multiple injuries held him down prior to the pandemic. Also keep an eye on Khalil Lee following an offseason trade from the Royals. At age 22, the outfielder has the speed and defensive skills to work his way to the Majors this summer, but he will need to squeeze a little more out of his bat to manage an everyday role.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2020 preseason list to the 2021 preseason list:
Jump: Jose Butto, RHP (2020: No. 28 | 2021: No. 17) -- Butto's changeup solidified itself as perhaps the best in the entire system, and the right-hander was still showing a fastball with an average velocity of 93 mph in last year's instructs. Maintaining the velocity was especially important, given all the lost time of 2020, because it keeps the exceptional separation between the heater and change. It's another solid step for the Venezuela native who signed for only $5,000 in June 2017.
Fall: Franklyn Kilome, RHP (2020: No. 12 | 2021: No. 22) -- After missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, the 6-foot-6 right-hander struggled to show the same promising stuff in a rough four-game look at the Majors last season. His command and control were especially spotty, as he allowed five homers and walked nine in 11 1/3 innings. The extension on his fastball still gives the offering promise, but the mountain Kilome has to climb got all the taller in 2021.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Alvarez
Power: 60 -- Baty (Mauricio, Mark Vientos)
Run: 60 -- Crow-Armstrong (Lee)
Arm: 60 -- Baty (Alvarez, Mauricio, Lee, Vientos, Shervyen Newton)
Defense: 65 -- Crow-Armstrong
Fastball: 65 -- Allan
Curveball: 60 -- Allan (Ginn, Szapucki, Gilliam)
Slider: 55 -- Marcel Renteria (McWilliams, Tylor Megill, Daison Acosta)
Changeup: 60 -- Butto
Control: 55 -- Allan (Joshua Cornielly)
How they were built
Draft: 11 | International: 14 | Trade: 3 | Free agent: 2
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 1 | 2021: 9 | 2022: 8 | 2023: 10 | 2024: 2
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 0 | 2B: 0 | 3B: 3 | SS: 2 | OF: 6 | RHP: 17 | LHP: 1