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What is the state of the Mets' farm system after the 2021 draft and where does it rank in MLB?
SNY contributors Joe DeMayo and Jacob Resnick weigh in...
Joe: With the 2021 MLB Draft having concluded on Tuesday, the Mets have added their new No. 2 prospect in Kumar Rocker. Their second-round pick, Calvin Ziegler, and third-round pick, Dominic Hamel, just missed the list, and likely would rank in the 11-14 range.
I would say the state of the Mets farm system is improving.
Despite the unfortunate season-ending injuries that hit No. 5 prospect Matt Allan and No. 7 prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, the top of the Mets' system is performing really well. In my opinion, the best prospects in the Mets system are comparable to the best prospects in almost any system across baseball.
Francisco Alvarez at only 19 years old is one of the youngest players in the High-A East league and is OPS-ing .856 with seven home runs while showing improved actions behind the plate.
The Mets are extremely excited with his progress and I would imagine in the offseason when you are reading top 100 prospect lists you will see Alvarez inside the top 20, if not the top 10 on most of them.
Brett Baty has been everything the Mets have expected offensively, hitting .309 with a .397 on-base percentage and seven home runs for Brooklyn. He has a strong hit tool with the ability to consistently barrel balls up to all fields, and has legit power to all fields.
One of the most impressive things has been Baty's pitch recognition skills. Often at the lower minors you see hitters jumping out in front of breaking stuff, but he’s shown the ability to sit back and take a breaking ball the other way with authority.
He needed growth defensively coming into the season, and scouts have said he has improved his lateral quickness and should stick at third base long-term. He was just promoted to Double-A Binghamton, so it is possible we are talking about Baty as a potential call-up as early as mid-2022.
Mark Vientos might have made the most improvement of any prospect in the Mets' system from the last time we saw him in 2019 to now. At 21 years old, he started the year in Binghamton and struggled in his first month against the best competition of his career, but in June and July, he’s been fantastic.
Everyone knew that Vientos had pop in his bat, as Mets VP of Scouting Tommy Tanous told us he hits the ball harder than anyone in the organization. However, there were real questions about the hit tool coming into the season.
He has qualmed some of that, hitting .324 in June and .286 thus far in July with improved plate discipline. Oh, and that power? He hit 11 home runs the last two months. Where he fits defensively is going to be the biggest question mark. He has split time recently at third base, first base, and left field. The reality is the Mets are looking to find a spot to place this bat for the long-term.
If everyone in the system was healthy, it is possible the Mets would have in the neighborhood of five or even six of the top 100 prospects in the game. While the system’s depth is still lacking a bit, they have plenty of ammunition to make any kind of trade deadline acquisition they want. Whether that is for a rental like Kris Bryant, who may cost a little less in prospect capital or acquiring a front-line type of starter with an extra year of control like Jose Berrios, they have what is necessary to pull off either deal.
Right now, I cannot look at the Mets as a top 10 farm system in baseball, but with the addition of Rocker and the draft class, I can say I look at them more in the 14-to-16 range in baseball.
For comparison, in the spring I had them outside of the top 20 systems. Whether they want to utilize these prospects as long term cogs in the organization, or as trade chips to help bring a World Series to Queens, they are in a much better spot than they have been over the last couple of years.
Jacob: Joe alluded to it, but the depth throughout the system has been a serious issue that cannot be overlooked. That has had a couple of effects, including forcing the Mets to call up players like Wilfredo Tovar and Cameron Maybin as injury fill-ins, and holding back the farm as a whole from being considered one of the top groups in baseball.
This isn’t a slight on the current player development department, as the state of the system is a reflection on how the organization has drafted and developed players over the last five-to-seven years.
They’ve hit on their high draft picks like Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, and Pete Alonso, and enjoyed the success of low-round selections like Jeff McNeil and Seth Lugo, but the inability to procure sufficient minor league depth from their draft classes has been staggering.
Take the 2016 draft, for example. Aside from Alonso and the two first-round picks, Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay, who were both traded, only three other players remain in the organization. Two are in Low-A and one has reached Double-A but has been injured for most of the season. We’re not talking about a draft that happened a decade ago -- this was just five years ago, or about the amount of time it takes a minor leaguer to reach the upper levels, all else being equal.
It continues. The Mets’ 2015 class has produced a total of 24 major league games and -0.2 WAR. Their top pick that year, Desmond Lindsay, was released recently after striking out in nearly half of his Double-A plate appearances.
To fill the gaping holes in their system-wide depth, the organization has had to dive head first into the independent baseball ranks, having signed 11 players to this point. These aren’t bench fillers, either, some of these players have stepped right into the Triple-A rotation, to varying degrees of success.
The primary focus of the 2021 draft was to improve the depth in the system that has been sorely lacking. Players like Mike Vasil (eighth round), Carson Seymour (sixth round), and JT Schwartz (fourth round) have the tools to successfully climb the minor league ladder, whether they ultimately become major leaguers or not.
It’s a fool’s errand to believe everyone from a draft class will become an All-Star, but the more depth you have the likelier it is that someone will break through. The sooner this happens, the sooner this system will exceed the 15-to-20 range it sits at now.