Despite our team jumping out to an unexpected hot start, Mets fans are a realistic group. We know better than anyone that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, and that expectations must be tempered, particularly in a rebuilding season where a .500 record would be considered a success. So while we watch what we hope will a summer of pleasant surprises unfold at Citi Field, we certainly need to keep one eye on what is happening in Binghamton, Buffalo, Port St. Lucie, and Savannah.
This column will regularly peek into the future and update readers on who will (and won’t) be joining David Wright (hopefully), Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy on the next contending Mets team, cutting through the hype and separating the prospects from the pretenders and the draft steals from the bonus baby busts. Here are a few of the stories we will be monitoring during the season.
Sleeper Starting Pitchers
The Mets have done an excellent job recently of building up right-handed power arms to fill out their future rotation. Everyone knows and expects top prospects Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, and to a lesser extent Jenrry Mejia, to contribute to the big club in the next year or two. But as we remember from Generation K, starting pitching prospects hardly come with guarantees. Baseball Prospectus describes this phenomenon with the acronym TINSTAAPP — or “there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.” While this is obviously a tongue in cheek contraction, the point rings home: the more quality arms in an organization, the better chance a team will have at developing above average pitchers at the Major League level. So while the mainstream media will focus on the big names (don’t worry we wont forget about them), this column will concentrate on the more unheralded prospects who appear loaded with potential, names like Cory Mazzoni, Michael Fulmer, Akeel Morris, Darin Gorski, Logan Verrett, Robert Carson, Domingo Tapia, just to name a few.
The Nimmo Watch
A small town, Great Plains region, sweet swinging athletic outfielder. Sound familiar New York baseball fans? While Mets fans would be thrilled if Brandon Nimmo could accomplish one quarter of what the great Mickey Mantle did in his time in the Bronx, there are definitely some similarities between the two. The Mets first round pick in the 2011 draft, Nimmo, a Wyoming native, possesses All Star potential. While extremely raw (his home town did not have a high school baseball team), Nimmo projects a lethal power and speed combination that made Mantle so special. Although held back in extended spring training to start the year, we expect him to be in Savannah by the end of the season and will track his progress to see whether those Mantle comparisons are apt or absurd.
Catcher of the Future
Is there one? Ever since Mike Piazza left for San Diego in 2006, the Mets have been searching for a quality replacement. Paul Lo Duca did an admirable job for a few seasons, but the Mets have failed to develop a young, quality starter to solidify the position for the next decade (of course, what teams in baseball have?). Josh Thole, the current backstop, may well profile as more of a backup, as his slap hitting style and limited defense remind no one of Johnny Bench. We’ll take a look at some potential catcher’s of the future, with updates on backstops Luis Ortega, Albert Cordero, Camden Maron, Jean Luc Blaquiere, and Lucas May.