I did this interview almost two weeks ago now but have not had the time to throw it up. I got the chance at the Connecticut Defenders game to get time with Mets 2011 first round pick Brandon Nimmo. As you know Brandon is the first ever first round pick from the state of Wyoming. Brandon has as much upside as anyone in the minor league system with having 5 tool ability. We touched on a lot of topics such as how he’s feeling at the plate, his thoughts on the Cyclones roster, what he likes to do in New York City and I made sure I got to the bottom of the Hunter Pence stuff! Click the play button below to hear my exclusive one on one interview with Brandon Nimmo.
When you look on paper at the NL East it’s pretty easy to say that the Mets are destined to finish in last place, some even predicting 95+ losses. 2011’s last place finisher, the Marlins added Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. The Phillies and Braves are still the top 2 in the division and the Nationals won 80 games and are heading up with prospects like Bryce Harper coming and the return of Stephen Strasburg.
How about the Mets? Well they added Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramriez and Andres Torres. Doesn’t quite give you the excitement of the other teams does it? Fact is with the loss of Jose Reyes and the fact that who knows when/if Johan Santana will pitch in 2012 things seem to look pretty down. For 2012 to have a chance at success you need quite a few players to have career years, as well as someway somehow they have to keep their roster on the field for the most part.
Do I think it’s possible the Mets can contend in 2012? I do not believe so. Can the Mets surprise people and win 80 games? Sure I’ll go with that. But that’s with everything breaking right. With all that said I think 2012 does have a chance to “excite” the fan base as Sandy Alderson said. I believe this year can excite the fan base because they have the possibility to see some players come to Queens from the ever improving farm system like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Reese Havens, Jordany Valdespin, Jeurys Familia and maybe even Matt Harvey.
The Mets farm is still considered to be in the 11-15 range or so among MLB clubs. This is a vast improvement over the years where they were considered to have among the top 5 WORST farm systems in the league. There are kids to be excited about in the system. You have Zack Wheeler, whom the Mets acquired for Carlos Beltran has the stuff and makeup of a #1 starter at the big league level. You then have 5 tool talents like 1st rounder Brandon Nimmo and Cesar Puello. You also have other power arms like Harvey,Familia, Michael Fulmer, Jenrry Mejia and as a pen arm Jack Leathersich.
The Mets are seemingly sacrificing spending on the big league team for the minor league side. Sandy Alderson predicted a payroll in the ~$100 million range for 2012, but that was including the draft/international free agency.
It remains to be seen what the Mets draft/IFA spending cap will be under the new CBA, but I’d expect it to be similar or a little higher than the amount they spent in 2011 ($6.425 million). They select 12th and also received two picks for losing Jose Reyes which have yet to be determined exactly where they will fall due to other compensation free agents yet to sign.
The future looks bright in Flushing. If 2012 goes by the wayside and the Mets end up with a top 5 pick in 2013 then if they execute they will add more premium talent to the system. The hope in the organization is to build the Mets into a consistent contender. This all starts with the draft, with international free agency and trades of veterans for prospects. While I think 2012 will be a lost year in terms of the MLB team contending, it will be far from a lost year in terms of the long term health and success of the organization. Not only will more prospects be added via trades/draft/international free agency but you’ll see the current batch progress. That is exciting to me.
1. RHP Zack Wheeler – It’s really 1 and 1a with him and fellow righty Matt Harvey. I give Wheeler the edge due to the fact that he has 2 true plus strike out pitches in his fastball (which can touch 99 mph) and curve. He also throws a hard straight change and a slider. Both of those pitches are below average at this stage. There are some injury concerns in the delivery(inverted W, or I like to call it “M”) but he has legitimate top of the rotation starter potential.
2. RHP Matt Harvey – Harvey right now only has one plus pitch, and that’s the fastball. He has what would be rated as “average with flashes of better” with his curve and slider. He also throws a change-up which is below average right now. He doesn’t have any major injury concerns and has the upside of a plus fastball + 3 above average secondaries with above average command. That is the recipe for a quality #2 starter.
3. RHP Jeurys Familia – If there were an award for the most improved prospect it no debate would go to Familia. In 2010 Familia was a wild flamethrower struggling in High-A St Lucie. Fast forward to 2011 and with a mechanical change to make him more upright he breaks onto the scene. Coming into 2011 I thought best case scenario for Familia was a set up man type. Now I can view him as having potential as a starter in the middle of a contending rotation, or potentially as a closer. He supplements his mid 90’s fastball with an above average slider and a change-up that leaves some to be desired. Regardless of that Familia is now really on the prospect scene.
4. RHP Jenrry Mejia – Some people are dropping Mejia hard because he got Tommy John. I am not one of those. Mejia was a higher ranked prospect than Wheeler or Harvey and he got a surgery which has an extremely high success rate at this point in time. I personally view Mejia as a guy who is going to be a lights out closer rather than a starting pitcher given his repertoire and high level of effort in his delivery. Mejia mainly features a fastball, cutter, a curve and a change-up. Remember K-Rod was also groomed as a starting pitcher and was once #1 in the Angels system much like Mejia was for the Mets. As long as he is healthy Mejia has the upside of a #1/#2 starter and the downside as a very good late inning reliever.
5. OF Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo is the first 1st round pick for Paul DePodesta and the new Mets front office. Nimmo is from Wyoming where he couldn’t play high school ball, only Legion ball and showcases. Nimmo is an extremely raw player with phenomenal tools. He has a chance to be a legitimate middle of the order bat that can play a quality center field in Citi Field. This was a very high risk/high reward type pick for the Mets which is something you haven’t seen from them much in years past.
6. OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis – If Nieuwenhuis didn’t undergo shoulder surgery there’s a good chance that we would be talking about him opening up 2012 as the every-day RF for the big club to open 2012. Instead that honor goes to Lucas Duda. Nieuwenhuis is simply a baseball player. He doesn’t really have one plus tool, pretty average across the board. He can play some defense, hit some doubles, hit some homers, steal some bases and hit for a solid average. I think Kirk is a player that could give you 15 homers, 20 stolen bases and 30 doubles with solid defense. Not a bad prospect by any means, but lacks star potential.
7. RHP Michael Fulmer – The Mets took Fulmer with the supplemental first round pick they received as compensation for letting Pedro Feliciano go and not pitch for the Yankees. Fulmer was overshadowed by fellow Oklahoma prep studs Dylan Bundy (4th overall to Baltimore) and Archie Bradley (7th overall to Arizona) but Fulmer is a pretty exciting prospect himself. He features a fastball that can get up to 97 and a quality hammer curve. He needs to work on his change-up but with Fulmer and Nimmo the Mets’ first two picks present immense upside which wasn’t often something you saw done by the prior regimes.
8. 2B Reese Havens – If Havens didn’t get injured as often as he has he’d already be entrenched at second base for the Mets. I have seen Havens play 2B the last two years for Binghamton and I came away thinking he could be an average defensive second baseman at the MLB level. But the bat is what would carry him. He has a smooth short powerful stroke and puts the barrel on the ball consistently. He also has a good knowledge of the strike zone. If Havens could be healthy, which is a major if, you’re talking about a guy who’ll be among the top half as far as second basemen go in the entire league.
9. SS Wilmer Flores – I am not one of Wilmer Flores’s biggest fans. He has a great hit tool there is no debating that. There are big time questions if the power will ever come for Flores and he has a lot to be worked on as far as plate discipline, though that can be ironed out to some extent. Now defensively he has good hands and a solid arm so his best fit is likely at third base in pro ball. He literally is Bengie Molina slow which is weird given his frame. I just don’t see the star potential that others see. He is still young and can regain it with improvements but for me Flores’s stock is tumbling quick.
10. OF Cesar Puello – Puello accomplished what most have asked of him, which was to get that batting practice power into games. He did a better job of that hitting 10 home runs in the Florida State League in 2011. Negatives are he didn’t steal bags at the rate he did in 2010, and he had a putrid 1st half of the season. Puello OPS’d .642 pre-all star but OPS’d .800 post all star. He should go back to St Lucie for some more seasoning but Puello is one of few in the system with 5 tool potential. If his power keeps developing he could be a 20/20 guy who could play either center field or right field at an above average level in Citi Field.
11. SS/2B Jordany Valdespin – Valdespin also was much improved in 2011 from years past. He played in career high 134 games and OPS’d .801 with 37 SB’s. Work ethic issues are big for Valdespin. If Havens cannot be healthy you may see Valdespin at a middle infield spot in Queens at some point in 2012.
12. LHP Juan Urbina – 18 year old lefty with MLB bloodlines. Already possesses two above average pitches in his fastball and change-up. Has a consistent delivery, needs work on his breaking ball but possesses big upside.
13. RHP Akeel Morris – low H/9, high K/9, high BB/9. If he throws strikes he’s dominant. Has phenomenal stuff that just needs to be harnessed.
14. 3B Aderlin Rodriguez – biggest power bat in the system. Doesn’t do much else. Probably a 1B long term.
15. RHP Cory Mazzoni – 2011 2nd round pick with big assortment of pitches. #3 type starter upside.
16. RHP Logan Verrett – 2011 3rd round pick. Pitchability type, won’t blow you away. Don’t see him as much more than a #4 starter in the bigs.
17. OF Cory Vaughn – Toolsy outfielder who struggles with big time fastballs. Needs mechanical adjustment at the plate but could be a big league RF with some changes and improvements.
18. OF Juan Lagares – Former SS turned outfielder who has done nothing but hit in 2011, including at the Arizona Fall League. Likely addition to 40 man roster this off-season who likely won’t be a full time OF in the bigs could be a quality 4th OF.
19. LHP Darin Gorski – His stuff has trended upward while improving control led to a fantastic year for Gorski. 2.08 ERA in High-A with a 4.83 K/BB. He looks like a back end starter, but last year he was a non prospect so that’s a compliment.
20. OF Fernando Martinez – Let’s be real here, chances are Fernando Martinez will never be healthy. An absolutely phenomenal bat when he’s on the field will likely go to waste. But he is only 23 so I’ll give him one more year. Could be a trade candidate this off season.
21. OF Matt den Dekker – Best defensive outfielder in the system. If he could cut down the strike outs he might end up a solid regular in CF in the bigs. If he does not then you’re looking at a quality 4th outfielder. One of the best bets to be a MLB guy on this list.
22. LHP Jack Leathersich – 2011 5th round pick from UMass-Lowell. Lefty whom the Mets will likely use as a starter this year to build innings to prepare for a quick rise as a reliever. Out of the pen Leathersich can touch 98 with a solid slurve. He could end up a good back end reliever. Loved this pick in the 5th this year.
23. 3B Zach Lutz – Another bat who cannot stay healthy but can rake. Have been told he’s one of the top 3 best pure hitters in the Mets minors but is limited to 1B/3B, so barring a David Wright trade there isn’t much of an immediate role for Lutz.
24. RHP Greg Peavey – Doesn’t have a plus pitch, pretty average across the board. But good groundball rate and solid control could make for a back end of rotation major leaguer.
25. RHP Domingo Tapia – Tapia can throw pure gas. I have been told he’s touched 100 on the gun. His secondary pitches lack which is why he had a pedestrian 5.4 K/9. Improve on the secondaries in 2012 and Tapia will fly up this list.
August 15th has come and gone. All teams have signed whatever draft picks they could, and I have to say the Mets did a very good job. They only whiffed on two of their top 20 picks, but both 12th rounder Kenny Mathews (Cal State Fullerton) and 20th rounder Mason Robbins (Southern Miss) had a very high interest in pursuing college. Considering the Mets drafted as many high school kids as they did, you have to expect to miss more than a typical year. Either way you must credit them for what they did accomplish, and on paper this draft looks like it could end up being a very good one.
The Mets have been in the basement as far as spending goes in all of MLB over the last few years. When calculating money spent on the draft all that is included is top 10 round kids and then any over slot bonuses after round 10. Here is a round up of the Mets investments for the 2011 draft.
OF Brandon Nimmo – $2,100,000
RHP Michael Fulmer – $937,500
RHP Cory Mazzoni – $437,500
RHP Logan Verrett – $425,000
RHP Tyler Pill – $200,000
LHP Jack Leathersich – $110,000
OF Joe Tuschak – $250,000
1B Cole Frenzel – $200,000
SS Danny Muno – $10,000
LHP Alexander Panteliodis – $175,000
RHP Matthew Budgell – $225,000
RHP Christian Montgomery – $250,000
SS Phillip Evans – $650,000 (biggest bonus outside of round 2 in Mets history)
OF Bradley Marquez – $325,000
C Jeffrey Diehl – $130,000
That brings the total to $6,425,000 which is a substantially higher figure than the Mets have spent since at least 2004. You can see a chart comparing what the Mets have spent each year since 04 over at Mets Minor League Blog
Now for the fun, let’s compare it to the rest of the NL East’s top 10 rounds+over slot for the rest of the NL East.
Braves – $3,022,200 .. Mets outspent Atlanta by $3,402,800
Marlins – $3,855,000 .. Mets outspent Florida by $2,570,000
Phillies – $4,230,300 .. Mets out spent Philadelphia by $2,194,700
Nationals – $14,676,100 .. Washington outspent the Mets by $8,251,100
Outside of the Nationals who just went wild (Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin, Matt Purke) , the Mets significantly outspent the rest of the NL East. This is not a trend I have really ever seen for this team. I hope the Mets continue this, and keep making quality draft picks to really bolster the system to the point where it should be. There is absolutely no reason the New York Mets should not possess a top 5 farm system in baseball. It is going to be a work in progress given the farm that Paul DePodesta came into, but with their work ethic and baseball knowledge there is no reason to think the Mets will not end up where they need to be. The 2011 draft gets two thumbs up from me, now build from it.
We are now a mere week and a few hours away from the deadline for the Mets to sign players drafted in the 2011 Amateur Draft. They have done a solid job of signing picks so far, but they still have work to do, most notably 1st round pick Brandon Nimmo and 3rd round pick Logan Verrett. Here is a list of the Mets picks and their signing status (with bonus if publicly available).
1. OF Brandon Nimmo – unsigned
1A. RHP Michael Fulmer – signed for $937,500
2. RHP Cory Mazzoni – signed for $437,500
3. RHP Logan Verrett – unsigned
4. RHP Tyler Pill – signed for $200,000
5. LHP John Leathersich – signed for $110,000
6. OF Joe Tuschak – signed for $250,000
7. 1B Cole Frenzel – signed for $200,000
8. SS Danny Muno – signed for $10,000
9. LHP Alex Panteliodis – signed for $175,000
10. RHP Matt Budgell – signed for $225,000
11. RHP Christian Montgomery – unsigned
12. LHP Kenny Mathews – unsigned
13. RHP Robert Gsellman – signed
14. C Xorge Carrillo – signed
15. SS Philip Evans – unsigned
16. OF Bradley Marquez – unsigned
17. OF Jonathan Clark – signed
18. OF Travis Taijeron – signed
19. OF Dustin Lawley – signed
20. OF Mason Robbins – unsigned
21. RHP John Gant – signed
22. SS Casey Turgeon – unsigned
23. C Jeffrey Diehl – signed for $130,000
24. 1B William “Tant” Shepherd – signed
25. LHP AJ Reed – unsigned (announced he will attend Kentucky)
26. RHP Casey Hauptman – signed
27. RHP Randy Fontanez – signed
28. RHP Jharel Cotton – unsigned
29. SS Joshua Ake – unsigned
30. LHP Jacob Hansen – unsigned
31. SS Chad Zurcher – signed
32. SS Carlos Leyva – signed
33. RHP Tyson Seng – signed
34. RHP Jacob Lugo – signed
35. RHP Chasen Bradford – signed
36. 1B Ryan Hutson – signed
37. RHP Craig Missigman – signed
38. RHP Dustin Emmons – signed
39. OF Charles Thurber – signed
40. C Alex Mercado – unsigned
41. LHP Mark Picca – signed
42. OF Gregory Pron – signed
43. SS Jacob Decker – unsigned
44. RHP Clint Sharp – unsigned
45. RHP Andrew Marra – unsigned
46. RHP Rich Ruff – signed
47. RHP Cole Limbaugh – unsigned
48. RHP Madison Clapsaddle – unsigned
49. LHP Sean Buckle – unsigned
50. C Edward Rohan – signed
I would guess among the players the Mets have yet to agree with they will end up coming to terms with Nimmo, Verrett, one of Montgomery/Mathews, one of Evans/Marquez (though possibly both) and that is probably it. But time will tell, we are a week away, and it will be very interesting to see when all the dust clears where the Mets stand as far as draft spending in the league.
This was written by a contributor Dan Wexler whom you can follow @WexlerRules on Twitter.
1st rounder- Brandon Nimmo (HS)-OF- Didn’t play HS baseball but wowed scouts in American Legion Ball. Good frame which likely will fill out considerably as he gets older. Plus speed, garnered some comparisons to ex-Yankee Paul O’Neill with better speed. DePo indicated to Ted Berg that the Mets believe he has a chance to have a “special” bat. DePo also indicated the ideal scenario is Nimmo signing quick enough that they can send him to the GCL for enough of a look that he can open next year in Savannah- committed to Ark. (Very likely to sign for 500-800K above slot)
Sandwich round (for Pedro Feliciano)
RHP Michael Fulmer- 92-97 on the FB, plus curve (regarded by some as having the best curve in the HS class). Some scouts have compared him to Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek in terms of “stuff” at the same age. Fulmer was described by Paul DePodesta as s someone who “hates” hitters which can only be a good thing. Like Nimmo (and all of the earlier HS picks the Mets hope to sign him earlier enough that he can head to the GCL as an “audition” for next year and Savannah-committed to Ark. (Likely to sign but still a chance he prices himself out of where the Mets feel comfortable)
2nd round- Cory Mazzoni NC State- RHP- 2nd in the ACC in K’s behind 2nd overall pick Hultzen. FB 91-95 with a pretty vast arsenal. Viewed as a potential 3rd starter type. (Almost certainly will sign)
3rd round Logan Verrett RHP Baylor- RHP- 90-93 with good sink. Yankees were very high on him. Some teams think there is more velocity to be had. I really like this pick. (Almost certainly will sign)
4th round Tyler Pill RHP- Cal State Fullerton- was a 2 way player in college, smallish, average stuff but pitches up due to smarts. My least favorite early pick. That said you can’t really quantify the competitive drive of a player and it’s certainly possible his stuff improves when he focuses on pitching. Here’s hoping he’s Dillon Gee #2 (Almost certainly will sign
5th round Jack Leathersich LHP Jack Leathersich. Plus stuff from the left side, projected to be a reliever at the next level but the Mets likely will let him start to open his career. (Has indicated he is signing)
6th round Joe Tuschak CF- HS- Legit CF glove, Mets director of scouting Chad MacDonald has indicated they believe he not only will hit but will grow into some legit power, drafted based on his his speed and ability to pick it in CF. Can’t go wrong with stocking up on CF’s who can play the position. It’s believed he will head to GCL to start his career (Has indicated he is signing)
7th round Cole Frenzel 1b/DH- U of Arizona has played all over the diamond, good pop, may be able to play 3b. Finished 2nd in the Pac-10 in hitting and 1st in OBP. Broken hamate bone likely accounted for power drop (in addition to new bats) in 2011. A lot of scouts think Frenzel May be a tough sign
8th round Danny Muno SS Fresno State- Good eye at the plate, above average speed, switch hitter, described as a “gamer” I think he’s a future organizational player aka not much of a prospect but well see. (Senior will sign and will likely be the starting SS in BK)
9th round Alex Panteliodis LHP Florida- Soft bodied lefty with good stuff from the left side, FB is described as average with a slid curve and average changeup. Could be a reliever long term but the Mets seem high on him. (He’s expected to sign shortly, odds are they will send him to Kingsport or Brooklyn)
10th round Matthew Budgell RHP HS- 6’2 and extremely thin (150 pounds) Budchell hails from California. BA says his FB is 90-91 with a “promising” curveball (No indication yet on signability)
11th Christian Montgomery RHP HS- 6’2 230- The doughy Montgomery was considered one of the top prep arms in the nation coming into the year. At the time he was at 89-93 with a plus curve and a promising slider. He hurt his shoulder and since then both his stuff and his arm a lot of changed greatly. Montgomery has some conditioning and attitude concerns as well. This is a solid gamble on a player who once flashed top 3-4 round stuff. (Has indicated he will be signing)
12th round Kenny Matthews LHP HS- 6’3 205- Matthews is described by BA as a “big, strong, athletic kid”. FB 86-87 with a good slow curve and solid changeup. (He sounds realistically open to signing
13th round Robert Gsellman 6’4 210 RHP HS- played both basketball and baseball in HS- SI.com describes him as having an “easy” throwing motion and a FB that comes in at 88-89. The Mets drafted him as a pitcher but some believe his future is at 3b. (No indication on signability)