Mets top 20 prospects 2023: Keith Law ranks New York's minor league farm system (2024)

For trading away as much talent as the Mets have in the past four years, they still have a pretty robust farm system thanks to some great drafts and success in international free agency, notably with their higher-dollar picks in both areas. All their first-rounders from 2014 through 2020 either became decent big leaguers (with positive WAR) or were part of significant trades for major-league players, while their international scouting department signed a future top-100 prospect in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This system has no business still being where it is after so much attrition.

GO DEEPERMLB prospect rankings 2023: Keith Law’s complete guide to every farm system

The ranking

1. Francisco Álvarez, C (Top 100 ranking: No. 7)

Age (on July 1):21 | 5-10 | 233 pounds
Bats:Right |Throws:Right
International signing in 2018

Álvarez is the highest-ranked player from last year’s list who didn’t lose his eligibility through playing too much in the majors in 2022, although he did make his debut at the very end of the season and hit his first homer. He had a tremendous start to his year in Double A, hitting .277/.368/.553 with 18 homers in just 67 games for Binghamton, but ran into some bad luck in Triple A — he continued to make consistent, hard contact, but his BABIP dropped 30 points and his strikeout rate rose just a bit to 26 percent, resulting in a .234/.382/.443 line for Syracuse. He has a tremendous swing for generating that hard contact, with great balance throughout, excellent hand acceleration, and good use of his lower half to drive the ball. Scouts were more bearish on his defense when he moved to Triple A and had to catch better stuff, although the consensus is still that he can stay there, even just as a bat-first catcher who could stand to clean up some of his blocking and receiving. I think he can handle it, even if he’s only a soft 45 on defense, because the bat will make up for any of those deficiencies. Despite the drop in his average in Triple A, his swing and history of hard contact point to stronger batting averages as well as OBPs with 25-30 homer power at his peak.

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2. Brett Baty, 3B (No. 31)

Age:23 | 6-3 | 210 pounds
Bats:Left |Throws:Right
Drafted:No. 12 in 2019

Baty was nearly out of a job a few weeks ago, so I imagine he was the one person in the Mets organization happy when the Carlos Correa signing fell through. Baty is a strong hitter, topping out at 113 mph in his major-league stint last year and averaging over 91 mph on 30 batted balls (so yes, small sample size caveats apply). He returned to Double A to start 2022 after spending 40 games there to finish the prior year, and demolished the level, hitting .312/.406/.544 and cutting his ground-ball rate from 61 percent there in 2021 to 42.6 percent last year. He did backslide a little in the majors, so there’s some swing maintenance for the Mets to do so he stays rotational enough to get the ball in the air. Baty is big for third baseman but a solid athlete who’s worked hard on his defense, which is more than just playable there, but I don’t know if he’d be as good in an outfield corner, so staying at third is by far his best chance to be an above-average regular. The Mets should just give him 500 at-bats this year, as there’s nothing left for him to learn in the minors, and he’s by far their best option there. He has the raw power for 30 homers, but I think he’ll be more 40 doubles/20 homers with OBPs well above .350.

3. Kevin Parada, C (No. 44)

Age:21 | 6-1 | 197 pounds
Bats:Right |Throws:Right
Drafted:No. 11 in 2022

Parada was one of the best college hitters in the 2022 draft class, hitting .361/.453/.709 for Georgia Tech and striking out in just 10.4 percent of his plate appearances, and he continued to get on base in his 13 games in pro ball after signing. He’s a bat-first catcher who has an unusual setup at the plate, holding the bat over his back shoulder like it’s a golf bag, but he gets the bat head to the zone on time, even against better stuff. I wouldn’t rule out someone trying to change that eventually, but for now, it works for him. He made a lot of hard, loud contact, including 26 homers, tying him for sixth among all Division I players even though he faced good quality pitching in the ACC. Behind the plate he’s a bit rough, with some scouts questioning whether he’d stay at the position. He has a 55 arm and he’s fine blocking, but has trouble framing and some issues receiving better stuff. He’s a sneaky good athlete who has already improved substantially on defense since high school, and doesn’t have that much farther to go to be average-ish with the glove. His bat is the carrying tool, with high contact rates and the potential for 20-25 homers a year.

Mets top 20 prospects 2023: Keith Law ranks New York's minor league farm system (2)

Alex Ramirez (Mike Janes / Four Seam Images via Associated Press)

4. Alex Ramirez, OF (No. 68)

Age:20 | 6-3 | 196 pounds
Bats:Right |Throws:Right
International signing in 2019

Ramirez is as tooled-up as any outfielder in the minors, and has already had success in High A at age 19 after playing 54 games there to finish 2022, hitting .278/.329/.427 with a 22 percent strikeout rate. He’s a plus runner with elite instincts in center field, gliding to the ball rather than running it down with pure speed. He has excellent bat speed and hit 48 extra-base hits between both A-ball levels last year, including 30 doubles and seven triples, with strong exit velocities already, and he has room to add at least another 20 pounds of muscle as he gets into his 20s. He could end up a five-tool talent if he can improve his control of the strike zone, where he’s overly aggressive but doesn’t swing and miss as much as you’d expect from a teenager with less than two full years of pro experience. His bat path can also vary too much with the swing plane getting flatter, which would limit his power upside if it stays that way even as he fills out. Multiple scouts also questioned his maturity and on-field effort, which has to improve as he gets older. The Mets have been very aggressive with some of their teenage prospects before, such as Ronny Mauricio, but they have a conundrum with Ramirez, who’s too talented for High A at this point. He’s a potential power/speed superstar in center if he improves his approach.

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5. Ronny Mauricio (No. 87)

Age:22 | 6-3 | 222 pounds
Bats:Switch |Throws:Right
International signing in 2017

Mauricio had 54 extra-base hits for Double-A Binghamton last year as one of the youngest regulars in the Eastern League despite an approach that you could euphemistically call “aggressive.” He’s a hacker, really, but his wrists are so quick and strong that he still managed to hit 26 homers and 26 doubles (and, if you’re too lazy to do the math, two triples). He reminds me a ton of young Alfonso Soriano, who also wasn’t the most discriminating hitter, and wasn’t even as good of an athlete as Mauricio is, but who had lightning-quick wrists and surprising strength in his forearms to hit 412 homers in 16 MLB seasons, peaking at 46 in 2006. Scouts really vary on whether he can stay at shortstop, although that only happens if he works harder on his defense; I’m in the camp that says he should move off the position, not because the Mets have a guy there, but because while I don’t think Mauricio has the footwork for it, he could be a 55-60 defender at third. He won the MVP in the Dominican Winter League this year, even though his pitch selection and swing decisions still weren’t good, and the Mets are going to have to make a choice at some point to hold him back until he shows real improvement in that area. It’s easy 30-homer power, though, and he doesn’t even have to walk much more to have real value if he ends up at third or second. Just making better choices to get to that power consistently against better pitching will be enough.

6. Jett Williams, SS

Age: 19 | 5-8 | 175 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 14 in 2022

Williams was the Mets’ second first-round pick in 2022, 14th overall, a hard-hitting high school shortstop from Texas with a great swing that produces more power than you’d expect from his 5-8 frame. He’s a plus runner who should at least go out as a shortstop but could end up in centerfield or at second. The bat will tell the real tale, though; he has a chance to be a .280+ hitter with strong OBPs and 20+ homers a year, which will play at any of those spots.

7. Mark Vientos, 3B

Age: 23 | 6-4 | 185 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 59 in 2017

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Vientos makes very hard contact that should lead to 20-30 homers a year in the majors depending on how much he’s able to put the ball in play, as he’s been a high-whiff guy in Triple A, especially on pitches in the zone that he should hit. It’s possible cutting down on the strikeouts will cost him power and this is just what he is: a low-OBP, high-power guy who can sort of handle third but would be better at first.

8. Blade Tidwell, RHP

Age: 22 | 6-4 | 207 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 52 in 2022

Tidwell had top-10-in-the-draft stuff but started the year on the shelf for Tennessee with what the school called a “significant” shoulder issue, so it was a pleasant surprise when he came back midseason and topped out 99 mph with a solid-average slider. He does have to work on throwing strikes and fastball command, but has above-average starter upside with substantial bullpen risk between his control and his injury.

9. Nick Morabito, OF

Age: 20 | 5-11 | 185 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 75 in 2022

Morabito was the Mets’ second-round pick, although he was their fourth pick overall, as a projection high school hitter who shows plus raw power in BP and 70 speed. He played a lot of short in high school but wasn’t good there, so the Mets moved him full-time to center field to take more advantage of his speed. He may take longer to get there than most high schoolers but there’s 20-homer/30-steels upside.

10. Mike Vasil, RHP

Age: 23 | 6-5 | 244 pounds
Bats: Left |Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 232 in 2021

Vasil earned raves from scouts who didn’t have history with him as an amateur, but the changes the Mets made to his delivery, allowing his natural athleticism to dictate its movement and tempo, have brought back better velocity and offspeed stuff. He can get up to 95-96 mph with high spin and pairs it with a 55 slider and 50 changeup that has late action but not enough deception. He has to throw strikes, though — he walked 15 in 33 innings after a promotion to High A, then nine more in 15.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League. It’s good stuff but not good enough to carry a 12 percent walk rate. If he cuts that down, he’s a No. 4 starter.

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11. Joel Díaz, RHP

Age: 19 | 6-2 | 208 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
International signing in 2021

It wasn’t a great year on paper, but Díaz pitched in Low A at 18, another guy victimized by the elimination of short-season leagues, so take the 5.86 ERA with a grain of salt. He’s got average velocity that plays up a little because he commands it well, with a plus curveball and a work-in-progress changeup. The Mets rave about his baseball IQ and feel for pitching. He’s young enough to repeat Low A as the Mets try to build up his innings.

12. Dominic Hamel, RHP

Age: 24 | 6-2 | 237 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 81 in 2021

Hamel shows very high spin rates on his fastball, slider, and curveball, with just average velo on the heater but all three pitches grading out as 50s or 55s, which is how he punched out 30 percent of hitters this year between Low A and High A. It’s 45 control and 40-45 command, though, which is sometimes a problem for these ultra high-spin guys, like Trent Thornton, who has a similar repertoire but throws even harder. If Hamel dials it back a little, he might be able to stay a starter, but there’s clear value here in a relief role.

13. Calvin Ziegler, RHP

Age: 20 | 6-0 | 205 pounds
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 46 in 2021

Ziegler was the Mets’ second-round pick in 2021 and boasts a mid-90s fastball and potential plus curveball. He got off to a solid start for a 19-year-old in Low A, with 57 strikeouts (40.7 percent) and 21 walks (15 percent) in 35.1 innings, but hurt his hamstring and missed a month and a half. He wasn’t the same after his return, walking 14 in 11 innings and allowing 11 runs. Obviously the control wasn’t great even before the injury, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as the post-injury numbers indicated.

14. Jesus Baez, SS

Age: 18 | 5-10 | 180 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
International signing in 2022

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Baez is a power-hitting shortstop who can run some and has a good chance to stay at the position, moving to second or third if he can’t. He has a pretty right-handed swing and easy power, with some extra movement in his lower half to calm down, and the ball comes off the bat really well. He’ll make his U.S. debut this year after a so-so line in the Dominican Summer League last year, with a low BABIP but good contact rates and solid-average power in games.

15. William Lugo, 3B

Age: 21 | 6-3 | 230 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
International signing in 2018

Lugo is a hitter first, making solid contact but putting it on the ground too often, something that can be addressed through swing adjustments, while the former shortstop seems to have settled in at third base. He had a reverse platoon split in a small sample last year, struggling to hit lefties as a right-handed batter.

16. Layonel Ovalles, RHP

Age: 20 | 6-3 | 216 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
International signing in 2019

Ovalles is a projectable right-hander who’s been up to 98 mph from a high slot and showed excellent control until a late-season promotion to Low A, where he was also challenged by left-handed hitters because of his lack of a third pitch. He’ll turn 20 in June but doesn’t have a ton of experience.

17. Dangelo Sarmiento, SS

Age: 18 | 6-2 | 160 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
International signing in 2022

Signed for just $700,000 last January, Sarmiento is already the best defensive shortstop in the Mets’ system and has shown good bat-to-ball skills already in the DSL. He’s continuing to add strength to potentially profile as a regular.

18. Willy Fanas, OF

Age: 19 | 6-2 | 190 pounds
Bats: Both | Throws: Right
International signingin 2022

Fanas didn’t homer in his pro debut in the DSL, but he does project to plus power along with above-average to plus speed. He’s still mostly projection but could end up with above-average or better tools in all five categories, including his glove in center.

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19. José Butto, RHP

Age: 25 | 6-1 | 202 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
International signing in2017

Butto made one disastrous start for the Mets last year, but he might be someone’s fifth starter this year if they end up trading him. He’ll sit 94-95 mph with a curveball and average changeup, showing more control than command, likely to be a bit too homer-prone to be more than a fifth starter but with value as a swingman.

20. Matt Allan, RHP

Age: 22 | 6-3 | 217 pounds
Bats: Right |Throws: Right
Drafted: No. 89 in 2019

Allan signed for way over slot as a third-round pick in 2019, looked great that summer, and then blew out his elbow before he could get back on the mound after the pandemic, missing 2021 and 2022 after he needed a follow-up operation last January. He had been back throwing, showing mid-90s velocity (pre-surgery he had a 60 curveball and a developing changeup) but required a “revision” surgery – another Tommy John operation – that will take him out for all of 2023. At this point his future is probably in the bullpen, if he can come back at all.

Others of note

Third baseman Jacob Reimer was their fourth-round pick out of Yucaipa High School in California, alma mater of Taijuan Walker and Matt Davidson; he’s very strong for 18 and hits the ball hard to all fields, projecting to plus power down the road. … Right-hander Christian Scott didn’t have a great year with some minor injuries that cost him the first five weeks of the season and then most of July, but was still 92-94 mph with an above-average changeup. He had a plus slider in college at the University of Florida but never had his feel for it last year, actually getting hit much harder by right-handed batters as a result. … Right-hander Bryce Montes de Oca is very big and throws very hard but walked 16 percent of batters he faced as a reliever in Double A and Triple A; he had a cup of coffee last year and he’ll probably be on the Syracuse shuttle again this season. … Right-hander Luis Rodriguez worked in long relief in the Florida Complex League, mostly to manage his innings, but he throws fairly hard and actually throws strikes. … Right-hander Junior Santos is still just 20 years old, but he’s stalled out a little bit, showing arm strength, up to 95-96 mph, but not much else so far, not even a decent changeup or anything similar for lefties. He’s 6-foot-7 though and surprisingly around the plate given his inconsistent release point.

2023 impact

Baty should be their everyday third baseman, and Alvarez should be up by midseason. Vientos is there if there’s an injury on either corner. Butto and Montes de Oca are emergency call-up types.

The fallen

Carlos Cortes was their third-round pick in 2018, taking a seven-figure bonus, but he’s stuck in left field and hasn’t hit for any power anywhere in the minors, getting overmatched in his first taste of Triple A last year at age 25.

Sleeper

Williams is the obvious choice here as a first-round pick who could rocket up industry lists just by proving the hit tool is what we think it is.

(Top photo of Francisco Álvarez: Lauren Haak / Buffalo Bisons)

Mets top 20 prospects 2023: Keith Law ranks New York's minor league farm system (2024)
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