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Minor League Barometer: Mets' Future Looking Up

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

The New York Mets went a span of 50 years - more than 8,000 games - without a no-hitter before Johan Santana's magical outing last Friday in Flushing. One of the lasting blemishes for the franchise, it's not like the Mets haven't had great pitchers over the years. After all, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and many more hurlers tossed no-no's either before or after their stints with the Metropolitans. Santana merely had impeccable timing; he accomplished his no-hitter while wearing that interlocked, orange "NY."

While we're not ready to predict no-hitters for prospects, the Mets have at least two more pitchers with ace potential coming through the pipeline shortly. Zack Wheeler has been virtually untouchable this season for Double-A Binghamton, posting a 1.88 ERA and 60:21 K:BB ratio through 52.2 innings. Wheeler came over from the Giants in last season's Carlos Beltran deal. Opposing batters are hitting a paltry .166 against him. Meanwhile, 2010 first-rounder Matt Harvey has been strutting his stuff for Triple-A Buffalo, compiling a 3.69 ERA and 61:31 K:BB ratio in 63.1 innings. Though the walks have been a bit high for both, it's hard to argue with the overall results. Both pitchers tend to get more than the average amount of ground balls too, which should aid in their development and progress moving forward.

With the Mets 1.5 games back of first place, things could finally be looking up for New York's other organization. Let's look at the rest of the prospect map in this week's Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Mike Olt, 3B, TEX
How about this for a hot streak? The 23-year-old third-baseman has slugged two home runs in each of his last three games for Double-A Frisco. Over his last 10 contests, he's hitting a cool .500 with eight home runs and 19 RBI. Olt's totals for the 2012 campaign are beginning to look gaudy, as he is now batting .318/.419/.641 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI through 52 games. The Rangers are loaded with hitting at the big-league level, but Olt should see Triple-A shortly regardless. Should he continue swinging his power bat like this, Texas will make it its business to find a spot for him.

Julio Teheran, P, ATL
Still one of the better pitching prospects in baseball, the 21-year-old righty has been overshadowed by the likes of Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy. Teheran had his best start of the season Sunday for Triple-A Gwinnett, though, tossing a complete game while allowing just one earned run. He scattered seven hits, did not walk a batter and fanned six. It is worth keeping in mind that Teheran is one of the youngest pitchers at this level, and is still more than holding his own with a 3.15 ERA and 43:21 K:BB ratio through 54.1 innings. With Mike Minor struggling mightily in the majors, Teheran's number could get called shortly.

Anthony Gose, OF, TOR
The athletic 21-year-old has been spanking the ball recently, slashing .432/.500/.568 with four RBI and seven stolen bases over his last 10 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. Though he has not quite shown the power that he did a year ago, Gose's overall line is still impressive. The speedster is batting .302/.380/.434 with three home runs, 27 RBI and 24 steals through 56 games. He has been caught stealing just five times on the year. The high strikeout total remains a concern, as Gose has fanned 60 times on the season. However, he appears poised to take his rightful place in the Jays outfield as early as this summer.

Bryce Brentz, OF, BOS
After a slow start, Brentz has also been tearing the cover off the ball. On May 31 he went 5-for-5 for the second time this season at Double-A Portland. The 23-year-old outfielder is now hitting .306/.358/.490 with seven home runs and 20 RBI through 52 games. Lack of plate discipline has been a knock on Brentz throughout his short minor-league career, and 2012 has been no exception. Brentz has been punched out 59 times while drawing just 14 walks. As long as he hits above .300, nobody is going to complain about his inability to take a free pass. However, as all hitters go through slumps, it'd be nice to see Brentz improve his patience at the dish as he ascends the higher levels. Regardless, he remains an excellent prospect for the BoSox.

CHECK STATUS

Gary Sanchez, C, NYY
Is Sanchez the next Jesus Montero? Great bat, suspect defense. The 19-year-old backstop is hitting .304/.354/.515 with eight home runs, 40 RBI and even nine stolen bases through 48 games for Low-A Charleston. A powerful specimen who can hit for average, Sanchez's receiving skills are lacking despite a big arm behind the dish. The Yankees certainly did not believe in Jesus Montero's catching skills, which was one of the reasons they felt comfortable enough trading his bat away. Sanchez needs to work on his defense in order to prevent a similar fate.

Shelby Miller, P, STL
Don't let Miller's inclusion here fool you; he's a monster prospect with loads of upside. Still, 2012 has been by far the worst season of his professional career, as the 21-year-old has a 4.99 ERA at Triple-A. Opposing batters are tattooing him to the tune of a .301 BAA. Miller has yielded 10 long balls already in 2012; prior to 2012, he had given up 11 home runs in two-plus seasons. He does have 58 strikeouts in 52.1 innings, though has also issued 24 free passes. Miller likely needs some seasoning before entering the bigs.

Jason Stoffel, P, HOU
Closer prospects are tough to get a handle on, and as a result they don't get much publicity. As mental makeup has just as much to do with success here as actual stuff, it's difficult to tell what kind of closer someone will be until actually watching them perform under the bright lights. With those disclaimers out of the way, Stoffel has notched four saves in the last eight games for Double-A Corpus Christi. The 23-year-old righty had 17 saves in 2011 and 25 in 2010. However, his ERA has not been pretty in the past, but it's nice to look at this season. Stoffel has a 1.48 ERA, along with a 20:6 K:BB ratio in 24.1 innings. With the Astros expected to be in sell-mode at the trade deadline, Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon could be dealt, leaving a future void to be filled. Not saying by any stretch that Stoffel will immediately get the call at that time, but he's certainly making progress toward a shot at that slot.

Tyler Matzek, P, COL
A blast from the past, Matzek was a can't-miss prospect in 2009, drafted at No. 11 overall straight out of high school by the Rockies. However, his command has been downright horrific since entering the minors, as he walked 62 batters in 89.1 innings in 2010, followed by 96 walks in 97.1 innings in 2011. Throw in a 6.22 ERA last season for the left-hander, and you have a bust. To his credit though, Matzek has battled back in 2012. Though he has still tallied 40 walks in 58 innings for High-A Modesto this season, he has limited the damage with a .173 BAA en route to a 2.64 ERA. His last three starts have been pristine, as the 21-year-old has allowed two runs over his last 22 innings. Over that span, Matzek has fanned 23 batters while walking just five. While we're not ready to declare that Matzek is back just yet, he does appear to be making outstanding strides.

DOWNGRADE

Wily Peralta, P, MIL
Peralta came into 2012 as arguably the top prospect in the Milwaukee system. However, Tyler Thornburg has now passed him in that regard, as Peralta has had a nightmarish 2012 campaign overall. Never known for his command, Peralta can't seem to find the plate this season with a 44:32 K:BB ratio in 54 innings for Triple-A Nashville. He walked six batters in his last outing June 1. His ERA sits at a crisp 6.83, largely due to the inordinate amount of base runners allowed. With at least five earned runs allowed in each of his last four starts, the 23-year-old has a lot of work to do to regain his former spot at the top of the Brewers' minor-league hierarchy.

Garrett Gould, P, LAD
Gould had the lowest ERA of any Dodgers pitcher in 2011, notching a 2.40 ERA at Low-A to go along with a 104:37 K:BB ratio in 123.2 innings. This season has not been as kind to the 20-year-old righty, though, as Gould has a bloated 5.19 ERA through 52 innings at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Gould's command has been good, though perhaps too good, as despite a 54:17 K:BB ratio, opposing batters are hitting .286 against him. It's nice to see the increased strikeout potential, but it won't matter how many batters he fans if he can't keep his ERA down to a reasonable level. Gould will have to prove that his 2011 ERA was not the aberration in his numbers.

Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, KC
Cuthbert is just 19, so we'll cut him some slack. However, he remains all projection at this time with a .219/.296/.275 line, one home run, 19 RBI and three steals through 47 games for High-A Wilmington. The plate discipline for such a younger player should be worth noting, but he has been unable to put the bat on the ball effectively in 2012. Cuthbert has time to fill out and improve, so the jury's still out. This season has not been memorable for him thus far though.

Grant Green, SS, OAK
Since his 2010 season in which he slashed .318/.363/.520 with 20 home runs, 87 RBI and nine steals, Green's stock has taken a nosedive. Now 24, Green is at Triple-A posting mediocre numbers. Green's plate discipline never improved, as he has fanned at least 117 times in each of the last two seasons, and is on pace for a similar statistic in 2012. Overall, he is hitting .266/.306/.432 with six home runs, 27 RBI and five steals through 48 games with Sacramento. His last 10 games have been downright embarrassing, as Green is batting a mere .083 with 11 strikeouts over that span. The No. 13 overall selection in the 2009 draft, Green may never be anything more than a utility infielder at the big-league level.

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