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2014 Mets Team Preview: Another Growth Year

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.


The Mets had hoped 2013 would be a year of growth, peaking in 2014 with a return to contention and possible Wild Card berth. While 2013 served its purpose to a certain extent, the loss of Matt Harvey to a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery means that the team now is looking for 2015 to be their breakthrough campaign. The Mets' highlights in 2013 included a high-water mark of 10-9 on April 22, a four-game sweep of the Yankees in late-May, the All-Star Game start by Harvey at Citi Field with a team winning record in July and call-ups of Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud. Unfortunately, the team posted a 74-88 record while finishing 11th in the NL and 23rd in baseball in runs scored. GM Sandy Alderson spent some money this offseason, and with a restructuring of the team's $250-million debt to defer the interest payments, there is further capital available. That money should be used for some bats, where there is a severe need despite the addition of Curtis Granderson, who offsets the absence of Marlon Byrd, the team's best overall hitter last season prior to him getting dealt to Pittsburgh, though it remains to be seen if the Wilpons will spend the interest savings. Look for Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero to be promoted in mid-season and there to be some buzz in Queens this year, while the Mets creep closer to the .500 mark with clear hope on the horizon for 2015.

Offseason Moves:

Did not offer a contract to or allowed the following to become free agents: Sean Henn, Aaron Harang, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Frank Francisco, Pedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak, David Aardsma Latroy Hawkins, Johan Santana, Jeremy Hefner, Scott Atchison, Jordany Valdespin, Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla.

Several of the players listed played prominent roles on the Mets the past few seasons, though most of them will not be missed all that much. Henn was solely a bullpen arm for Triple-A Las Vegas. Harang was signed and made four late starts for the Mets after getting released by the Mariners while Matsuzaka made seven starts for the Mets after asking for his release from the Indians. It was a waste of two years and $12 million by the Mets on Francisco, who was activated off the disabled list on Sept. 8, after being sidelined due to elbow woes. Feliciano and Byrdak each made their way back from shoulder injuries to the majors while Aardsma and Atchison also came back from ailments to pitch for the Mets and signed minor-league deals with Cleveland this offseason. Hawkins, who filled in for Bobby Parnell when he was signed, looked likely to return to the Mets, but he opted to instead sign with Colorado. Santana tore the anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder for the second time last spring and missed the season. For the $137 million the Mets gave Santana after acquiring him from the Twins, they received a great first season in 2008, 109 starts, 46 wins and the franchise's first career no-hitter. Valdespin wore out his welcome and signed a minor-league deal with the Marlins while Turner, who played all four infield spots, was surprisingly non-tendered and signed a minor-league deal with LA, where he could see decent playing time if Alex Guerrero struggles. Quintanilla saw lots of playing time at shortstop for New York last season due to Ruben Tejada's regression.

Signed Kyle Farnsworth, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan, Omar Quintanilla, Taylor Teagarden, Jeremy Hefner, Michael Socolovich, Brandon Allen and Joel Carreno and acquired Ryan Reid off waivers.

Farnsworth has pitched 15 major league seasons, and despite suffering a drop-off in fastball velocity last season still has the ability to get batters out in middle relief, where he will pitch for the Mets if he makes the squad. Matsuzaka will battle for the fifth starter spot along with Lannan and several others, including Carlos Torres, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. Quintanilla will once again look to hook on as a utility infielder and Teagarden will try and beat out Anthony Recker to be d'Arnaud's back up. Hefner, who originally was non-tendered, was brought back. He will be out most if not all of 2014 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery but re-signing him now allows the Mets to retain control of him moving forward. In addition, Hefner no longer counts on the 40-man roster. Socolovich, Carreno and Reid will get a chance to earn bullpen roles this spring, with Reid, who pitched well in the minors and for Pittsburgh in the majors last year, having a very good chance of doing so, while Allen could work his way into the first base mix, though that is unlikely.

Signed Chris Young to one-year $7.25 million deal

It was 2010 where Young just missed going 30-30 and was an NL All-Star. He regressed in 2011, but still went 20-20 and heading into 2012, Young made mechanical adjustments to his swing. He was tearing the cover off the ball before crashing into the outfield wall in mid-April and suffering a slight tear of a ligament in his shoulder. Young was never the same after the injury and landed in Oakland for 2013. He struggled all season long at the plate, but still was a solid defensive outfielder. GM Sandy Alderson surprisingly gave up $7.25 million and all signs point to Young being an everyday outfielder, despite his stark splits and struggles against right-handed pitching. Look for some power and speed albeit with a weak batting average and he could end up in a lefty-righty platoon.

Signed Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal

The Mets had been rumored to be in on Granderson from the moment he hit free agency but had been adamant about sticking with a three-year deal. New York bent and gave Granderson close to $64 million over the four-year contract life he was seeking. Granderson had been quite durable prior to the 2013 season, playing at least 136 games yearly in seven previous campaigns. However, a fractured right forearm pushed back his season debut to mid-May, and a broken knuckle on his left pinkie suffered before the end of the month kept him out until early August. In 61 total appearances, he belted a homer every 30.6 at-bats, which falls short of his mark, one every 15.2, from his first three years with the Yankees. Granderson hit 47 of the 84 home runs he swatted in 2011-12 at home, so it's not as if he was solely a Yankee Stadium power hitter. That said, expect a decline in his longballs moving to Citi Field but the large outfield could help his batting average if he can find a way to make slightly better contact.

Signed Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million deal

The Mets were looking for a solid veteran starter to fill the gulf left by Matt Harvey's absence and were able to land Colon. A year after Colon's re-emergence ended in a PED suspension, he came back even stronger in 2013, compiling a 2.65 ERA (good for second in the American League) over 30 starts. At age 40, Colon somehow managed to make the All-Star team, finish sixth in the AL Cy Young voting and leading the American League with three complete game shutouts. Colon routinely pounds the strike zone, using his fastball nearly 86% of the time and he led the AL with 48.9 percent of his pitches finding the strike zone. He is not a strikeout pitcher, though he could see a mild spike in that number moving back to the NL, where he once pitched for the Expos, relying on solid control and a good GB/FB ratio to retire hitters.

Avoided arbitration, signing one-year deals with: Bobby Parnell ($3.7 million), Ike Davis ($3.5 million), Lucas Duda ($1.6375 million), Daniel Murphy ($5.7 million), Ruben Tejada ($1.1 million), Eric Young ($1.85 million) and Dillon Gee ($3.625 million)

Manager Terry Collins anointed Parnell as the team's closer in spring training and he proved that he was worthy of the role. He had a strong overall season, which was capped off by a stretch where he gave up just one earned run in 13 July appearances, Unfortunately, his last appearance of the year came in a save on July 29, after which he was shut down due to a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery in early September. For the year, Parnell posted a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go with 22 saves in 26 chances, despite posting modest strikeout totals (7.9 K/9) for a closer. Parnell lost 30 pounds before and after the surgery, which he has regained and looks set to build on his solid 2013 campaign. I will get more into Davis and Duda, who seemingly have been linked for the past several seasons, below when I discuss who's on first base.

Murphy set career highs in runs, runs batted in and stolen bases, capped by a big September, and had another solid season at the plate. The main negative was a sharp drop in his walk rate, which adversely impacted his on-base percentage. In addition, his BABIP fell for the second straight year, which caused a slight drop in his batting average. Murphy has become a passable second baseman, but his main value is in his offense and durability. If the Mets don't show some signs of growth, Murphy's future salary could make him a trade option with Eric Young Jr. or Wilmer Flores seeing time at second base. It was a lost year for Tejada after seemingly solidifying his spot as the team's shortstop of the future in 2012. Tejada came into camp out of shape and had a nightmarish spring, and things did not get any better when the regular season started. He struggled in the field and at the plate, spending nearly the entire summer at the Triple-A level before being brought back up in September, where a broken leg ended his season. The Mets are rumored to have made an offer to Stephen Drew, though the length of deal and possible opt-out clause remain nig hurdles, and are interested in either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, but heading into spring training, Tejada still is the starting shortstop.

Young struggled to open the season with Colorado and was designated for assignment before getting dealt to the Mets for Collin McHugh. New York got the better end of the deal, as Young was a godsend as a leadoff hitter and catalyst for the offense. After starting his time with the Mets on a tear, Young returned back to earth and struggled with strikeouts. Despite that, he still posted 46 steals, 35 of which came with the Mets. More on Young in the “who starts in the outfield” question below. Gee entered 2013 as a major question mark after he was shut down for the season during the 2012 All-Star break with an arterial blood clot in his pitching shoulder that required surgery. He got off to a slow start, and as of late May, Gee was in danger of losing his rotation and roster spot. Gee turned it around and put together a terrific second half, where he was one of the best starters in all of baseball. Even though he faded in late September, giving up four runs in three of his last four starts of the year, Gee delivered a solid season including a 3.62 ERA with a 142:47 K:BB ratio in 199 innings. Underneath those numbers, Gee's groundball rate tumbled and his strand rate increased, but the development of his knuckle-curve bodes well for future success.

Projected Lineup (RH/LH)

1. Eric Young, Jr. LF
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Curtis Granderson CF
5. Ike Davis 1B
6. Chris Young RF
7. Travis d'Arnaud C
8. Ruben Tejada SS

The only spots that look to be set coming into the season are the 2-4 positions in the order as well as d'Arnaud at catcher, though his place in the lineup could be altered if he gets off to a hot start. Many of the questions with these positions will be covered in the Fantasy Notes section below, with several possibly not decided until during the season. Manager Terry Collins has said he prefers Young to be in an everyday role, which also will be the case with Granderson, meaning there is one outfield spot remaining. As of now, Young, because of his ability to leadoff, looks likely to begin the year as a starter, which could relegate Juan Lagares, the team's best defensive outfielder, to a utility role or opening the year in the minors. Tejada is the starter for now, but as noted above, if the Mets get any of those players mentioned, especially Drew, Tejada will be a back up or at Triple-A Las Vegas. Wright, who was on pace for a monster season before a strained right hamstring basically cost him the last two months of the season, having Granderson hit behind him gets the protection he has lacked so often the past several seasons; which could boost his stats. Right now, you could toss a coin in the air for most of the lineup and be right, but this should get clearer as the season approaches.

Projected Rotation

1. Jon Niese LHP
2. Bartolo Colon RHP
3. Zack Wheeler RHP
4. Dillon Gee RHP
5. John Lannan/Daisuke Matsuzaka/Carlos Torres/Jenrry Mejia/Noah Syndergaard/Rafael Montero

While the rotation is solid and potentially has pieces with major upside, the absence of Matt Harvey downgrades the staff overall. I will get into the fifth starter battle below in the questions section and have already touched on Colon and Gee above. When Niese landed on the disabled list on June 22 with a partially torn rotator cuff, he was 3-6 with a 4.32 ERA and a weak 49:33 K:BB ratio. Batters were hitting .336 off his cutter and .321 off his curveball. After returning, Niese went 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 54:13 K:BB ratio while batters hit .246 and .225, respectively, against his cutter and curveball. Niese's late-season resurgence may have been a direct result of him sitting out two months rehabbing his shoulder, which aided his two most important pitches. Wheeler, like Harvey the year before, started the season in the minors before getting a summer promotion, with his coming in mid-June. Wheeler got better as the year wore on, and his challenge for the future is to improve his control, as walks, which have been an issue in the past, prevented him from going deep into games at times and resulted in too many baserunners. He was shut down before his last start with shoulder stiffness, and with Matt Harvey out at the time due to an elbow injury, the Mets opted to be cautious with the young stud. Wheeler mixes a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 97 mph with a nasty mid-70s curveball and work-in-progress changeup along with a bulldog attitude and some nastiness on the mound. He could be the team's #2 starter by year-end.

Closer: Bobby Parnell

I touched on Parnell above with the main question if he can regain his stuff/strength following his disk surgery. If he falters, as of press date, Vic Black may be next in line with the Mets having struck out on signing Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney, though maybe Jose Valverde could be a factor.

Key bullpen members (projected): Vic Black, Scott Rice, Gonzalez Germen and Josh Edgin head into spring training with spots, though that could change in Florida. Kyle Farnsworth, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Jake Leathersich, Jeff Walters, Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni will also battle for a spot.

Black, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Marlon Byrd deal, is the main candidate to be Parnell's set-up man. Black has a bit of a funky delivery and throws in the 90s, but he struggles to repeat his mechanics and subsequently allows too many walks. Limiting those walks and displaying better command/control are his keys. Gonzalez showed a live fastball after getting promoted last year, averaging almost a strikeout per inning, and could earn a bullpen spot with the Mets this spring. Despite or because the team struck out on Balfour and Rodney coupled with the lingering concerns over Parnell, the Mets remain in the market for a late-inning reliever. Rice and Edgin are the two main lefties right now in the pen. Rice, who toiled 14 years in the minors, posted a 3.71 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and an ugly 41:27 K:BB ratio over 51 innings in 73 appearances. He was able to work around the walks because he allowed just one home run all season, finishing the 2013 campaign with 17 holds as he was shut down with a month to go due to a hernia. Edgin broke camp as one of the two main lefties in the Mets' bullpen, but he posted a 9.64 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in 9.1 innings before he was demoted to Double-A Binghamton. Edgin struggled at Double-A and Triple-A, but was called back up six weeks later. He was excellent after the callup, posting a 0.93 ERA and holding the opposition to a .194 batting average in his final 23 games before he was sidelined for the remainder of the year with a hairline fracture in one of his left ribs. He will likely get a chance to use his low-90s fastball and mid-80s slider as a lefty in the team's bullpen in 2014.

The Mets may opt to go the Cardinals and Rangers route by using young, live, power arms in their bullpen to open the year, especially if they can't land another bullpen arm. Farnsworth will get a major look this spring and they saw Joel Hanrahan, who is out until May; throw Friday while possibly having interest in Kevin Gregg and Ryan Madson, who also is coming back from an injury. If none of those options pan out, Familia and Mejia, each of whom missed most of the year after needing surgery to remove bones from their elbow, will have a shot to earn a bullpen role. In addition, Montero and Mazzoni, starters in the minors, Leathersich, a southpaw, fifth-round pick in 2011 out of UMass-Lowell, who advanced up the ladder quickly before struggling with his control in Las Vegas, and Walters, a seventh-round pick in 2010 from the University of Georgia who set a Double-A Binghamton single-season and career record with 38 saves in 2013 with the B-Mets, will each get a long look see in camp.

Fantasy Notes/Strengths/Weaknesses; On the Rise/Decline/Sleeper/Supersleeper

1. Who's on First?

Davis, Duda. Duda, Davis. Maybe some Satin or Murphy. Heading down to Florida, there is no clear cut favorite to open the season and/or keep the first base job. The Mets attempted to deal Davis to seemingly almost every team in the majors, but those that may have had interest, including Milwaukee and Pittsburgh balked at the price, which was believed to be a high-upside, prospect starter.

For the second straight season, Davis got off to a slow start, but this time, it landed him at Triple-A Las Vegas in early June. At the time he was sent down, Davis had posted a .161/.242/.258 line with just five home runs, 18 RBI and 66 strikeouts in 55 games. Davis worked with manager Wally Backman and hitting coach George Greer in the minors to remove a major hitch in his swing. After a rough start, he was fairly successful, hitting .293 with seven homers, 13 RBI and a .424 on-base percentage in 92 Triple-A plate appearances to earn a call back up to New York nearly a month after his demotion. After his recall from the minors, Davis hit .269 with four home runs and 15 RBI with 40 walks in 52 games before a strained right oblique sidelined him in September. While he is making $3.5 million this year, the Mets could waive him if he struggles and only be on the hook for around $600k.

Duda opened 2013 as the team's left fielder, but proved incapable of handling the position. He ended up on the bench but was shifted to first base when Davis was demoted, but after just a few days there, a quad injury sidelined him until late August. Duda had four home runs and 13 RBI in September, but hit just .202 for the month, and his continued struggles against lefties limit his upside. He has lost 10 pounds while increasing his flexibility slightly in the Mets' fitness and nutrition camp this off-season and may for some reason get another look in the outfield.

Satin was called up in early June after raking in the minors, to the tune of a .306/.421/.491 line in 259 plate appearances for Triple-A Las Vegas. He saw heavy action during the first month after his recall, even ending up in a platoon at first base with Davis when he returned to action, but his playing time waned a bit as the year wore on. Satin proved he belonged in the majors and was especially effective against lefties (.317/.404/.476 in 82 at-bats), while playing both corner-infield spots. He likely will see time against tough regardless of who starts. Murphy has been talked about as a possible option, allowing Eric Young Jr. to start at second with Juan Lagares in center field, but that seems a remote option.

Handicapping the job heading into the spring, it appears as if Davis will get every chance to earn the job. Manager Terry Collins, in order to avoid the slow start Davis had in 2013, plans on giving Davis 80-100 at-bats this spring. If he proves incapable, Duda is next in line.

2. Who Leads Off?

None of the options are that appealing. Eric Young Jr. is the most likely candidate, as he has the most speed, evidenced by his 38 steals in 45 chances with the Mets. Of course, his .318 OBA and 67K in 354 at-bats show that he may not be best suited for that role. Unfortunately, the other options are not that enticing. Next in line is probably Daniel Murphy, but he had just a .319 OBA. In addition, he had a 13.6% strikeout rate along with just a 4.6% walk rate. The other options probably are Juan Lagares, but he had just a .281 OBA and 76% contact rate, and possibly Chris Young, but I spelled out above his issues at the plate. Heading into the spring, Young looks like the favorite to open the season in the leadoff spot, though the team could opt to go with Lagares if he is able to build off some of the success he had last year. If that happens, Young and Young could platoon in left field, with Young Jr. also seeing some time at second base.

3. Who will be the fifth starter?

Whoever earned the fifth starter spot coming out of camp likely will not be the one who ends the season in the role with Noah Syndergaard expected to be up by mid-year. The Mets added Lannan and Matsuzaka to minor-league deals, giving the team several options for the spot. Of course, injuries could open the door for other spots to be filled, but for now, I will focus on just the fifth starter spot.

Carlos Torres posted decent numbers with Triple-A Las Vegas - 3.89 ERA, 8.4 K/9 over 71.2 innings - to earn a mid-June promotion to New York. He made three starts in July, but was shifted back to the bullpen for about a month before spending the final month of the year in the rotation. Torres had a strong September, and finished the season with a 3.44 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while notching 75 strikeouts in his 86.3 innings. His success was largely due to his ability to cut down his walks - 1.8 BB/9 compared to 4.4 in 2012 - and generate groundballs. The additions of Lannan and Matsuzaka mean that Torres may no longer be the favorite, which then would result in him opening the year back in the bullpen.

Lannan, a Long Islander, made just 14 starts for the Phillies last season as he was sidelined twice due to a knee injury that ultimately required season ending surgery in August. He saw his fastball velocity dip by 1.6 mph last season, which is a troubling sign since he doesn't crack 90 mph with his fastball very often. His lack of stuff leaves little margin for error, and that leaves Lannan prone to giving up big innings. Dice-K struggled in his first several starts with the Mets before righting the ship his last four outings. Lannan, a lefty, could have the edge over Torres and Matsuzaka to balance out the rotation, though there are several other in-house candidates.

Names like Syndergaard and Montero, who I cover more in the prospects section below, are who the fans would like to see earn the fifth spot this spring. However, beyond the three mentioned above as well as the two new hot flavors of the month, Mejia would appear to have the best shot at the fifth spot with the bullpen as a fall-back option. Mejia was limited by his injury to just five starts, but in those outings, he posted a 2.30 ERA and struck out 27 over 27.1 innings. Familia, who has been a starter in the past, has a 94-97 mph fastball and sinker, as well as a slider and changeup that profiles better in the bullpen while Jacob DeGrom likely needs more seasoning.

Look for Lannan and Dice-K to battle for the fifth spot this spring but Syndergaard to replace whoever earns or is filling that role by mid-season.

4. What happens if Travis d'Arnaud struggles or gets hurt?

Well, there's John Buck, hmm, no, he is in Seattle. Does Anthony Recker or Taylor Teagarden excite you? D'Arnaud has the pedigree to be a solid starting catcher but the jury is still out on him. He missed a good portion of last year with an injury, a habit throughout his career to date, and didn't do much in his 99-at bat stint with the parent club. With few other options available, as I stated just before and the team looking to the future, look for d'Arnaud to have a long leash. D'Arnaud looked to be better defensively than advertised, even though his offense was worse than expected, now the challenge is for him to meld both parts of his game together.

Strengths:

Power, which has been lacking in the past. A good 3-to-4 combination in the middle of the order. An above-average 1-to-3 in the rotation and possibly a top-10 closer. Another stud pitching prospect on the way with lots of young power arms in the system.

Weaknesses:

Unsettled lineup in many spots, including first base, the outfield and shortstop. An unproven catcher with no real safety net. No real team speed beyond Young-squared, each of whom could end up in a platoon. Lots and lots and lots of strikeouts with a likely low OBA. A middling fifth starter to start the season and bullpen beyond the closer, who has health questions. Bench once again looks to be a weakness.

On the rise: Zack Wheeler - Like Matt Harvey the year before, look for Wheeler to take a major step forward. After allowing four and five runs his second and third start, Wheeler only allowed four runs in two of his next 15 starts. Wheeler should show improvement in his changeup, which will only make his fastball and curve that much more effective. By year-end, he could be the team's second starter.

Decline: Eric Young, Jr. - Let me preface it by saying I love EY Jr., but his OBA leaves a lot to be desired. It is that issue along with who I have as my sleeper that makes me believe his 2013 numbers will be his ceiling and unlikely to be touched again. Of course, if Daniel Murphy moves to first or is dealt and Young ends up at second, I never wrote this.

Sleeper: Juan Lagares - Yes, the OBA stinks, but his defense is something to behold. In addition, he made some strides at the plate, raking from June to early-August. If he can find a way to recapture that form, or anything close to it, manager Terry Collins will be unable to take him out of the lineup.

Super-sleeper: Vic Black - If Bobby Parnell is not all the way back, someone has to close. As of now, unless the Mets bring in Hanrahan or Madson and they are healthy, there really is no one else. Maybe Familia or Mejia or Walters get a shot, but the odds-on favorite is Black, who notched his first save and four holds when acquired by the Mets.

Top Prospects:

Noah Syndergaard - Syndergaard, who was traded to the Mets along with Travis d'Arnaud for R.A. Dickey, has surpassed d'Arnaud as the Mets' top prospect. Syndergaard went 9-4 with a 3.06 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 rate in 23 starts between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton and also started the Futures Game for Team USA. He has a mid-90s fastball that bears in hard on righties and mixes in a 12-to-6 hard-biting curveball, and but his changeup is still a major work in progress. Syndergaard should follow the same path as fellow top prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler the past two years; beginning the year at Triple-A before receiving a summer call-up. Syndergaard projects to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, but his ceiling may hinge on the development of his changeup.

Travis d'Arnaud - Covered above.

Rafael Montero - Montero continued his rapid rise in the Mets' organization, blowing through Double-A Binghamton to pitch a half-season at Triple-A Las Vegas. Two of Montero's hallmarks are his control and limiting home runs, and each were on full display last year, as he posted a 4.49 K/BB ratio and gave up just six home runs in 155.1 innings. Montero has a low-90s fastball, along with a low-80s slider and changeup, and he can paint the black with each of those three pitches. He likely will open 2014 back with the 51s, but like fellow prospect Noah Syndergaard, he should hit New York by mid-season and profiles to be a future No. 3 starter.

Dominic Smith - Smith, selected 11th overall out of high school by the Mets in the 2013 draft, has a sweet left-handed stroke with surprising power and a good eye at the plate, along with a solid glove at first base. He hit .287/.384/.407 along with three homers and 22 RBI in 167 at-bats for the Gulf Coast League Mets, turning it on after a slow start. Smith could open 2014 at Low-A Savannah and is as a top-five prospect in the Mets' system. With a gaping hole at first base, Smith could be fast-tracked to the majors, reaching New York as early as 2016.

Kevin Plawecki - Plawecki, selected as first-round supplemental pick in 2012 out of Purdue, had a breakthrough 2013 campaign. He posted a .311/.388/.492 line with six home runs and 43 RBI in 65 games at Low-A Savannah to earn a promotion to High-A St. Lucie. Plawecki continued his fine play at St. Lucie and finished the season with a 42:53 BB:K in 521 plate appearances, and that steady eye at the plate has been a hallmark of his career. He is solid defensively, receiving pitches well and calling games effectively, but is just mediocre in terms of throwing out runners. Plawecki should hit for average in his career and provide decent power, and he will likely start 2014 back at St. Lucie.

Wilmer Flores - Flores showed he could rake in the minors, but his lack of range and foot speed kept him at Triple-A Las Vegas. He finally received a promotion when David Wright was placed on the DL in early August after he batted 322/.358/.532 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI in 106 games with the 51s. Flores got off to a hot start in the majors, but twisted his ankle a week after his promotion and never seemed to regain his prior form. He saw minimal action after the injury, and received just 31 at-bats in September. The jury is out regarding his ability to play defensively in the majors, since Wright blocks him from becoming a regular at third base. Without a position, Flores may open 2014 back in the minors.

Others include Amed Rosario, Cesar Puello, Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Michael Fulmer.