Previewing the 2018 Columbia Fireflies

Mark Vientos, photo courtesy of
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DQw_I47UMAAr0G4.jpg

Hey guys, welcome to the 2018 Sally team preview series, I’m excited to get these going again.  This is my 3rd year of doing the previews, they make for a great off-season project and I learn a ton from them.

Today I’ll be looking at the 2018 Columbia Fireflies, the Single-A  full season affiliate of the New York Mets.  For a look back at the 2016 and 2017 previews, click the links.

Previewing the 2017 Columbia Fireflies

Previewing the 2016 Columbia Fireflies

 

For those not familiar with the series: I scour the rookie levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2018 and whenever possible I try to include a scouting report.   New for this year, I’ll also be interviewing some of my favorite prospectors to find out who they’re most excited about coming out of rookie ball.  Both the high end players and some sleepers to watch for.  I’m looking forward to collaborating with some talented people. Some that I know fairly well and others that I’m just a fan of there work.

Joining me to talk Mets prospects are two prospectors from “Mets Mesmerized” and “Mets Minors” (metsmerizedonline.com)(metsminors.net).  1st up is Michael Mayer (on Twitter @mikemayerMMO).  He’s the Executive Editor for both sites.  He also writes for  Scott Greene at “Prospect 1500”.  Michael has now assisted on all 3 of the Columbia previews.  He’s very knowledgeable on all things Mets minors.  And I find him to be very generous with his time.  He’ll be giving us some players to watch for coming out of short season.  Next up is Jacob Resnick, (on Twitter @Jacob_Resnick) he covers the Brooklyn Cyclones for the site.   He reached out and asked to assist on this piece.  I wasn’t familiar with Jacob’s writing, so I explored some of his work.  He’s got some terrific pieces out there, like this one.  Here he scouts Ryder Ryan, 1st appearance as a Mets Farm Hand, good read:     Scouting the Outing: Ryder Ryan’s Mets Debut.  He’ll be giving us the scoop on some unheralded players coming out of Brooklyn.   It’s an honor to have both gentlemen here.

 

At Notes from the Sally it’s all about live look scouting.  Once I see the Fireflies, you can expect write up’s on many of the players listed.   I’ve watched 1/2 dozen or so games at Spirit Communications Field in the last two seasons, beautiful park.  I’m planning to be there for 4 games in Early April, and I should see the Fireflies again in Hickory in May.

 

Lets meet the notables:  I’ll be posting industry write up’s for some of the notables.  Michael Mayer will give his own  takes below.   As well as numerous other names to watch for.

 

 

Desmond Lindsay, photo courtesy of metsminors.net…. Ed Delany

CF) Desmond Lindsay- Age 21, listed 5’11” 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of Out-of-Door Academy in Sarasota, FL.

 

A rugged young man with loud tools.  He’s had a hard time staying on the field thus far as a pro.  There’s been a lot of lost development time so far.  I got some looks early in 2017.  He;s got a fast bat and the ball jumps off of his barrel.  He’s a very good athlete and moves well for a big man.   I do wonder if he’s too patient though.  He takes a lot of pitches, seems to get behind in the count and then expands.  I’d like to see a little more grip and rip mixed in.

 

Rich Wilson of “Prospect 361” released his Mets top 10 prospect list back in November and said this of Lindsay:

 

“Desmond Lindsay looks like he walked out of central casting for ballplayers.  He’s an athletic 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds that has that confident gate you like to see in athletes.  His problem, since the Mets drafted him in the second round in 2015 MLB Draft is that he’s not been able to stay healthy.  2017 was no exception.  He missed time in mid-June due to a hamstring injury; an injury that seems to be chronic in nature.  After rehabbing that injury, he lasted two weeks before his season ended on July 20th with an elbow injury that eventually needed surgery.  It wasn’t TJ Surgery and therefore he should be back to begin the 2018 season.”

“Scouting Report: Desmond Lindsay has the most intriguing skills in the Mets minor league system.  He has great bat speed with enough size to eventually hit for above-average if not more power.  He’s a plus runner that should be able to steal 20 bases while showing a very good understanding of the strike zone.  The problem is he’s never been able to translate that talent into the stat line.  He did show a little pop before suffering his season-ending injury but he’s never shown the plus speed on the bases.  Perhaps his chronic hamstring issues are to blame.”

Click here for the rest of Rich Wilson’s top 10 Mets:

New York Mets

 

 

Blake Tiberi, photo courtesy of https://i.ytimg.com/vi/QUAln7igHCI/maxresdefault.jpg

3B) Blake Tiberi- Age 22, listed 6′ 205 lbs, bats left and throws right.  He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Louisville.

He got into just 5 games with Columbia in 2017  before having Tommy John surgery in early May.  With Position players it’s typically just 12 months.  As they don’t need to get stretched out like Pitchers do.  Still this is unfortunate to lose the development time.   I hope he comes back 100%.

Steve Sypa of “Amazin’ Avenue” had a write up on Tiberi at the time of the draft and you can read that here:  https://www.amazinavenue.com/2016/6/15/11943256/2016-mets-draft-profile-blake-tiberi

 

 

 

David Peterson, photo courtesy of https://d3d2maoophos6y.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/13131747/AP_391375823921.jpg

LHP) David Peterson- Age 22, listed 6’6″ 240 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was drafted 20th overall in the 2017 draft out of the Univ of Oregon (Eugene, OR).

 

Wayne Cavadi of Minor League Ball profiled Peterson pre-draft https://www.minorleagueball.com/2017/5/3/15529394/2017-mlb-draft-profile-david-peterson-lhp-oregon

 

 

Mark Vientos, photo courtesy of http://www.the3rdmanin.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Mark-Vientos.jpg

3B-SS) Mark Vientos- Age 18, listed 6’4″ 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft out of High School in Plantation, FL  (Fort Lauderdale metro).

 

Nick J Faleris and Burke Granger of “2080 Ball” included Vientos in there corner infield draft preview:

2017 MLB Draft: Positional Previews (Corner Infielders)

 

 

LF) Quinn Brodey– Age 22, listed 6’1″ 200 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft out of Stanford Univ.

 

 

RHP) Tony Dibrell- Age 22, listed 6’3″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 draft out of Kennesaw State Univ (Kennesaw, GA)(Atlanta Metro).

 

OF) Matt Winaker- Age 22, listed 6’1″ 195 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 draft out of Stanford Univ.

 

RHP) Marcel Renteria- Age 23, listed 5’11” 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2017 draft out of New Mexico State Univ.

 

 

Now here’s Michael Mayer, giving his take on these players and many more:

 

Question #1) The Mets selected LHP) David Peterson 20th overall in the 2017 draft. What is his repertoire? Ceiling? Floor? Do you expect him to be a fast mover?

 

Michael-  Peterson is lefty with fastball that sits in low 90s (topping out at 94) with a wipeout slider and a change that needs a little needs a little more fine tuning to be a MLB pitch. With two good pitches from a lefty that showed great command his final season at Oregon he is the type of guy that could move fast through the system. I see him finishing the 2018 season in Double-A Binghamton. Also see his floor being a 5th starter given his already advanced stuff and the development of his changeup could decide his ceiling. There have been comparisons to Mark Buerhle which I’m sure the Mets would love.

 

Question #2) The draftee I’ve heard the most buzz about is Mark Vientos, a young 3B drafted in the 2nd round. What are his tools? Do you see him sticking at the hot corner?

 

Michael-   Vientos is the type of player that makes you drool because of the potential ceiling. He will play the entire 2018 season at 18-years-Old. He has quick hands, good bat speed and raw power that would make him a fit offensively at third base. I think once he feels out he’s a guy that plays third where he can be a plus defender given his arm and hands.

 

Question #3) The Mets selected potentially two Corner Outfield bats in the top 5 rounds in Quinn Brodey and Matt Winaker. What are there carrying tools? Do you see either or both sticking in of OF long term?

 

Michael-  I like the potential of Brodey more than Winaker, though I don’t see either as a high ceiling player. Brodey is the type of contact/OBP guy that could move quick through a Mets system that sorely needs productive outfield prospects. The Mets played Winaker at first in his debut and while he showed good plate discipline (.402 OBP) I don’t see him hitting for enough power to stick at the position.

 

Question #4) Between rounds 4-10 the Mets selected six college pitchers. Could you rank them in terms of stuff? Any potential impact starters or relievers in the group?

 

Michael-  In terms of just stuff I would rank them

Renteria

Dibrell

Cobb

O’Neil

Chadwick

Villines

Though Villines had an incredible debut with 41 strikeouts and only 1 walk in 27 innings between Brooklyn and Kingsport. He’s a sidearmer that doesn’t crack 90 with a slider he uses as an out pitch. Renteria is a guy that can hit 98/99 and is likely to be used as a starter in 2018. He also possesses a 12-6 curve that flashes plus. Dibrell is another guy that can throw hard and has a good breaking ball but mechanical flaws have led to control issues. Cobb has a sinker that generates a ton of ground balls and a slider that showed well in his debut.

 

Question #5) Any 2017 draftees not previously mentioned that caught your eye?

 

Michael-  Big right-hander (6’6, 245) Bryce Hutchinson was given an overslot bonus by the Mets to entice him from College. Another guy that has a good fastball/slider combo. Was also an impressive hitter in high school.

Nate Peden is another high school pick with a good pitching frame and he played against Hutchinson in high school.

Ronnie Taylor was a rare 40th round high school signee that has shown a potentially strong fastball.

 

Question #6) Who are the top Latin players to watch for coming out of short season ball?

 

Michael-  Hansel Moreno is an infielder I like that has the skills to stick at shortstop and added some strength this past year. Likely to go to Brooklyn but a strong spring could boost him up to Columbia.

Two arms to watch out for are Yeizo Campos and Jaison Vilera.

Wagner Lagrange is probably the guy I’m most excited to see after showing some pop in 2017 (career-high .460 SLG). Strong armed defender that has played all three spots.

 

Question #7) A few sleepers? Maybe a few players that excel at one particular tool, plus power or speed?

 

Michael-  I will stick with guys you might see in Columbia.

Anthony Dirocie is a guy that tied for the APPY league lead with 11 home runs last year though he also struck out 93 times in 61 games.

Walter Rasquin set a Brooklyn Cyclones record with 32 steals last year.

Catcher Juan Uriarte is one of the Mets better prospects in the lower levels that has the skills to be a plus defender and had .827 OPS in Kingsport last year, though he’s more likely headed to Brooklyn

 

 

Now here’s Jacob Resnick giving us some players who caught his eye coming out of Brooklyn.

Trey Cobb- Age 23, listed 6’1″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 12th round of the 2017 draft out of Oklahoma State Univ.

“Cobb generates a significant amount of ground balls due to a sinking fastball that tops out around 95 mph, and a slider that misses plenty of bats. He has quiet, fluid mechanics, and an advantage in the baseball IQ department after pitching in the Big 12 for four seasons. I can see him progressing rather quickly through the system, should he stay in the bullpen.”

 

RHP) Chris Viall- Age 22, listed 6’9″ 253 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of Stanford Univ.

“Viall is probably the hardest thrower in the organization, frequently hitting triple digits, but he’s yet to harness that tool and turn it into an advantage. At 6’9”, he’s struggled through nagging injuries and inconsistent mechanics, but he succeeded with Brooklyn late last season after he began to use his lower half and trust his off-speed pitches. He’s probably better served in a late-inning relief role.”

 

RHP) Stephen Villines-  Age 22, listed 6’2″ 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 10th round of the 2017 draft out of the Univ of Kansas.

“Villines is a real throwback guy, pitching as a true sidearmer with a fastball that rarely tops 87. Still, the pitch moves extremely well, and he’s able to command it flawlessly, striking out 41 and walking only one in 27.1 innings between Brooklyn and Kingsport. He has a slider and “change” in his arsenal, but for now he can get by with his bread and butter.”

 

RF-LF) Wagner Lagrange-   Age 22, listed 5’11” 187 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.

“Lagrange kind of burst onto the scene in 2017 among Mets prospect writers, and it’s easy to see why. His best tool is his rocket arm, which probably plays best in right field long-term. He makes loud in-game contact, and while it’s warning track power right now, I can see it increasing as he adds more muscle. He’s a good-natured kid with a strong passion for the game, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be around for a while.”

 

2B) Walter Rasquin-  Turns 22 in March, listed 5’9″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2012.

“Rasquin set a Cyclones franchise record with 32 stolen bases in 2017, and it wasn’t even two weeks into the season when he cemented himself as the team’s table setter. He looks every inch of his 5’9” frame, but plays bigger and makes solid gap-to-gap contact. His kryptonite, however, is defense, where he lacks the instincts and confidence to play out there every day. He can get away with DHing for now, but second base seems like his eventual position.”

 

1B) Jeremy Vasquez-  Age 21, listed 6’1″ 205 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was drafted in the 28th round of the 2017 draft out of Nova Univ (Davie, Fl)(Fort Lauderdale Metro).

Vasquez is a big-bodied first baseman, who was the most pleasant surprise from the Mets’ 2017 draft class, following his 28th-round selection from Division III Nova-Southeastern. He gets considerable lift on the ball (something he developed in school after transferring from Florida) and has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone (in three NCAA seasons, he walked as many times as he struck out). He could probably handle an assignment to St. Lucie, but that’s likely where Dash Winningham will be after two years in Columbia.

 

 

Around the diamond

I’ll highlight who I think the starters will be

 

Catcher

Carlos Sanchez- Age 21, listed 6′ 203 lbs, bats and throws right. He was signed out of Venezuela in 2012.

 

Scott Manea- Age 22, listed 5’11” 216 lbs, bats and throws right. He was drafted in the 40th round of the 2014 draft out of High School in Shrewsbury, MA (Worcester Metro).

 

Ali Sanchez- Age 21, 6’1″ 196 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2013.

 

Brandon Brosher- Turns 23 in February, 6’2″ 237 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 36th round of the 2013 draft out of High School in Spring Hill, FL (Tampa Metro).

Despite the .221  batting average, a .222 ISO in 2017 stands out.  As does the 47% K rate.  Ouch.

 

Juan Urarte- Age 20, listed 6′ 182 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of Mexico in 2014.

 

Kevin Hall- Age 24, listed 6’2″ 210 lbs, bats and throws right. He was signed as a undrafted free agent out of North Alabama Univ.

 

IF Sanchez comes back, he probably gets the lions share of the starts.  But if he doesn’t it’s murkier.  Urarte has peaked my interest  but young catchers don’t typically skip levels. So he’s likely heading for Brooklyn.

Hopefully someone breaks out.

 

 

Corner Infield

1B-LF) Matt Winaker

 

1B) Jeremy Vasquez

 

1B-C) Jose Maria- Age 23, listed 5’10” 227 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominica Republic in 2011.

 

3B) Blake Tiberi

 

3B) Carl Stajduhar- Age 21, listed 6’1″ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2017 draft out of the Univ of Mexico.

 

3B) Rigoberto Terrazas- Age 21, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats both and throws right.  He was signed out of Mexico in 2013.

He put up an .898 OPS in Kingsport.

 

This one seems fairly cut and dry to start the year at least. Having only gotten into 5 games last yr Tiberi feels like a lock to get a couple of months in Columbia.  If Winaker sees time in the OF, Vasquez could get some looks.

 

Other options at Corner Infield:  Dash Winningham (1B), Reed Gamache (1B-3B),

 

Middle Infield

2B-DH) Walter Rasquin

 

SS-3B) Mark Vientos

 

2B-SS) Luis Carpio- Age 20, listed 5’11” 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2013.

 

SS) Dylan Snypes- Age 21, listed 6’2″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Bats left and throws right.  He was drafted in the 15th round of the 2017 draft out of Oral Roberts Univ (Tulsa, OK)

 

2B-SS) Edgardo Fermin- Age 19, listed 6′ 171 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.

 

2B-SS) Oliver Pascual- Age 21, listed 5’9″ 178 lbs, bats both and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.

 

SS) Hansel Moreno – Age 21, listed 6’4″ 180 lbs, bats both and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.

 

Assuming Tiberi’s at 3B, if Vientos makes the jump it will be at SS (something he played a lot of in rookie ball).  If Carpio comes back I could see him and Rasquin alternating at 2B.  With Carpio backing up SS.  But that’s a lot of moving parts.  1 or 2 of Fermin, Moreno and Snypes  could get a major run if Vientos goes to Brooklyn and Carpio heads for St Lucie.

 

Other options in the middle infield:  Vinny Siena (2B)

 

Outfield

LF-CF) Quinn Brodey

 

CF) Desmond Lindsay

 

CF) Guillermo Granadillo- Turns 21 in February, listed 5’11” 197 lbs, bats and throws right.

 

RF-LF) Wagner Lagrange

 

CF) Jack Schneider-

 

RF-CF-LF) Gene Cone- Age 23, 6′ 173 lbs, bats and throws left.

 

RF) Jose Medina- Age 21, listed 6’3″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.

 

RF) Dionis Paulino- Age 23, listed 6’1″ 223 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was signed out of the Dominica Republic in 2013.

 

LF) Rafael Gladu- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 195 lbs, bats left and throws right.  He was drafted in the 16th round of the 2017 draft out of Louisiana Tech Univ.  (Northern Louisiana, 70 miles East of Shreveport, LA)

 

An OF of Brodey, Lindsay and Lagrange looks pretty solid.  Granadillo is somewhat intriguing.  Not sure if they want him as a 4th OF, getting limited AB:s.  Gene Cone might be a better fit there.

 

Other options in the OF) Arnaldo Berrios (RF),  Jay Jabs (LF-RF-3B)

 

Starting Pitching

LHP) David Peterson-

RHP) Tony Dibrell-

RHP) Marcel Renteria-

RHP) Conner O’Neil-

RHP)  Trey Cobb-

RHP) Cannon Chadwich-

RHP) Steve Villines-

 

These are all college arms so Columbia and St Lucie are on the table.  With the exception of Peterson, they all worked exclusively out of the pen after signing.  That’s often a tactic to keep the innings down.  It’ll be interesting to see who amongst this group gets stretched out this Spring.  Based on what Micheal wrote, Renteria

 

Potential returnees

RHP) Gabriel Llanes- Age 22, listed 6’4″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft out of High School in Downey, CA (Los Angeles Metro).

 

LHP) Blake Taylor- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 230 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft out of High School in Dana Point, CA (60 miles south of Los Angeles).

 

RHP) Colin Holderman- Age 22, listed 6’7″ 240 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 9th round of the 2016 draft out of Heartland Community College (Bloomington Metro).

 

RHP) Chase Ingram- Age 22, listed 6’3″ 210 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 draft out of Hillsborough Community College (Plant City, FL)(Tampa Metro).

 

And these pitchers could be promoted from Brooklyn

RHP) Chris Viall

 

RHP) Briam Campusano- Turns 22 in March, listed 6’2″ 174 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.

 

LHP) Jake Simon- Age 21, listed 6’2″ 189 lbs, bats and throws left.  He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2015 draft out of High School in Galveston, TX.

 

RHP) Nicolas Debora- Age 24, listed 6’4″ 189 lbs, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011.

 

RHP) Darwin Ramos- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 192, bats and throws right.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2012.

 

 

A lot of depth in the Pitching.

 

Big thanks to Michael Mayer (on Twitter @mikemayerMMO) and Jacob Resnick (on Twitter @Jacob_Resnick) for doing the bulk of heavy lifting on the piece.  Outstanding job by both.  I enjoyed the deep dive into the Mets system.  It’s thin on the top of the system but there’s some interesting depth down here.  For 2018, the Fireflies Outfield looks like a strength.  As does SP and the left side of the infield.  Against the rest of the Sally in terms of talent.  This group likely finishes mid pack or a tad toward the upper echelon.

Up next at Notes is a West Virginia Power (Pirates) preview.  Ben Wilson (on Twitter @TBDubbs11) will be assisting.  Look for that over the weekend or early next week.

 

 

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