The New York Mets seek to take another incremental step forward in 2014 toward the goal of reaching the playoffs. With the absence of organization's gem, Matt Harvey, the Mets will need some of their young talent to make sizable gains in performance in order to have any chance. Three of the youngsters to watch in 2014 are discussed below:
2013 Stats: W/L: 7-5, ERA: 3.42, WHIP: 1.36, K:84, BB: 46
Like most rookie pitchers, 24-year-old, Zack Wheeler struggled with inconsistency in his first go-around the big leagues. Throughout his minor league career he has shown a tendency to struggle with control so to expect anything else would have been unwise. He walked 46 batters with 84 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched in 2013, but he did impress with his ace-level arsenal. Wheeler is going to have to improve his control greatly in 2014 if he is going to reach the level the Mets expect from him, but I don’t expect the switch to flip this season. He’ll be a solid source of strikeouts and he should reach double-digit wins, but his ERA and WHIP will probably be closer to top end of the middle of the pack, than toward the top of the league. Wheeler is worth a draft pick somewhere between the 17th and 18th rounds in standard fantasy drafts as his upside is tremendous.
2014 Fantasy Projections: W/L: 13-11, ERA: 3.41, WHIP: 1.29, K: 171, BB: 89
2013 Stats: .202 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB
d’Arnaud’s didn’t have the 2013 the Mets were hoping for. He was expected to get his chance as the regular catcher sometime early in the season, but John Buck got off to a ridiculous start providing most of the Mets run production before the All Star break. Meanwhile, d’Arnaud fractured a bone in his foot in April during a AAA game and didn’t make his debut with the Mets until August. Over 112 at bats, he only managed a .202 batting average and a total of four extra base hits over the balance of the season. The sample size is very small, and the big upside in d’Arnaud’s offensive game is his power, so I am not overly concerned with his poor showing of punch in 2013. He should take a step forward in his offensive game in 2014 and he will develop into a .270, 20 HR catcher sooner rather than later. I am not confident that we’ll see that level of production from the 25-year-old catcher this season, but the 20 HR potential is there even now. d’Arnaud is not a number one catcher for fantasy teams in 2014, but he is worth a gamble as a number two at the back end of drafts.
2014 Fantasy Projections: .243, 14 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB
2013 Stats: W/L: 1-2, ERA: 2.30, WHIP: 1.17, K27, BB: 4
Jenrry Mejia missed almost all of 2013 with elbow inflammation, but was called up to the Majors in July and got 5 starts with the Mets. He made the most of his 27 innings, with a dazzling 2.30 ERA and a strikeout per inning. After undergoing elbow surgery in August, Mejia is ready in 2014 to compete with veterans John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka for the fifth spot in the Mets rotation. Mejia has electric stuff and has demonstrated his effectiveness over 398 minor league innings with a 2.87 ERA and K/9 of 8. By all accounts, the 24-year-old right-hander is ready to contribute to the Mets in 2014. However, his recent elbow trouble, coupled with the presence of two veteran starters, makes me believe he has a better chance of staying up with the big club as an arm out of the bullpen rather than as a starter. If he does win the fifth spot, which is what Mets fans prefer, he is someone to keep an eye on.
2014 Fantasy Projections: W/L: 7-5, ERA: 3.76, WHIP: 1.29, K:81, BB: 42
The Mets have a nice crop of young players to watch in 2014, but most of them are too young or inexperienced to count on for fantasy purposes right now. Though the upside is there to take a chance on them in the late rounds of your drafts, they can’t be expected to be significant fantasy contributors this season - but make no mistake, they are on their way to serious fantasy relevance in years to come.