Spring Training Prospect Reviews – Part II

Yohan Almonte continues to impress

Last night, we looked back at a number of players from spring training. Part II continues that look. But as mentioned, this is not about rankings or projections, but simply looking back at a number of prospects and how they fared during the camp season. Look inside to get the updates.

Yohan Almonte continues to excel and in many regards exceed expectations. The right-hander is showing that starting is definitely in his future. His frame is still a bit wiry, but he demonstrates smooth mechanics and timing in his delivery that mitigates at a lot of the punishment thinner guys are subjected to. His mechanics are consistent. His fastball was in the high-80s to 91 MPH. His mid-80s slider showed plus potential and his 82-84 MPH changeup is getting there because of the increasing amount of bats he misses with it. He is showing three-pitch potential, which could get even stronger should he add more muscle.

As mentioned, Ryan Fraser is on his way to the rotation but his success there remains to be seen. There have been mixed reports about his velocity, but with good authority I can say Fraser was in the low-90s with plenty of action. His high-80s changeup showed good downward movement, but he still needs to a better job with his arm speed which will improve his command and consistency. Coaches and scouts have praised his size and athleticism.

Jeurys Familia continued to show the power that makes him such a favorable commodity. His fastball reached 97 MPH during spring training, with his slider in the mid to high-80s and his changeup in the low-80s to 84 MPH. The biggest hurdle with Familia is harnessing his rhythm and getting his delivery in a consistent spot. He tends to hurry his movements, which causes his location to become erratic. There is no doubting his arm strength and power, but the Mets will have to work on putting it all together.

Zach Dotson remains something of a wild card, but his arm strength from the left side is something worth noting. His finish will need some work because of the pacing and angle of his release. For now, he still generates much of his power with his arm without getting his legs into his delivery. His fastball was in the mid-80s to 90 MPH. He threw a loose slider in the high-70s and a rudimentary changeup around 80 MPH. He has a long way to go but his strength is something to work with.

Eric Niesen faces a big year, but during camp did not show much to differentiate himself. He still has a shot at being a left-handed specialist in the near future, but his command remains inconsistent. His fastball was 88-92 MPH and showed good running action in on right-handers and away from lefties. His slider was in the low-80s, the biggest in any potential big league success will be Niesen's ability to command the slider with tight break.

Domingo Tapia continues to show that his game is built around power and movement. He is a young right-hander without much muscle on his build, but he gets the fastball up to 94 MPH with hard sink. His mid-70s changeup is an underdeveloped pitch, but his heater is the focus right now. He is still something of a project, but his velocity and movement can carry him a ways in this system.

Luis Rojas is another reliever without much of an off-speed pitch, but the right-hander is one of the hardest throwers in the organization. Rojas dialed up mid-90s to 96-98 MPH with good sink and run that will get hitters to bore the ball into the ground or swing over the top of it. The problem is that Rojas' delivery has little deception, which means hitters have a relatively easy time picking him up. Nevertheless, his velocity and power is a raw commodity in this system.

Armando Rodriguez made the 40-man roster, but his ability to remain as a starter all the way up will depend on how quickly he can develop his breaking ball. Rodriguez worked heavily on his fastball/changeup tandem, with his fastball getting up to 92 MPH and his changeup hovering in the mid-80s with solid sink. He incorporates his lower half into his delivery which gives him the chance of adding more velocity in the future.

Albert Cordero's arm strength behind the plate is perhaps his most intriguing asset. He has advanced throwing mechanics, and can maximize his arm strength when he gets out of his crouch cleanly. That is still a work in progress with Cordero as his footwork remains unsettled. Physically, Cordero lacks the size of a prototypical catcher. There is a lot going on with his swing, which could be why he completely changes his approach and goes into a slap-contact stance in two-strike counts.

Francisco Pena is making gains on the field, but there remains uncertainty at this point whether he can put it all together to get to the big leagues. He still flashes some home run power and his defensive is making small but steady improvements that should keep him around for a little while longer. His defense and game-calling are improving, but he will need to maximize every start he gets this season.

Nelfi Zapata showed off a big arm behind the plate, but coaches are still working with him to refine the rest of his defensive game. Notably, his receiving and mobility behind the plate are the focus, especially for a high school draftee that never had a starting position of his own. His raw power continues to draw positive receives, with plus potential. However, his contact approach is still missing. A bit of a project, but one not worth giving up on any time soon.

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