In today’s minor league spotlight, we’ll take a closer look at the MVP’s of the St. Lucie Mets: outfielder Dustin Lawley and pitcher Matthew Bowman.
Lawley was an easy choice among position players, as that was a weakness for St. Lucie this season outside of guys like Travis Taijeron, Jayce Boyd, and Kevin Plawecki, all of whom spent only half a season with the team. Heading into 2013, Lawley was considered nothing more than an organizational guy that could play a few different positions, but his 25 homeruns made him a blip on the prospect radar.
Despite being a little old for the level, hitting 25 homers in the Florida State League is no joke, and it eventually earned him a promotion to Las Vegas for the end of the regular season and their playoff run. He’s not quite a one-tool player, as he has good speed and is a fine defensive player. If he were a higher draft pick or came from a bigger school (19th round, West Florida), then his power surge this season would have drawn a little more attention, as it has in the past with guys like Lucas Duda or Sean Ratliff.
Lawley certainly has the attention of the Mets, but he’s still far from proving he’s a major league player. There may not be room for him in Vegas at the start of next year, but he’ll at least go to AA, where he’ll have to continue to prove that he can hit for that kind of power at the upper levels, because it’s that power that will get him to the big leagues.
Where Lawley falls on the overall prospect list, I have no idea, but it’s probably not that high, but I have him 6th among outfielders, ahead of both Taijeron and Darrell Ceciliani. I don’t know if I view him as an every day player, but if he keeps up the power, he’ll continue to have a job.
On the pitching side, I chose Bowman over Noah Syndergaard, who only made 12 starts and Domingo Tapia, who had an awful season. Bowman breezed through Savannah in 5 starts and spent the rest of the season in St. Lucie, with a 3.18 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 96 innings.
Bowman’s windup has been compared to that of Tim Lincecum, as movement, deception, and hiding the ball are important to his success. His stuff is fairly average, as his fastball is upper 80’s to low 90’s and at times can touch mid 90’s, while his change up and breaking pitch are average. The stuff isn’t overly impressive, but he’s a Princeton guy, so he’s intelligent and should be able to outsmart hitters at times. He also induced a ton of ground balls with a GO/AO ratio of 2.31 last season.
Bowman is listed at 6’0’’ 165 lbs, although he’s probably a little heavier than that, but he doesn’t have ideal size for a starter. Between his size and his complex delivery, there are some questions about his durability, especially if he wants to remain a starter, and without flashy stuff, all that matters with Bowman is if he continues to be effective as he moves up the ladder, as he should be all but ready for double-A to start 2014.
From a performance standpoint, he was one of the best Mets on the mound in 2013, but from a prospect standpoint, I have him towards the back end of the top 20 pitchers in the organization, which probably puts him among the top 30 to 35 overall. He’s in the mold of a guy that tends to struggle in the upper levels, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of him continuing to pitch well in double-A. Even if he does, he’s a guy that could move to the bullpen and potentially up his velocity, which could help him get to the big leagues as a reliever.