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November 3, 2008
  
New York Mets’ Top 15 Prospects for 2009
by: Mike Newman on Nov 3, 2008 1:37 AM | Filed under: Articles

The Mets are in a period of transition from the look of their minor league organization. After a handful of arguably disastrous drafts, the Mets have been busy signing top international talent and have focused on drafting top college talent in the hope of providing a quick organizational fix while their top tier teens develop. This leaves a very tough organization in terms of ranking players. Each prospect has legitimate question marks and many would not be in other teams top 20’s. With that said, my rankings are based on a combination of production, age versus level, pedigree, and perceived ceiling.

One notable exclusion is Ruben Tejada, the Mets’ slick fielding shortstop prospect. While none doubt the glove, .229/.293/.296 with a .588 OPS looks like the reincarnation of Rafael Santana. I just can’t bring myself to include a player who lives and dies off of one tool.

1. Wilmer Flores, SS

At 17, his hype is compared to that of other top shortstop prospects Carlos Triunfel and Elvis Andrus, only Flores is already showing power potential. With comparisons to Miggy Cabrera already being made, expectations for him are enormous. Hopefully, the Mets will allow him to move one level at a time and avoid the same mistakes they made with Fernando Martinez.

Grade – B

2. Fernando Martinez

At 19, F-Mart’s performance in Double-A was a mixed bag. His .292/.345/.440 line was solid, but scouts still wonder when the power is going to begin to show in game situations? At this point, Martinez seems an injury free season away from really breaking out. He’s the one player on this list with the best chance of reaching A status by this time next year.

Grade – B

3. John Niese

Niese was the Mets’ fastest rising prospect on the mound during the 2008 season. However, Mets fans tend to overrate him because of this fact. He’s projected to fall somewhere in between Brian Bannister and John Maine statistically and receives an additional bump for being a lefty. 2009 could be a tough year for him should he break camp as the Mets’ number five starter.

Grade – B

4. Bradley Holt

Take Holt’s fastball and Niese’ breaking pitches and you would have the top prospect in the Mets system. Unfortunately for the Mets, this isn’t the case. For a college pitcher, his secondary offerings are underdeveloped, leaving scouts split on whether he ends up in the pen or rotation. I can see a scenario where Holt winds up the Mets closer and dominates. The path of least resistance may be the way to go.

Grade – B-

5. Jefry Marte

First discussed here, Marte finished 2008 with a .325/.398/.532 line. He should be receiving more hype, but the performance of Flores has overshadowed the rest of the Mets 2007 IFA class. He has the most “helium” potential system wide and could see his prospect stock rise more than any other player in the organization with a productive 2009.

Grade – B-

6. Eddie Kunz

It can be argued that Kunz has disappointed since being drafted in the supplemental 1st round in 2007. With 27 saves in Double-A, his season could be viewed as a success on save totals alone. However, so-so peripherals have tempered expectations dropping his stock some. Kunz may break spring training in the Mets pen, but Triple-A would be a good place for him to hone his craft if the Mets still consider him to have closer potential.

Grade – C+

7. Reese Havens

Projected as an average defensive second baseman with plus power potential, Havens showed pop in Brooklyn with eleven extra base hits in eighty-five at bats. However, his balky elbow kept him from playing the field and rumors have surfaced of his possibly needing Tommy John surgery. Should he prove healthy and spend 2009 manning second in the FSL with a late season promotion to the Eastern League, Havens could make a push into the top five within the organization and the top six-to-eight second base prospects in all of baseball.

Grade – C+

8. Mike Carp

Surging up Mets prospect charts in 2008, Carp’s stock has risen as much as any player in the organization. A .299/.403/.471 line as a 22-year old in Double-A makes him the offensive version of all these small college pitchers with good numbers and limited upside. His upside is similar to Lyle Overbay if everything breaks correctly, although I’m not sure he will get there.

Grade – C+

9. Cesar Puello

Carlos Gomez part two? Everything about him seems eerily familiar, only Puello’s first taste of baseball in the lower forty-eight was even more successful. The only knock on Puello is he may profile as more of a corner outfielder than a center fielder. With speed to burn and the size to project a little power, he’s the third 2007 international free agent to crack the top ten.

Grade – C+

10. Ike Davis

How much should a disappointing debut overshadow a dominating college career, first round draft pick, and major league pedigree? Enough to warrant his barely cracking the top ten. At another position a .652 OPS in Brooklyn would be less concerning, but as a first baseman expected to mash, his debut was troubling.

Grade – C+

11. Scott Moviel

Still a project, his 2008 season in which he posted solid but unspectacular numbers across the board was more of a success than his peripherals would indicate. With continued progress in 2009, the 6’11” right hander could crack the top five in the organization and become the high-ceiling pitching prospect the Mets are looking for.

Grade – C+

12. Bobby Parnell

Maybe the most overrated prospect in the organization by Mets fans, Parnell is a decent prospect with limited upside. His peripherals have been nothing more than average since reaching Double-A. At 24, his taking a significant step forward is unlikely. Parnell could be a productive swing starter or bullpen arm, but expecting much more is more a product of hope than projection.

Grade – C+

13. Dillon Gee

Boosted by his small but dominating four-start sample in Double-A, Gee is the most advanced of their small 2007 college pitching crop. His ceiling is limited, but continued success could lead to him becoming a number four or five starter, which is quite an accomplishment for a 21st rounder.

Grade – C+

14. Jenry Mejia

A finalist for best fastball in the organization, Mejia is an intriguing high-ceiling prospect. However, he’s also a project, as his violent delivery and lack of secondary offerings leave many without a clue of where he fits into the big picture. His numbers as a teenager (2.89 ERA, 8.00+ K/9) between the GCL and Brooklyn demand recognition. His prospect status could either shoot through the moon or crash with a thud by this time next year.

Grade – C+

15. Francisco Pena

From watching Pena in person, his catching skills are impressive. His bat is an entirely different story. Plagued by poor pitch selection, his career OBP is under .300, and his slugging percentage is reminiscent of a slap-hitting shortstop. With that said, his age (18), major league pedigree, and size earn him a mulligan until then end of the 2009 season.

Grade – C+

Click here to view the rest of the Mets top 20.

Overall, the Mets’ system is vastly improved from this time last year, but I’m not sure that’s saying much. Much of their top tier talent is either extremely young or unproven at higher levels. With that said, the Mets’ minor league system still ranks in the bottom half (maybe even bottom third) of the league. However, the Mets have found a number of high ceiling talents in Latin America and are coming off of their best draft in years. With another decent draft and a few more quality international players, the Mets could find themselves among the top dozen minor league organizations by this time next year.


15 Responses to “New York Mets’ Top 15 Prospects for 2009”

  1. Comment posted by john on November 3, 2008 at 1:59 am (#887424)

    Other than kunz prehaps a bit too high I think the rankings are pretty good. I love mejia. Aside from the fastball he does have a good curve just struggles a bit win control. I like marte too. He did get overshadowed by wilmer but next year people wild start to take notice

  2. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 3, 2008 at 8:07 am (#887427)

    Josh Thole > Francisco Peña.

    And Tejada was pushed up 4 levels at the age of 18 after performing well in the GCL and VSL. That was unconscionable, but it should give Tejada a Mulligan as well.

    It’s unfortunate that before this year, the Mets had not graduated a prospect since the emergence of David Wright and Jose Reyes. Milz, Jacobs, and Gomez were traded, so they don’t count. That’s three and a half years without one player making it through the system to make an important contribution. Does anyone win that way?

    Thankfully, this year Pelfrey, Evans, and Murphy made it through; and in the years to come, Niese, F!Mart, Thole, and the rest of the gang should provide some very good production. I generally think that everyone, including Met fans, are more pessimistic about the organization than the situation warrants.

    I am not pessimistic about the talent; about what Omar is about to do with it, that’s another story.

  3. Comment posted by john on November 3, 2008 at 8:14 am (#887430)

    I think we have some talent down there especialy at the low levels. I agree. Not as bad as some would like to belive.

  4. Comment posted by Ed in Westchester 2 on November 3, 2008 at 8:17 am (#887431)

    I think Pelfrey has graduated.

  5. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 3, 2008 at 8:22 am (#887433)

    I think we can all agree on that.

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  7. Comment posted by Mike Newman on November 3, 2008 at 8:24 am (#887434)

    The problem with Thole is this….

    Thole 22 in A+
    Pena 18 in A-

    By the time Pena is 22, he could be in the bigs.

    Additionally, Thole is new to the catcher position and Pena has better defensive chops at a much younger age. Age relative to league is a VERY important factor in all of this.

  8. Comment posted by Danny on November 3, 2008 at 8:55 am (#887435)

    Mejia has a sick curveball. He just doesn’t know where it’s going yet. Last year was also literally the first time he had ever pitched in front of a crowd of any size. He’s a true project but the arm is ridiculous. He sits 94-96 and can drop a hammer. I saw him on SNY a couple of times and loved his upside.

    I also think you are too hard on Tejada. It was pretty stupid what the Mets did to him last year. I think this year when he repeats the level will tell us much more.

    Just to demonstrate the impatience with Fernando! that is plaguing much of the fanbase:

    Miguel Cabrera, age 19, A+: .274/.333/.421/.754
    David Wright, age 19, A: .266/.367/.401/.768
    Fernando Martinez, age 19, AA: .287/.340/.432/.772

    I’m not gonna make a big stink with anyone that ranks Flores ahead of Fernando! just because of Flores’ position and Fernando’s lack of durability so far. But there is really no reason to doubt the bat yet. The guy can hit. It oozes out of him every time I watch him at the plate.

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  10. Comment posted by Mike Newman on November 3, 2008 at 9:40 am (#887438)

    Great post Danny,

    I hope the Mets take another look at their rushing teens through the system. It’s much harder to rebuild a prospect’s shattered confidence than it is to build confidence the right way the first time. Puello, Marte, and Flores are a great crop of young talents who should ALL start the season in Savannah. Throw Kyle Allen in that mix too. It has been a LONG time since the Mets had four high ceiling talents like this.

  11. Comment posted by Danny on November 3, 2008 at 9:47 am (#887440)

    It’s much harder to rebuild a prospect’s shattered confidence than it is to build confidence the right way the first time.

    I tend to agree, Mike. Omar’s position is supposedly that NY is a tough place to play and guys have to learn how to deal with failure. i think it’s more important to build their confidence so that they have that success to fall back on when they do experience that failure at some level. Promote a guy when he’s KILLING a league. Otherwise, what’s the rush?

    Another high ceiling talent that I really like is Alonzo Harris. Check him out when you get a chance. Tools in abundance. One of the rare times that the Mets went overslot late in the draft and kept a guy from going to college.

  12. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm (#887629)

    I agree completely with Danny regarding Fernando.
    I thought the silliness of Met fans stopped with calling a 23-year-old pitcher with a 95+MPH sinker a bust. I guess I underestimated them.

  13. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm (#887639)

    And it’s actually better with Peña than Mike says, since he was in long-season A and not A-. I guess .260/.300/.380 in Sally League at 18 with + defense is, all things considered, better than .300/.380/.430 in the PCL at age 22 with meh defense, considering Peña’s drastic improvement form last year in the same league. Of course, the fact remains that as of now, only Thole has hit at all in any level.

    Thole will be in AA next year, while Peña will probably be in St. Lucie or (hopefully) remain in Sally League. AA has a way of sorting these things out.

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  15. Comment posted by Mike Newman on November 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm (#887776)

    I’ll probably update the list before the season. Should Thole finish out the AFL well and continues to make progress, he might end up somewhere towards the bottom of the top 20.

  16. Comment posted by rfloh on November 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm (#888452)

    I also am not worried so much about Fernando’s bat, more about the injuries, and whether he’s losing development time due to the injuries.

  17. Comment posted by acerimusdux on November 7, 2008 at 2:41 am (#890855)

    I also think you are under rating Thole a bit. In the first place, he only just turned 22 last week, he was 21 all season. There’s just under 3 years difference between the two, and I believe you could put Thole at AA next year, and leave Pena in low A, and Thole would still likely outhit him.

    Pena does likely have the higher ceiling, with the size and the pedigree, and Thole did sort of come out of nowhere this year, so I understand being cautious there. But Thole looked good at St. Lucie this year and carried it over into the AFL.

  18. Comment posted by 3000fans on January 18, 2009 at 10:48 am (#921397)

    Thole played well in Winter League. He’s set for a great AA.

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