ST. LUCIE, Fla.—Some notes from a pair of low minors games at the Mets’ minor league complex between the Mets and Marlins:
Jose Reyes and David Wright give the Mets the best left side of the infield in baseball. The projected left side of the Mets’ low Class A Savannah infield isn’t too shabby either with shortstop Wilmer Flores and third baseman Jefry Marte. In fact, I can’t think of a more prospect-laden shortstop/third base combination on any minor league team this year, unless the Brewers have Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel team up again this year in Triple-A.
Flores and Marte were both impressive today. Flores, the No. 47 prospect in baseball, is the more decorated of the two, a 17-year-old who hit .310/.352/.490 with eight home runs in 59 games in the Rookie-level Appalachian League last year. From his face to his body, Flores looks every bit like a player who didn’t turn 17 until the last month of the 2008 season—until he steps into the batter’s box. The righty-batting Flores stays quiet at the plate with little hand movement, showing natural hitting ability with excellent hands to drive the ball to all fields. In his first at-bat against 2008 Marlins’ second-rounder Brad Hand, Flores ripped a line drive over the third baseman’s head for a double, then hit the ball hard in the rest of his at-bats.
Flores played shortstop, but it’s hard to imagine him staying at the position given that he’s a below-average runner whose range will be even more limited once he fills out his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame. Today, however, Flores fielded balls cleanly, showing a strong arm and a very quick release that could fit well at third base.
Marte tends to somehow get lost in the shuffle of international prospects, but he was one of the top 2007 international signings and hit .325/.398/.532 in 44 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2008. At 6-foot-1, the righty-hitting Marte isn’t as tall as Flores, but he is thicker. He made loud contact all game, including on a double—based on my unofficial scorer’s discretion, since the ball bounced off the ranging right fielder’s glove—that he smashed to right field. Scouts have questioned Marte’s defense in the past, but he fielded cleanly each of several balls hit his way and showed a strong arm, though Flores’ arm strength is a tick better.
Hand got the start for the Marlins opposite Flores and Marte, though he got hit around pretty hard with an 87-89 mph fastball, a pitch that has been up to 93 in the past. Hand did show why his curveball ranks as the best in the system, a swing-and-miss pitch that came in at 73-75 mph. Hand also flashed a high-70s changeup against righthanded batters.
On the second field, Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton continued to look like a man playing against children. Stanton crushed a double over the left fielder’s head for a double in his first at-bat, then doubled again by smoking a ball down the left field line. But apparently Mets righthander Nick Carr, who had a 5.70 ERA with an 80-50 K-BB mark in 94 2/3 innings in the high Class A Florida State League last year, is Stanton’s Kryptonite. Carr came in as a reliever and got Stanton to strike out swinging on a breaking ball in their first meeting. Later in the game, Carr got Stanton to swing and miss at a breaking ball that broke away and out of the zone to get ahead 0-1, then got Stanton to foul tip a breaking ball into the catcher’s glove on an 0-2 count for the strikeout. Carr worked quickly and effectively mixed three pitches, an 88-92 mph fastball, a breaking ball and a changeup.
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