New York Mets: Top 10 Prospects

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Adam Rubin
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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Fernando Martinez, of
2. Wilmer Flores, ss
3. Jonathon Niese, lhp
4. Brad Holt, rhp
5. Bobby Parnell, rhp
6. Jefry Marte, 3b
7. Jenrry Mejia, rhp
8. Reese Havens, ss
9. Nick Evans, 1b/of
10. Eddie Kunz, rhp
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Wilmer Flores
Best Power Hitter Fernando Martinez
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Reese Havens
Fastest Baserunner Javier Rodriguez
Best Athlete Greg Veloz
Best Fastball Brad Holt
Best Curveball Jon Niese
Best Slider Brant Rustich
Best Changeup Dillon Gee
Best Control Dillon Gee
Best Defensive Catcher Mike Nickeas
Best Defensive Infielder Ruben Tejada
Best Infield Arm Shawn Bowman
Best Defensive Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Best Outfield Arm Ambiorix Concepcion
PROJECTED 2012
LINEUP
Catcher Francisco Pena
First Base Daniel Murphy
Second Base Reese Havens
Third Base David Wright
Shortstop Jose Reyes
Left Field Fernando Martinez
Center Field Carlos Beltran
Right Field Wilmer Flores
No. 1 Starter Johan Santana
No. 2 Starter Mike Pelfrey
No. 3 Starter Jon Niese
No. 4 Starter Brad Holt
No. 5 Starter John Maine
Closer Francisco Rodriguez
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Alex Escobar, of Nationals
2000 Alex Escobar, of Nationals
2001 Alex Escobar, of Nationals
2002 Aaron Heilman, rhp Mets
2003 Jose Reyes, ss Mets
2004 Kazuo Matsui, ss Astros
2005 Lastings Milledge, of Nationals
2006 Lastings Milledge, of Nationals
2007 Mike Pelfrey, rhp Mets
2008 Fernando Martinez, of Mets
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Neal Musser, rhp (2nd round) Royals
2000 Billy Traber, lhp Yankees
2001 Aaron Heilman, rhp Mets
2002 Scott Kazmir, lhp Rays
2003 Lastings Milledge, of Nationals
2004 Philip Humber, rhp Twins
2005 Mike Pelfrey, rhp Mets
2006 Kevin Mulvery, rhp (2nd round) Twins
2007 Eddie Kunz, rhp (1st supp) Mets
2008 Ike Davis, 1b Mets
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Mike Pelfrey, 2005 $3,550,000
Philip Humber, 2004 $3,000,000
Scott Kazmir, 2002 $2,150,000
Lastings Milledge, 2003 $2,075,000
Geoff Goetz, 1997 $1,700,000
METS
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New York Mets

When Mets general manager Omar Minaya signed Pedro Martinez after the 2004 season, he justified the four-year, $53 million deal in part by suggesting Latin American teenagers would flock to sign with New York as a result.

An increased profile resulting from the Martinez signing, coupled with the opening of a state-of-the-art academy in the Dominican Republic, have been the cornerstones of the Mets’ plans to retool their farm system.

New York believes it’s starting to see dividends from its efforts in Latin America. Dominican outfielder Fernando Martinez and Venezuelan shortstop Wilmer Flores rank as the Nos. 1 and 2 prospects in the organization. Two more Dominicans, third baseman Jefry Marte and righthander Jenrry Mejia, also cracked this Top 10 list, and Dominican righty Maikel Cleto would have joined them if he hadn’t been included in a trade for J.J. Putz.

The Mets also included Venezuelan righty Deolis Guerra in the deal that brought Johan Santana to New York. While they’d make that move again and again, it further depleted a system that was already thin at the upper levels. When injuries created a need for an outfielder in July, they had to promote third catcher Robinson Cancel because their Triple-A New Orleans affiliate was barren.

For the second straight year, the Mets collapsed in September and handed the National League East title to the Phillies. This time, New York lost 10 of its final 17 games and were once again eliminated with a loss to the also-ran Marlins on the final day of the season.

One of the bright spots down the stretch was the procession of several young players from the minors to Shea Stadium. Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans, both natural infielders who started 2008 in Double-A, ultimately platooned in left field for the Mets. Lefthander Jonathon Niese made three September starts at age 21. Eddie Kunz, a sandwich pick just a year earlier, and Bobby Parnell contributed out of the bullpen.

Though the Mets have been as conservative in the draft as they have been aggressive on the international market, they did have a bonanza last June. After forfeiting their 2006 and 2007 first-round picks as compensation for free agents Billy Wagner and Moises Alou, New York had three of the first 33 picks in 2008—the product of free agent Tom Glavine signing with the Braves.

Interestingly, the third of those three choices made the biggest impression. Righthander Brad Holt has the best fastball in the system and has jumped on the fast track to the majors. The Mets expect fiirst baseman Ike Davis and shortstop Reese Havens to fare better in 2009 after uninspiring pro debuts.

Because many of the top players in system are still teenagers, there won’t be many new faces making their debuts when New York unveils Citi Field this season. The lone player not already exposed to the majors who may have an impact is Martinez.

Murphy has made a good case for a regular job, which ideally would be at second base but more realistically would be in left, and Parnell has a shot at a bullpen role. Otherwise, the Mets will be a mostly veteran team, and they turned to proven commodities ($37 million free agent Francisco Rodriguez and Putz) to upgrade their relief corps during the offseason.

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