Mets' Nieuwenhuis Wins Admirer In Triple-A Debut





Best Player: Few seem to know at which defensive position Wilmer Flores will eventually settle. But nobody disputes his ability in the batter's box.

The shortstop (for now) advanced to high Class A St. Lucie before his 19th birthday and finished the year with a solid .289/.333/.424 batting line over 554 at-bats. Additionally, Flores established career highs with 11 home runs, 36 doubles and 84 RBIs at two stops, including low Class A Savannah.

With St. Lucie in the second half, Flores caught the eye of five-time all-star Carlos Beltran, who was rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee. "He is a hitter," Beltran said. "He has a plan, an approach. When I was 19, 20, I had no idea of the things he knows."

Best Pitcher: Triple-A Buffalo righthander Dillon Gee started just nine games last season because of a labrum tear in his right shoulder. He opted for a long and arduous rehab rather than surgery, so as a result the Mets kept him on a tight leash this season. Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell noted, "He'd get pretty angry. He wanted the ball."

No one could blame Gee, a 21st-round pick from Texas-Arlington in 2007. He rebounded to go 13-8, 4.96 in 28 starts this season and led the International League with 165 strikeouts, earning him a September callup to New York. He allowed only one run over 13 innings in his first two starts against the Nationals and Pirates.

It may be enough to force the Mets to consider him for a rotation spot in 2011. "I don't really try to think that far ahead," Gee said. "I just want to go out with the opportunity that I'm given and do the best I can. From there let them decide what they want to do."

Keep An Eye On: Oberkfell never got to see the big numbers that accompanied the arrival of outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis in Buffalo. He hit just .225 for the Bisons, with 39 strikeouts in 30 games. But if Oberkfell didn't see the numbers, he saw what the fuss was about.

"He's got the tools," he said. "What I like is his defense. I didn't realize he had a plus, accurate arm. His offense, I didn't see it yet, but he started swinging the bat at the end."

Nieuwenhuis, 23, did most of his damage for Double-A Binghamton, batting .289/.337/.510 with 16 home runs and 35 doubles in 394 at-bats. "He's got some pop—raw power," Oberkfell said.

METAMORPHOSES

• Short-season Brooklyn outfielder Darrell Ceciliani batted .351/.410/.531 over 303 at-bats to win the New York-Penn League batting title. The 2009 fourth-round pick also led the way with 95 hits, 12 triples and 56 runs scored.

• The Mets added 21-year-old lefty Robert Carson to their Arizona Fall League contingent. He finished the regular season on a sour note with Binghamton, going 1-6, 8.32 in 10 starts.