NEW YORK—As the front office handed out minor league assignments this spring, officials spent hours trying to determine who would play third base for Double-A Binghamton.
They thought first of Wilmer Flores, a once-sterling hitting prospect who had struggled in two tries at the Florida State League. Ultimately, the Mets assigned him to high Class A St. Lucie for the third time—with a position switch from shortstop to third base.
New York also briefly considered second basemen Danny Muno, an eighth-rounder last June, and Robbie Shields for the job, but the former lacked pro experience and the latter missed most of 2011 with a back injury.
Then they considered Jefry Marte.
Vice president of scouting and player development Paul DePodesta explained the decision: "We said, '(Marte's) not changing positions. He had a full season with St. Lucie. He played terrific in the Arizona Fall League, which was a good test for him.'
"As we put it all together, it just seemed he was really the best choice to send (to Binghamton). Because we thought he was ready, it wouldn't really be unnecessarily pushing him. "
The early returns were favorable for Marte, whom the Mets signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2007 for $550,000. He batted .318/.377/.418 with six doubles and a homer through 110 Double-A at-bats.
Despite this being Marte's fifth pro season, he's still just 20 years old, having spent three full years at the Class A level flashing inconsistent, but tempting, performances at the plate.
His strong showing with Peoria of the AFL—he batted .333/.436/.538 with four homers in 78 at-bats—had as much to do with his bump to Binghamton as anything.
"We thought we'd be challenging him," DePodesta said, "but not to the point of it being detrimental to his development."
• Binghamton righthander Zack Wheeler missed an early May start after injuring a fingernail on his pitching hand, but he returned after a week on the disabled list to strike out seven in five innings.
• Righty Domingo Tapia authored a dynamite performance for low Class A Savannah on May 10, spinning together 5 2⁄3 hitless innings while striking out six and walking three.