|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2007 Prospect Handbook|
30 scouting reports on every team
|1.||Mike Pelfrey, rhp Born: Jan. 14, 1984 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-7 • Wt: 210|
|Drafted: Wichita State, 2005 (1st round) • Signed by: Larry Chase|
|Background: After going 33-7 with a school-record 2.18 ERA in three seasons at Wichita State, Pelfrey was Baseball America's top-rated pitching prospect heading into the 2005 draft. The Diamondbacks considered him for the No. 1 overall pick, but he ultimately dropped to the Mets at No. 9 because of signability concerns. He didn't sign until January, when he received a club-record $3.55 million bonus as part of a $5.25 million big league contract. Pelfrey showed no ill effects from his layoff and needed just four starts at high Class A St. Lucie to earn a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. Pelfrey credits veteran catcher Mike DiFelice--whom the Mets sent to Binghamton solely to serve as mentor--with helping him gain confidence in his secondary stuff. He earned a major league callup when Pedro Martinez first went on the disabled list in July and won his first big league start before being sent to Triple-A Norfolk. If not for a sore back that limited him late in the season, Pelfrey would have been in the mix for a spot in the postseason bullpen. He might have gotten a playoff start, considering how beat up New York's starting pitchers were.|
Strengths: There are few pitchers in the minors whose fastball can rival Pelfrey's. His two-seamer sits at 92-95 mph with fierce sink and late life and rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He throws it effortlessly from a 6-foot-7 frame on a steep downhill plane with great extension and solid command. He also has a four-seamer for extra velocity higher in the zone. Though Pelfrey barely needed to use a changeup as an amateur, he already has a good feel for it and it's his No. 2 pitch. He fiddled with his grip in 2006 and improved his command of the pitch. He fields his position well and has a good pickoff move, though the Mets would like to see him get faster to the plate from the stretch.
Weaknesses: A lack of a reliable breaking ball is the biggest thing holding Pelfrey back. He has thrown both a curveball and a slider but now favors the slider, which is better suited for his power arm. He throws it at 84-87 mph with some depth, and he can reduce the break on it to give it more of a cutter look against lefthanders. He has yet to learn how to command his slider consistently, and it probably always will be his third-best pitch. Though his mechanics are clean, he tends to over-rotate his lower half in his windup, which hurts his ability to locate his pitches.
The Future: Though he needs better command of his secondary stuff, there's little left for Pelfrey to prove in the minors. With Martinez out until at least the all-star break, Pelfrey will definitely be in the mix for the Opening Day rotation. He should be in the Mets rotation for years to come and has the potential to be a legitimate No. 1 starter.
|2.||Fernando Martinez, of Born: Oct. 10, 1988 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 185|
|Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005 • Signed by: Rafael Bournigal/Sandy Johnson/Eddy Toledo|
|Background: Martinez received the largest bonus of any international sign in 2005 ($1.4 million) and proved to be a good investment in his debut. Though he missed time with a bone bruise in his hand and a knee sprain, Martinez handled the low Class A South Atlantic League at age 17 and earned a promotion to high Class A. The youngest player in the Arizona Fall League, he recovered from a 1-for-18 start to hit .304 afterward.|
Strengths: Martinez has an advanced approach well beyond his years. He has good pitch recognition, strike-zone awareness and power to all fields. He has slightly above-average speed, though he's better underway than down the line or as a basestealer. He has a strong outfield arm.
Weaknesses: Like many young hitters, Martinez tends to overswing when he gets in a funk but should outgrow that as he gets more reps against advanced pitching. He doesn't have a good first step and can take poor routes in center field, which likely means that he'll end up in right field.
The Future: Martinez has the highest ceiling of any hitter in the system and will put himself into the discussion of the best prospects in baseball if he can build on his 2006 season. Even if he has to move from center field, his bat could make him an all-star. He should be back in high Class A to begin 2007.
|3.||Carlos Gomez, of Born: Dec. 4, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 175|
|Signed: Dominican Republic, 2002 • Signed by: Eddy Toledo|
|Background: The Mets decided to let Gomez skip high Class A because they were so impressed with the way he responded to instruction and made adjustments during spring training. He started the season slow and spent some time in extended spring straining when a back injury sidelined him in May. Roving hitting instructor Lamar Johnson got him to relax the upper half in his swing, and Gomez batted .323 the rest of the way.|
Strengths: Gomez' arm and speed both rate as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's an above-average center fielder and he refined his basestealing technique to where he had 41 swipes in 50 attempts in 2006. His lightning-quick bat and natural swing path allow him to make consistent hard contact. His arm gives him yet another plus tool.
Weaknesses: Much of his game is still raw. Gomez is too aggressive at the plate and needs to improve his situational hitting. He has plus raw power that has yet to show up in game action. His flashy style has irked some his opponents, but the Mets don't see it as a problem and think it will diminish as he matures.
The Future: With Carlos Beltran signed through 2011, Gomez' future with New York lies in right field. Ticketed for the Mets' new Triple-A New Orleans affiliate, he has a ceiling comparable with that of Fernando Martinez.
|4.||Philip Humber, rhp Born: Dec. 21, 1982 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 210|
|Drafted: Rice, 2004 (1st round) • Signed by: Dave Lottsfeldt|
|Background: The winning pitcher in the championship game of the 2003 College World Series, Humber went third overall in the 2004 draft and signed the following January. His big league deal included a $3 million bonus and $4.2 million guarantee. Tommy John surgery in July 2005 cut his pro debut short, but he was on the field one year later and quickly returned to his previous form.|
Strengths: Humber's curveball is one of the best in the minors. Thrown at 74-78 mph, it has tight rotation with a powerful downward action. His fastball sits at 90-94 mph. He also features a developing low-80s changeup with late sink. He throws strikes with all three pitches.
Weaknesses: Humber has a tendency to overthrow, which tires him out and costs him his command. It also hurts his changeup, which loses its effectiveness when it climbs to 86-87 mph. As good as his curveball is, he could do a better job of throwing it for strikes because big league hitters will be less likely to chase it.
The Future: Though his Arizona Fall League stint ended with a sore shoulder, an MRI revealed no damage and Humber is primed for his first full-season workload. Though his stuff is good enough to pitch in the big leagues, Humber will probably be better served with a full season in Triple-A to improve his endurance. He profiles as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
|5.||Deolis Guerra, rhp Born: April 17, 1989 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 200|
|Signed: Venezuela, 2005 • Signed by: Rafael Bournigal|
|Background: After signing for $700,000 as the top prospect coming out of Venezuela in 2005, Guerra was challenged with an assignment to the South Atlantic League as the circuit's youngest player in 2006. He responded by shaking off a rocky start to go 6-5, 1.90 in the last three months and earn a late promotion to high Class A.|
Strengths: Guerra stands out most with a feel for his changeup that's exceptional for a teenager. He maintains his normal arm action, setting up a fastball that sits at 88-90 mph and touches 92. His frame should allow for more velocity as he matures, making the gap between his changeup and fastball all the more difficult for hitters.
Weaknesses: Guerra's curveball is below average. He lacks confidence in his curve, and it has poor rotation and depth. The tilt and velocity on his breaking ball changes as he tries to figure it out, and it's possible it could morph into a slider. His delivery is repeatable but too slow and mechanical.
The Future: With a little more velocity and an average curveball, Guerra would establish himself as an elite prospect. Time is certainly on his side, as he'll begin the season at age 17, making him a safe bet to be the youngest player in the Florida State League.
|6.||Kevin Mulvey, rhp Born: May 26, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 175|
|Drafted: Villanova, 2006 (2nd round) • Signed by: Scott Hunter|
|Background: Mulvey's mother was watching a Dwight Gooden start for the Mets when she went into labor with Kevin, so it was only fitting that the club made him its top pick in the 2006 draft. A second-rounder, he signed late for $585,000 but still reached Double-A.|
Strengths: Mulvey came to pro ball with a feel for four pitches. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph and touches 96. He has good leverage in his delivery, which allows him to maintain his velocity and might give him more as he matures physically. His 82-84 mph slider has short, late break. He's effective at changing batter's eye level with his mid-70s curveball. His changeup should at least provide a weapon against lefthanders. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with a fluid arm action and little effort.
Weaknesses: Though he can throw all four of his pitches for strikes, Mulvey's command within the zone needs work. His changeup is still a below-average pitch at this point, and he lacks a true putaway pitch.
The Future: The Mets believe Mulvey has a chance to have four above-average pitches and could join their rotation in 2008. He may start his first full season in St. Lucie to avoid the cold April climate in Binghamton.
|7.||Jon Niese, lhp Born: Oct. 27, 1986 • B-T: L-L • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 190|
|Drafted: HS--Defiance, Ohio, 2005 (7th round) • Signed by: Erwin Bryant|
|Background: A product of the same Defiance (Ohio) High program that spawned Chad Billingsley, Niese was Ohio's first ever back-to-back state high school player of the year. He was deemed a tough sign coming out of high school, but a recruiting call from Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter convinced Niese to sign for $175,000, the equivalent of early fifth-round money.|
Strengths: Niese is at his best when he has command of his three-pitch mix. He has a lively fastball that sits at 87-90 mph. His big, looping 68-70 mph curveball is a strikeout pitch when it's on. He's willing to throw his 77-79 mph straight changeup to both lefthanders and righthanders. The Mets love his competitive fire.
Weaknesses: Though both his curveball and changeup have potential, Niese rarely has a feel for both of them on the same night. His curve could use more consistent rotation and he needs better command of both pitches. He can get overcompetitve and try to strike everyone out, which works against him. He'll have to get stronger after wearing down as his first full season progressed, resulting in some ugly late-season starts.
The Future: Despite some inconsistency, Niese showed promise in 2006. He'll return to high Class A, where he made two late starts, and projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
|8.||Mike Carp, 1b Born: June 30, 1986 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 205|
|Drafted: HS--Lakewood, Calif., 2004 (9th round) • Signed by: Steve Leavitt|
|Background: Carp hit 11 homers in his first 26 games at low Class A Hagertown in 2005 then fell into a deep slump before injuring his right wrist. He made adjustments, however, and rebounded to be named Mets minor league player of the year in 2006. After using more of the field and tightening his strike zone, he led both the system and the Florida State League in RBIs.|
Strengths: Carp is an all-around hitter with good hand-eye coordination, pitch recognition and power. He makes consistent hard contact and can drive the ball from gap to gap. Though young for his leagues the last two years, he has shown an advanced approach at the plate.
Weaknesses: There are mixed reviews about Carp's defense. He's by no means a butcher, but he doesn't have quick feet and he has trouble receiving throws. He reaches for balls instead of letting them come to him, creating unnecessary errors. He's a below-average runner.
The Future: Carp will need his bat to carry him, and it may do just that. The Mets will get a better read on his future after he spends 2007 in Double-A.
|9.||Joe Smith, rhp Born: March 22, 1984 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 205|
|Drafted: Wright State, 2006 (3rd round) • Signed by: Erwin Bryant|
|Background: Smith had shoulder surgery as a senior in high school and couldn't make the Wright State roster as a freshman. After making the team as a walk-on in 2004, he dropped his arm angle from high three-quarters to sidearm a year later and his stuff improved appreciably. His 0.98 ERA would have led NCAA Division I last spring, but he fell five innings short of qualifying. A third-round pick, he signed for $410,000 and reached Double-A in August.|
Strengths: Smith is unique because he throws much harder than typical sidearmers, and his 89-91 mph fastball has sinking, fading action. It tops out at 94. He stays on top of an 81-83 mph, two-plane slider that destroys righthanders. They hit just .104 against him in pro ball.
Weaknesses: The key to Smith reaching his ceiling is his changeup. He never needed it in college, but he does in pro ball to keep advanced lefthanders honest. They went 10-for-20 (.500) against him in his brief Double-A stint.
The Future: If he can make his changeup an average pitch, Smith should be an excellent setup man. Without it, he'd be just a righthanded specialist. Chad Bradford filled that role for the Mets in 2006, and his departure could allow Smith to make the team at some point in his first full season. He'll probably open in Triple-A.
|10.||Alay Soler, rhp Born: Oct. 9, 1979 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 240|
|Signed: Cuba, 2004 • Signed by: Rafael Bournigal|
|Background: After signing a $2.8 million major league contract in the fall of 2004, Soler missed all of 2005 because he couldn't secure a visa until October. He showed up to his first big league camp out of shape and had a poor spring training, though he bounced back to reach New York in May. He threw a two-hit shutout against the Diamondbacks, but struggled with his control shortly afterward and was demoted in early July.|
Strengths: Soler has success when he attacks the strike zone with his low-90s fastball and above-average slider. The latter is his best pitch. He throws it at 80-81 mph with sharp, late break to righthanders and slows it down and backdoors it against lefties.
Weaknesses: Soler is his own worst enemy and gets in trouble when he tries to nibble and play around with his offspeed stuff in what looks like an attempt to emulate fellow Cuban Orlando Hernandez. He needs to dedicate himself much more to conditioning after making a bad first impression. After his midsummer demotion, he missed six weeks with a minor Achilles problem that isn't considered serious but wasn't helped by his excess weight.
The Future: If Soler plays to his strengths, he has the chance to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter or setup man. How much time he spends getting in shape likely will dictate his assignment in 2007, when he could contribute in the majors.
|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2007 Prospect Handbook|
30 scouting reports on every team
Pelfrey: Tom DiPace
Martinez, Gomez, Guerra, Niese, Soler: Steve Moore
Mulvey: Bill Mitchell
Carp: Marc S. Levine
Smith: Rich Abel