New York Mets: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

New York Mets: Scouting Reports




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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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.

1.  Fernando Martinez, of   Born: Oct. 10, 1988B-T: L-RHt: 6-1Wt: 190
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005Signed by: Rafael Bournigal/Sandy Johnson/Eddy Toledo
Fernando MartinezBackground: Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon once predicted Carlos Gomez and Martinez would flank Carlos Beltran as the outfielders when the team christened its new stadium, Citi Field, in 2009. Gomez since has joined the Twins as part of the Johan Santana trade, and the acclaim for Martinez has diminished a little. Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million in 2005, he has been pushed aggressively by New York. Martinez was the youngest player in the Double-A Eastern League in each of the last two seasons, and the youngest player in the history of the Arizona Fall League in 2007. Because of his youth, Martinez hasn't dominated in the minors, but he had a solid return engagement with Binghamton last year, then got off to an excellent start in the Dominican Winter League.

Strengths: Martinez still has youth on his side. He turned 20 during the offseason, making him the equivalent of a college sophomore or junior, and he'd surely be a first-round pick if he were entering the 2009 draft coming out of a U.S. college.
His bat speed helps him catch up to good fastballs, and he has power to all fields. He can hit some monster home runs when he connects. While he profiles to play an outfield corner in the future, Martinez is holding his own in center field. He has improved his defense and now shows average range and arm strength. He has solid-average speed once he gets going on the bases, ramping it up when he goes from first to third base or senses a triple. His attitude is top-notch. Binghamton manager Mako Oliveras noted that Martinez often was the first player at the ballpark so he could get extra work.

Weaknesses: Martinez has been injury-prone. He missed time in 2006 with a bone bruise in his hand and a knee sprain; in 2007 with a broken hamate bone in his right hand; and in 2008 with recurring trouble with his right hamstring. The lost development time has stymied his efforts to improve his strike-zone discipline. Martinez's outfield routes also need work, though they did get better last season. He'll probably wind up in left field, where he played regularly in the Dominican this winter, though the Mets won't make that move until he reaches the majors. Martinez is slow out of the batter's box and isn't going to steal many bases.

The Future: When he signed, Martinez acquired the hype that goes with a big signing bonus and being a top prospect for a New York team. He's not going to be the next Beltran because he doesn't have the same package of all-around plus tools. Some scouts outside the organization see Martinez as a tweener, a left fielder who lacks impact power, while others see a gifted hitter with an improving approach who should develop average to plus power. He'll compete for a roster spot in big league camp, but GM Omar Minaya has said he expects Martinez to start 2009 at the Mets' new Triple-A Buffalo affiliate.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Binghamton (AA)
.287
.340
.432
352
48
101
19
4
8
43
27
73
6
Mets (R)
.462
.500
.692
13
2
6
1
1
0
0
0
2
0














 
2.  Wilmer Flores, ss   Born: Aug. 6, 1991. Bats: R. Throws: R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 175.
 Signed: Venezuela, 2007. Signed by: Robert Alfonzo/Ismael Cruz.
Wilmer FloresBackground: As a 14-year-old at the Agua Linda Academy in Valencia, Venezuela, Flores already stood out against players preparing to sign contracts as international free agents. He belted 90-mph fastballs to the opposite field over a 300-foot wall to the opposite field. Organizers at the academy, which also has produced Pablo Sandoval (Giants), Mario Martinez (Mariners) and Alex Monsalve (Indians), were so impressed with Flores' arm that they debated grooming him as a pitcher before opting for shortstop. He signed with the Mets in 2007 for $750,000 and became short-season Brooklyn's youngest player ever when he finished the 2008 season there.

Strengths: Flores quickly established himself as a dangerous hitter, and in an Rookie-level Appalachian League game last summer, Danville walked him intentionally with runners at first and second. He has premium bat speed and a knack for finding the ball with the barrel of the bat. His patience and selectivity improved even as he saw a steady stream of offspeed pitches. Flores has a plus-arm at shortstop, though he doesn't flash it on routine plays.

Weaknesses: Flores lacks first-step quickness and is a below-average runner (4.6 seconds to first base), so he doesn't profile as a shortstop down the line. He showed a tendency to chase pitches up in the zone and can get pull-happy.
He's so green that Kingsport manager Pedro Lopez had to teach Flores how to dive for balls.

The Future: Flores already has started to draw some Miguel Cabrera comparisons. He'll open 2009 at low Class A Savannah as a 17-year-old, and with the way the Mets challenge their top prospects, he could find himself as high as Double-A by his 18th birthday in August. New York will keep him at shortstop until he shows he can't play there, with third base or an outfield corner his eventual destination.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Kingsport (R)
.310
.352
.490
245
36
76
12
4
8
41
12
28
2
Savannah (LoA)
.400
.400
.400
5
1
2
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
Brooklyn (SS)
.267
.290
.300
30
3
8
1
0
0
1
1
7
0
 
3.  Jonathon Niese, lhp   Born: Oct. 27, 1986. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215.
 Drafted: HS—Defiance, Ohio, 2005 (7th round). Signed by: Erwin Bryant.
Jonathan NieseBackground: Born the day the Mets won their last World Series, Niese comes from the same Defiance (Ohio) High program as Chad Billingsley. Summoned to the big leagues ahead of schedule last September, he struggled in two of his three outings but tossed eight scoreless innings against the Braves in his second start.

Strengths: Niese's signature pitch is a 12-to-6 curveball. He also throws an 88-93 mph fastball with natural cutting action that allows him to combat righthanders, as does his solid changeup. He generally has good control, though like many young pitchers, he nibbled too much in his first taste of the majors. His mechanics create deception that's imperative for a pitcher with solid but not outstanding stuff. After he battled weight issues early in his pro career, improved eating habits have allowed him to shed 21 pounds.

Weaknesses: Niese needs to do a better job of throwing his curveball for strikes. His delivery, which features a pronounced arch in his back, may hinder his command.

The Future: Given the team's history of awarding a young pitcher a rotation spot—including Mike Pelfrey, Brian Bannister and Tyler Yates in recent years— it's entirely possible that Niese will break camp with the Mets. He's the early favorite to be New York's No. 5 starter in 2009, and he profiles as a possible No. 3 starter down the line.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Binghamton (AA)
6
7
3.04
22
22
2
0
124.1
118
5
44
112
.253
New Orleans (AAA)
5
1
3.40
7
7
0
0
39.2
34
4
14
32
.231
New York
1
1
7.07
3
3
0
0
14
20
2
8
11
.333
 
4.  Brad Holt, rhp  Born: Oct. 13, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 194. 
 Drafted: UNC Wilmington, 2008 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Marlin McPhail.
Brad HoltBackground: Though he was their third choice in the 2008 draft at No. 33 overall, the Mets view Holt as their top pick in retrospect, ahead of first-rounders Ike Davis and Reese Havens. Signed for $1.04 million, he led the short-season New York Penn League in ERA (1.87), strikeouts (96), strikeouts per nine innings (11.9) and opponent average (.171).

Strengths: Holt's fastball typically ranges from 93-96 mph and registers as high as 98. He has good control of the pitch. He has a strong frame and solid mechanics, so durability shouldn't be an issue. He's mentally tough, with the makeup to get out of jams as a starter or finish games as a closer.

Weaknesses: Holt relies mainly on his fastball for success. He'll flash some average or plus sliders, but he usually holds onto it too long before releasing in it. His changeup is even more raw. He has trouble throwing his secondary pitches for strikes and ranked second in the NY-P with 33 walks.

The Future: Mets farm director Tony Bernazard compares Holt to Mike Pelfrey and considers him ahead of Pelfrey at a similar stage of their careers. Holt could open 2009 in the Binghamton rotation and appear in the majors by season's end. Some scouts think he's destined to be a reliever, but New York is grooming him as a starter for now.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Brooklyn (SS)
5
3
1.87
14
14
0
0
72.1
43
3
33
96
.171
 
5.  Bobby Parnell, rhp  Born: Sept. 8, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200.
 Drafted: Charleston Southern, 2005 (9th round). Signed by: Marlin McPhail.
Bobby ParnellBackground: After limited previous experience on the mound, Parnell began pitching regularly at Charleston Southern. He posted 6.82 and 8.86 ERAs in his final two college seasons but has surged ahead as a professional. He earned the trust of Mets manager Jerry Manuel and pitched some critical relief innings in September.

Strengths: Parnell throws a heavy fastball anywhere from 89-97 mph. When he's throwing strikes, he gets plenty of strikeouts and groundouts. His slider and changeup give him the chance to have three plus pitches.

Weaknesses: While he has a good fastball, Parnell doesn't show his top velocity consistently within games, either as a starter or as a reliever. He lacks a feel for pitching that made it hard to go through a lineup three or four times as a starter, but that won't be a problem if he's a reliever. His lack of confidence in his changeup is another obstacle to starting.

The Future: Before the Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez, Parnell was a candidate to become their closer of the future. His best chance of breaking camp with the Mets in 2009 is out of the bullpen, though he continued to work as a starter in the Arizona Fall League.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Binghamton (AA)
10
6
4.30
24
24
0
0
127.2
126
14
57
91
.258
New Orleans (AAA)
2
2
6.64
5
4
0
0
20.1
25
0
9
23
.298
New York
0
0
5.40
6
0
0
0
5
3
0
2
3
.176
 
6.  Jefry Marte, 3b  Born: June 21, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 187.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Ramon Pena/Ismael Cruz/Marciano Alvarez.
Jefrey MarteBackground: Signed by the Mets after turning 16 in 2007, Marte received a $550,000 bonus. International scouting director Ismael Cruz labeled Marte's bat the quickest in the 2007 international class. He ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his pro debut.

Strengths: An outstanding young hitter, Marte uses the whole field when he's at his best. Mets officials are confident he'll hit for average and draw his share of walks while developing solid-average power. The ball jumps off his bat differently than with most players, and he has good pitch-recognition skills for his age. He's a deceptively good runner, with baserunning knowledge and aggressiveness enhancing his average speed. He's also advanced in terms of maturity. His arm is solid average.

Weaknesses: While he has the tools for third base, Marte is an erratic and raw defender, and there's no certainty that's his ultimate position. He gets in trouble at the plate when he wants to pull the ball. He swings at some bad breaking pitches, though he should develop more discipline with experience.

The Future: New York isn't shy about pushing its top prospects. Assuming Marte follows the path of comparable Mets international signings, he could begin the season in low Class A.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Mets (R)
.325
.398
.532
154
29
50
14
3
4
24
13
30
2
 
7.  Jenrry Mejia, rhp   Born: Oct. 11, 1989. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190.
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Ramon Pena/Ismael Cruz/Sandy Rosario/Juan Mercado.
Jenrry MejiaBackground: The Mets are ecstatic about the bargain they received in signing Mejia for just $16,500. The second-youngest regular pitcher in the New York-Penn League last summer, he got knocked around in his first two outings before going 3-1, 2.40 the rest of the way.

Strengths: Mejia has a quality fastball, sitting in the mid-90s even while pitching out of the stretch and touching 98 mph at times. Some scouts believe he'll hit 100 mph once he matures. His changeup has such sink and depth with high-80s velocity that some scouts consider it a two-seam fastball, while some hitters think it's a curveball. He attacks hitters and competes well. He's also in top physical condition, so he should be durable. He attacks hitters and competes well.

Weaknesses: Mejia has difficulty repeating his delivery, hampering his command. His curveball is his third-best pitch and it's wildly inconsistent. Like many young power arms, he's overly reliant on his fastball.

The Future: The Mets will continue to challenge Mejia and could jump him to high Class A in 2009. He'll continue to start to gain experience and work on his secondary pitches, but he could fit best as a late-inning relief option in the long run.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Mets (R)
2
0
0.60
3
3
1
0
15
9
0
3
15
.164
Brooklyn (SS)
3
2
3.49
11
11
0
0
56.2
42
4
23
52
.209
 
8.  Reese Havens, ss   Born: Oct. 20, 1986. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195.
 Drafted: South Carolina, 2008 (1st round). Signed by: Marlin McPhail.
Reese HavensBackground: Drafted out of high school by the Rockies, Havens passed on seven-figure offers from teams that wanted him in the first round. After two disappointing years at South Carolina, he took off after shortening his swing while hitting .315 in the Cape Cod League. Havens batted.359/.486/.645 as a junior, went 22nd overall last June and signed for $1.419 million.

Strengths: An offensive-minded grinder, Havens has a good idea of the strike zone, gets into hitter's counts and consistently drives balls to the gaps. He has average power and strong offensive instincts. He's a savvy defender with good hands and arm strength, tools that had some clubs dreaming of him as a catcher.

Weaknesses: Some scouts wonder how Havens' new stance—he lowered his hands in the Cape—will translate to wood bats. He works a lot of deep counts and needs a better two-strike approach to cut down on his strikeouts. Elbow trouble and a groin pull limited him to DH duties in his pro debut, and the Mets need to find out where he fits defensively. He's a fringe-average runner and his range doesn't stand out at shortstop.

The Future: Havens declined the chance to play in Hawaii Winter Baseball, preferring to rehab at home. He'll stick at shortstop for now, but projects as an offensive second baseman once he reaches the majors. He should begin 2009 at high Class A St. Lucie.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Brooklyn (SS)
.247
.340
.471
85
13
21
6
2
3
11
11
27
3
 
9.  Nick Evans, 1b/of  Born: Jan. 30, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210.
 Drafted: HS—Phoenix, 2004 (5th round). Signed by: Dave Birecki.
Nick EvansBackground: After Evans spent the 2007 season in high Class A, he headed home to Phoenix because a stress fracture in his right hand left him unable to play in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Healthy again last season, he surged all the way to New York, breaking into the majors with a three-double performance May 24 in Colorado. Primarily a first baseman in the minors, he ultimately platooned in left field with fellow rookie Daniel Murphy.

Strengths: Mets officials believe Evans ultimately will hit for more power than Murphy. While his swing can get long, he has above-average bat speed and can beat good fastballs. He mashed lefthanders throughout the minors and in the majors. He has a solid-average arm and has worked hard to catch up defensively in left field.

Weaknesses: Power is Evans' lone above-average tool, and he needs to be more selective to be more than a platoon player. Scouts question whether he'll produce enough to be an everyday first baseman and think he may be best suited as a utility corner bat. He needs to improve his physical strength and polish his defense. He's a fringy runner but not a baseclogger.

The Future: Evans was rushed to the big leagues and should get more seasoning in Triple-A after Fernando Tatis re-signing with the Mets. With Carlos Delgado's contract up after the 2009 season, Evans could find himself in New York's first-base mix a year from now.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Binghamton (AA)
.311
.365
.561
296
52
92
18
7
14
53
26
64
2
New York
.257
.303
.404
109
18
28
10
0
2
9
7
24
0
 
10.  Eddie Kunz, rhp   Born: April 8, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 265.
Drafted: Oregon State, 2007 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Jim Reeves.
Eddie KunzBackground: For the second straight season, the Mets brought a reliever from the previous year's draft to the big leagues. Unlike Joe Smith, Kunz had little success and was demoted after just four appearances. Part of two College World Series championships at Oregon State, he signed for $720,000 as New York's top pick (sandwich round) in the 2007 draft.

Strengths: Kunz built up his arm strength through the 2008 season. He regularly threw 91-92 mph sinkers in April, then worked at 94-95 and touched 97 later in the season. His 3.6 groundout/airout ratio ranked first among Double-A relievers. When it's on, his slider parks in the mid-80s with good bite.

Weaknesses: Kunz gets himself into trouble with an inconsistent release point and varied arm slots. He'll fly open too soon in his delivery, causing his arm to drag and elevating pitches in the strike zone. He needs to continue to improve the command of his slider, which made some progress in 2008.

The Future: Though he'll compete for a bullpen spot with the Mets in spring training, he's more likely to open the season as a closer in Triple-A. He projects as a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever in the majors, especially now that Francisco Rodriguez has come to New York.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Binghamton (AA)
1
4
2.79
44
0
0
27
48.1
39
0
25
43
.222
New York
0
0
13.50
4
0
0
0
2.2
5
1
1
1
.455
New Orleans (AAA)
0
1
7.94
6
0
0
0
5.2
9
1
2
4
.346

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Photo Credits: Kevin Pataky (Martinez)
Rodger Wood (Flores, Havens)
Steve Moore (Niese, Parnell, Evans, Kunz)
Brian Bissell (Marte, Mejia)