New York Mets: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Adam Rubin

New York Mets: Chat




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.

Moderator: Thanks for joining me. I'll be here at 2 p.m. ET. Before we get started, let me first say that it was a very spirited debate, which went down to the wire, about whether Fernando Martinez or Wilmer Flores deserves the No. 1 spot. There was no uniform answer even within the higher-ups in the organization I quizzed in preparing to do the rankings. In the end, the consensus was Fernando Martinez. While it's not overly likely he breaks camp with the Mets this year, if Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy can't duplicate last year's performances, or if there's an outfield injury, Martinez could be the first call up from Triple-A Buffalo next season. Flores looks like he'll eventually move to another position besides shortstop. So perhaps he and Martinez will one day flank Carlos Beltran at the Mets' new home, Citi Field.

Moderator: It's a few minutes early, but we already have 100 questions submitted, so let's get started ...

 Q:  Zachary Ellenthal from Connecticut asks:
If Ike Davis' bat doesn't pan out, does he have any hope as a pitcher?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Davis, the Mets' top pick last year, wasn't too far off the top 10, and converting him to pitching obviously isn't a consideration right now. He did register 92 mph while pitching at Arizona State, and obviously has the pedigree with his father Ron a former big-league pitcher. But Davis pitching would be a last resort. He'll probably start at first base for St. Lucie next season — not that playing in the Florida State League will lead to gaudy power numbers.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
How surprising were the struggles of Ike Davis in his pro debut? What is his ultimate ceiling?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Failing to homer in 215 at-bats in Brooklyn was a disappointment, but Mets officials feel Davis put a lot of pressure on himself. He also apparently arrived from Arizona State with an oblique injury. The Mets label him more of a project than their other first-round pick, Reese Havens, because Davis isn't as physically mature yet. He's a very slick defensive first baseman, too.

 Q:  Steven M from NY asks:
Brad Holt looks like a great pick! He sounds alot like Mike P, Is that true?
 A: 

Moderator: Steven, The Mike Pelfrey comparison is right on. Both Mets special assistant Sandy Johnson and VP for player development Tony Bernazard said Holt is ahead of where Pelfrey was at the same point. Bernazard strongly hinted to me that Holt would start 2009 at Double-A Binghamton. While the Mets probably will have a veteran Triple-A rotation with players such as Nelson Figueroa, I can certainly see a scenario where Holt gets starts for the Mets next season, like Jon Niese did three times last year. Holt has the best fastball in the Mets' minor-league system.

 Q:  Zachary Ellenthal from Connecticut asks:
Would Mike Carp have made this list had he not been traded?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Maikel Cleto, the hard-throwing righthander who registered 100 mph at least once at Savannah last season, was the highest prospect included in the 12-player trade that landed J.J. Putz in New York. He was going to be rated No. 7. Carp was to be rated 18th. Ezequiel Carrera, an Endy Chavez-like outfielder also included in the deal, was to be 22nd. Since you asked about Carp, and the bio I wrote for the top-30 prospect rankings in the book is no longer going to be published there, here's what I had written about Carp, who had very mixed reviews: The Mets weren't thrilled with Carp's physical conditioning and attitude two seasons ago, so they snubbed him for an invite to big-league camp during 2008 spring training. Carp forced himself back into good graces by dropping weight, then hitting .412 over the first three weeks of the Eastern League season. Still, while Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans received promotions last season, Carp remained stuck at Double-A Binghamton and got frustrated. The Mets exposed Carp to left field with the B-Mets, but he has below-average range. Carp may have difficulty because of a lack of athleticism, but Tony Bernazard, the Mets' VP for player development, insisted the organization was pleasantly surprised with Carp's outfield play. Carp was playing winter ball in Venezuela to continue learning the outfield, though he remains primarily a first baseman. He should begin 2009 at Triple-A New Orleans. Benefiting from spending a second year in the Eastern League last season, Carp hit 17 homers in 478 at-bats, but it's not certain he'll duplicate that power in the majors when pitchers locate fastballs on the inner half. Scouts liken Carp to Kansas City's Mike Jacobs in terms of set-up at the plate. Carp will need to avoid stretches of getting pull-happy, because his success comes when he uses the left-center gap. He has irked other teams with a bat flip while running down the first-base line. "Carp has power, but it won't work for me," an Eastern League manager said. "He just was better because he knew the league, had a little experience, some feel for how to drive the ball."

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
Daniel Murphy exceeded the rookie eligibility limit for major league at bats by only 1. If he had been eligible for the top 10 list, where would he have ranked.
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The list would have been that much more imposing had Murphy not reached 131 at-bats, as you noted. Until he exceeded that limit, I was thinking No. 3 or 4, right there with Jon Niese.

 Q:  Ken Rule from Lakewood CA asks:
Love the BA chats - thanks. I think Daniel Murphy exceeded AB limit so he wasn't rated. Where would you put him in the Top 10 if he was eligible? Do you see him becoming an everyday player for the Mets (2B?/LF?) or more as a utility type? He seems to have a good bat and did well jumping from AA to the Majors.
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Since we were just discussing Murphy ... The Mets seem like they're going to hold the line on payroll and spend the money left on starting pitching, so it certainly looks like Murphy and Fernando Tatis will platoon in left field. Murphy looked fairly good the game I saw him playing second base in the Arizona Fall League. He ranged behind second base for a grounder and flipped the ball with his glove to the shortstop to initiate a double play. I still think first base may be his ultimate landing spot. Certainly, Murphy is a hitter primarily.

 Q:  Zachary from Connecticut asks:
Lucas Duda had a solid, not great year. Does he make the top 30 list?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Duda will be in the bottom third of the top 30. He has awesome power displays during batting practice, but his long swing has hampered him. I'm told he fell into a rut of only using his upper body, which Mets officials sought to correct when he participated in the instructional league. Duda has good strength but hits a lot of balls to the big parts of the field, which the Mets also sought to address. He'll likely make Double-A Binghamton's club out of spring training, especially with Ike Davis behind him a level and probably headed to St. Lucie.

 Q:  Zachary from Connecticut asks:
can you tell me about francisco pena?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Francisco Pena, as I imagine you know, is Tony Pena's son, and things haven't gone as smoothly as everyone hoped when he signed for $750,000 in 2006. In fact, I debated for a long time whether to rank Josh Thole or Pena higher. I settled on Pena one slot ahead of Thole, but they're both in the bottom-third, and catcher is definitely the position that Mets lack in their system — which is an issue considering Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro are free agents after the season and the Mets aren't ecstatic with either. Pena's throws to second are fairly accurate. But while he's been timed as quick as 1.90 to 1.95 seconds, he has widely inconsistent ranges. A larger issue is Pena's weight, though reports from the instructional league suggested Pena made dramatic improvements after being confronted by Mets officials. Pena isn't projected to be more than an average hitter or defensive catcher. Thole really is a great story. He hadn't caught much since high school, but Sean McCraw's early struggles hitting with St. Lucie prompted Thole to get a chance. His asset is his bat, not his catching skills, though those should come along with more experience. Thole can hit mistake pitches, but he'll see fewer of them when he moves to Double-A Binghamton next season.

 Q:  Clooch from VT asks:
Ruben Tejada had a tough year while being pushed very aggressively. Is this the type of experience that can break a young player? Are there positives to take out of his performance this year? The kid reportedly plays good defense, seems to have a good batting eye and had very good numbers as a 17 year old in 2007. Does he have the tools to be a starting shortstop on a team that doesn't have Reyes in front of him?
 A: 

Moderator: Tony Bernazard, the Mets VP for player development, definitely has altered the mindset of the organization. Before he arrived and Omar Minaya returned, the Mets were very conservative promoting prospects. Now, other than at Brooklyn, we often see players — particularly the internationally signed teenagers — playing a level or two over their heads. The Mets' theory is that players ought to experience adversity before they reach the big leagues, and the mentally strong ones will benefit from it. The mentally weak ones eventually won't succeed anyway. (That's the logic, at least.) As for Tejada specifically, you're correct: He was overmatched after skipping two levels and playing shortstop in the Florida State League at 18 years old. Mets officials told me they had Tejada on a very extensive weight training program while he was in St. Lucie this year to bulk up his skinny frame, and that contributed to fatigue and underwhelming numbers. He's solid defensively with a strong arm and sound range, and he definitely has the capability of making the spectacular play. He'll remain at shortstop for now, though he has experience at second base and ultimately may play there.

 Q:  Tony from DE asks:
Adam, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us! How close was Scott Moviel to being in the top ten and what is his future projection as a starting pitcher?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Scott Moviel was close to cracking the top 10. His fastball sat at 90 mph, he tossed an 84-86 mph changeup and had a 75-79 mph variance on his curveball, with the more effective breaking pitches being in the higher end of that range. He's obviously very athletic, having been recruited to play basketball at Michigan. One brother, Greg, a lefthander, pitched in the Mariners organization. Paul, a fellow righthander and a 36th-round pick in 2003, pitched in the White Sox and Rays organizations. Another brother played college football. It looks like he'll start 2009 in St. Lucie's rotation. Many taller pitchers — Moviel is 6-11 — need more time than others to work out their mechanics. But Moviel is progressing nicely.

 Q:  Zachary from Connecticut asks:
any hope for shawn bowman after a successful AFL season?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Shawn Bowman has been through a lot — from persistent back problems that resulted in surgery to his father's long battle with terminal cancer. He's got the best infield arm in the Mets' system. I'm afraid with David Wright entrenched at third, it's hard to envision Bowman at Citi Field. But we see former Mets farmhands all over the majors — from Mike Jacobs to Heath Bell to Matt Lindstrom. So I wouldn't discount him ultimately landing elsewhere.

 Q:  Mike R from LA asks:
It sounds like Jenrry Mejia could be good!!!! What else could you tells us about him?
 A: 

Moderator: Mejia and Maikel Cleto, who was traded to the Mariners in the Johan Santana deal, actually had very similar profiles and would have been ranked consecutively in the top 10 had the Mets not pulled the trigger for J.J. Putz. He really is turning out to be a steal, having signed for just $16,500. Mejia's fastball registers as high as 96 mph and is projected to increase as he matures. He already has a changeup deemed major-league ready.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Ike Davis doesn't project to be the starting first baseman in four years? Ouch.
 A: 

Adam Rubin: You can only pick one first baseman, and in order to fit players such as Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores on the list (first base and right field, respectively), you have to leave off some valuable prospects.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
What's the word on Dylan Gee? His numbers last year look good, and he's tearing it up in Puerto Rico. Where do you see him starting the year, and how long before he is pitching in the new park?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Mets collectively are very high on those middle-round draft picks from 2007 — Mike Antonini, Dillon Gee and Dylan Owen. They all finished last year at Binghamton, and are expected to start there this upcoming season, along with Brad Holt. Antonini, Gee and Owen all appear in the top 30. Gee didn't expect to get named to the Florida State League All-Star team in 2008, much less reach Binghamton, so he's progressing very well. He's got solid control, changeup — both rated the best in the system, in fact. His makeup is also exceptional.

 Q:  Keith from Fort Dix NJ asks:
Jefry Marte, How good could he be? Thanks
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Mets officials are very, very high on Marte, though he's only 17 years old and probably wouldn't see the big leagues before at least the 2011 season. He's extremely raw defensively, so the ranking is based on his bat. He's already adept at using the right-center gap, though like many players his age, he needs to have better discipline chasing bad pitches. He can hit any strike.

 Q:  Zachary from Connecticut asks:
What do you think about cesar puello?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Cesar Puello, who signed for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, fell just outside the top 10. He's athletic, and should eventually hit for average as he matures. In the Gulf Coast League, he hit .242 in June, .271 in July and .357 in August as he cut down chasing breaking balls out of the zone. Puello hits a lot of balls in the air, so instructors are trying to reduce his upper-cut swing. He's more of a bat guy who could be adequate in left field.

 Q:  from vido NY asks:
I was very surprised to not see Josh Thole on this list after his breakout season and fall league. How close was he and is he the mets C of the future? Thanks for the chat.
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I'm not sure the Mets' next catcher beyond Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro is in the system. Thole, who I chatted with when I went to watch the Arizona Fall League, is neck and neck with Francisco Pena for top billing in the system. Thole hadn't caught extensively since high school until this year, and he's worked a lot with catching instructor Bob Natal. Let's see how he looks behind the plate in spring training.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Catchers are slow, but Francisco Pena is seems really slow and his arm doesn't seem great. The good is he was ranked 4th in last year's Mets prospect list and is still projected to be in the 2012 Mets lineup. The bad is he is not in this years top ten. Has he plunged as a prospect, or just slipped a bit?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: What word is between slipped and plunged? He's projected to be the Mets' catcher in 2012 because Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro won't be around and you can't project free-agent signings. The good news is that Mets officials say he really made strides dropping weight in instructional league. He may be no more than a major-league back-up, though.

 Q:  from asks:
Do you like any of the mets other top draft picks : rodriguez, satin, nieuwenhuis, ratliff?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Javier Rodriguez was a late addition to the top 30. Drafted in the second round by the Mets in June out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and signed for $585,000, he struggled in the Gulf Coast League, hitting just .193 in 135 at-bats. We rated Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the best defensive outfielder in the system once Ezequiel Carrera was traded, though he and Sean Ratliff just missed the top 30.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Mike Carp and Nick Evans are both slugger prospects at first base. As Evans is ranked in the top 10 prospects this year, what does that mean for Carp's baseball future?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I had Evans rated higher than Carp, who had his share of detractors. Obviously the Mariners like him, and I'm told by his agent, Tom O'Connell, that he has a legit shot to make the Mariners out of spring training. He couldn't have said that with the Mets.

 Q:  Peter from East Hanover, NJ asks:
What is the status of the Mets 2007 supplemental first-round pick Nathan Vineyard? After having shoulder surgery early in the season i heard that he basically decided to go MIA and left the organization, what happened?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I hadn't heard the MIA part. I'd have to check on that. I do know I spoke with Tony Bernazard about a month ago about him. He said Vineyard had rotator cuff surgery in May and will be out for more than a year from that point. So we're looking midseason 2009 at best.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
Who are the sleepers in the organization who did not crack the Top 10, or perhaps the Top 30, but still have a chance to, someday, impact MLB? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Outfielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Sean Ratliff narrowly missed the top 30, but both should be watched closely. Once Ezequiel Carrera was traded, Nieuwenhuis became the top defensive outfielder in the system. Other non-top-30 guys whom people spoke highly of: Dock Doyle, c; John Holdzkom, rhp; and Stefan Welch, 3b.

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
Before the J.J. Putz trade, how high were the prospects ranked that the Mets sent to Seattle (Cleto, Carrerra, and Carp).
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Cleto No. 8, Carp No. 18, Carrera No. 22. Let me give you reports on Cleto and Carrera I obviously can't use now ... 8 Maikel Cleto, rhp Born: May 1, 1989. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 218. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006. Signed by: Ramon Pena. Background: Cleto, who draws comparisons to Jennry Mejia, tossed the first nine-inning shutout in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2008. He logged 136 innings with Savannah, topping Scott Moviel for most with Savannah. Strengths: Cleto registered 100 mph at least once in 2008 and has a very live arm. He sported the top fastball in the South Atlantic League and ranks among the best in the organization. He also throws strikes. Cleto's strong body allowed him to log 141 innings as a teenager. "Anyone who throws 91-98 and a ton of strikes you have to pay attention," one scout said. Mets officials also rave about Cleto's work ethic. Weaknesses: While Cleto throws strikes, walking just 36 batters in 141 innings, his secondary pitches, which include a slurvish breaking ball and changeup, need work. His delivery can be a little violent because he has such a great arm. He's erratic performance-wise as well, with no-hit stuff one day and the inability to get out of the first inning the next time, like many inexperienced pitchers. 22. EZEQUIEL CARRERA, OF Born: June 11, 1987. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Signed: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Gregorio Machado/Junior Roman/Robert Alfonzo. Carrera has drawn comparisons to Endy Chavez for his range and versatility in the outfield as well as his slight frame and above-average speed that he needs to utilize at the plate. He takes good routes and can go get the ball, but he doesn't nearly have the arm of Chavez, a fellow Venezuelan whom he reveres. Carrera needs to hit the ball on the ground and send liners to the gaps. A pure defensive center fielder, he's projected to be a fourth outfielder in the big leagues, not someone who will displace Carlos Beltran. Observers laud his first-step quickness, as well as his great angles. He also takes a leadership role in the outfield, taking charge and instructing teammates at the corner outfield positions. Carrera has looked uncomfortable against lefthanded pitching. He won't hit for any power and may be a platoon player with good on-base percentage in the big leagues in a best-case scenario. Carrera had a tendency during the instructional league to start his swing late and foul a lot of pitches straight back. He was one of the three fastest Mets in the instructional league, joining second basemen Alonzo Harris and Jordany Valdespin in that group.

 Q:  Joe from rochester NY asks:
2 Questions here. Is john Holdzkom in the top 30 prospects? and what happened to nathan vineyard?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Holdzkom missed, but was in the dialogue, and I know Mets officials were pleased with significant weight loss after some off-the-field turbulence early in his pro career. We just discussed Vineyard after you submitted your question, but shoulder surgery that will sideline him into 2009.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Just how close was it between F-Mart and Flores for the top slot?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: See if you can get Jim Callis to answer that one sometime. Very.

 Q:  steve from glenville ny asks:
where would the mets farm system rank overall? top 15?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I'm assigned to the Mets, so it's difficult for me to say precisely. I will say it's markedly improved. The top prospects are still skewed toward teenage international signings who are a few years away, but it's a credit to the Mets that they only parted with one top-10 prospect in that J.J. Putz deal, albeit while including Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith and Endy Chavez as well and landing Jeremy Reed and Sean Green. The Mets say they've gotten a lot of calls about Green since the deal. While they're not looking to trade him, that further signals to the officials that they got a good pitcher in addition to Putz.

 Q:  Doug from Phx asks:
Caleb Stewart hit a lot of HR in the AFL last year then struggled at New Orleans this year before playing pretty good at Binghamton is he in the top 30 or just an organizational guy?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Mets called up Chris Aguila last year, so I wouldn't rule out anything. He's too young to say strictly organizational guy. But with Nick Evans and Fernando Martinez likely starting the year at Triple-A Buffalo, the Mets' new International League affiliate, I have a hard time envisioning the circumstances where Stewart is going to get called up.

 Q:  John from Fargo asks:
Eddie Kunz - drafted that high he looked like a closer candidate. Ignoring K-Rod and Putz for the moment, does he have closer stuff? Did he when drafted?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Even before the acquisitions of K-Rod and Putz, Kunz was viewed more as a set-up man. Mets officials, in fact, were labeling Bobby Parnell as the best internal candidate for closing. Kunz would confess he was nervous when he got called up. He had a throwing error in Houston his first appearance. He looks like he'll open the season as Buffalo's closer, trying to hone his slider and repeat his mechanics more consistently.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
How close was Veloz to the Top 10? What is his prospect profile? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Veloz is in the next 10. He's a confident player, but he rolled over a lot of balls and probably was over his head this past season. He doesn't have a lot of power potential, and probably will be just an adequate defensive second baseman. He played third base before joining the Mets. Tony Bernazard said his 19 errors at second base were largely the result of incorrect positioning when he's getting set to let go of the ball. Bernazard is a former big-league second baseman, so that should get corrected. He's not a speedster, but did have 29 steals.

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
Will any of the Mets' recent bullpen acquisitions from the Rule V draft and the Scott Schoeneweis trade (Darren O'Day, Rocky Cherry, and Connor Robertson) appear in the team's list of top 30 prospects? How would you rank them, as far as their chances to have an impact on the Mets' bullpen in 2009 and beyond.
 A: 

Adam Rubin: O'Day will be in the top 30. He's actually got a similar back story to Joe Smith in how he started to drop down and has a chance to stick. He does have a labrum tear, but opted for rehab instead of surgery, and the Mets expect him to be productive. You may remember Steven Register came close to making the Mets last year as a Rule 5 pick, so it's doable. The Mets always carry seven pitchers in the bullpen, and right now you've got K-Rod, Putz, Sanchez and Feliciano all but guaranteed barring a late maneuver. The Mets project Bobby Parnell in the bullpen as well. They could add a second lefthander now that Scott Schoeneweis is gone, but that's not guarateed. Cherry probably has only an outside chance as a Rule 5 pick to stick. My friends at the Arizona Republic didn't rate Robertson very highly, so it looks like just a salary dump by the Mets with Schoeneweis.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Did Eddie Kunz make your 11-20 range?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Eddie sneaked in at No. 10 after the trade of Maikel Cleto moved him up a slot.

 Q:  Dwight from Gilbert asks:
How good is Tobi Stoner? Was he close to making the list?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Stoner was part of that group at Binghamton in the second half that had good showings. He'll be in the top 30. Stoner's four-seam fastball sits at 91-92 mph, though he's touched 95. He has a good slider, but needs to improve its consistency. He has a chance to be a swing guy or set-up man. He's expected to begin 2009 in Double-A Binghamton's rotation.

 Q:  Phil from Chandler, AZ asks:
Is Dylan Owen a potential starter in the majors?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: One Mets official, who obviously goes back a little, labeled Oewn a "poor man's Catfish Hunter," adding: "Hitters don't get good swings off Owen." I'd say they still view him as a potential starter.

 Q:  Steve from Brooklyn asks:
Thanks for the chat Is LHP Nathan Vineyard still considered a prospect after his poor showing this past season in the low minors ? Thank you
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Vineyard had shoulder surgery after struggling in April. I would discount the handful of performances beforehand. Let's see how he responds to the surgery.

 Q:  steve from glenville ny asks:
what position do you see flores and marte playing in the majors
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Flores really can play anywhere. He's not going to pitch for the Mets, but he has that kind of arm. That's why I'm speculating right field. Marte will stay at third base for a while.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Who do you like the most out of the Met's latin american signings this year?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Mets didn't throw around as much money this past summer on international signings, likely because they had to devote money to sign Ike Davis, Reese Havens and Brad Holt. Third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez ($600,000), who will appear in the top 30, is probably the one to watch. Third base is a definite work in progress, though his showing there was not as bad as had been feared. He has a big frame, having substantially added to his size even from the time the Mets signed him until he began participating in the instructional league.

 Q:  JB from NY asks:
Should Evans still qualify for this list? He exhausted his rookie eligibility last year by being on the active MLB roster for more than 45 days (he saw playing time in 50 games).
 A: 

Adam Rubin: As best I can tell, B.A. strictly uses the 130 at-bat criteria. Rookie of the Year also has a service time way of exceeding the limit, which Evans obviously did.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Hi- What is the future for Shawn Bowman?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: As I mentioned earlier, I'm glad Shawn Bowman is back from the serious back surgery, even though the back is still cranky at times. I would need to see who is going to be signed as a minor-league free agent, but Bowman should at Buffalo, I'd imagine.

Moderator:

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Do you think Jordan Abruzzo has a major league future? Thanks!
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I spoke with Abruzzo last year, when he was doing a good job primarily as a DH at Savannah, while Francisco Pena got the bulk of the catching duties. He didn't get any real chatter from scouts or the Mets' front office, so I'm inclined to say no. But given the Mets have no big catching prospects, there's certainly room to move quickly if there's progress.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Will Ruben Tejada ever hit?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: He was playing at too high a level to demonstrate he can hit, but observers laud his strike-zone knowledge. He may hit 10 home runs a season once his skinny frame matures. Butline drives, producing a high on-base percentage and using his legs likely will be the keys to his game.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Does Brad Holt look like the biggest steal in the draft at this point? Is there any reason he can't be a workhorse number 3 starter in a few years?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Mets view Holt as their best pick, better than Davis or Havens. Their scout, Marlin McPhail, obviously does a good job. He found Bobby Parnell, too. And you've heard his name back to unheralded signings like Ty Wigginton with the Mets.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
What kind of power does Wilmer Flores have?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Flores was clearing 300-foot walls at a Venezuelan academy at age 14, so the power is there. He's been drawing comparisons to Miguel Cabrera, which speaks well, too.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Why don't you think that Wilmer can stick at short?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: It's not impossible, but he's not exceptionally quick, at least first step. More importantly, his body size will probably result in him moving to third base or a corner outfield spot. And then there's the Jose Reyes angle.

 Q:  Fred from Ohio asks:
Why don't the Mets spend more money on the draft?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: There are probably a number of factors: Fred Wilpon and the front office usually abide by the slotting, and don't overpay for someone who has dropped. The Mets also haven't had high draft picks — they didn't even have a first-round pick in 2006 or 2007 because they signed Billy Wagner and Moises Alou. And they spend money on international signings.

 Q:  chuck from pittsburgh asks:
Is Nick Evans getting too little credit as a 22 year old who had a .926 OPS in AA?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Evans may not be an every day major leaguer, but he'd certainly be valuable at least facing lefthanded pitching. He chased a lot of pitches up in the strike zone after getting promoted, which was the biggest difference between him and Daniel Murphy. Murphy had exceptional discipline at the plate.

 Q:  Chad from Scottsdale, AZ asks:
What position do the mets have the least depth in the minors?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Catcher is clearly what's lacking. I wish Mike Nickeas was hitting a little more, but he's probably the top upper-level catching prospect.

 Q:  Lance from Memphis, TN asks:
What have you heard about the Mets' top international signing this year, Aderlin Rodriguez? Is he in the top 30 prospects list? Also, did the Mets sign any other top international players this summer that have a chance to become top prospects in the system next year?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Two names to watch, I'm told by someone who monitored the instructional league: second basemen Alonzo Harris and Jordany Valdespin, both of whom are speedsters.

 Q:  noah from brooklyn asks:
Elvin Ramirez,Dillion gee,and Robert Carson do they get any consideration for top 10-20?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I mentioned Gee earlier, but I'm glad you asked about Elvin Ramirez, who no one had inquired about. He suffered a muscle strain in his back while exercising and didn't appear in a game after July 9. He returned for the instructional league at full strength. Ramirez's fastball has registered as high as 96-97 mph, and he also throws a curveball and changeup.

 Q:  rocky from new jersey asks:
what do mets think of nathan vinyard and mike antonini
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Vineyard is injured. Antonini is in the top 30. His primary assets are he's lefthanded, he has a feel for a plus changeup and he is considered fearless and crafty with the ability to pitch inside. His fastball settles in the upper-80s to 90 mph and he has an ordinary curveball. Mets officials say in a best-case scenario, Antonini would resemble Mark Buehrle.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
Did Greg Veloz just miss the Top Ten? What do you expect from him in 2009 and whom does he compare to in the majors currently?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Veloz is in the next group of 10. One scout compared him to a minor-league Jose Vidro.

 Q:  Greg from LA, CA asks:
What happened to Brant Rustich? He seemed a slight reach in the 2nd round when he was drafted and hasn't made the type of splash he wouldve expected to, whats the word?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Rustich has been a major disappointment, mostly because of his inability to remain healthy. The Mets had him in big-league spring training, and he was on the same path as Eddie Kunz at the time. But he complained of soreness and didn't appear in any Grapefruit League games. He actually stayed behind in St. Lucie when teams broke camp, and was punished by being sent to Savannah rather than the Florida State League team when he was healthy. He still has a very good slider. Here's what one team insider said: "He's on the DL all the time. He's got great stuff — 95-96 mph with an unhittable breaking ball. But he's another guy we can't get on the field."

 Q:  Daniel from NYC asks:
hi, this top 10 list is quite sad, Fmart would proplay rank 4 0r 5 in the Florida top ten, where do you rank it, worst in baseball?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Marlins have generally received higher draft picks and prospects back in trades. They just got Emilio Bonifacio for Scott Olsen. That's not fair to the Mets. I actually think this is as good as it's been in the seven years I've been covering the team. The Mets are very, very high on Brad Holt.

Moderator: I'll keep going until 4 p.m., but I'm sorry I can't get to everyone's questions. There are still more than 100 in the queue.

 Q:  Alex from NY asks:
Some people have already given up on Jon Niese based on the fact that his fastball is extremely straight.. Do you think he's going to be a successful big league pitcher?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Mets evaluators haven't given up on Niese. They're projecting him as the No. 5 starter, behind Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and whatever external addition is brought in.

 Q:  John from New York asks:
Hey Adam, what do you think is the Mets plan for Murphy?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Daniel Murphy should platoon in left field in 2009, but I wouldn't rule out him succeeding Carlos Delgado at first base after next season. Luis Castillo will have two years and $12 million left on his contract after next season. If Castillo has a season comparable to last year, second base is an option, too.

 Q:  www.AUTOGRAFFIX.com from Madison, WI asks:
Will the Mets be resigning Ambiorix Concepcion? If he's got the STRONGEST ARM IN THE ORG, any chance he takes to the mound in 2009 (if he's back)?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Ambiorix Concepcion signed with the Orioles.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Would Flores be a possible replacement for DelGado in a few years if SS doesn't work out? I don't really see any room at 3B for him anytime soon. Or would they prefer to utilize his arm in RF?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I think right field. He has too good of an arm for first base, even though he doesn't show it until he needs it.

 Q:  billyshears from New York asks:
Were either of Juan Lagares or Greg Veloz close to the top 10? Both guys are young and toolsy, but haven't produced much. Thanks.
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Veloz was in the second set of 10. Lagares didn't make the cut.

 Q:  William J. LaPedomaine from Rock Ridge, TX asks:
Does Flores have a higher offensive ceiling than David Wright? How many prospects over the past decade can you say have his ability at that age?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I'm not going to make that pronouncement. He's only 17 years old. But, as I mentioned, you do hear comparisons to Miguel Cabrera. So someone else may make that claim regarding Wright.

 Q:  walter from Plano, Texas asks:
What can you tell me about Josh Thole...young kid that looked good in the AFL following a solid year in A league. Thanks...
 A: 

Adam Rubin: He needs to continue to learn how to catch, but he can hit mistake pitches. The issue is going to be that he'll see fewer mistake pitches as he rises, so this will be a big year for him at Binghamton.

 Q:  Andrew from Centereach NY asks:
I read that one scout thought that Brant Rustich had one of the best power arms in his draft class. Does he profile as a reliever or starter?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Mets haven't decided which way they'll go with him. But the comparisons Mets special assistant Sandy Johnson told me about in terms of guys who couldn't stay healthy in the minors, then got past it, were guys like Robb Nen and Darren Oliver.

 Q:  Noah from Brooklyn asks:
If Shawn Bowman has a breakout 2009, could Wright move to 1st?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: With all due respect to Bowman, no way would David Wright be moved for him. Let's talk about Wilmer Flores in three years.

 Q:  Steve from Kansas asks:
I heard rumors that Reese Havens worked out at catcher for an unnamed team prior to the draft (Red Sox?). Is there any chance of him moving behind the plate? If not, could he play an MLB-caliber SS in the future?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I don't know if that's true about Havens behind the plate, though even the commentators the day of the draft said teams liked him potentially there. I think the Mets will keep him at shortstop until he's within months of being promoted, then expose him to second base.

 Q:  Alex from Connecticut asks:
What do you think of Jon Niese's performance last year?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: His curveball command was inconsistent, which caused batters to sit on the fastball in games against the Brewers and Cubs. Certainly the Braves game was significantly better, though that was a depleted lineup.

 Q:  Jason from DC asks:
Do you like the Mets system more or less than you expected to when you started evaluating it?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: I've been extremely hard on the Mets' system in the past five years, and I actually feel pretty good about it at this point. I didn't realize how high they were on Brad Holt until I really started digging. And, at least before the Maikel Cleto trade, it was exciting to have two very-hard-throwing relievers in the top 10 with Jenrry Mejia.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw Ga asks:
Not a die-hard New York anything (not a John Rocker type either) but who do you starting this year in Savannah? Flores, Marte, Vineyard once healthy? How bad is his arm hurt?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: An educated guess, based on quizzing Mets officials, is that Wilmer Flores and Jefry Marte should highlight the Sand Gnats roster.

 Q:  Sarah from Seattle, WA asks:
I've read mixed reviews about where Niese will fall after spring training. How good do you think his chances of starting the season in the big leagues are?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: It's the most likely scenario, though it's not impossible that the Mets sign both Oliver Perez and, say, a nontender like Tim Redding.

 Q:  Burke from Columbus, OH asks:
It was mentioned in June that some clubs viewed Reese Havens as a player who projects to make the conversion to catcher, like Russ Martin. Are the Metropolitans one of those clubs?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: The Mets say that's not in their planning.

 Q:  John from Rockland asks:
Where does Reese Havens start next year? How long will it take to him to reach the big leagues?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Havens should be at St. Lucie in the Florida State League to start '09. If he finishes the year at Binghamton, he would be knocking on the door in 2010.

 Q:  matt from boston asks:
did the mets get any note worthy prospects from the m's in the putz deal?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Both players the Mets received with Putz had major-league experience: outfielder Jeremy Reed and righthanded reliever Sean Green.

 Q:  Burke from Columbus, OH asks:
Did Scott Shaw make the top 30?
 A: 

Adam Rubin: Scott Shaw is in the top 30, and I'm glad you asked about him. He's been very impressive. Shaw had underwhelming numbers at the University of Illinois, including a 4-4 record and 7.83 ERA his final season. But scout Scott Trcka was impressed with his raw ability, much like the Mets saw potential in Bobby Parnell despite lackluster numbers at Charleston Southern. Shaw is a competitor.

Moderator: Folks, thanks for two-plus hours of chatting. There are still some 40-50 questions I couldn't get to, and I'm sorry. In addition to Baseball America, please visit my blog at www.nydailynews.com/blogs/mets, where you'll also find minor-league coverage, especially once we get to spring training. -Adam