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.


Adam Rubin: There are a ton of questions already lined up, so we can get started a few minutes early. Thanks for joining me.

    Howard (NJ): Hey, Adam. It's been a tough year (and week!) for us long time Mets fans. How close was Steven Matz to the top 10 and will he and Robbie Shields our first two draft picks figure into the top 30?

Adam Rubin: Tough year for me, too. Particularly late July. I imagine today's an especially tough day with a parade in the Canyon of Heroes. Anyway, Steven Matz was really close, but I believe—and I think the Mets concur—that Urbina's potential is slightly higher. Neither appeared in a game at the end of the regular season after signing. Robbie Shields will be in that next group as well. Unfortunately for Shields, he needed Tommy John surgery and will miss the first half of 2010. By most accounts, his subpar numbers at Brooklyn were partially the product of being worn down, having stepped in right after a college season. Everyone says his best asset is his grinding mentality, and being the baseball equivalent of a gym rat.

    DG (paris, France): Were any of what seemed like a more than solid group of starting pitchers at Savannah even considered for the top 10 and who of that group might we see in the top 30?

Adam Rubin: You'll see plenty of Sand Gnats pitchers elsewhere on the list, including Kyle Allen, Jeurys Familia, Robert Carson, Josh Stinson and Eric Beaulac.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How confident are you that Havens will successfully adapt to 2B?

Adam Rubin: I think he has a better chance to adapt at second than to make it as a shortstop. I saw him at the start of the Arizona Fall League season and he had lost 20 pounds since spring training, which definitely will help. Tim Teufel is slated to manage Double-A Binghamton in part so that Havens has a mentor there who played the position in the big leagues.

    Sholom (Smithtown, New York): I recently read two columns on the Mets by Peter Gammons which mentioned that Mets ownership treat the draft as a afterthought and have instructed their scouts not to sign anyone over slot. When will ownership figure out that they are putting themselves at a competive disadvantage?

Adam Rubin: They went $500,000 over slot for their top pick, Steven Matz, but I agree with you generally about the Mets being good MLB citizens at their own expense. The greater disappointment has been the conservative nature of spending on international free agents, since that was how the Mets were supposed to offset the forfeiture of draft picks. (Matz was the top pick at No. 72 overall.) Until the Mets signed Juan Urbina for $1.2 million, they hadn't reached that figure since Fernando Martinez ($1.3 million in 2005). They let big prospects sign elsewhere such as Jesus Montero, while going a less-expensive route with Francisco Pena.

    DG (Paris, France): It really looked like Jon Niese had arrived this summer before he was hurt, and yet, why is it I have the sneaking suspicion that the Mets will pay lip service to letting him fight for the fifth spot before using his options against him and handing the ball over to this year's Livan? Do you honestly think there is anything left for Niese to prove in the minors at this point? Shouldn't the team just give him the ball every fifth day?

Adam Rubin: It's going to be an interesting offseason for the Mets. By right, they need a No. 2 starter behind Johan Santana so they don't have to be overly dependent on bounceback years from Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez. But I'm not sure the Mets are going to spend the money or find that person. Obviously, if the Mets bring in a John Lackey, that could push Jon Niese to Buffalo. But I forecast now that Niese will be the No. 5 starter. It's a shame he had the hamstring tendon issue that required surgery and forced him to miss the end of the season when he could have established himself. The development of a cutter last season really gave him another weapon against righthanded batters.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Are there any 2009 draftees you feel will be sleepers?

Adam Rubin: I don't know if Zach Dotson qualifies as a sleeper, but getting taken in the 13th round is deceptive. The Mets planned to select him in the third round, but could not agree to terms and passed. They went back to him later and signed him for $500,000. Dotson had committed to Georgia.

    DG (Paris, France): Adam, this is my last question, I swear! I read conflicting reports all summer about the status of Nathan Vineyard, the Mets' second supplemental pick in the 2007 draft - that he had been operated on, that he had left the organization, that he had moved to Canada and taken up curling (okay, that last is just plainly not true!). So, what really happened to him?

Adam Rubin: He just quit as far as I know. At one point the Mets were considering trying to recover part of the signing bonus, but I don't know if they ever went that route. There may have been some personal issues involved, but I don't want to speculate.

    Harris (Brooklyn): How did Nieuwenheis and/or Familia not make the top 10 over Thole? They both project to be better players than Thole. This should be list of players who will be better in the majors and not how fast they can get to the majors.

Adam Rubin: Guess you disagree, but we projected them to be better players than Thole, they probably would have been ranked higher than Thole on our list. They should be in the next set of 10. Nieuwenhuis has 20-homer, 20-steal potential, and one scout was reminded of Kirk Gibson—in terms of Nieuwenhuis' mentality. Familia, named by the Mets as their top pitching performer, is exceedingly raw. Here's what one scout who watched Familia closely said about him: "He's got arm strength, that's it. Great kid. Arm strength. Bad delivery. No breaking ball. Walked six guys the outing I saw him. Everything in delivery messed up. Was up to 95 mph. Doesn't get through with his back side, no real balance, misses up in zone because doesn't follow through/finish. He can't because of the rest of stuff that's going on."

    JAYPERS (IL): Kirk Nieuwenhuis had arguably one of the best seasons of any Mets prospect this year, yet missed the list. How close did he come, and what's the skinny on him?

Adam Rubin: Here's a little more on Nieuwenhuis from someone who watched him after he was promoted to Binghamton: "He will garner comparisons to Curtis Granderson in terms of his position and ability to fill up the stat sheet in many offensive categories. Good opposite field power and a plus overall hitter. Great contact guy. Batted in the leadoff spot at the end of the season with St. Lucie and Binghamton and produced many multi-hit games. Figures to be a 20-20 guy. Good range in center and an average to slightly above average major-league arm."

    JAYPERS (IL): Did Kyle Allen make the overall top 30? Are you bullish on him?

Adam Rubin: Allen is one of the more underrated pitchers in the Mets' system, and he'll definitely be on the list. His slider has improved and may rival his changeup as his top pitch. His fastball ranges from 90-95 mph, and usually sits at 91-92 mph. He also throws a breaking ball—a hybrid-type curveball—that ranges from 80-83 mph. Mets officials also were excited about Allen's groundball-to-flyball ratio in the South Atlantic League: 2.18-to-1.

    Chris (Tampa, FL): Where does Sean Ratliff fall within the organization?

Adam Rubin: Ratliff will appear in the top 30. He showed some power with Savannah, but he needs to improve his plate discipline and resist trying to pull every pitch. He particularly struggled on pitches away from him. Ratliff's bat is in and out of the strike zone quickly, which contributed to 141 strikeouts in 496 at-bats. An American League scout I spoke with debated labeling Ratliff an extra outfielder who might hit .255-.260 in the majors or an up-and-down type player.

    Brent (Queens): Cesar Puello has put up a good avg and obp in his first 3 seasons. Does he start next year in a full season league and does he project as a major league regular or more of a 4th OF type?

Adam Rubin: Mets people say Puello likely is ticketed for Savannah in 2010. His speed is his biggest asset at this point (15 steals in 20 attempts at Kingsport). Right now, he's a hacker, but has shown power to left field. He moved to right field this season and has a legit arm, though not close to the arm of incumbent right fielder Jeff Francoeur.

    Max (New Orleans): Don't you think it's a bit early to place Juan Urbina in the top 10? How does his stuff compare to Jeurys Familia's or Kyle Allen's?

Adam Rubin: The Mets spent $1.2 million on Urbina because they believe he's a top-10-caliber prospect. His fastball averages 88-89 mph, with a peak of 91 mph, but he has a clean delivery. Team officials believe the velocity will climb a little as he gets instruction, but that's fine for a lefthander. Familia throws from the opposite side and considerably harder and doesn't have a clean delivery. Allen also is righthanded.

    Max (New Orleans): Who ranked higher: Cesar Puello or Jefry Marte?

Adam Rubin: Marte is several slots higher. I believe he will have more success next year when he repeats at Savannah. He started last season at age 17.

    Nick (Boston): Thanks for taking my question, is Stefan Welch a consideration for the Top 30? What can we expect from him 2010, he held his own in 2009 and seems like with a big year he could rocket up the charts

Adam Rubin: Stefan Welch is on the depth chart at first base, but I believe he'll fall outside the top 30. Obviously, Ike Davis is at the top of the list at that position. There's also Lucas Duda, who had to leave the Arizona Fall League because of a right wrist injury, as well as Jeff Flagg, Eddie Lora and Alexander Sanchez.

    Harry (Flushing, NY): Are the Mets officially out of the running for Aroldis Chapman?

Adam Rubin: They're keeping in touch with the agent, Edwin Mejia, but I don't believe they're going to be the most aggressive bidder.

    Paul (NYC): It's been rumored that Holt may be a reliever long-term. Do you see this as a distinct possibility?

Adam Rubin: I know a fair amount of the scouts who watch Binghamton regularly during the season. The consensus seems to be that he will be a No. 3 starter in the majors. Here's a report one person gave me on Holt: Good four-seam fastball (88-93 mph, peak 95), curveball (75-78) and changeup (79-81). Command needs work. Wasn't quite the same after missing three weeks with an ankle injury. Has to learn to maintain a consistent release point. He'll add some weight as well which will improve his durability and stamina. Needs to improve from a mental perspective. Often allows situations to get out of hand by compounding problems due to overthrowing. Has to eliminate obsession with strikeouts.

    BG (Chicago): Last year people rated Holt's fastball as plus or plus-plus. Now it sounds just a bit above average. What is the difference now?

Adam Rubin: Perhaps it's just the grind of a full season, but I'm told Holt's fastball ranged from 88-93 mph and topped out at 95 mph.

    DG (Paris, France): Adam, for all the justifiably on point criticism of the Mets minor league system, I was wondering if one aspect, the organization's aggressive challenging of players, is perhaps having better results than most of us would have thought. A fine example of beyond Jenrry Meija, would be Ruben Tejada, who had a really fine season at a level he supposedly should have struggled at; further, Jeurys Familia also put up excellent numbers after being bumped up all the way from the GCL. Would it be fair, in your view, to praise the Mets aggressive handling of certain prospects in an otherwise wire thin organization?

Adam Rubin: I've actually spoken with people in the organization who believe the Mets will be far less aggressive in pushing prospects to levels beyond their means as teenagers, with limited exceptions, now that Tony Bernazard has departed. In the case of Tejada, he was representing Panama in the World Baseball Classic last spring training, and he has the personality to be able to handle it.

    Kyle (FL): With no one on the top 10 list older than 23, just how much importance do you place on age when putting this list together?

Adam Rubin: If there were someone deserving older than 23, I'd certainly put them on the list. Just trying to project who is going to have the best major-league careers. Obviously, if you're playing at a higher level, there's less variability with what you're likely to become.

    KB (upstate NY): Ike Davis is rated 4th in the Mets organization...yet he is projected to be in the Mets starting lineup next year, supplanting Murphy.... Does he make it into the BA top 100?

Adam Rubin: I don't know that Ike Davis will be the Mets starting first baseman in 2010. Certainly, 2011 is a strong possibility. I believe the Mets will let Carlos Delgado walk as a free agent, and pair Daniel Murphy with a righty-hitting first base option. Marty Noble on Mets.com suggested maybe that righty bat is Troy Glaus, but we're both on the same page I think. ... The BA top 100 is not something I've involved with.

    Jake (Manhattan): I know it's extremely premature, but where would Mejia rank in a top 100 list?

Adam Rubin: The top 100 is beyond my pay grade. I will say that Jerry Manuel went to watch Mejia in the Arizona Fall League to gauge whether he can help in the Mets' bullpen in 2010, even though Mejia projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter. Mejia's early performances in the AFL and control issues suggest he needs a little more time in the minors.

    Mike (MO): Besides Fernando Martinez, do you see any of the top 10 helping the big club in 2010?

Adam Rubin: Fernando Martinez has fallen far enough that the Mets talk about going outside for a left fielder for 2010. Certainly, Jon Niese may be the No. 5 starter. Mejia at least will get a spring-training look for the bullpen. And Ike Davis could be up at some point next season.

    Warren (Texas): How close were Veloz and Lutz to making the Top 10? Where do they stand as prospects? thanks for the chat!

Adam Rubin: Lutz is on the top-30 list, but I couldn't say he was particularly close to cracking the top 10. He's viewed as a hitter, not a fielder, and needs to put injury issues behind him. I think best-case-scenario, he's a pinch-hitter type for a major-league bench. It should be a big year at Binghamton for him in determining what he may be. Veloz was traded to the Nationals for Anderson Hernandez.

    Jim Jones (MIA): Who should the Mets protect this month? Anyone who could be a Rule V pick if left off?

Adam Rubin: The Mets just added Shawn Bowman to the 40-man roster, which also prevented him from leaving as a minor-league free agent. I'm not sure you could name someone with the required service time who would stick on a major-league roster at this point and needs to be protected. One major reason Ruben Tejada wasn't called up last year was because he doesn't need to be added to the 40-man roster yet.

    Mike (MO): Has Eddie Kunz completely fallen of any prospect list? Or is he just a situational relief pitcher?

Adam Rubin: Eddie Kunz is still on the list, but it speaks volumes for how the Mets regard him that he's been snubbed for a September call-up two straight years. Kunz is using a low, three-quarters angle and leaves too many pitches over the plate.

    Mike (MO): Who has been the biggest prospect bust? Eddie Kunz, Francisco Pena, Eric Niesen, Nathan Vineyard?

Adam Rubin: Well, Vineyard isn't playing, so I suppose you'd have to pick him in the sense that there's no chance of him reaching the majors with the Mets. I doubt Francisco Pena even appears on the top-30 list at this point. Niesen has a chance to be a situational lefty.

    DG (Paris, France): Okay, so I lied about that being my last question! You mentioned Ike Davis above as the possible 1B in 2010, but he has also played the outfield and has shown significant skill (as recently as this summer with Team U.S.A. or the World Cup team, I forget which). Any chance with his strong arm that he just as easily might be the future left or right fielder?

Adam Rubin: Given the Mets' need at first base, and that he's above average defensively there, I don't foresee a move. Team USA needed outfield help at the World Cup and asked permission to use him there.

    Mets fan (binghamton): Adam, I thought Jose De La Torre was one of the better pitchers I saw in Binghamton this year. Where did he fall in the top 30? Is he Rule V elegible?

Adam Rubin: I hear no buzz about De La Torre from people in the organization. I believe his first pro season was 2006, and I don't believe the Rule 5 draft is an issue.

    josh (sf): is Duda considered for the top 30? he seems to have a good eye, but hasn't reached his full power potential. does he top out as a 4th OF/1B platoon?

Adam Rubin: Duda got pushed to left field when Ike Davis rose to Binghamton, but he's not going to play that position in the majors. Unfortunately for him, his Arizona Fall League season ended after five ABs because of a right wrist sprain. He has a long swing and is probably going to fall outside the top 30.

    Juan (Puerto Rico): At this point, who would you pick as a righty reliever: Jose De La Torre or Eddie Kunz?

Adam Rubin: Eddie Kunz.

    Andrew (Centereach, NY): Do you think that Thole is good enough to be an everday C, despite his lack of power? Will he need a RH compliment?

Adam Rubin: Thole needs to improve his defense, but that will continue with more experience. He only started to play catcher full time as a pro in 2008. I believe he's thrown out two of the first 20 or so runners while playing winter ball for Caracas in Venezuela. I don't know that he'll be a No. 1, everyday catcher. But I think he'll be a major-leaguer.

    Mike (MO): Looking at the list, the 2008 draft seems to be a success. With that being said, the 2007 draft class, especially with the extra picks, has been a huge disappointment. Any hope for the 2007 draft class to make a move next year?

Adam Rubin: Scott Moviel is having a fine showing in the Arizona Fall League. You may remember he was set back by meniscus surgery in January, which required a second procedure at the end of spring training. But you're right about that draft: Kunz (1s), Vineyard (1s), etc.

    Andrew (Centereach, NY): Were Rustich or Moviel close to the top 10? Can either help out in the bullpen this season or next?

Adam Rubin: I expect both to be in the bottom third of the top 30. Rustich still has significant issues with a hairline fracture in his pitching arm. It's been an issue for two years now. If he's healthy, Binghamton comes first. Moviel same thing. He needs some Double-A experience. He's also 6-11, so he needs to get his mechanics in order. We spoke about that when I was in Surprise, Ariz., at the start of the AFL season. Moviel developed a slider this year under St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan's tutelage, which Moviel has been pleased with. He also understands the importance of a changeup.

    Howard (NJ): Is Lance Broadway eligible for the top 30? As a former #1 prospect he seems to be an afterthought (perhaps deservedly).

Adam Rubin: The cutoff is 50 innings or 130 ABs, so Broadway is over. He's at 55 innings in his career.

    Mike (MO): Any other 2009 draftees in the top 30?

Adam Rubin: Steven Matz, Robbie Shields and Zach Dotson have to be in there. There were a handful of others that deserve serious consideration, including Darrell Ceciliani and Nick Santomauro.

    Mike (MO): How much has Richard Lucas helped himself out this year? Where does he rank relative to other 3rd basemen?

Adam Rubin: He was certainly in the dialogue for a top-30 spot. He'd be in the top five at third base, with Jefry Marte, Zach Lutz, Aderlin Rodriguez and Shawn Bowman.

    Andrew (Centerach, NY): Has Sandy Johnson retired? If so will this change anything in the Mets scouting philosphy?

Adam Rubin: Sandy Johnson was with the Mets' contingent at the Arizona Fall League, and there's been a report that he was sticking around.

    josh (sf): are there any names we should watch from this years VSL/DSL teams? guys who will be in the GCL/Kingsport or even Savannah this year?

Adam Rubin: I'm relying on the Mets rather than my own eyes on these, but the two names they've promoted are: DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE (R): ALEXANDER SANCHEZ (1B) Height: 6-3 Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right Born: 11/28/90 Resides: Santo Domingo, DR Obtained: Non-drafted free agent (6/09) Signing Scouts: Ramon Pena, Ismael Cruz, Franklin Taveras The 18-year-old first baseman finished the season tied for the Dominican Summer League lead with a .372 (71-191) batting average. In 47 games with the DSL Mets, Sanchez drove in 42 runs, which was among the team leaders. In 213 plate appearances, Sanchez struck out only 19 times and hit .432 (48-111) with three home runs and 25 RBI in 27 games during the month of July. VENEZUELAN SUMMER LEAGUE (R): ANDRES PEREZ (OF) Height: 6-1 Weight: 180 Bats: Right Throws: Right Born: 7/5/89 Resides: San Cristobal, DR Obtained: Non-drafted free agent (8/07) Signing Scouts: Ramon Pena, Ismael Cruz, Marcelino Vallejo Perez hit .311 (75-241) with 25 runs scored, 14 doubles, one triple, five home runs, 44 RBI in 67 games for the Venezuelan Mets. He posted a .356 on-base percentage and a .440 slugging percentage. Perez finished fourth in the League in RBI, batting .406 (28-69) with runners in scoring position.

    Virgil Dahl (Waterloo, Iowa 50702): thanks for the chat. Who projects to have a bigger upside, Julio Teheran, or Mejia? thanks

Adam Rubin: Unlike the full-time Baseball America staff, I'm at a disadvantage and can't answer a question like that because I don't know the other team's prospects that well.

    Mike (MO): Am I way off to think that Fernando is not untouchable in trades anymore? Do you see him with the organization long term?

Adam Rubin: His value is so diminished right now. He's certainly not untouchable, but teams are very concerned because he's been unable to stay healthy for four straight years.

    Andrew (Centereach, NY): I believe there was a report that before the '08 draft some teams thought and may have even worked Reese Havens out as a catcher. Is there any chance he moves behind the plate?

Adam Rubin: I've never received any indication that was the Mets' intent. He's going to Binghamton to further learning second base. They're assigning Tim Teufel to Binghamton as manager in part to mentor him at that position. Sounds like they're pretty invested in him at that position.

    Andrew (Centereach, NY): How does Holt compare to Bobby Parnell. It seems that they have the same type of stuff?

Adam Rubin: Parnell throws harder, I believe. I suppose the need to develop secondary stuff and not being reliant on a fastball is a similarity.

    J-Rod (Queens): Does Rudy Terrasas deserve to be fired after what seems like some terrible drafts. Eddie Kunz in the first round??? C'mon.

Adam Rubin: I didn't understand using two high round picks on relievers, but I'm not going to call for any firings.

    Jaime (Cleveland OH): Adam, who are the org sleepers? Allen, De La Torre?

Adam Rubin: Here's another sleeper, if you can call him that: Robert Carson, the 14th round pick in 2007. He's a southpaw with significant arm strength. He registered as high as 95 mph last season. He is a straight sinkerball pitcher with a solid cut to the pitch as well.

    Kevin (Miami): Adam, Very interesting list. I was pretty surprised to see Flores at #2. He's so young, so I guess the lack of power displayed wasn't too much a concern? What do scouts project his power to be?

Adam Rubin: Even before signing, he displayed opposite-field power potential. He's projected to hit for power to all fields as he matures, even if he launched only three homers this year.

    DG (paris, France): A personal question if I might ask, I don't think anyone who reads your work with BA (or for with the Daily News for that matter) could possibly doubt your honest, in depth knowledge of the Mets organization and yet you got trashed this summer in what has to be one of the more embarrassing incidents in a long line of Met gaffes; how hard has it been to continue doing the excellent job that you do? And BTW: thanks for doing it!

Adam Rubin: Thanks for the support. It was an interesting year. Honestly, the vast majority of people whom I interact with were thankful that the reports over the summer contributing to a change in the organization.

    Dave (Pensacola, FL): What's the prospect status of catcher Dock Doyle? Why didn't he make a full season team?

Adam Rubin: I'm not sure what to make about it. In quizzing people within the organization before determining this list, and the wider top 30, no one advocated including him. Catching is woefully thin with the Mets behind Josh Thole, Francisco Pena and Nelfi Zapata, too.

Adam Rubin: Thanks to everyone for joining me. Hopefully I selected questions that represented what people were curious about, even if I was unable to get to a ton more in the queue. You can always e-mail me at arubin@nydailynews.com.