New York Mets Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

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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, 2011.

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Omar Minaya seemingly could do no wrong in the early part of his tenure as Mets general manager. He lured premium free agents Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner to Queens with rich contract offers. He parted with very little in trades for veterans Luis Castillo, Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca. He re-signed franchise cornerstones Jose Reyes and David Wright to club-friendly extensions that bought out arbitration years.

But the Mets seemed to unravel thread by thread after the 2006 edition advanced to within one game of the World Series. The 2007 and 2008 teams endured brutal September collapses, both times losing at home on the season's final day to fall one game short of tying for the wild card. With a payroll of $142.2 million, second only to the crosstown Yankees, the 2009 club lost 92 times. Complete meltdown might have been averted if the farm system had been able to cover for a host of injuries at the big league level.

Some players from the farm began to matriculate to Citi Field in 2010, when a mediocre 79-win Mets team received contributions from four of its top prospects: first baseman Ike Davis, lefthander Jon Niese, middle infielder Ruben Tejada and catcher Josh Thole. Additionally, Lucas Duda and Dillon Gee debuted in September and showed enough to be considered for larger roles in 2011.

But the prospect breakthroughs proved to be too little, too late for Minaya, whose six-year reign as GM ended in October. New York went 506-466 on his watch but suffocated under the weight of diminished returns from expensive veterans and subpar farm system performance. During the Minaya years, the Mets consistently finished in the lower third of teams in our annual talent rankings, with an average showing of 21st out of 30.

In late October, New York hired Sandy Alderson to replace Minaya. Alderson most recently had worked in the commissioner's office, where he investigated fraud and corruption in the Dominican Republic. He's most notable as the architect of Athletics teams that won four division titles, three pennants and one World Series from 1988-92. He served as Oakland GM for 14 years from 1983-1997 and also worked as CEO of the Padres from 2005-09.

Alderson immediately hired two associates from his A's days: J.P. Ricciardi as special assistant and Paul DePodesta as vice president of player development and amateur scouting. Both have recent GM experience. In November, the Mets hired Terry Collins to replace Jerry Manuel as manager, partially because Collins served as field coordinator in 2010 and already knows the minor league personnel.

Alderson also reassigned scouting director Rudy Terrasas, who hadn't done much in five drafts to distinguish himself—though that may be a function of ownership's wish to heed MLB's slot recommendations. In his five drafts, New York spent a total of $20.6 million on bonuses, the second-lowest total in baseball. The Mets also lacked first-round picks in three of those five years. New York hired Chad MacDonald, former international scouting director for the Diamondbacks, to replace Terrasas.

The Mets continued to be more aggressive internationally than in the draft in 2010, handing six-figure bonuses to Venezuelan outfielder Vicente Lupo and Dominican third baseman Elvis Sanchez, both of whom drew positive reviews for their raw power. They join a growing contingency of Latin American prospects in the system, headlined by righthander Jennry Mejia, shortstop Wilmer Flores and outfielder Cesar Puello—the Mets' three best prospects.

1.  Jenrry Mejia, rhp   Born: Oct. 11, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-0Wt: 180
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007Signed by: Ramon Pena/Ismael Cruz/Sandy Rosario
Jenrry MejiaBackground: Unlike many pro baseball players, Mejia didn't sign his first contract for love of the game. He began playing at age 15 only after seeing how lucrative the sport could be for many impoverished young Dominicans, citing Pedro Martinez's $53 million deal with the Mets as an eye-opener. Scouted by the Red Sox and Yankees, among others, Mejia struggled to get noticed because he was undersized and skinny. When the Mets offered $16,500 in April 2007 he signed on the spot—it sure beat the roughly $8 a day he made shining shoes in Santo Domingo. Mejia made a much quicker impression in his U.S. debut in 2008, when he came out firing mid-90s heat for short-season Brooklyn. Less than a year later, in June 2009, New York jumped him to Double-A Binghamton, where at 19 he was the Eastern League's youngest player. After catching the eye of manager Jerry Manuel in spring training last year, Mejia began the season in the Mets' big league bullpen, at 20 the youngest player to make an Opening Day roster. His youth and inexperience showed, prompting New York to option him to Double-A on June 20. He left his second start there with a strained shoulder and sat out a month. Upon his return to Double-A in August, Mejia went on a monthlong tear to earn his way back to the New York. Back in the majors, this time as the youngest Mets starter since a 19-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1984, Mejia got rocked in two starts and left his third with what eventually was diagnosed as a rhomboid strain of his shoulder blade.

Scouting Report: Mejia adopted a reliever's mentality while working in the big league bullpen, showcasing his plus-plus fastball at the expense of his secondary pitches. He sits at a steady 94-96 mph and induces boatloads of groundballs—he had a 1.6 groundout/airout ratio in the majors—because his ball features such late cutting action. Mejia throws a firm 86-88 mph straight changeup that behaves like a splitter and serves as a second out pitch. Scouts like his 12-to-6 downer curveball, which is a plus pitch at times at 79-81 mph, and would like to see him deploy it more frequently. Because he struggles to repeat his release point on his curve, he tends to shy away from it. Concerns about Mejia center on his inconsistent secondary stuff and smallish build—though his strong lower half mitigates the latter somewhat. He worked just 81 innings last season and 95 in 2009, when he missed seven weeks with a strained right middle finger.

The Future: Mejia has the raw stuff to pitch at the front of a rotation, but he has yet to prove he can complete anything close to 200 innings in a season. He's young and is arm action is solid, especially for someone so new to pitching, so the Mets believe he'll hold up. Even if Mejia flames out as a starter, he can be a dominating late-inning reliever with just a slight improvement to his control. The new front-office regime intends to slow down his development track and have him build innings as a starter at Triple-A Buffalo in 2011.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
New York (NL) 0 4 4.62 33 3 0 0 39 46 3 20 22 .289
Binghamton (AA) 2 0 1.32 6 6 1 0 27 19 0 14 26 .200
GCL Mets (R) 0 0 3.00 1 1 0 0 3 4 0 1 3 .333
St. Lucie (Hi A) 0 0 0.00 1 1 0 0 4 1 0 0 7 .077
Buffalo (AAA) 0 0 1.13 1 1 0 0 8 5 1 1 9 .200
2.  Wilmer Flores, ss   Born: Aug. 6, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 175
 Signed: Venezuela, 2007Signed by: Sandy Johnson/Ismael Cruz/Robert Alfonzo
Wilmer FloresBackground: Flores began fine-tuning his skills at an academy near his home at age 13, but his parents allowed him to pursue a baseball career only upon early graduation from high school. Signed for $750,000 on his 16th birthday in 2007, he reached high Class A St. Lucie as an 18-year-old last June.

Scouting Report: Flores always has shown natural aptitude for hitting, something that can't be said for his running or fielding ability. He puts a charge into the ball with quick wrists and a loose, easy stroke. He doesn't swing and miss much, making rapid adjustments and excelling at barreling the ball and driving it to all fields when he gets extension. The results began to manifest in games last season when he smacked 50 extra-base hits, doubling his total from 2009. Flores' ability to hit for average and power will be crucial as he slides down the defensive spectrum. His hands work at shortstop, but his lack of first-step quickness and range won't allow him to play up the middle in the majors. He throws well enough to play third base, though his well below-average speed would make an outfield post an adventure.

The Future: As he fills out and improves his selectivity, Flores could grow into a middle-of-the-order presence. He'll reach Double-A at some point in 2011, probably before his 20th birthday.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Savannah (Lo A) .278 .342 .433 277 30 77 18 2 7 44 23 37 2
St. Lucie (Hi A) .300 .324 .415 277 32 83 18 1 4 40 9 40 2
3.  Cesar Puello, of   Born: April 1, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 195
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007Signed by: Ramon Pena/Ismael Cruz/Marciano Alvarez
Cesar PuelloBackground: Signed for $400,000 in 2007, Puello was one of five teenage regulars in the low Class A South Atlantic League last year, batting .346/.424/.430 in the second half before missing the final three weeks with a strained lower back. Some scouts prefer him to Wilmer Flores because Puello has five-tool potential.

Scouting Report: Puello went on his tear after going from a deep crouch to a more upright stance, giving him a stronger load and better plate coverage on the inner half. Though he homered only once in 2010, he has as much raw power as anyone in the system, and scouts were impressed he never betrayed his all-fields approach to sell out for power. The home runs will come—potentially as many as 25 annually—because he accelerates the barrel through the hitting zone with strong wrists, generating ample backspin and carry. Puello's most evident tool is his plus speed, which he used to steal 45 bases in 55 tries last year. He has a plus arm and covers a lot of ground in right field, but grades as a merely average defender because of unfocused play and instincts lacking for center.

The Future: If Puello truly does hit 20-plus homers a year, he'll be a fixture in right field for the Mets for a long time. His first taste of high Class A awaits in 2011.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Savannah (Lo A) .292 .375 .359 404 80 118 22 1 1 34 32 82 45
4.  Matt Harvey, rhp   Born: March 27, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 225
 Drafted: North Carolina, 2010 (1st round)Signed by: Marlin McPhail
Matt HarveyBackground: One of the top prep pitchers in the 2007 draft, Harvey slid to the third round because of signability and turned down the Angels to attend North Carolina. Inconsistent in his first two years, he had a strong junior season in 2010 and went seventh overall in the draft. He signed at the Aug. 16 deadline for a slightly over-slot $2.525 million. He threw only bullpen sessions in instructional league before leaving camp early to attend to a family matter.

Scouting Report: Harvey has the physicality and arm strength favored by the Mets when they select college righthanders at the top of the draft. The line traces back from Harvey to Brad Holt to Eddie Kunz to Mike Pelfrey to Philip Humber. Harvey pitches at 91-95 mph and touches 97 with his fastball, though his control wavers because his long arm action affects his release point. He throws both a slider and a curveball, but the Mets prefer that he develop the latter, a power downer that shows flashes of being a plus-plus pitch. His mid-80s slider features depth and late finish. He needs to work on his changeup after rarely using it in as an amateur. He improved the balance and tempo in his delivery through hard work in college, a testament to his improved maturity.

The Future: If he maintains direction to the plate and throws strikes, Harvey has front-of-the-rotation stuff. He'll start his pro career in high Class A.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG

Did Not Play—Signed Late
5.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis, of   Born: Aug. 7, 1987B-T: L-RHt: 6-3Wt: 210
 Drafted: Azusa Pacific (Calif.), 2008 (3rd round)Signed by: Fred Mazuca
Kirk NieuwenhuisBackground: Nieuwenhuis starred as a running back in high school but opted to pursue baseball in college, leading Azusa Pacific (Calif.) to consecutive NAIA World Series and ranking as the summer Alaska League's top prospect following his sophomore year. He led the high Class A Florida State League in four categories, including extra-base hits (56) and slugging (.467), during his full-season debut in 2009. He continued to hit for power last season in Double-A, leading the Eastern League with 53 extra-base hits at the time of his August promotion to Triple-A.

Scouting Report: Nieuwenhuis' all-out approach helps sell observers on his all-around ability, which breaks down as five average to a tick below-average tools. He shows an all-fields approach that could spell a .270 average in the big leagues. He has the bat speed to hit for power, but his line-drive stroke is geared more for doubles and a ceiling of 12-15 homers. His range and instincts in center field grade as average, as does his arm, but his speed is merely fringe-average.

The Future: As an athletic, lefthanded hitter with a dollop of power and speed, Nieuwenhuis could be an ideal reserve who can cover all three outfield spots and produce at the plate. He'll begin 2011 in Triple-A and make his big league debut at some point during the season.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Binghamton (AA) .289 .337 .510 394 81 114 35 2 16 60 30 93 13
Buffalo (AAA) .225 .295 .358 120 10 27 8 1 2 17 11 39 0
6.  Reese Havens, 2b   Born: Oct. 20, 1986B-T: L-RHt: 6-1Wt: 195
 Drafted: South Carolina, 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Marlin McPhail
Reese HavensBackground: While Ike Davis rocketed to Queens less than two years after being drafted, fellow 2008 first-rounder Havens has shifted from shortstop to second base and has seen his progress stalled by a string of elbow, groin, quadriceps, hand, oblique and back injuries. He has played in 152 pro games and hit .261/.363/.467 with 26 homers and 80 walks, hinting at the type of player he could be if healthy.

Scouting Report: Havens tinkered with his swing last season, moving his hands to a higher starting position to better handle high fastballs. His quiet hitting approach and strong pitch recognition mark him as a future average hitter who will work deep counts and compile both walks and strikeouts. He's quick to the ball and can turn on the inside pitch, enough to project as a 15-20 homer threat. He'll have to make hay with the bat to profile as a big league regular, because he has a thick frame and below-average speed. His actions and hands are modest, as are his range and arm strength. He began playing second base only last season, moving from shortstop.

The Future: While he won't win any Gold Gloves, Havens profiles as an offensive-oriented second baseman with power and patience. He'll begin his fourth pro season in Double-A, and could move quickly if he stays healthy.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
St. Lucie (Hi A) .281 .369 .509 57 9 16 2 1 3 7 8 18 0
Binghamton (AA) .338 .400 .662 68 12 23 2 1 6 12 6 15 0
7.  Lucas Duda, 1b/of   Born: Feb. 3, 1986B-T: L-RHt: 6-5Wt: 240
 Drafted: Southern California, 2007 (7th round)Signed by: Steve Leavitt
Lucas DudaBackground: Duda went from afterthought to September callup last season, more than doubling his previous career high for homers and winning the Mets' minor league player of the year award. He recovered from a 1-for-33 start in New York to bat .314 with nine extra-base hits in his final 17 big league games.

Scouting Report: Duda always made hard contact and showed a discerning batting eye, but he began hitting more homers last season by better identifying pitches on the inner half that he could loft out of the park. He also can drive the ball to the opposite field for doubles. He doesn't strike out much for a player with his raw strength and power, and though he lacks elite bat speed, his tools suggest he could hit .275 with 15-20 homers annually. Duda's best defensive position is first base because he's a lumbering runner with below-average range and arm strength in left field.

The Future: With Ike Davis entrenched at first base in New York, Duda must hit to stay in the picture for playing time on an outfield corner. The presence of Jason Bay could force Duda to Triple-A to start the year. If he hits, the Mets will make room, either in right field or as a bat off the bench.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Binghamton (AA) .286 .411 .503 161 30 46 17 0 6 34 29 27 1
Buffalo (AAA) .314 .389 .610 264 44 83 23 2 17 53 31 57 0
New York (NL) .202 .261 .417 84 11 17 6 0 4 13 6 22 0
8.  Fernando Martinez, of   Born: Oct. 10, 1988B-T: L-RHt: 6-1Wt: 200
 Drafted: Dominican Republic, 2005Signed by: Sandy Johnson/Rafael Bournigal/Eddie Toledo
Fernando MartinezBackground: Martinez' signing for $1.3 million in 2005 signaled the Mets' intention to be major players on the international market. Injuries continue to define Martinez, who never has played more than 90 games in any of his five pro seasons. He looked electrifying while winning Caribbean Series MVP honors and batting .383 in big league camp in early 2010, then missed half the season with lower-back, hamstring and knee maladies. He left the Dominican League after one game with mild arthritis in his right knee.

Scouting Report: Martinez has plus power to all fields, but his pull-only approach makes him susceptible to pitches on the outer half. He has the hand-eye coordination to hit for a decent average, but he's impatient and too often gets out on his front side against offspeed stuff. Repeated injuries to his knees and hamstrings have turned Martinez into a below-average runner. He has worked to improve his range and throwing accuracy, and some scouts see his defense and arm as average tools, fit for right field.

The Future: When healthy, Martinez has held his own despite being consistently younger than his competition. But unless he improves his selectivity and plate coverage, he seems destined for life as a lefthanded power bat off the bench.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Buffalo (AAA) .253 .317 .455 257 39 65 16 0 12 33 17 65 1
St. Lucie (Hi A) .267 .313 .333 15 1 4 1 0 0 0 1 2 0
New York (NL) .167 .273 .167 18 1 3 0 0 0 2 1 5 0
9.  Aderlin Rodriguez, 3b   Born: Nov. 18, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 210
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2008Signed by: Ismael Cruz
Aderlin RodriguezBackground: After signing for $600,000 in 2008, Rodriguez missed a large chunk of his 2009 pro debut with a wrist injury. He showcased impressive hitting tools last season in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, finishing third in homers (13), RBIs (48) and extra-base hits (35).

Scouting Report: Rodriguez has more raw power than any player in the system and could mature into a 25-30 homer threat. His wrists are strong and quick, producing elite bat speed. With strong pitch-recognition skills and barrel awareness, he could hit for average as well. The catch is that Rodriguez is a poor runner with a thick lower half and heavy feet who may have to shift to first base. He has a strong arm and moves his feet well for his size, but his hands are hard and he simply might outgrow the hot corner. Some scouts believe Rodriguez could be playable at third if he takes care of his body and proves willing to put in the work on defense. He drew criticism in the Appy League for uneven effort and lack of hustle, getting benched on at least two occasions.

The Future: The Mets promoted Rodriguez to low Class A Savannah for the final week of 2010, and he'll spend this year there as a teenager. If Wilmer Flores has to play third base, he'll be an obstacle for Rodriguez in the future.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Kingsport (R) .312 .352 .556 250 44 78 22 0 13 48 15 43 3
Savannah (Lo A) .200 .333 .333 30 3 6 1 0 1 11 6 10 0
10.  Brad Holt, rhp   Born: Oct. 13, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 195
 Drafted: UNC Wilmington, 2008 (1st round supp.)Signed by: Marlin McPhail
Brad HoltBackground: Signed for $1.04 million as 33rd overall pick in 2008, Holt dominated in his pro debut and earned a quick promotion to Double-A the next year. He injured his ankle in his first start for Binghamton, missed three weeks and never recovered, running up a 6.62 ERA over his final 10 starts. His misadventures continued in 2010 when he hurt his right wrist in spring training, setting the stage for a season in which he allowed more baserunners per nine innings (19.6) than any minor leaguer with as many as his 95 innings.

Scouting Report: According to scouts, Holt still had plus stuff in 2010. They think his problems stemmed from a lack of focus as well as a new, overly mechanical delivery that caused his front side to open early. At his best, Holt locates his 92-94 mph four-seam fastball down in the zone, mixing in an occasional low-90s cutter. He can spin a high-70s curveball with occasional sharp bite and shows feel for a low-80s changeup with sink, but his poor command undermines both pitches. His curve often breaks too early to convince batters to commit.

The Future: Holt has the stuff to profile as a No. 3 starter, but that ceiling seems impossibly tall for the time being. He had a fine showing in instructional league and in the Arizona Fall League, giving hope he'll succeed in his third try at Double-A in 2011.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Binghamton (AA) 1 5 10.20 10 9 0 0 30 43 2 23 25 .336
St. Lucie (Hi A) 2 9 7.48 14 14 0 0 65 68 4 56 62 .276

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects

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Photo Credits:
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