New York Mets Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Eddy

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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.

Matthew Eddy: Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed learning a new organization this year after previously covering the Blue Jays, Padres, Mariners and Angels.

    JAYPERS (IL): Did 2010 draftees Matt den Dekker and Erik Goeddel get consideration for your list, and what are you being told about each?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, both den Dekker (Florida, 5th round) and Goeddel (UCLA, 24th round) made the second half of the list. Den Dekker has a chance to stick around in pro ball for awhile if he continues to hit as he did in his debut. He's a strong defensive player whom the Mets moved aggressively to Low-A in his debut. That's a meaningful vote of confidence. As to Goeddel, he signed well over-slot for $350,000, so don't read too much into his draft round. The Mets view him as a starting pitcher after he served as a shutdown reliever for the Bruins' College World Series finals team. Goeddel has the weapons—93-94 mph head and a vicious slider—to move quickly if he does shift back to the bullpen.

    Ben (Leland Grove): What's the story on legacies Cory Vaughn and Juan Urbina? Which one came the closest to the top 10?

Matthew Eddy: It's really hard to find anything bad to say about 17-year-old LHP Juan Urbina, who ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Gulf Coast League this year. He was the most difficult player for me to omit from the Top 10—and you could reasonably draw up a list that includes him in the 10. Athleticism, arm strength, bloodlines, feel for a changeup—you name it and Urbina's got it. He sits more in the high 80s now and hasn't mastered a breaking ball, so improving on those two pitches will be areas of concentration in 2011.

    Matt (Whippleville, NY): The pitchers seemed to collectively regress last year. Other than Mejia and Harvey, is there any arm in the system to get excited about?

Matthew Eddy: This is a great observation, Matt, and I don't think it's pure coincidence that the Mets parted ways with minor league pitching coordinator Rick Waits after the season. When you look at the whole picture, the Mets' young power pitchers, from Brad Holt to Robert Carson to Jeurys Familia, all regressed in 2010 as they seemed almost tentative to really let it fly. But in Waits' defense, some of the system's more command-oriented arms, like Dillon Gee and Mark Cohoon, really seemed to thrive this year.

    Liam (Malone, NY): Brandon Moore is old for his level, but his results are solid. Will he make it as a starter or is his ceiling middle relief?

Matthew Eddy: It could go either way for RHP Brandon Moore, a 14th-round pick in 2008, who worked on perfecting his changeup during instructional league in order to better profile as a starter. As it is, he throws a high-80s sinker with tailing action and a pretty good curveball that the Mets favor over his slurvy slider. Moore seems to liked the slider because it gets more swings and misses against Class A hitters. Interesting Moore tidbit: He pitched on the same Indiana Wesleyan team as Braves righty Brandon Beachy, who made his big league debut in September. So while Moore is the highest drafted player every from IWU, the non-drafted Beachy beat him to the big leagues.

    Kyran (Moira, NY): Does Neiuwenhuis have the necessary power to play an outfield corner or is he more of a fourth OF type as I suspect?

Matthew Eddy: Scouts will tell you that Nieuwenhuis has a tweener profile—not enough range to play center field every day and not enough bat to profile on a corner. They might be right. But on the other hand, Nieuwenhuis has won over observers with his all-out playing style, which could be compared with Aaron Rowand or Reed Johnson or their ilk. But perspective is important as well. He's gone from playing NAIA ball in 2008 to the extra-base hits champ in the Florida State League in '09 to the projected leader in the Eastern League this year. What I mean is that Nieuwenhuis has responded very well to being challenged, so perhaps it's not wise to count him out.

    Rob (Hamilton, ON): What happened to Kyle Allen this year? Is he still a legit prospect or what does his future hold?

Matthew Eddy: Add RHP Kyle Allen to the list of pitching prospects who took sizable steps back in 2010. He's among the best athletes in the system, has an average fastball with some sinking action and a pair of secondary pitches that need work. Someone seeing him this year would probably project him as a low-leverage reliever at best. But Allen's athleticism offers hope he can continue to improve and perhaps raise expectations.

    Ben (Leland Grove): I couldn't help but notice you have Flores in LF on the lineup card. Is this the position that will get him to the Majors the quickest, and are the Mets planning to play him there in the near future?

Matthew Eddy: In order: Probably, and probably not. If we're being realistic about Wilmer Flores' future position, then it's going to be a corner position (because he lacks footspeed and quickness to play up the middle) and it's probably not going to be third base (because of David Wright). Some scouts thought Flores fit best at first base, but then he'd have to contend with Ike Davis and the Mets would be wasting his above-average throwing arm. For those reasons, I feel most comfortable projecting him as a corner outfielder, at least early in his career. Technically, his best future position might be third base. He's got the arm and his hands work on the infield—he's just not quick.

    Bangs (New York): Where does Tobi Stoner fit into the Mets system/future?

Matthew Eddy: RHP Tobi Stoner is on the 40-man roster, so he's at least got a chance. He lacks an out-pitch and sits at 86-89 mph, so he's probably looking at a year in the Triple-A rotation with a chance to contribute in New York as an emergency starter or middle reliever.

    Grant (NYC): SP or RP - what are the Mets planning to do with Familia? Is he in your 11-20 range?

Matthew Eddy: The Mets view RHP Jeurys Familia as a starting pitcher, but this view is not universally shared in the industry. He throws hard—very hard at 94-97 mph—but lacks the kind of control you'd like to see from a starter. Opposing batters also get a very good look at the ball because of his long arm action and lack of deception in his delivery. However, Familia has an outstanding work ethic and his hard, mid-80s slider and changeup have their moments. He's very close to the Top 10, and he'll get there with a good year in 2011.

    Clooch (VT): I'm surprised that Cory Vaughn didn't sneak onto the back half of the top 10. What kept him out?

Matthew Eddy: RF Cory Vaughn had an outstanding pro debut, leading the New York-Penn League in slugging (.557) and OPS (.953) while ranking second with 14 homers. He has prototype right-field tools: above-average raw power, good arm, average speed and range. But as the son of a four-time all-star like Greg Vaughn, Cory has been on the prospect map since he was a teenager, but until suiting up for Brooklyn he hadn't ever put it all together. So while he's a fine prospect—in the Mets' Top 15 for sure—his longer track record cautions a wait-and-see approach, in my opinion. The most recent evidence is quite compelling, though, and Vaughn could make a jump straight to High-A next season, a la Kirk Nieuwenhuis in '09.

    JAYPERS (IL): Is it conceivable that Harvey could reach CitiField by late next summer?

Matthew Eddy: Maybe if Double-A Binghmaton plays a game there. Seriously, the Mets probably will begin RHP Matt Harvey in High-A and then move him to Double-A toward midseason if everything goes as expected. But a 2012 big league debut is not out of the question.

    Mike (Miami): How would you rank the farm systems in the NL East? Top 5 prospects in the east as well? Thanks

Matthew Eddy: I believe most evaluators would take either the Braves or Phillies with the first pick. The Nationals would be attractive because of Bryce Harper. The Marlins and Mets would duke it out for fourth place. The top prospects: Harper, RF Domonic Brown (Phillies), RHP Julio Teheran (Braves) and then some combination of 1B Freddie Freeman (Braves), 1B Jon Singleton (Phillies) or the Mets' Jenrry Mejia. Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello could enter the conversation very soon.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): How is Mejia eligible? Hasn't he graduated via the Daniel Bard ruling from last year?

Matthew Eddy: A pitcher is disqualified if he logs more than 50 innings or makes more than 30 relief appearances in the big leagues. The key phrase is more than, because Mejia made exactly 30 relief appearances (but logged just 39 innings). The Mets' new front-office regime is talking like they want to get Mejia most of a full season in Triple-A, so he might not exhaust his prospect eligibility until late next season.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Matt. Wondering about a couple of players. In having fun projecting the future starting rotation, you left out Gee. Are you not that high on him or are the others that good? Also, 2B Havens - is it just injuries holding him back as his bat seems to have some punch? Do you see him as a plus offensive minded 2B or do the Mets just have nobody else to project at 2B? Thanks.

Matthew Eddy: It's easy to root for RHP Dillon Gee. He competes well, he battled back from a serious shoulder injury and he had a nice year in Triple-A, leading the International League in strikeouts. Gee might win a starting gig coming out of spring training (especially with Johan Santana out for at least three months), but he just doesn't have the raw stuff to safely project him as a future rotation mainstay. Not many big-time righty starters sit at 87-89 mph, though Gee does have a nice changeup and a pair of breaking pitches he throws for strikes. It's a perfect No. 5 starter profile, but if he makes the team and pitches well he'll stay relevant in the mix.

Matthew Eddy: As to the Havens portion of the question . . . Yes, the scouting and performance profiles suggests he can be a solid regular. Of course, chronic injury is always a concern. I wouldn't say the Mets are loaded with middle-infield prospects, but the most likely internal candidates for second baseman of the future, if not Havens, would be Ruben Tejada, Robbie Shields or Jordany Valdespin.

    ATL (AC): Does Zach Lutz have the potential to be a starter, or his ceiling more of a platoon/bench guy?

Matthew Eddy: Because he signed as a college senior and then missed essentially his entire pro debut season with a serious foot/ankle injury, Zach Lutz didn't begin his career in earnest until 2008, when he was 22 years old. Subsequently, he's dealt with foot/ankle injuries in both 2009-10, which have robbed him of much of his speed and mobility. Scouts like his bat speed, knack for contact and plan at the plate, but they're less optimistic about his chances to stick as an everyday third baseman at the big league level. His hands work and he throws well, but he just doesn't range well laterally. A move to first base only heightens offensive expectations, so Lutz's best chance at a career would seem to be as corner infield reserve and righty power bat off the bench.

    Brian (Detroit): Ruben Tejada....obviously he was rushed to the majors. What do you project him to be? Everyday player or utility guy. Can he annually hit .300?

Matthew Eddy: Ruben Tejada would seem to be an ideal utility player as someone who can really defend both middle-infield posts and not kill you offensively when he plays for weeks at a time. He's got a good eye at the plate and good contact skills, though hitting .300 might be a stretch. Keep an eye on Tejada with Triple-A Buffalo this season, especially as the Jose Reyes trade rumors intensify as he nears free agency.

    JAYPERS (IL): Player to must likely to hit 40 HR's in the Majors: Greg Halman or Fernando Martinez. Which one to you has been the bigger dissapointment ?

Matthew Eddy: Fascinating question. Somebody ought to plug them into a Strat-O-Matic lineup, bat them leadoff and give them 700 plate appearances to settle this question once and for all!

    Tony D' (work): I had Darrell Cecilliani and Cory Vaughn on my top 10 list. Where do they rank on your list?

Matthew Eddy: Along with LHPs Juan Urbina and Robert Carson, CF Darrell Ceciliani is one of the better upside plays in the Mets system outside the Top 10. As you all probably know, Ceciliani hit .351 to win the New York-Penn League batting title, but he's not just a slash-and-run type. In fact, when all's said and done he could have average-or-better tools across the board, with a chance to score better in terms of hitting for average and range in center field. We could be looking at 60 grades there eventually. But he's not there yet, and that's why he falls outside the Top 10 for now. Ceciliani's not a pure burner, but he runs well and has enough strength to keep defenses honest. He did drive one of his two home runs out to right field in Brooklyn, where charging winds keep most everything in play. Other lefty hitters to play for Brooklyn have done no better. Lucas Duda, Reese Havens and Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit one each to right field while with the Cyclones. Ike Davis hit zero.

    William (Salt Lake City, Utah): Do you think the new Mets Front Office will remain active in the Latin America or focus all their attention for the next couple of years with the draft ?

Matthew Eddy: Anecdotal evidence suggests the Mets will continue to be players in Latin America. They opted to keep on Ismael Cruz, the organization's international scouting director who had a hand in signing the top three prospects on this list, as well as Aderlin Rodriguez and Juan Urbina. Be sure to look for Ben Badler's feature on the Mets' recent international efforts. It will run as Prospect Pulse in our NL East issue and also on next week.

    Doob (Cologne, Germany): Is German C Kai Gronauer regarded as a legit prospect ? Will he crack the top 30 ? Also, would you agree that the talent depth of this system is much deeper than in previous years, especially among positional talent while still lacking true "can´t miss" types ?

Matthew Eddy: The Mets signed German C Kai Gronauer as a 21-year-old in April 2008. He's hit his way to High-A, but evaluators are mixed in their opinions of his potential. Some see him as having a Triple-A ceiling, while others can foresee a future backup catcher. He makes consistent contact, draws walks and throws well enough, but he's got virtually no power and is very inconsistent at this stage. As to the second part of your question . . . I think your assessment is fair: No true can't-miss prospects but more depth than in recent seasons.

    JAYPAL (MANHATTAN): Hello Matt, us in New York have been eagerly anticipating the Mets the prospect list. A little surprised that Holt made the cut on the top ten. This season wasn't just bad, it was scary bad. Did his AFL play carry a lot of weight?

Matthew Eddy: Want to know what's even scarier? On earlier drafts of this list I had Holt ranked even higher than No. 10. Two different scouts who I trust insisted that Holt has the stuff to reach a ceiling of No. 3 starter. Now, there's no getting around the awfulness of Holt's 2010 season—way too many baserunners, not enough focus when things got tight, mechanical issues, wild pitches. All of it. However, it's important to remember that his spring wrist injury might have affected his command more than we realize. Even if it didn't affect him, Holt still sat in the low-90s with plus life this season, while showing flashes of brilliance with his curve and changeup. So while his performance obviously has gone backwards since 2008, his secondary stuff actually has gotten better. Combine that with better command and an offseason of rest and you might see a vastly different version of Brad Holt in 2011.

    Jason (New York City): I felt the Mets had a surprisingly good draft last year. What can you tell us about late round picks Akeel Morris and Eric Goeddell? AmI right to get excited about these potential steals?

Matthew Eddy: The Mets think very highly of both Goeddel and Akeel Morris, their 10th-rounder from the Virgin Islands. With Morris they like his athleticism, arm speed and projectable frame. He pitches at 91 mph as a teenager and could be dangerous if he refines his secondary stuff. But at this stage he's a long-term project.

    Virgil Dahl (Waterloo, Iowa): Matt; your scouting report on Cesar Puello is pretty complete and all encompassing. Is there anything you can, or would like to add. thanks

Matthew Eddy: For a player who hit only one home run in 2010 (and just seven in three seasons), RF Cesar Puello was universally liked by evaluators inside and outside the organization. If this kid starts putting a few more balls over the fence, he's going to start generating serious prospect buzz. A very strong case could be made for him ranking No. 2, ahead of Flores.

    Nick (Lynbrook, NY): Whats your opinion of the 2 guys the Mets picked in the Rule 5 draft, Brad Emaus and Pedro Beato? Do you see them both sticking around for the year?

Matthew Eddy: Generally, I would give about a 10 percent chance that even one Rule 5 pick would stick with a large-market, large-revenue club like the Mets, but . . . 3B/2B Brad Emaus and RH reliever Pedro Beato do seem to fit nicely into holes on the 25-man roster. The Mets could be looking for offense at second base if they cut ties with Luis Castillo, and Emaus could provide that. The club also will be without two of their best relievers from 2010 (Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi) and Beato could at least fill in for awhile as a sinker/slider type who has been up to 93 mph.

    JD (AZ): Matt, any update on 2009's top pick Steve Matz? Is he a possible sleeper for 2011?

Matthew Eddy: LHP Steve Matz impressed the field staff during 2010 spring training, but he had Tommy John surgery in May and won't return to action until this May or June. At that point, he'll probably head to one of the Mets' three short-season affiliates. Matz is a fine sleeper for 2011, along with Zach Dotson, another prep lefty from that '09 draft.

    Shane (Miami): His position aside, what's the upside with Flores' bat, in terms of his hit and power tool? Just recently 19, he's continuing to show glimpses of a future star in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Matthew Eddy: Throwing out 60 grades for both hit and power did not prompt scouts to scoff at the notion. Strictly speaking, that would translate to an average between .286 and .299 and 20-26 home runs. I don't think anybody will complain about his position if even those low projections come to pass.

    DG (Paris, France): Matt, did a busker like Mark Cohoon get any consideration for the top half of the list? He profiles a bit like a Jamie Moyer, and Moyer could not & would not grace a BA Top 10 ever!

Matthew Eddy: Some scouts are convinced that LHP Mark Cohoon will pitch in the big leagues as a durable strike-throwing starter. He's built quite a reputation in the past two seasons as he�s shot from short-season Brooklyn to Double-A Binghamton, going 21-7, 2.42 with nearly four times as many strikeouts (201) as walks (52). One could easily justify ranking Cohoon on the top half of the list.

    steve (wichita): what is a realistic expectation for lucas duda, and do you see him getting 200-300 ABs next year given the relative unknown of pagan and health questions surrounding beltran and bay?

Matthew Eddy: I think the fact that the Mets non-tendered Chris Carter bodes very well for Lucas Duda's immediate future. He has a better feel for hitting than people generally realize, but, no, he doesn't have elite bat speed or power. Duda could force his way onto the Opening Day roster if he crushes the ball in spring training, but the Mets might opt instead to send him to Buffalo so his bat doesn't gather rust on the big league bench. Who knows what will happen in the second half? Maybe Carlos Beltran is traded, maybe Angel Pagan plays his way into a backup role.

    Mike (Parsippany): I've read a lot about Robert Carson as one of the Mets top pitching prospects coming into the year. The Mets were pretty aggressive with the way they handled him promoting him to AA and then sending to the AFL as one of the youngest players there. But his numbers don't match the hype - is he another overhyped NY prospect or a young talented pitcher still figuring things out?

Matthew Eddy: While LHP Robert Carson did not respond well to a bump to Double-A at age 21 (8.32 ERA), the fact that the club promoted him at all tells you a lot about how they value him. And you can be sure he'd be one of the first players that other clubs would ask about in trades. A physical 6-foot-3 lefty, Carson tops out at 95 mph with late, cutting action, and both his cutter/slider and changeup have flashed average. He seems destined for a big league career of some sort, perhaps as a power reliever.

    Juan (Union, NJ): How serious will Mets take the draft under this regime. Will the Wilpons let them go overslot?

Matthew Eddy: The Mets are hinting that they will begin to spend more on the draft, but until they actually do so, it's all talk.

    JAYPERS (IL): Did Jefry Marte's stock fall significantly since last year? What faults does he need to overcome?

Matthew Eddy: Last question, and it's a good one. 3B Jefry Marte improved all parts of his game in 2010, showing a strong line-drive stroke and a feel to hit. He doesn't loft the ball particularly well at this stage, so that hurts his home-run total, but he makes consistent hard contact and seldom chases out of the zone. Marte has fringe-average hands, feet and range at third base, but he runs up high error totals with errant throws. Ideally, you'd like to see more consistent defense at the hot corner or more homers if he has to move to first base or the outfield. Marte burned brightly in his Gulf Coast League debut two years ago, but he's now slipped well below fellow '07 signees Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello.

Matthew Eddy: Thanks for all the great questions. We'll be back with another NL East Top 10 on Monday.