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After going 33-7 with a school-record 2.18 ERA in three seasons at Wichita State, Pelfrey was Baseball America's top-rated pitching prospect heading into the 2005 draft. The Diamondbacks considered him for the No. 1 overall pick, but he ultimately dropped to the Mets at No. 9 because of signability concerns. He didn't sign until January, when he received a club-record $3.55 million bonus as part of a $5.25 million big league contract. Pelfrey showed no ill effects from his layoff and needed just four starts at high Class A St. Lucie to earn a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. Pelfrey credits veteran catcher Mike DiFelice--whom the Mets sent to Binghamton solely to serve as mentor--with helping him gain confidence in his secondary stuff. He earned a major league callup when Pedro Martinez first went on the disabled list in July and won his first big league start before being sent to Triple-A Norfolk. If not for a sore back that limited him late in the season, Pelfrey would have been in the mix for a spot in the postseason bullpen. He might have gotten a playoff start, considering how beat up New York's starting pitchers were. There are few pitchers in the minors whose fastball can rival Pelfrey's. His two-seamer sits at 92-95 mph with fierce sink and late life and rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He throws it effortlessly from a 6-foot-7 frame on a steep downhill plane with great extension and solid command. He also has a four-seamer for extra velocity higher in the zone. Though Pelfrey barely needed to use a changeup as an amateur, he already has a good feel for it and it's his No. 2 pitch. He fiddled with his grip in 2006 and improved his command of the pitch. He fields his position well and has a good pickoff move, though the Mets would like to see him get faster to the plate from the stretch. A lack of a reliable breaking ball is the biggest thing holding Pelfrey back. He has thrown both a curveball and a slider but now favors the slider, which is better suited for his power arm. He throws it at 84-87 mph with some depth, and he can reduce the break on it to give it more of a cutter look against lefthanders. He has yet to learn how to command his slider consistently, and it probably always will be his third-best pitch. Though his mechanics are clean, he tends to over-rotate his lower half in his windup, which hurts his ability to locate his pitches. Though he needs better command of his secondary stuff, there's little left for Pelfrey to prove in the minors. With Martinez out until at least the all-star break, Pelfrey will definitely be in the mix for the Opening Day rotation. He should be in the Mets rotation for years to come and has the potential to be a legitimate No. 1 starter.
Martinez received the largest bonus of any international sign in 2005 ($1.4 million) and proved to be a good investment in his debut. Though he missed time with a bone bruise in his hand and a knee sprain, Martinez handled the low Class A South Atlantic League at age 17 and earned a promotion to high Class A. The youngest player in the Arizona Fall League, he recovered from a 1-for-18 start to hit .304 afterward. Martinez has an advanced approach well beyond his years. He has good pitch recognition, strike-zone awareness and power to all fields. He has slightly above-average speed, though he's better underway than down the line or as a basestealer. He has a strong outfield arm. Like many young hitters, Martinez tends to overswing when he gets in a funk but should outgrow that as he gets more reps against advanced pitching. He doesn't have a good first step and can take poor routes in center field, which likely means that he'll end up in right field. Martinez has the highest ceiling of any hitter in the system and will put himself into the discussion of the best prospects in baseball if he can build on his 2006 season. Even if he has to move from center field, his bat could make him an all-star. He should be back in high Class A to begin 2007.
The Mets decided to let Gomez skip high Class A because they were so impressed with the way he responded to instruction and made adjustments during spring training. He started the season slow and spent some time in extended spring straining when a back injury sidelined him in May. Roving hitting instructor Lamar Johnson got him to relax the upper half in his swing, and Gomez batted .323 the rest of the way. Gomez' arm and speed both rate as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's an aboveaverage center fielder and he refined his basestealing technique to where he had 41 swipes in 50 attempts in 2006. His lightning-quick bat and natural swing path allow him to make consistent hard contact. His arm gives him yet another plus tool. Much of his game is still raw. Gomez is too aggressive at the plate and needs to improve his situational hitting. He has plus raw power that has yet to show up in game action. His flashy style has irked some his opponents, but the Mets don't see it as a problem and think it will diminish as he matures. With Carlos Beltran signed through 2011, Gomez' future with New York lies in right field. Ticketed for the Mets' new Triple-A New Orleans affiliate, he has a ceiling comparable with that of Fernando Martinez.
The winning pitcher in the championship game of the 2003 College World Series, Humber went third overall in the 2004 draft and signed the following January. His big league deal included a $3 million bonus and $4.2 million guarantee. Tommy John surgery in July 2005 cut his pro debut short, but he was on the field one year later and quickly returned to his previous form. Humber's curveball is one of the best in the minors. Thrown at 74-78 mph, it has tight rotation with a powerful downward action. His fastball sits at 90-94 mph. He also features a developing low-80s changeup with late sink. He throws strikes with all three pitches. Humber has a tendency to overthrow, which tires him out and costs him his command. It also hurts his changeup, which loses its effectiveness when it climbs to 86-87 mph. As good as his curveball is, he could do a better job of throwing it for strikes because big league hitters will be less likely to chase it. Though his Arizona Fall League stint ended with a sore shoulder, an MRI revealed no damage and Humber is primed for his first full-season workload. Though his stuff is good enough to pitch in the big leagues, Humber will probably be better served with a full season in Triple- A to improve his endurance. He profiles as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
After signing for $700,000 as the top prospect coming out of Venezuela in 2005, Guerra was challenged with an assignment to the South Atlantic League as the circuit's youngest player in 2006. He responded by shaking off a rocky start to go 6-5, 1.90 in the last three months and earn a late promotion to high Class A. Guerra stands out most with a feel for his changeup that's exceptional for a teenager. He maintains his normal arm action, setting up a fastball that sits at 88-90 mph and touches 92. His frame should allow for more velocity as he matures, making the gap between his changeup and fastball all the more difficult for hitters. Guerra's curveball is below average. He lacks confidence in his curve, and it has poor rotation and depth. The tilt and velocity on his breaking ball changes as he tries to figure it out, and it's possible it could morph into a slider. His delivery is repeatable but too slow and mechanical. With a little more velocity and an average curveball, Guerra would establish himself as an elite prospect. Time is certainly on his side, as he'll begin the season at age 17, making him a safe bet to be the youngest player in the Florida State League.
Mulvey's mother was watching a Dwight Gooden start for the Mets when she went into labor with Kevin, so it was only fitting that the club made him its top pick in the 2006 draft. A second-rounder, he signed late for $585,000 but still reached Double-A. Mulvey came to pro ball with a feel for four pitches. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph and touches 96. He has good leverage in his delivery, which allows him to maintain his velocity and might give him more as he matures physically. His 82-84 mph slider has short, late break. He's effective at changing a batter's eye level with his mid-70s curveball. His changeup should at least provide a weapon against lefthanders. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with a fluid arm action and little effort. Though he can throw all four of his pitches for strikes, Mulvey's command within the zone needs work. His changeup is still a below-average pitch at this point, and he lacks a true putaway pitch. The Mets believe Mulvey has a chance to have four above-average pitches and could join their rotation in 2008. He may start his first full season in St. Lucie to avoid the cold April climate in Binghamton.
A product of the same Defiance (Ohio) High program that spawned Chad Billingsley, Niese was Ohio's first ever back-to-back state high school player of the year. He was deemed a tough sign coming out of high school, but a recruiting call from Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter convinced Niese to sign for $175,000, the equivalent of early fifth-round money. Niese is at his best when he has command of his three-pitch mix. He has a lively fastball that sits at 87-90 mph. His big, looping 68-70 mph curveball is a strikeout pitch when it's on. He's willing to throw his 77-79 mph straight changeup to both lefthanders and righthanders. The Mets love his competitive fire. Though both his curveball and changeup have potential, Niese rarely has a feel for both of them on the same night. His curve could use more consistent rotation and he needs better command of both pitches. He can get overcompetitve and try to strike everyone out, which works against him. He'll have to get stronger after wearing down as his first full season progressed, resulting in some ugly late-season starts. Despite some inconsistency, Niese showed promise in 2006. He'll return to high Class A, where he made two late starts, and projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Carp hit 11 homers in his first 26 games at low Class A Hagertown in 2005 then fell into a deep slump before injuring his right wrist. He made adjustments, however, and rebounded to be named Mets minor league player of the year in 2006. After using more of the field and tightening his strike zone, he led both the system and the Florida State League in RBIs. Carp is an all-around hitter with good hand-eye coordination, pitch recognition and power. He makes consistent hard contact and can drive the ball from gap to gap. Though young for his leagues the last two years, he has shown an advanced approach at the plate. There are mixed reviews about Carp's defense. He's by no means a butcher, but he doesn't have quick feet and he has trouble receiving throws. He reaches for balls instead of letting them come to him, creating unnecessary errors. He's a below-average runner. Carp will need his bat to carry him, and it may do just that. The Mets will get a better read on his future after he spends 2007 in Double-A.
Smith had shoulder surgery as a senior in high school and couldn't make the Wright State roster as a freshman. After making the team as a walk-on in 2004, he dropped his arm angle from high three-quarters to sidearm a year later and his stuff improved appreciably. His 0.98 ERA would have led NCAA Division I last spring, but he fell five innings short of qualifying. A third-round pick, he signed for $410,000 and reached Double-A in August. Smith is unique because he throws much harder than typical sidearmers, and his 89-91 mph fastball has sinking, fading action. It tops out at 94. He stays on top of an 81-83 mph, two-plane slider that destroys righthanders. They hit just .104 against him in pro ball. The key to Smith reaching his ceiling is his changeup. He never needed it in college, but he does in pro ball to keep advanced lefthanders honest. They went 10-for-20 (.500) against him in his brief Double-A stint. If he can make his changeup an average pitch, Smith should be an excellent setup man. Without it, he'd be just a righthanded specialist. Chad Bradford filled that role for the Mets in 2006, and his departure could allow Smith to make the team at some point in his first full season. He'll probably open in Triple-A.
After signing a $2.8 million major league contract in the fall of 2004, Soler missed all of 2005 because he couldn't secure a visa until October. He showed up to his first big league camp out of shape and had a poor spring training, though he bounced back to reach New York in May. He threw a two-hit shutout against the Diamondbacks, but struggled with his control shortly afterward and was demoted in early July. Soler has success when he attacks the strike zone with his low-90s fastball and above-average slider. The latter is his best pitch. He throws it at 80-81 mph with sharp, late break to righthanders and slows it down and backdoors it against lefties. Soler is his own worst enemy and gets in trouble when he tries to nibble and play around with his offspeed stuff in what looks like an attempt to emulate fellow Cuban Orlando Hernandez. He needs to dedicate himself much more to conditioning after making a bad first impression. After his midsummer demotion, he missed six weeks with a minor Achilles problem that isn't considered serious but wasn't helped by his excess weight. If Soler plays to his strengths, he has the chance to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter or setup man. How much time he spends getting in shape likely will dictate his assignment in 2007, and when he could contribute in the majors.
No Mets prospect took a bigger step forward in 2005, but few stalled as much as Hernandez in 2006. He opened the season as the Mets' second baseman, but he struggled with the bat and then was sidelined with a bulging disc. By the time he recovered, Jose Valentin had displaced him as the Mets' regular second baseman. Hernandez' strength is his defensive ability. He has soft hands, plus range and an above-average arm but sometimes gets lazy and doesn't charge balls aggressively enough. A natural righthanded hitter, Hernandez was adept from both sides of the plate in 2005 and hit .298 from the left side. That dropped to .232 in 2006 and he looked far better from his natural side. Hernandez gets too pull conscious and has excess movement in his stance. He needs to improve his plate discipline to reduce his strikeouts and take advantage of his above-average speed. After struggling in the big leagues and losing his job, he began to press to prove he belonged and it only made matters worse. The Mets still do not have a long-term solution at second base-- Valentin is 37--so the opportunity is still there for Hernandez to establish himself, but it's looking more and more like he's destined for a utility role.
The son of former big league catcher Tony Pena and brother of Braves farmhand Tony Pena Jr., Francisco was at one time considered the top player on the international market in 2006, and rumors swirled that he could command as much as a $2 million bonus. He ended up getting $750,000, the seventh-largest bonus handed out to international players last summer. Pena stands out for his impressive catch-and-throw skills and he consistently posts 1.9-second pop times thanks to an above-average arm and quick release. He has an advanced offensive approach and is willing to go the other way, but his bat is still pretty raw and involves a lot of projection because his pitch recognition is rudimentary. There are some concerns that Pena's body is too thick and that he's not as athletic as his dad or brother. His biggest obstacle defensively is adjusting to the higher velocities he has to catch as a professional, but it's something that should come in time and isn't a serious concern. The Mets love Pena's cerebral nature and his bilingualism--products of having grown up around the game--which will serve him well as a catcher. He probably won't be ready for a full-season league, so Rookie-level Kingsport or short-season Brooklyn is his most likely destination.
Acquired from the Marlins along with Jason Vargas in the trade that sent relievers Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom to Florida, Bostick missed the 2002 season following surgery to transpose a nerve in his elbow but came back strong and led the low Class A South Atlantic League in strikeouts in 2004. Bostick, who passed on a scholarship to play quarterback for NCAA Division II Slippery Rock (Pa.), has a sinking two-seam fastball with late life that sits from 88-91 mph. He complements it with a plus curveball with late bite that has a little more tilt then a typical 12-to-6 offering, and a four-seam fastball when he wants to work up in the zone. Bostick has a deceptive delivery that makes it hard for hitters to pick up his pitches. He's an excellent athlete who can make spectacular defensive plays, but he has difficulty repeating his mechanics. His right elbow and shoulder will often fly open early, which makes it hard for him to maintain his arm slot and causes him to spin off the mound. Bostick has worked on a changeup, but is still not comfortable with it and needs urging to throw it more. Even with a fringy changeup, his fastball-curve combo should be enough to make him a solid back-end starter. He'll head to Triple-A and could get a shot should an injury arise in the rotation.
The son of former Twins catcher Brian Harper showed his plus power in 2005 when he finished third in the minors in home runs with 36 after hitting just 22 over his first four pro seasons. He returned to Double-A in 2006 and was raking through 19 games before a shoulder injury knocked him out for the season. Unlike his father, who was known for his ability to put the ball in play, Harper has an all-or-nothing approach. He's always looking for a fastball to drive and struggles with quality breaking pitches. He's a slow runner with below-average range at first base and doesn't look comfortable making even routine plays. His poor defense and lack of versatility limit his value as a reserve, but if he can continue to hit with tremendous power he should be able to find a job as a regular, even if it's not with the Mets. He'll be ready for spring training following shoulder surgery and will get a shot to prove himself in Triple-A.
A Montreal native born to an Italian father and Spanish mother who played professional tennis, Garcia went undrafted in 2004 when baseball had a shortage of visas for minor league players. Because of his relative lack of baseball experience, Garcia was sent to extended spring training and then Kingsport last year despite a promising debut in 2005. Garcia is a tick above average across the board--with the exception of his power--and one of the best all-around athletes in the system. He has a mature approach at the plate with excellent bat control that allows him to work deep counts and thrive at the top of the order. His speed and instincts make him a pest on the basepaths. Garcia responds well to instruction and has impressed the Mets with his steady improvement. There were questions about his ability to stay at shortstop, but he showed enough there in 2006 that he'll remain there for the time being, though his arm might not be good enough for him to be a regular there. He'll get his first crack at full-season ball as the regular shortstop at the Mets' new low Class A Savannah affiliate in 2007.
Coronado impressed the Mets so much in 2005 that he was promoted twice, and even saw some action in big league spring training games last year. The most advanced of a group of low-level shortstops, he was challenged with an assignment to high Class A, where he was overmatched offesnively. Coronado's strength is his defense, so it's not a shock he struggled at the plate. He has hands that are quick and soft, excellent range and an above-average arm to go with a quick release. He can make the spectacular play at short, but needs to be more aggressive in charging slowly hit balls. A switch-hitter, Coronado lacks strength and needs to fill out so he can swing with more authority and increase his bat speed. He understands his offensive limitations and tries to play within them, using a slap-and-dash approach, but he still strikes out too often. He's an above-average runner, though not a burner. Coronado will likely repeat the level but needs to significantly improve his offensive game to ever profile as a regular.
Special assistant Benny Latino stayed on Stinson all year but knew there wasn't much buzz surrounding him, and the Mets patiently waited to grab him in the 37th round. Latino pulled the same act when he was with the Devil Rays, snagging big leaguers Joey Gathright (32nd) and Chad Gaudin (34th round) in the 2001 draft. Signed for $125,000, he pitched so well in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League that he received a late-season promotion to low Class A. Stinson throws two- and four-seam fastballs that sit from 89-94 mph with a good downward plane. He works mostly off the two-seamer, which sits at 89-91 with heavy sink and was instrumental in his 2.00 ground-fly ratio in the GCL. Formerly a slurvy pitch, his breaking ball has developed into a hard 2-to-7 curve from 78-82 mph, and he spent much of the season working on his changeup. Stinson's mechanics lack consistency, and he has a tendency to fall off to the first-base side of the mound, which hinders his command. With an ideal frame and arm speed, Stinson offers projection and has the makeup to make the necessary adjustments. He'll spend 2007 in low Class A and has the makings of a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Parnell burst onto the scene in 2005 when he led the short-season New York-Penn League in ERA in his pro debut, an impressive feat for someone who posted ERAs of 6.82 and 8.86 in his final two years at Charleston Southern. A strained oblique cost him much of spring training in 2006 and he never regained his 2005 form. Parnell has a lively sinker that tops out at 94 mph, but it's more effective at 91-92 because it has more movement when he takes a little off it. He complements it with a nasty 84-86 mph slider that is a swing-and-miss pitch. Because he struggles to throw the slider for strikes, it's more useful when he's ahead in the count and can get hitters to expand their zones. The Mets like his confidence and poise, but want him to throw his changeup more. Because he rarely uses the change, he doesn't throw it with conviction. Despite a poor 2006, he still has one of the stronger arms in the system and the Mets think he'll be fine with a full spring training. He'll probably spend 2007 in high Class A.
As a senior in college, Martin led the Southland Conference in hitting with a .389 average and was named all-conference for his efforts. Signed for a mere $1,000, he continued that hot hitting in his pro debut and finished in the top five in the New York-Penn League in hitting, on-base percentage, slugging and triples. He capped his fine debut by holding his own against more experienced pros in Hawaii Winter Baseball, hitting .269 in 78 at-bats (the league average was just .238). Though he lacks one standout tool, Martin's tools are average across the board. He is a smart hitter with a short, assertive stroke. Martin has more of a pull approach, but drives the ball up the middle and to right-center when he's locked in. He earned praise for making adjustments as the season progressed and staying very consistent with his performance and effort. His arm and speed are both a tick above average and he can handle all three outfield spots, though he spent most of the season in left. Martin doesn't appear to have the power to profile as a regular in an outfield corner, but could increase his stock by proving he can handle center. Either way, his approach and makeup could fit nicely as a reserve outfielder. As senior sign, he'll get a chance to move quickly if he continues to hit.
When the Mets were short a pitcher on their GCL club in 2004, they asked their area scouts for the names of the best pitcher they saw who went undrafted and signed Camacho on the recommendation of Steve Leavitt. Camacho signed for $500 and left his job at a canning plant to turn pro and has been solid ever since in a short relief role. His pitching style is reminiscent of former Mets closer John Franco in that he barely tops 90 mph with his fastball and succeeds on the strength of his changeup. Camacho actually throws two variations of the change, one that is straight that he spots for strikes and the other with sink that is a strikeout pitch against righthanders. His breaking ball lacks definition and is more of a slurvy pitch, though the Mets would like it to be more of a hard slider to give him a weapon against lefties. His current fastball- change repertoire is more effective against righties who hit .227 against him in 2006 while lefties hit .246. The Mets have pushed him the last two seasons and the Mets love that he has risen to the occasion both times. Considering his success at Double-A, he should be ticketed for Triple-A with a chance at a callup should an opening arise.
A third baseman when he was drafted out of Phoenix' St. Mary's High, Evans was a minor bright spot on a Hagerstown club that was atrocious offensively (the Suns hit .238/.313/.348 collectively). He led the club in almost every counting statistic, but with the exception of a scorching June in which he hit .364/.430/.705, his performance was mediocre. Evans has some of the best raw power in the system and shows it off with his impressive batting practice displays. The ball jumps off his bat and he's at this best when he's driving balls up the middle, but often gets too pull happy in games. Since he was Hagerstown's only power threat for much of the season, teams pitched around him and he often expanded his strike zone. Because of his third-base background, he has the potential to be above average at first and has shown improvement there, though his 15 errors ranked second among South Atlantic League first basemen. The Mets have also been impressed with the way he has taken to their strength and agility programs. As a righthanded-hitting first baseman, his prospect status is tied up mostly in his power potential. His ability to translate his raw power into games with consistency is paramount. It will certainly be tested in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2007.
Scouting director Rudy Terraras asks each of his area scouts for their "gut-feel guy" leading up to the draft and scout Matt Wondolowski tabbed Stoner as his before the Mets took him in the 16th round. A two-way player at his Division II college, Stoner finished fourth in the New York-Penn League in ERA after signing for $1,000. He features an 89-92 mph fastball to go with a cutter, curveball and change. Stoner is receptive to coaching and picked up a changeup very quickly. He has confidence throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate and at times showed average command of all four pitches even mixing in a slider when ahead in the count. The key for Stoner will be streamlining his repertoire to improve his consistency. He's very athletic and fields his position well but will rush his delivery, which hinders his command. Stoner is a fierce competitor who is very hard on himself when things aren't going well. His performance at Brooklyn was a pleasant surprise and he'll get a taste of full-season ball in 2007, most likely in low Class A.
Henry has one of the better amateur pedigrees of anyone in the Mets system and hit .481 for USA Baseball's 2003 junior national team that included Billy Butler (Royals) and Neil Walker (Pirates), among others. He has tantalized the Mets with his athleticism, but it took him almost three seasons to get out of rookie ball. Henry is an aggressive hitter with good bat speed and has impressive pop for someone of his size. He's a smart baserunner with above-average speed that plays well on the bases and in the field. The former shortstop moved to center field last year and showed excellent aptitude there. His clean routes made him look like a natural but he needs to make an adjustment with his footwork on throws, which differs from the infield. Henry also needs to stay within himself as a hitter because of his tendency to swing for the fences. The Mets were pleased with Henry's progress on both offense and defense in 2006 and he'll finally get his shot to open a season in a full-season league.
Privett was part of a talented JC of Southern Idaho staff that had a total of three pitchers drafted and also included his brother Zack. The first of that trio drafted, Privett signed for $37,500 as a 14th-rounder. He typically sits at 88-90 mph with his fastball, but was up to 92 mph during the college season where opponents batted just .168 against him. He's a finesse pitcher that works mostly off of a fastball-change combination from a three-quarters arm angle and pitches with little effort. He throws the fastball to both sides of the plate and isn't afraid to use his changeup, which has a little fade and sink, against both lefthanders and righthanders. Privett will also mix in a curveball at 72-73 mph with late bite when he's ahead in the count but he doesn't have the confidence to throw it for strikes. Privett struggled maintaining his velocity and appeared to wear down a little late in the season. In a system short on lefthanders, Privett is worth following and should begin 2007 in low Class A.
As a sophomore at NAIA Concordia University in Portland, Ore., Devaney threw a no-hitter in a start against Jeff Francis, now of the Rockies, and he has done nothing but win since signing with the Mets. Despite having fringe-average stuff, he has compiled a career record of 27-9, 2.77. He tied for the minor league lead in shutouts and complete games and led the organization in wins and ERA, ranked second in strikeouts and had a 32-inning scoreless streak in high Class A. Devaney's fastball tops out at 90 mph and he pitches at 88 with some arm-side run. He also mixes in a cutter, a changeup and a slow curveball with tight rotation at around 65 mph that hitters just can't seem to get good swings on. He has a funky arm action with a wrist curl in the back that prevents him from having pinpoint command, however, it's this deceptive motion that induces so many bad swings. With stuff that grades out as fringe average or below average across the board, Devaney hardly has a prospect's typical profile. But his continued success, particularly at Double-A, is an indication that he's doing something right. He'll be back there to begin 2007 and if his command improves and his success continues, he'll get more chances to keep proving himself.
The brother of Lincoln Holdzkom, a 2001 seventh-round pick of the Marlins who was taken by the Astros in the 2006 Rule 5 draft, John is a bit of an enigma. Despite an incredible arm, he fell to the Mariners in the 15th round of 2005 draft coming out of high school. He was academically ineligible for much of his senior season and pitched sparingly upon his return because of problems with his control and with his coach. A year of junior college in a wood-bat league helped his stock immensely and the Mets signed him for $210,000 as a fourth-rounder, though he certainly wasn't a consensus first-five-round pick. Holdzkom has a fastball that touches 98 mph and sits at 92-94 mph. He also features a hard slider in the high 80s that can be dominant. Because of his size, Holdzkom has a very hard time repeating his delivery. He has been working on a changeup in the bullpen but doesn't throw it in games as of yet. The Mets knew he was this raw when they drafted him but couldn't resist such a power arm. Though he profiles best as a reliever, the organization wants to use him as a starter and hope it helps the development of his change. He'll be back in extended spring training, with a likely assignment to Kingsport or Brooklyn come June.
When it became clear that they did not see Victor Diaz as part of their long-term plan, the Mets sent Diaz to Texas in exchange for Nickeas. Born in Canada, Nickeas' British father played for Vancouver in the North American Soccer League. Nickeas' spent most of his childhood in California though, and he played for the U.S. national team in both high school and college but fell to the fifth round of the 2004 draft when he slumped as a junior. After a strong debut the Rangers aggressively promoted him to Double-A for his first full season because they wanted him to work with their better pitching prospects, he struggled terribly with the bat and has yet to recover offensively. Nickeas' strength is his defense, however, and he's a sound receiver with soft hands, good blocking instincts and a solid arm. As a hitter, Nickeas has good knowledge of the strike zone but doesn't make hard contact consistently. He's a bit stiff at the plate and it doesn't appear he'll hit enough to become a regular behind the plate. He missed time with a hamstring pull in 2006, and he's a below-average runner even when healthy. His defense and leadership should allow him to be a prototypical backup catcher and he'll likely spend some more time at Double-A in 2007. With Jesus Flores taken by the Nationals in the Rule 5 draft, Nickeas ranks as the best catcher in the system.
The first Wingate player to be drafted in nine years, Brown had two seasons in one. He was sent to low Class A to begin 2006, but struggled terribly in a swingman role. He was demoted to Brooklyn and placed in the rotation where he flourished, ranking second in the New York- Penn League in ERA. Brown has tremendous size, though he's not a hard thrower and pitches at 86-90 mph with his fastball. It has late sink in the zone and he complements it with a slider and curveball. When he got to Brooklyn, the Mets had him move both his breaking pitches further back in his hand and it increased their velocity and break. His slider sits at 80-83 mph with a two-plane break and is his second-best offering. He also has a changeup, though it's clearly his fourth pitch. He has above-average command, but he'll need more velocity to succeed at higher levels. Brown's size and easy arm action have the Mets optimistic he can increase his velocity, and club officials believe the five-day routine of being in a rotation suits Brown better than the bullpen. With a good spring, he could be bound for high Class A.
Stegall was a two-way player at Greenwood (Ark.) High, where he also played quarterback on the football team. He had signed a letter of intent to play quarterback at Miami, but instead opted to sign with the Mets for a $145,000 bonus as a seventh-rounder. As a two-sport athlete from a small high school, Stegall is very raw but has as much upside as any position player the Mets have in the low minors. His best tool is his above-average raw power and the ball jumps off of his bat with excellent carry. He runs well for his size and has an above-average arm that allowed him to hit 91 mph off the mound in high school. Stegall struggled in the GCL with his pitch recognition and timing but the Mets were pleased with the way he made adjustments as the year went on and he ended on an 11-game hitting streak. He played center field this season, but his future is probably in right field. His reads and routes showed promise, but his throwing mechanics need work as he has a tendency to short-arm his throws. Stegall is the type of player that needs time and patience, but his raw package of tools offers promise. He likely will end up in Kingsport after opening 2007 in extended spring training.
St. Lucie won the Florida State League title last season, and Coles was as big of a reason as anyone. A .292 hitter entering 2006, Coles led the FSL (and the Mets organization) with a .341 average. Coles' strength is his disciplined approach and his ability to make sound, consistent contact all over the field. He works counts and is tough to strike out but has well-below-average power as evidenced by his 31 extra-base hits. He makes quality reads and jumps in the outfield, which allows to him to play all three outfield positions. He has average speed and range and can steal a base here or there, though he doesn't walk enough or run well enough to profile as a leadoff hitter. Even though he pitched in all three of his seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, his arm plays below average. Coles doesn't profile as a regular anywhere, but has a skill set that could make him an asset as a reserve. One scout compared him to Orlando Palmeiro who was also drafted out of college, lacks power and did not break into the big leagues until he was 26 years old. Coles will head to Double-A this year and try to prove that 2006 wasn't a fluke.
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