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The Mets acquired Wheeler from the offense starved Giants in a straight-up trade for Carlos Beltran on July 27. "We were looking for big upside," said first-year general manager Sandy Alderson, who eschewed offers of two or three players from other clubs because he favored quality over quantity. Wheeler delivered on that front in 2011, ranking as the high Class A California League's No. 4 prospect with San Jose prior to the trade and then running up a 31-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio for high Class A St. Lucie afterward. The sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Wheeler signed with the Giants for $3.3 million, which still stands as the largest bonus San Francisco has paid an amateur pitcher. That's saying something for an organization that also drafted Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in the first round. Wheeler turned in a fully healthy season in 2011 after a persistent cracked-fingernail issue limited him to just 59 innings during his 2010 pro debut. He struck out 10.1 batters per nine innings in 2011, pairing with righthander Matt Harvey (10.3) to give the Mets two of the 23 minor league ERA qualifiers who cracked double digits--and righty Jeurys Familia (9.6) just missed giving the organization three such power pitchers. All three will pitch at Double-A or higher in 2012. Wheeler hit 97 mph with his first pitch for St. Lucie and consistently pitched at 93-95 for the Mets. He has a loose, easy arm action and throws from a high three-quarters arm slot. He complements his plus fastball with a mid- to high-70s downer curveball that buckles knees and helps him neutralize righthanders. They hit a mere .199 and slugged .292 against him between his two high Class A stops. He has a decent mid-80s changeup that sinks and fades, but improved arm action would help him sell the pitch more effectively. He also unveiled a mid- to high-80s cutter/slider as a potential weapon to get inside against lefties, who batted .283 and slugged .452 against him. Wheeler did a better job locating the ball down in the zone in 2011, though like many young power pitchers his overall command needs sharpening, and it could stand in the way of him reaching frontline starter potential. On the other hand, his control improved dramatically after he reverted to his high school pitching mechanics in July, reinstituting a higher leg kick and bringing his hands to a higher position before breaking them. From July 16 to the end of the season he walked just seven batters in 38 innings (1.7 per nine), compared to 45 walks in 77 innings (5.3) beforehand. At the time of his trade, Wheeler's command wasn't as advanced as other recent Giants first-round prep pitchers such as Cain or Bumgarner. But his raw stuff--plus-plus fastball, plus curve, chance for an average changeup and/or cutter--gives him No. 2 starter potential when paired with just average command. Still just 22, Wheeler will head to Double-A Binghamton to begin 2012 and could finish the year in Triple-A Buffalo. Expect to see him in Queens at some point in 2013.
Harvey signed for $2.525 million as the 2010 draft's seventh overall pick. He began his pro career in style by leading the high Class A Florida State League with 92 strikeouts through June 20, his last start before earning a promotion to Double-A. He overcame a rough beginning at Binghamton to go 5-1, 3.26 over his final nine starts while notching a 50-19 strikeout-walk ratio in 47 innings. Harvey dominated high Class A hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that clocks as high as 98. He locates his fastball to both sides of the plate and with good life down in the zone. His two-seamer runs in on the hands of righthanders. His No. 2 pitch is a plus 81-84 mph slider, and he also likes to throw a 12-to-6 curveball to catch opponents off guard. He got by without a changeup in the FSL but began throwing one in earnest in Double-A. His changeup features late fade but remains a bit firm in the mid-80s. Harvey holds his velocity deep into starts but has below-average command and presently lacks a reliable changeup, so evaluators project him as anywhere from a No. 2 starter to a high-leverage reliever. How he addresses those concerns as he pitches in Triple-A in 2012 will determine where he fits best.
The 13th overall pick in June, Nimmo made history as the only first-round pick ever from the state of Wyoming, which has no high school baseball. He signed for $2.1 million at the Aug. 15 deadline and logged 10 games in Rookie ball, connecting for his first two pro home runs in late August. Nimmo starred in football and also was an accomplished sprinter in high school, but his baseball skills aren't as raw as his background suggests. He has an advanced feel for the strike zone and the quick, compact lefthanded swing to become a plus hitter. The Mets believe he'll add strength to his physical frame and grow into at least solid power, but they're content to let that develop naturally. His swing doesn't have natural loft or pull, and they won't change him. Nimmo tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing football, but he's still a plus runner. His long strides enable him to cover lots of ground in center field, where he's an average defender with a decent arm. New York believes Nimmo's outstanding makeup will allow him to maximize his raw tools. It could also mean he's ready for an assignment to low Class A Savannah to begin 2012.
Familia earned Mets minor league pitcher of the year honors in a breakout 2009 and then represented the franchise at the 2010 Futures Game, even though his performance that season (5.58 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) seemed incongruous with the honor. He began rounding into form late in 2010 and then dominated the Florida State League for six starts in 2011 before earning a bump to Double-A, where he pitched well before and after missing a month with shoulder tendinitis. Familia touches 99 mph with his fastball and pitches comfortably at 92-96 mph with natural cutting action down in the zone. At the behest of former pitching coordinator Rick Tomlin, Familia stands taller in his delivery now and has eliminated a crouch that caused his arm path to swing away from his body in 2010. He now generates more plane on his pitches, including a mid-80s breaking ball that features inconsistent spin but flashes average three-quarters break. His fringy changeup features some sinking action and works well enough to keep batters off his fastball. Below-average control might ultimately limit Familia's upside to mid-rotation starter or power reliever, but he could be just half a season away from a callup. He joined the 40-man roster after the season and will open 2012 in Triple-A.
Puello continues to impress scouts and minor league managers with his broad range of tools and his physicality. During his two years of full-season ball, he has shown marked improvement in the second half. In 2011, he hit .230/.289/.337 through June 15 and .294/.344/.474 afterward. The Mets protected him on their 40-man roster in November. The ball jumps off Puello's bat to all fields, and his plus strength and bat speed could translate into 20 homers annually down the road. He hit a career-high 10 homers in 2011 after going deep only once the year before. His last six bombs went to left field, indicating that he has learned to turn on the ball. Puello still gets himself out too much because he struggles to recognize breaking balls, but scouts believe he can clean up his plate discipline enough to hit about .275. Puello has solid speed but got caught nine times in 28 steal attempts in 2011. He has seen time in center field and takes good routes, but most observers prefer him in right field. He has a strong, accurate arm. If he can learn to lay off pitches he can't drive, Puello can become a first-division regular in right field. His youth and strong work ethic will work in his favor when he tackles Double-A at age 21.
When Mejia made New York's 2010 Opening Day roster, he was the youngest player in the big leagues at age 20. He saw only sporadic work out of the bullpen and eventually pitched his way back to Double-A. He began 2011 in the Buffalo rotation but succumbed to Tommy John surgery in May after just five starts. Despite a smallish build, Mejia featured plus-plus velocity at 94-96 mph and the best fastball life in the system prior to his elbow injury. With natural cutting action, his fastball induces plenty of weak contact. Mejia also threw a firm changeup in the mid-80s that behaved like a splitter and gave him a second plus offering. His high-70s curveball needed refinement but showed signs of becoming an above-average pitch as well. Mejia's command suffers from an inconsistent release point, an issue exacerbated by all the missed time. He's totaled just 203 innings in the last three years as a result of injuries, including finger (2009) and shoulder (2010) strains. Mejia could get back on a mound at some point during spring training and return to game action in May or June. Assuming a full recovery, his ceiling remains unchanged: No. 2 starter or late-inning reliever.
A torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder rendered Nieuwenhuis unable to swing a bat after June 9, so he had season-ending surgery in July to remedy the issue. Prior to the injury, the former NAIA standout had enhanced his power production and walk rate in Triple-A, where he had posted career highs in on-base percentage (.403) and slugging (.505). It was an easy decision for the Mets to place him on their 40-man roster following the season. Nieuwenhuis has no carrying tool, but he also has no glaring weakness. He rips line drives to all fields and possesses solid bat speed, but his elevated strikeout rate and trouble with lefthanders limit his offensive potential. Nieuwenhuis might top out near .275 with 12-15 homers at his best, though his strong batting eye ought to translate to a good OBP. He makes all the routine plays in center field, though fringe-average speed probably limits him to a corner long term, particularly in spacious Citi Field. He has the average arm strength to handle all three spots. Nieuwenhuis may lack the range to play center every day and the power to hold down a corner spot in the big leagues, but he profiles as a near-perfect fourth outfielder.
The state of Oklahoma boasted its best-ever crop of high school pitching talent in 2011, so Fulmer took a back seat to Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley, the fourth and seventh overall picks in the draft. Fulmer went 44th overall and signed for an above-slot $937,500 in late July before logging four appearances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. People who have watched Fulmer pitch often use the word "aggressive" to describe him. He attacks the opposition with 92-97 mph heat that explodes through the zone. He imparts natural tailing action on his fastball, making him difficult to square up. He added about 5 mph to his fastball as a senior, and his slider followed suit, jumping to 83-85 mph. It's a swing-and-miss pitch to lefties and righties alike because of its depth and power. Fulmer dominated with just a fastball and breaking ball in high school and has no usable changeup at this stage. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he has little physical projection remaining and could benefit from tightening his physique. Fulmer will work to enhance his changeup and feel for pitching in 2012, perhaps at short-season Brooklyn following extended spring training. He has the upside of a No. 2 starter but will require time and patience to get there.
Taken four picks after Ike Davis in the first round of the 2008 draft, Havens has yet to play a full season since signing for $1.41 million. He missed all but 32 games in 2010 because a protruding rib irritated his oblique area. He had surgery to shave the rib following that season, but the procedure kept him out until late May. He also dealt with back trouble and played in just 61 games in 2011. Havens has performed whenever healthy, batting .301/.379/.505 with 12 homers in 279 Double-A at-bats the last two seasons. He swings through pitches at times but makes enough line-drive contact to hit .280 in the big leagues. He drives balls to the middle of the field, which may cap his home runs at 15 annually but ought to produce plenty of doubles. Havens played shortstop until 2010 before shifting seamlessly to second base, where his average range and arm make him a steady defender. He's a below-average runner. Scratched from an Arizona Fall League assignment, Havens returned home to begin his conditioning program. The Mets figured he would have played his way on to their 40-man roster by now, but they added him anyway after the season. They have no long-term second baseman standing in his way--Ruben Tejada profiles best at shortstop and Justin Turner as a utility player--so a full season in Triple-A ought to earn Havens a look in Queens.
Signed for $750,000 in 2007, Flores already has played 459 games in the United States at age 20, the vast majority of them as a teenager. The Florida State League's youngest regular in 2010 and second-youngest in 2011, he saw his OPS drop from .739 to .689 in his second stint with St. Lucie. Despite his struggles, New York placed him on its 40- man roster in November. Flores stays inside the ball well and uses the whole field, but he almost makes too much contact for his own good. He won't fully tap into his offensive potential unless he learns to recognize and lay off pitches he can't drive. His natural power stroke carries the ball to center and right-center, which has suppressed his home run totals thus far. As he fills out his lean frame he could develop 20-homer power, which would be special at shortstop--but scouts give Flores no chance to stay up the middle. He's a well below-average runner with heavy feet and substandard range. He reads balls well off the bat and has an average arm, which could keep him on an infield corner. Flores played third base last winter in the Venezuelan League, which is a more natural fit for his skills. His power production must take a giant step forward for his bat to profile there, however. He should reach Double-A in 2012 before he turns 21.
Carlos Beltran mentored Valdespin during spring training, warning him that opportunity might pass him by if he did not shape up. To his credit, Valdespin quieted criticism of his immaturity by turning in his finest offensive season. With 15 homers and 33 steals, he was one of the Double-A Eastern League's most dynamic power/speed talents at the time of his early-August promotion to Triple-A. Though he lacks much of a plan at the plate, Valdespin makes enough contact to hit perhaps .270 one day, though a low walk rate will hurt his on-base percentage. He has just enough power to get himself in trouble. He's at his best when he's slashing doubles and triples into the gaps and putting his solid-average speed to good use, rather than wildly uppercutting and selling out for power. Valdespin hasn't demonstrated the concentration level to hold down shortstop on a regular basis, but his average range and arm strength play well at second base, his primary position prior to 2011. He rubs some scouts the wrong way because he doesn't always give 100 percent, but as a lefthanded batter who flashes enough ability to hit, run, field and throw, he could have a future as a utility player or fringe starter at second base.
Den Dekker turned in his finest offensive season in college as a senior, batting .352 with 13 homers at Florida in 2010, and he needed less than a year to reach Double-A after turning pro. He had batted a cumulative .310/.374/.488 in 94 Class A games, but his average plummeted to .235 at Binghamton as the strikeouts piled up. He finished with 156 whiffs in 139 games, though the Mets believe he's a more nuanced hitter than he showed last season. They think den Dekker got caught between being too passive and too aggressive as Binghamton's primary leadoff hitter. He turns on inside fastballs on occasion, but for the most part he's a gap hitter with below-average power. Den Dekker's value is tied to his defensive range and his speed, both of which are plus tools and crucial to the success of any center fielder. He reads balls well off the bat and takes proper routes He unleashes accurate throws with carry, using average arm strength. Despite his raw speed, den Dekker is a modest stolen-base threat because he's faster underway than on his first step. He profiles as a fringe starter in center or, more likely, a strong outfield reserve.
Mazzoni arrived at North Carolina State as a strong-armed but raw Pennsylvania prep product, and he blossomed into staff ace as a junior in 2011, ranking third in NCAA Division I with 137 strikeouts in 115 innings. After he signed quickly for $437,500 as a second-round pick, Mazzoni eased into pro ball as a reliever. Mets scouts saw Mazzoni's stuff improve dramatically over the course of the Atlantic Coast Conference season, and he pitched at 93-97 mph out of the bullpen after turning pro. His fastball doesn't have excessive life, but he locates the ball down in the zone and backs it up with a late-breaking 82-85 mph slider. Working in one-inning relief stints every five days, he didn't have occasion to throw his splitter, a fringe-average pitch he treats as a changeup. Mazzoni sat more comfortably at 90-94 mph as a starter in college, and that's the role the Mets plan to develop him in this season. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation arm or perhaps a quality set-up man, and he could advance quickly to the big leagues in the latter role.
In the five years the Mets have affiliated with Savannah, no player can match the 17 homers Rodriguez hit last year for the Sand Gnats, and he belted two more in the playoffs as they advanced to the finals. But after he hit .312 in Rookie ball in 2010, Rodriguez's average dropped 91 points in low Class A as he made few adjustments to the way pitchers attacked him. Looking to pull the ball almost exclusively, he often crushes middle-in fastballs for plus-plus power but is vulnerable to pitches in any other region of the strike zone. With a wide stance and no stride, Rodriguez has sound balance and basic-pitch recognition skills, lending hope that he can one day recover his feel for hitting. With heavy feet and a mature body, he's a 20 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale whose stiff infield actions leave plenty of doubt as to whether he can stick at third base. He has necessary arm strength for the position, but he committed 44 errors in 127 games last season. Scouts see a move to first base in Rodriguez's future. He's still only 20, so he has ample time to make adjustments.
Vaughn's father Greg made four all-star teams and hit 355 home runs during a 15-year major league career. A taint of promise unfulfilled followed Cory through his days at San Diego State, not dispelling until he turned pro and led the New York-Penn League with a .557 slugging percentage in 2010. His first full pro season didn't resonate as loudly. Vaughn went deep just four times in a half-season with Savannah while playing in a home park that features fewer home runs than any other South Atlantic League yard--though he did go deep off Hickory's Roman Mendez at the league's all-star game. Vaughn hit a more representative nine homers in 210 at-bats after a promotion to St. Lucie. Scouts think he has enough natural loft and strength to hit for solid power down the road, though he doesn't incorporate his lower half much in his swing, leaving his arms to do all the work. His hitting set-up features a bat waggle reminiscent of Gary Sheffield, if not as exaggerated, Vaughn's two-strike approach has improved drastically in pro ball to the point where his strikeout rate is manageable so long as his power develops. He swings through enough pitches, however, to limit his hitting potential. Vaughn exhibits strong outfield fundamentals, if only average range, and could handle either left or right field with his average arm. A Type 1 diabetic, he wears an insulin pump while playing to regulate his body's sugar levels. He ought to finish 2012 in Double-A, even if it takes him half a season to get there.
The 2007 NCAA Division III player of the year as a senior at Alvernia (Pa.) in 2007-- where his father Yogi served as head coach--Lutz fractured a bone in his left foot while making a backhand play during the first inning of his first pro game that summer. The injury served as a harbinger of things to come. Lutz appeared in just 25 games during his first two seasons as he dealt with further problems in his left ankle, not making his full-season debut until 2009. More ankle and foot woes limited him to half-seasons in 2009 and 2010, and his litany of injuries last season included two concussions, a hamstring injury and a broken left ring finger. When healthy, Lutz hits the ball as hard as any Mets farmhand and ranks as the system's most advanced power prospect. He has served notice of his offensive potential by batting .292/.384/.544 with 29 homers in 127 games at the Double-A and Triple-A levels during the last two years. He has the bat speed and strength to hit for at least average power in the big leagues. He shortens his swing with two strikes, so he may hit for an acceptable average too. He throws well enough to play third base but his myriad lower-body injuries have robbed him of his range, to the point where it's no better than fringy. His speed is well below-average. If he can stay healthy, Lutz could serve as a big league power source as soon as this season.
Tapia signed in February 2009 but didn't enter pro ball until the following season, which he began in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League until resolving a visa issue. His fastball topped out at 96 mph in his debut and touched triple digits on multiple occasions in 2011, showing true plus-plus velocity and heavy life. Tapia pitches at 96-98 mph and locates his heater on both sides of the plate. His fringy changeup shows occasional fade but improved throughout the season. His loopy curveball has farther to go, but he can spin the ball when he stays on top of it. Tall and lean, Tapia has room to fill out. He shows strong control for a hard-throwing teenager, though he doesn't induce as many swings and misses as one would expect from his radar-gun readings. The development of a second quality pitch would make Tapia one of New York's best prospects, and without it he probably fits best as a groundball-oriented reliever. He's ready for low Class A.
The Mets signed Urbina for $1.2 million in 2009, paying out a larger sum to him than any international amateur in club history save for Fernando Martinez, who signed for $1.3 million four years earlier. New York used Urbina's signing to make up for a lack of a first-round pick in the 2009 draft. He's the son of former all-star closer Ugueth Urbina, convicted and incarcerated in his native Venezuela on two counts of attempted murder. Juan's ERA jumped nearly a full run as he climbed a step up the ladder from the Gulf Coast League in 2010 to Rookie-level Kingsport in 2011, but the silver lining is that he improved dramatically after a rough start. He went 4-3, 4.00 in his final seven starts, notching 34 strikeouts and eight walks in 36 innings. Tall, lean and loose, Urbina pitches at 88-89 mph with the promise of more fastball velocity as he fills out. The Mets also project him to have a more consistent slider in time, but the pitch flattens out too much now when he gets around it. No such problems exist with his plus changeup, which he sells with his arm speed. Urbina leans heavy on the projection side of the scale now, with the upside of a No. 3 starter or more provided he finds more velocity and a tighter breaking ball. Not many international bonus babies spend three years in short-season leagues, so Urbina probably will head to low Class A on a strict pitch count in 2012.
Ceciliani won the short-season New York-Penn League batting title by hitting .351 in 2010, but he lost all momentum last season when he landed on the disabled list in April with a hamstring injury. He hardly looked like the same hitter when he returned in May, batting just .245 in the first half. Ceciliani finally caught fire in August, when he hit .320 with 16 walks and nine extra-base hits in 25 games, and he stayed hot for the low Class A South Atlantic League playoffs. He helped carry Savannah to the finals by hitting .394 with two triples while reaching base 19 times in eight games. Ceciliani served as the Sand Gnats' primary leadoff hitter, and that's the role he fits best because he lines the ball to all fields and works deep counts. He improved both his walk rate (to 11 percent) and stolen-base percentage (to 76 percent) substantially in 2011. He has enough power to run into 10 homers on an annual basis, but his swing is geared more for singles and doubles. Ceciliani doesn't possess blazing speed or incredible range in center field--both tools grade as average--though he takes clean routes to the ball. His arm grades as below average and his throws feature limited carry, making him a better fit for left or center field. After finishing last year in style, Ceciliani stands poised for a shot at high Class A in 2012.
Ryan Vogelsong and Gorski made 2011 an exceptional year for pitchers from Kutztown (Pa.), an NCAA Division II program. Vogelsong signed a minor league deal with the Giants and went on to make the all-star team and finish fourth in the National League ERA race. Gorski began the year in St. Lucie's bullpen, turned a doubleheader spot start into a full-time gig and won Florida State League pitcher of the year honors. He led the team to the FSL finals, topping the league in ERA (2.08) and WHIP (1.00) while ranking third in strikeouts per nine innings (9.1). Gorski had shown strikeout stuff in past seasons, but his command improved dramatically in 2011. He learned to set up hitters by working his tailing 90-91 mph to both sides of the plate. Working well in concert with his fastball is his 80-81 mph changeup, a plus offering he can throw to get swings and misses or called strikes. Gorski's slider tops out near 78 mph and sometimes features average depth, though he throws plenty of spinners when he doesn't stay on top of it. A physical lefty who pitches without fear and takes his preparation seriously, Gorski has all the ingredients needed to profile as a No. 5 starter.
Evans appeared to be headed to San Diego State after a disappointing senior year at La Costa Canyon High (Carlsbad, Calif.) put him on the bubble for the top three rounds of the 2011 draft. He fell to the 15th round, but the Mets liked him enough to sign him for $650,000, the equivalent of sandwich-round money. He appeared in nine games between New York's three lowest affiliates, playing his way on to Brooklyn's playoff roster and going 0-for-1 in his lone postseason appearance. Evans opened eyes during instructional league with his mature approach and strong, compact body, evoking memories of a young Dan Uggla. Evans' simple, repeatable righthanded swing is geared to hit for average. Though he's not overly physical, he may grow into fringe-average power because he has strong forearms. A shortstop in high school, he's a below-average runner who probably fits best at second base because his range and arm are merely adequate. He might just have the offensive potential to make the switch. The Mets laud Evans' work ethic and instincts, which could earn him a trip to low Class A to begin 2012.
Signed as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, Lagares didn't draw much positive attention, either offensively or defensively, until he shifted to the other side of the defensive spectrum by taking up left field in 2009. He dealt with a chronic shoulder injury that season and then missed the final six weeks of 2010 with a broken ankle. Lagares showed no ill effects last season, when he ranked fifth in the minors in hitting at .349. He led the Florida State League with a .338 average at the time of his July 21 promotion to Double-A, and he batted .370 for Binghamton to close out the regular season. The Mets protected him on their 40-man roster after he hit .303 in the Arizona Fall League. A career .254 hitter entering 2011, Lagares owes his startling turnaround to an improved rate of hard contact and better strike-zone discipline. He still gets in trouble by connecting with fastballs outside of his comfort zone. With quick hands and a level bat path, Lagares is geared more for gap power than for home run juice, and he could top out near 15 homers in a good year. He moves well in the outfield, though his speed is fringy and not ideal for anything but a corner. His below-average arm plays best in left. Though his track record is not extensive and he'll be 23 this season, Lagares has shown a knack for barreling the ball and could grow into a fringe outfield starter or quality reserve.
"I love this guy," one scout from outside the organization said of Edgin. "He's a major league reliever and a fast mover." That's high praise for a player taken in the 50th and 30th round in successive drafts from an NCAA Division II program. He spend two years at Ohio State before transferring to Francis Marion (S.C.), turning down the Braves in 2009 to return for his senior season. Signed for $2,000, Edgin decimated lefthanded batters at the Class A level in 2011, holding them to a .169 average with one extra-base hit (a double) and 27 strikeouts in 65 at-bats. The Mets believe Edgin profiles as more than a situational reliever, however, because he has a 92-94 mph sinker and an average slider. He allowed just two home runs last year because he works down in the zone and keeps the ball on the ground. He employs a drop-and-drive delivery with a short arm action, which lends him ample deception. Edgin has a ceiling as a set-up man and could be just a half-season away from New York if he maintains his rapid pace of development.
The Mets' September rotation featured two righthanders drafted out of college after the 20th round. Dillon Gee, a 21st-round selection in 2007, logged 161 innings for New York and enjoyed the Citi Field experience with a 3.17 ERA at home (compared with 5.74 away). Taken one year and one round later than Gee, Schwinden opened 2011 in the Binghamton bullpen, earning a promotion to Triple-A in mid-April to cover for the promoted Pat Misch. Schwinden struck out nine in his first start for the Bisons and didn't look back, allowing eight runs in his first seven starts. He faded down the stretch with a 5.54 ERA over his final 10 starts, but his strikeout rate remained firm and New York called him up in September. Like Gee, Schwinden pitches at 89-90 mph and his stuff is fringy across the board, but he throws strikes with four pitches and attacks hitters' weaknesses. The addition of a cutter to go with a four-seam fastball that scrapes 93 mph has allowed Schwinden to work both sides of the plate. He improved the power and shape of a mid-70s curve last season, though his changeup remains shaky. He's an extreme flyball pitcher who will benefit from Citi Field's generous outfield dimensions. Schwinden fits best as a No. 5 starter whose pitchability always will outstrip his raw stuff, but he ought to get plenty of opportunity in the near term with New York given its thin rotation.
Intrigued by Marquez's athleticism and speed, the Mets will allow him to play wide receiver for Texas Tech for two years before he must decide whether he wants to pursue baseball or football. A 16th-round pick last June, he signed for $325,000 at the Aug. 15 deadline. Under MLB provisions for two-sport athletes, New York will spread his bonus over three years, and the club also agreed to pay his tuition for two years. A running back at Odessa (Texas) High, Marquez rushed for 2,210 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior, and he also was a Texas state finalist in the long jump. His top-of-the-scale speed translates to the baseball diamond, where he can get from home to first base in 4.0 seconds from the right side of the plate. He played shortstop in high school, but scouts envision him fitting best in center field because of his ability to cover so much ground. Marquez has a clean swing he uses to slash line drives into the gaps and then run. He has below-average power, but that's OK given his positional profile and projected role as leadoff batter. Marquez has a passion for baseball and sold New York on his makeup. Now all he needs is repetitions on diamond, which will be curtailed by his football commitment. Marquez didn't participate in instructional league and won't rejoin the Mets until his academic year ends in May. He'll make his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League after some time in extended spring training.
Verrett attracted first-round buzz with a strong 2010 Cape Cod League performance, but he fell to the third round last June after a solid if unspectacular junior year at Baylor. He reeled off a 27-inning scoreless streak toward the end of the college season after starting the year slowly. He signed at the Aug. 15 deadline for $425,000 and will make his pro debut in 2012 at one of New York's Class A affiliates. Verrett's best pitch is a slider that can reach the mid-80s. Just as significant, he throws it both for strikes and as an effective swingand- miss pitch at the back foot of lefthanders. Verrett's fastball typically ranges from 88-92 mph and touches 94, albeit with limited life. He didn't throw a changeup much at Baylor and his is a rudimentary offering with some sinking action. He's a solid athlete who repeats his delivery, so further development of his changeup isn't out of the question. Verrett ultimately may fit best in the bullpen, where his fastball would play up a tick, but the Mets plan to develop him as a starter for now.
Leathersich ranked second among all NCAA Division II pitchers with 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 and became the first Massachusetts-Lowell player drafted since Marlins 29th-rounder Aaron Easton in 2004. After signing him for $110,000, the Mets shifted Leathersich to the bullpen with Brooklyn, where he made one- or two-inning relief appearances every five days. He struck out 26 of the 47 batters he faced while allowing just six hits. Leathersich sat at 88-92 mph as a starter in college but ran his heater up to 96 with good life as a reliever. His curveball has big, hard break and graded as a plus-plus pitch at times in short bursts out of the Cyclones bullpen. Leathersich has below-average command and little feel for a changeup at this stage. Add in mechanical concerns--he throws across his body and his arm recoils after release--and he may be limited to a relief role. New York intends to develop Leathersich as a starter, but his potential as an impact lefty reliever could hasten a role switch and put him on the fast track.
A 21-year-old Carson vaulted to Double-A for the second half of the 2010 season, whereupon Eastern League batters lit him up for an 8.32 ERA over 10 starts. He made incremental improvements in a return engagement last year but still carries a 5.95 ERA through 177 innings for Binghamton. A tall and broad-shouldered lefty, Carson can look terrific in bullpen sessions, but that same pitcher doesn't always appear in games because he tends to guide the ball rather than letting it fly. His game is all about power. He pitches at 92 mph and touches 95 with a tailing fastball--he hit 97 mph as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League-- while mixing in plenty of high-80s cutters. Carson's performance against Double-A lefties doesn't speak well to the quality of his low-80s slider or his ability to set up batters--they've hit .297 and slugged .453 against him. He'll show an average changeup on occasion, though he lacks much feel for the pitch. The Mets like Carson's athleticism and arm strength, and they protected him on their 40-man roster after his AFL stint. He'll need to improve his slider and his command to earn more than a cursory look in the big leagues.
Satin failed to hit .300 for California as either a sophomore or junior, but he broke out in a big way as a senior in 2008, batting .379/.500/.723 with 18 homers. He signed quickly for $25,000 as a sixth-round pick and defied the odds by making his big league debut last September. He took home Mets minor league player of the year honors in 2011 after batting .323/.411/.495 with 12 homers and 43 doubles at the upper levels of the system. Scouts never have loved Satin's tools, but he has produced results in pro ball, with the caveat that he's been old for each level. Satin works counts, patiently waiting for pitches he can drive into the gaps. He occasionally shows home run power to his pull side. He can handle different types of pitches and is a good situational hitter, but he strikes out too much to hit more than .275 or so. Satin has played more games at second base than anywhere else, but he's a well below-average runner who has the hands but not the quickness for the keystone. His arm is average and accurate, and the Mets made third and first base his primary positions during the second half of 2011. He also played left field in the Venezuelan League in the offseason. Satin could help a National League club in a bench role, serving as a pinch-hitter and multi-positional fill-in.
Muno served as starting shortstop and offensive catalyst for Fresno State's 2008 national championship team as a freshman. He shifted to third base as a Bulldogs senior in 2011 but moved back to shortstop with Brooklyn after signing for $10,000 as a Mets eighth-round pick. He won the New York-Penn League batting (.355) and on-base (.466) crowns, also sharing the league lead with 23 doubles while driving the Cyclones into the playoffs. Muno launched the ball out of Citi Field during one batting-practice session, but power probably will be the least of his tools. He knows the strike zone and has the bat speed from both sides of the plate to hit for a solid average, though not all scouts trust that he'll be physical enough to be anything than a fringy offensive player. He's a slightly above-average runner with strong baserunning instincts. Muno makes the routine plays at shortstop but lacks the range to hold down the position on an everyday basis. He has ample arm strength for either second or third base. His overall package of tools profiles best at second base or in a utility role. After his excellent pro debut, he could jump to high Class A in 2012.
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