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Mets Prospects

Moderator: Bill Ballew compiled the Mets top prospects list and will field your questions about the organization.

 Q:  James from Southwest asks:
Hello Bill, Thanks for your time and knowledge. Everyone knows about Reyes and Kazmir but how about Angel Pagan? On a scale of 1 out of 10 how does he rate?

Bill Ballew: Pagan is part of a deep pool of outfield prospects the Mets are starting to build. Pagan will rank around 20th in the organization. He has outstanding speed and good defensive skills. Offensively, he thinks he's a power hitter but is more of a "small ball" player. Once he gains a better understanding of his strengths and weaknesses, he could become a potential major leaguer.

 Q:  Michael from New York asks:
Other than those on the Top Ten, names the Mets next five prospects. What about Miguel Pinango, Tyler Davidson, Jeff Duncan and Lenny DiNardo?

Bill Ballew: Of those four, Jeff Duncan is considered to have the most potential at this point. He had an aluminum bat swing from his college days early in his career before making the necessary adjustments last season. He's also the best defensive outfielder in the organization.

 Q:  Josh from St. Petersburg, FL asks:
I was wondering where Joe Jiannetti will be in the Organizational Top 30, if at all. There seem to be many different opinions about his progress. The numbers he has put up the last two years aren't eye-popping, but that may be attributed to his shoulder injury last season and his position change to 2B. Plus like many others will probably comment after the Mets Top 5, the organization is very weak.

Bill Ballew: The Mets are much stronger, especially from 5-15, than they were last year. Jiannetti ranks toward the end of the top 30 prospects, although the Mets were pleased with his adjustments made during instructional league. The organization still has hopes for him.

 Q:  Louie F from NJ asks:
Can you tell me more about Matt Peterson? What is his projected ETA and upside? Also, do you think David Wright can become another Scott Rolen or is he just all hype? Thanks...

Bill Ballew: Peterson is still in the maturing phase, especially from a mental standpoint. He pouted about returning to Capital City last year before putting things together around midseason. Once he gains the necessary focus and preparations, he could start to move fast. As for Wright, he is not all hype. No one works harder in the minors than Wright. Whether or not he's another Rolen remains to be seen, but I think Wright has a huge upside.

 Q:  Keno Leighty from Vancouver, WA asks:
Who would you compare Aaron Heilman to at this stage of his game and do you think he has the tools to make the Mets out of spring training in the 5 spot?

Bill Ballew: I don't like to compare players, but Heilman does have the tools to make the Mets' rotation out of spring training. I don't think that will happen, however. I would look for him to arrive around midseason, although injuries and the team's status in the pennant race could alter those plans.

 Q:  Jason M. from NYC asks:
Would Jeremy Griffiths rank in the top 30 after his strong AFL?

Bill Ballew: Griffiths was a near miss for the top 10. He's knocking on the door and making solid progress. The 2003 season could be a big year for him.

 Q:  Metfan from NY asks:
When do you think Met fans can expect to see Reyes and Heilman this season?

Bill Ballew: I think Reyes will join Heilman by arriving in New York around midseason. The signing of Rey Sanchez really takes the pressure off Reyes, but the Mets want Reyes to learn from Sanchez at some point in the campaign.

 Q:  Keno Leighty from Vancouver, WA asks:
Hello again Bill and thanks for the chat. Justin Huber, when might we see him in the big league club and do you see him sticking at C for his career or might he get moved to 1B in a couple of years.

Bill Ballew: If Piazza has remained behind the plate as long as he has, especially with Vance Wilson around and Jason Phillips knocking on the door, Huber will stay behind the plate. He's a good defensive catcher that has shown rapid improvement with his ability to work with pitchers and call a game. In my opinion, he's still at two years from making an impact in the major leagues.

 Q:  Metfan from NY asks:
Do you think Alhaji Turay will ever make it to the big leagues with his problems last season?

Bill Ballew: The Mets do not feel that Turay's problems last year will cause long-term damage to his career. He's a raw but talented player who is a long ways from the big leagues. He has potential, but some added maturity would really help as well.

 Q:  Metfan from NY asks:
Where do you see Scott Kazmir starting the season?

Bill Ballew: The Mets are conservative with the way they send guys through the minors, especially high school pitchers. Kazmir could prove to be the exception, although I see him starting the 2003 campaign at Class A Capital City.

 Q:  Ken from Clinton, MD asks:
OK, all New York hype aside -- just how good could Reyes and Kazmir really become?

Bill Ballew: Both could become outstanding players. Reyes has all the tools you want to see in a shortstop, including great speed and a potent bat. Kazmir has been unbelievable to this point in his career. The Mets got the steal of the draft by getting him with the 15th overall pick last June.

 Q:  Ron Orgel from New York asks:
It looks like your list has no outfield prospects. Do the Mets have any good ones coming - I know I have heard talk of Prentice Redman? I saw that Aaron Heilman only started 7 games at Triple A. Are the Mets grooming him as a reliever or just getting him some more innings out of the pen (didn't know the Norfolk rotation was so loaded)?

Bill Ballew: The Mets actually have a lot of outfield prospects. Granted, they are not along the same line as Kazmir and Reyes, but they have potential. Redman falls into that category. He's an overachiever that has risen to the level of play every time he has moved up the ladder. The Mets will keep promoting him until he proves otherwise. Heilman was promoted to Norfolk last July. At this point, he is considered to be a contributor in the Mets rotation.

 Q:  eddie from florida asks:
im wondering if the mets wayne lydon is really going to be a prolific basestealer in the big leagues? What do you think? And what about a scouting report on jamar hill!

Bill Ballew: Lydon could be a prolific basestealer in the big leagues if he hits enough to get there. He really transformed his game last year and developed into a premier basestealer that can bunt and move guys over. As far as Hill is concerned, he's a raw outfielder with tremendous potential. The Mets are very high on his potential. He has good speed and budding power. He showed signs of being special last year at Kingsport.

 Q:  Tim Walker from Greenwich, CT asks:
Hey Bill, Great job on the list. I jusy wanted to know why you picked Reyes over Kazmir. I agree with you, Reyes as #1, but how did you decide? They're both fantastic prospects that will probably be in the top ten overall.

Bill Ballew: Thanks for the kind words, Tim. Right now, Reyes gets the nod because of his experience at the professional level. He's almost ready to make the jump to the big leagues, while Kazmir is just starting. That was the main thing that separated them.

 Q:  lonnie from florida asks:
what are jeremy griffiths chances of making the the mets team this year?

Bill Ballew: I think this year would be too soon. The Mets want to see him put together a solid season at Triple-A Norfolk. That could lead to a September callup.

 Q:  Mr. Met from Bad Mascot, NY asks:
Where would Mr. Cruz, the rule 5 pick have been on the list? With the exception of Mr. Kaizmer, the mets short seaon clubs seemed to lack significant prospects, do you agree? Is there anyone from Brooklyn or Kingsport who you suspect could jump into the top 10 next year?

Bill Ballew: Enrique Cruz ranked in the upper teens to around 20 in the organization before departing via the Rule 5 draft. It's a little early to speculate on which players might make the jump to the top 10 from Brooklyn or Kingsport, although Jamar Hill is a player to keep an eye on.

 Q:  Jake from Binghampton asks:
Where does Jeremy Griffiths rate as a prospect in the Met's organization? He wasn't even mentioned in your Top 10 article. He had a solid season in Double-A, and followed that up with great numbers in the AFL. Is the Met's organization really that strong? Where do you see him starting in 2003?

Bill Ballew: The Mets' organization has made improvements in overall depth, and Griffiths is one of those involved. He had a horrible first half last year before putting together an excellent July and August. The Mets want Griffiths to be more aggressive, and he showed signs of developing into that type of pitch in Arizona.

 Q:  Brendan from Boston asks:
YOu mention Heilman as having #3 potential, what about Strange? Can I assume that since you have him ranked lower on your list in spite of having already made it to the majors, that you see him as a 4 or 5?

Bill Ballew: I think it's too early to determine where Strange will place in the rotation. I see him as a third or fourth starter, but I know some scouts that rank him anywhere from a No. 2 starter to a No. 5 guy.

 Q:  John M. Perkins from Macon, GA asks:
Does Josh Reynolds show any middle reliever potential?

Bill Ballew: That's possible. He had a solid season at St. Lucie, going 11-5, 3.13 in 22 games, including 20 starts. My feeling he will be a middle reliever if he reaches the big leagues because his stuff might be exposed over longer periods of time.

 Q:  KP from boston asks:
Hi! I was just wondering about Turay...seems like he can be a good player, but has had trouble with rules. Any sign of improvement and also what type of player do you think he could become.(current strengths & weaknesses)

Bill Ballew: As I mentioned earlier, Turay needs maturity, but the Mets feel he could be headed in the right direction. Turay has an uppercut swing with above-average power. He has good all-around athleticism, but is a below-average outfielder with an arm good enough for left field. He has promise, but is very raw.

 Q:  KP from boston asks:
Who are some low-level outfielders in the organization to keep an eye out on.

Bill Ballew: The main ones are Jamar Hill, Ali Turay, Wayne Lydon and Angel Pagan. Some real young guys are starting to show promise, but they have yet to establish themselves at the Class A level.

 Q:  Kyle from California asks:
What's your opinion on David Mattox? His numbers were pretty impressive, but I haven't heard much about him.

Bill Ballew: Mattox had a solid year last season at Cap City and St. Lucie. He has talent, and the Mets are simply waiting for his maturity and focus to catch up. He throws four major league pitches for strikes, including an overhand curveball and a low 90s fastball with plus movement. He could emerge as a top 10 guy during the 2003 season.

 Q:  Harry from The house that Mookie built asks:
the mets seem to have a load of viable prospects in their Triple A staff: Griffith, Middlebrook, Bacsik, Seo, Roach, Maness, Joseph, Heilman, Bell, Strange, (Luke)Ty Walker, Yates, Seibel, Cammack. Who will make up the rotation? Who do you expect to step up? and, why then do they keep signing middle of the rotation starters (Traschel) and more middle relief (Stanton).

Bill Ballew: First of all, every team needs a solid middle-of-the-rotation guys like Traschel as well as setup men such as Stanton to bridge the gap between the starters and closer. That's the reason the Braves won last year. It's too early which pitchers will make the rotation this year, although Heilman will get a long look, as will Strange, Middlebrook and Bacsik. Heath Bell is a great story and a guy that could contribute to the Mets' bullpen in the near future.

 Q:  Benitez Hater from Baltimore, MD asks:
Who do see as the mets closer of the future?

Bill Ballew: That's tough, because I don't see a guy who is a sure thing as the eventual successor to Benitez. Heath Bell could be interesting, but he may not be a closer. Blake McGinley holds some potential after saving seven games at St. Lucie last year.

 Q:  Adam from Brooklyn asks:
How do you gauge the mets speedsters, Pagan and Lydon? Does either have what it takes to lead off in NY by '05?

Bill Ballew: Both Lydon and Pagan must hit against better pitching than the South Atlantic League has to offer. Lydon made serious adjustments last year and could be a potential leadoff hitter, although his extra-base power is all but nil. Same thing for Pagan, even though he swings for the fences. Pagan must make the adjustments to his approach at the plate the way Lydon did last year. At this point, Lydon is making the more positive strides.

 Q:  Met Fan from Queens asks:
If you gaze into your crystal ball, who do you see as the mets #2 prospect (assuming # 1 is Kaizmer and Reyes is in NY this year)??

Bill Ballew: David Wright has the potential to be a No. 1 prospect. Same goes for Justin Huber. But Kazmir won't be in New York this year.

 Q:  Dan from sacramento asks:
Is Neal Musser fully recovered from his injuries? Do you expect him to start out in St. Lucie?

Bill Ballew: The Mets are keeping their fingers crossed about Musser. They're hoping that the time off allowed his foot to heal completely. Based on the time he missed, I see him returning to St. Lucie, at least to open the 2003 slate.

 Q:  Andy from bethesda asks:
How close to the Top 10 were Dave Mattox and Kevin Deaton? They were both a bot old for their levels, but showed dome promise last season. What do anticipate from them in 2003?

Bill Ballew: Deaton had a good year at Brooklyn, going 7-1, 3.07, but he was not a strong top 10 candidate. Mattox got some solid support and ranks around 15th in the organization. I see Mattox opening the season in the St. Lucie rotation, while Deaton should be one of the starters at Capital City.

 Q:  AndyR from pomona asks:
What's the status of Bob Malek's elbow? Will he be ready to play in April? Also, does the team believe his injury was the source of his inauspicious pro debut, or is there reason for concern?

Bill Ballew: Malek was injured last spring at Michigan State. He played through the pain with the Spartans before everyone agreed that surgery was the best option. He has looked strong and is expected to be ready in March. He might open the season in extended spring, but I would expect to see him in St. Lucie or maybe Capital City by May. He's an excellent all-around player that could emerge as somewhat of a surprise in the organization.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
From your description of Justin Huber, it sounds like his defense is a bit weak right now. If he isnt able to improve on defense, will his hitting be good enough to compensate and keep him behind the plate? If he has to change positions, is his hitting going to be good enough to play at 1B or in the outfield?

Bill Ballew: I don't think he's weak defensively. He hasn't graduated past the Class A level and is still learning the nuances of the game. He has all the tools that you want to see from a solid catcher, and could be an all-star once he learns to how call a game and work with pitchers a little better. His bat, meanwhile, is definitely good enough to produce at higher levels, regardless of his position.

 Q:  Jeff Spicoli from Ridgemont High asks:
Great chat. Who do you think Scott Kazmir best compares to at this age? And approximately what percentage of pitchers receiving the praise and expectations of Kazmir at this age andor level of professional experience have actually met expectations? Thanks!

Bill Ballew: Well, Jeff, unlike those tasty waves you're fond of, most young pitchers do not cruise all the way to the show without a few bumps. Kazmir could be the exception. Again, I don't like comparing guys, but I could see him moving similar to the way Steve Avery did with the Braves in the late '80s. Hopefully Kazmir will have a little lasting power than Avery did.

 Q:  CJ from Prattville, Al asks:
Is the Mets Top 5 (ReyesHeilmanHuberKazmirWright) comparable to other teams Top 5, say the Cubs, or Angels, for example?

Bill Ballew: This is my opinion, but I would not have any problem taking those five guys over any other five in the game. I like the balance--a righthanded starter (Heilman), a lefty (Kazmir), a top-flight shortstop (Reyes), a high-ceiling catcher (Huber) and a classic third baseman (Wright). You could do a lot worse than that.

 Q:  Rosser from NYC asks:
Why didn't Jason Phillips make the top 10? He doesn't have much of a ceiling, but I think he's a good bet for a Damian Miller type career, which does have good value.

Bill Ballew: Phillips is a solid catch-and-throw receiver who got a lot of consideration for the top 10 before falling a notch or two shy of making the list.

 Q:  billyshears from New York asks:
Why isn't Prentice Redman considered much of a prospect? Redman was not particularly old for his level, hit for average, showed developing power, excellent speed and a good stolen base success rate along with pretty decent plate discipline. Is their something I'm missing?

Bill Ballew: Redman isn't a big-time tools guy. Instead, he's a late bloomer that has overachieved and exceeded expectations. He's definitely making a name for himself and could be on the verge of becoming a top 10 prospect.

 Q:  Fredbert from NYC asks:
Is Corey Ragsdale already done as a prospect?

Bill Ballew: No, Ragsdale isn't done, but he needs to start hitting and in a hurry. The Mets are trying to make him a switch-hitter, and he showed some promise during instructional league. Still, there's only so much time every prospect is given.

 Q:  Egbert from NYC asks:
Jeff Duncan killed the ball in every way. But he was old for his league. Can he field well enough to play centerfield, and, by extension, is he a legit prospect?

Bill Ballew: Duncan is good enough defensively to be a legit prospect. He is a little old for a prospect, which means he can't have many setbacks in the next year or two.

 Q:  David from San Antonio asks:
Can LHP Scott Kazmir be traded for major league help at the trade deadline? Or did he sign his contract after August 2002, which would exclude him from being tradeable.

Bill Ballew: There is no way the Mets would consider trading Kazmir at this point.

 Q:  KazFan from Houston,Tx asks:
Can you give me your scouting report on Scott Kazmir?? I saw that he dominated in his debut, but do you think that he will be able to continue to have the same success as he moves up and starts facing older, more polished hitters? What about his durability in relation to his size?

Bill Ballew: I don't think he will have any trouble against better caliber hitters. He throws gas in the mid 90s along with a hard slider and an excellent changeup. He's also a high school pitcher. In other words, what's not to like?

 Q:  Patrick from New York asks:
How would you rank the Mets Minor League system versus other organizations. Over the past few years has it gotten better or worse.

Bill Ballew: The Mets' organization was depleted a couple of years ago by trades that were designed to help the major league club immediately. While the depth is not where the Mets want it to be, definite improvement has been made over the past two years.

Moderator: Thanks for all the questions and for reading. I look forward to chatting again real soon.

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