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New York Mets Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams

By Bill Ballew

1. Aaron Heilman, rhp

Age: 23. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 225. Bats: R. Throws: R. Drafted: Notre Dame, 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Joe Morlan.

Mets Top Prospects

1992 Todd Hundley, c
1993 Bobby Jones, rhp
1994 Bill Pulsipher, lhp
1995 Bill Pulsipher, lhp
1996 Paul Wilson, rhp
1997 Jay Payton, of
1998 Grant Roberts, rhp
1999 Alex Escobar, of
2000 Alex Escobar, of
2001 Alex Escobar, of

Background: After turning down the Twins’ overtures as the 31st overall selection in the 2000 draft, Heilman returned to Notre Dame for his senior season and helped the Fighting Irish to their first-ever No. 1 ranking and the Big East Conference regular-season title by going 15-0, 1.74 with 12 complete games and three shutouts. He also completed his degree. Heilman signed six weeks after the Mets made him the 18th overall pick in June and lived up to his billing at Class A St. Lucie, posting a 3-1 strikeout-walk ratio while holding opponents to a .190 average. He would have ranked high on Baseball America’s Florida State League Top 10 Prospects list had he pitched enough innings to qualify.

Strengths: Heilman is a polished pitcher. Mature and focused, he works off his 91-94 mph fastball, which has incredible movement and bores in on righthanders. He also features a plus slider with excellent downward action, along with a decent changeup and splitter. His command is another positive, and he maintains control of all four of his offerings throughout the game with his improved stamina. Scouts love his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame and his feisty approach with runners in scoring position. His three-quarters delivery is easy and fluid, reducing the stress on his arm, a key trait for a pitcher who will be counted upon to eat innings at higher levels. Heilman has all the makings of a potential workhorse who could be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the New York rotation.

Weaknesses: Despite his maturity, Heilman has just seven starts and less than 40 professional innings. His secondary offerings, particularly his changeup, need more consistency. Most scouts don’t believe his fastball will add any more velocity, so his 83-84 mph splitter must stay consistent in order for him to get experienced lefthanders out. He made strides with the pitch in college last spring.

The Future: Heilman is ready to jump on the fast track to the big leagues. His desire to learn and improve impressed the Mets at St. Lucie and during instructional league. He’s slated to open 2002 at Double-A Binghamton and could be a candidate for the New York rotation as soon as 2003.

St. Lucie (A)012.35770038261339

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