Is Ike doomed to become another Mets bust?
Last week, I sang the praises of Ike Davis. I defended him as he searched for his first hit of 2012, and made him out to be a future star.
But what if I'm wrong?
The Mets have an unfortunate history when it comes to highly touted prospects that never made an impact at the major league level. To be fair, Davis has already positively impacted the club more than any of the players we are about to look at.
That being said, Ike feels like anything but a sure thing. Compounding the issue is his 5-for-36 start to the season.
Young position players with high expectations have not always panned out for the Metropolitans. Take, for instance, our first case study, Lastings Milledge.
The 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Milledge played parts of two seasons for the Mets before being traded to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Over 350 at-bats in the Blue and Orange, Milledge struck out 23 percent of the time. Billed as a five-tool outfielder, Milledge hit 11 home runs, drove in 51 runs, batted .257, stole four bases, and was caught stealing four times.
But of course, Milledge wasn't as concerned with his production on the field as he was with his production off the diamond. Thankfully, there is no indication Davis shares the same passion for hip-hop.
Moving along, there is the curious case of Fernando Martinez. The Mets' latest, "can't-miss" prospect did just that. Another five-tooler, Martinez is still only 23 but is already being hampered by an arthritic knee.
Ike Davis: Boom or Bust?
Claimed by the Houston Astros off waivers on January 11, Martinez was twice considered the Mets' top prospect after signing as a 17-year-old. In only 131 big league at-bats, the young Dominican has hit .183 with two home runs, and a slugging percentage of .290.
But before there was Milledge and Martinez, there was Escobar and Ochoa.
Alex Escobar was named by Baseball America as New York's top prospect from 1999-2001. Injuries hampered his development, and he appeared in 18 games in his Mets career. He was later included in the blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians that sent Roberto Alomar to New York.
Alex Ochoa was originally a third-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 1991, and was a key trade chip in a deal that sent Bobby Bonilla to the O's. He first reached the bigs with the Mets in 1995, playing parts of the next three seasons at Shea Stadium.
Seven home runs and 55 RBI later, Ochoa was sent packing. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins for OF Rich Becker in 1997, and would be traded five more times before his playing days ended. He compiled an eight-year big league career, recording 46 home runs and 261 RBI.
Ike Davis has already meant more to the Mets than any of these prospects ever did. However, his season-ending injury in 2011, followed by a bout with Valley Fever, combined with his slow start to 2012 has a familiar, painful feeling in it for Mets fans. (Though Davis' most recent tiebreaking three-run homer to help topple the Braves does provide some semblance of solace.)
We tend to be hypersensitive about our prospects, but can you really blame us?