New York Mets 2009 Rundown: Jonathan Niese

Andrew WhartonCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2009

2008 Stats

AA: 22 GS, 6-7, 3.04 ERA, 2 CG, 124.1 IP, 112 SO, 1.30 WHIP

AAA: 7 GS, 5-1, 3.40 ERA, 39.2 IP, 32 SO, 1.21 WHIP

MLB: 3 GS, 1-1, 7.07 ERA, 14.0 IP, 11 SO, 2.00 WHIP

Jon Niese is listed as the Mets' No. 3 prospect (according to Baseball America) and top pitching prospect entering 2009.  At age 21, Niese made his MLB debut in Milwaukee on September 2, 2008, in a game in which he would only last three innings after allowing five earned runs and walking four. 

Not exactly the best start for the kid, but if you consider how well the Brewers hit left-handed pitching in 2008 and how much pressure he was under with the Mets being in the midst of another tight playoff race, perhaps this isn't a fair analysis.

In 2009, look for Niese to start Spring Training battling for the number five spot in the Mets' rotation with Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia.  With Redding being the most obvious selection for the spot, Niese will most likely start the season off in AAA Buffalo to work on his change-up to compliment his stellar breaking ball. 

After being given some time to get his feet wet in the minors, Niese could make his way to Citi Field by the All-Star break with Redding serving as a long-relief man in the bullpen.  This is, of course, implying that the Mets' starters are all still healthy since Niese will also likely be the first call-up in the event one of their arms goes down. 

I really like this kid.  He showed flashes of brilliance in his stint with the big club last fall, even though the pressure obviously rattled him quite a bit.  His start against Atlanta on September 13 was impressive, during which he pitched eight shutout innings and struck out seven while notching his first career victory. 

2009 Prediction

MLB: 16 GS, 7-4, 4.96 ERA, 91 IP, 85, SO, 1.65 WHIP