New York Mets: Who Can Be the Mets' NEXT David Wright?
From 1962 until 2004, third base was a revolving door for the New York Mets franchise. Of the 130-plus players to have played the position, only four appeared in over 500 games.
That changed when David Allen Wright began his career on July 21, 2004 against the Montreal Expos.
Now in his ninth season, the Virginia native has solidified his spot as the premier third baseman in franchise history. He holds the club records for runs scored, runs batted in and total bases.
Since his debut, the Mets have produced some players who are showing promise but none that have become superstars just yet.
With that being said, here are five players in the Mets organization that have shown superstar potential and one of them who has the greatest chance of becoming the next franchise player.
5. Lucas Duda, 26 Years Old
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Lucas Duda is an imposing 6'4" and 255 pounds, and has been one of the biggest threats in the Mets' lineup in 2012.
He has had an up-and-down season but has flashed tremendous power, which has enabled Terry Collins to continue to place his bat in the middle of the order.
Duda attended the University of Southern California for three seasons and compiled some impressive numbers, but it caused him to begin his big league career a little later than he would have liked.
After tearing up the minor leagues for nearly four seasons and winning the Sterling Organizational Player of the Year award in 2010, the Mets promoted Duda to the show.
Duda's prodigious power translated into 10 home runs in 300 at-bats during his first full season and was able to maintain a respectable .852 OPS.
He made skeptics forget that he began his big league career with one hit in his first 33 at bats.
This season, he has played a much more important roll. But, at the age of 26, the Mets would like to see more consistency from Duda.
At the age of 26, David Wright was already a four-time All-Star and compiled four top-20 finishes in the MVP voting.
The massive Lucas Duda is not an especially outgoing person, but has the affable persona that a team could feel comfortable trusting in the spotlight.
In the short-term, Duda's ability to produce runs will determine how the offense will fare the rest of the season.
Several years down the line, Duda may become one of the faces of the Mets as they become one of the National League powerhouses.
4. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 24 Years Old
With his easy-going demeanor and swagger of a California surfer, it is hard to dislike the player that has been dubbed "Captain Kirk" by the Citi Field faithful.
Kirk's ascension through the minors went relatively unnoticed—considering he was drafted in 2008 along with Ike Davis and Reese Havens, who garnered a considerable amount of attention.
The 6'3" centerfielder's performance in the minor leagues has been similar to what he has accomplished thus far in 2012—solid batting average, the ability to hit the ball out of the park, along with impressive defense but incredibly high strikeout totals.
It is true that Kirk is only a rookie and was thrown into a huge role immediately but, at 24 years old he is not as young as most rookies.
As a fan, I really like his demeanor and his penchant for snapping out of slumps quickly, but he must either decrease his strikeouts or increase his power numbers if he is to stay in the big leagues.
A 4:1 K/BB ratio is pretty dismal, but the Mets could live with that if he can score 100 runs and produce near a .900 OPS, as he did in 2009 and 2010 in the minors.
He was well on his way to those numbers last season before a labrum inury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Kirk might not have the intangibles of David Wright, but has remained relatively unphased by the New York limelight. His minor league totals indicate that he can produce big-time numbers.
3. Ike Davis, 25 Years Old
Despite his low batting average, Davis has a chance to become a perennial All-Star
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As recent as May 2011, Ike seemed like a slam dunk to become the next great New York superstar. He was producing at the level of Joey Votto and Albert Pujols before the collision with David Wright ended his season prematurely.
Then, he began 2012 in a wretched slump, which led to a serious debate whether he should be demoted to Triple-A to sort out his problems.
Since then, he has responded by raising his batting average from .154 up to .207. It was a long road, but he has actually produced fairly respectable numbers for a first basemen—minus the batting average.
Ike is the type of player the organization wants to succeed because they invested their first-round pick in him four years ago.
His father was a pitcher for the New York Yankees, which shows his athletic bloodlines. Ike actually was also a dominating pitcher for Arizona State University, and often closed games that Mike Leake started.
Has the perception of his career changed since last season?
Perhaps, but he is still young enough that he can return to the form of 2010 and 2011 with a big second half.
Davis and Wright form a potent duo of corner infield bats in the Mets order and, if he can negate his dreadful first two months, he has a chance to be viewed as a franchise player.
Like Wright, he is a very family-oriented person, and honors his father's Christianity and his mother's Jewish heritage.
He possesses the type of character traits to build your team around, but he must produce at an elite level if the Mets can lock him up for a long-term deal.
2. Gavin Cecchini, 18 Years Old
Cecchini has been lauded for his terrific makeup and baseball IQ
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Gavin Cecchini was the first-round draft pick of the Mets in this year's draft. Clearly, he is in the extremely early stages of his development, but there are some great reasons for optimism.
The biggest similarity between he and David Wright is that they were both named the Gatorade Player of the Year for their hometown states, Louisiana and Virginia, respectively.
His senior year in high school was absolutely dominating as he compiled a .467 batting average along with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 31 stolen bases, all while winning the state championship and being named the MVP of the Under Armour All-American game.
It must be a great omen that the team brought him to Citi Field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on June 1—also the day Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in franchise history.
Cecchini possesses the type of clean-cut, outgoing personality that general managers love to see and franchises can market as the face of their product.
With the ability he has shown to adapt to new surroundings, he should be in the major leagues around the same time Carlos Correa—the first overall pick—will arrive.
For example, he reached base at a dismal .304 clip in June for the Kingsport Mets, but increased that figure to .344 in July—a much more respectable number.
I fully expect Cecchini to reach the big leagues by the age of 22, and he will be a stalwart in the Mets infield.
1. Brandon Nimmo, 19 Years Old
Nimmo, a Wyoming native, has the makings of a superstar
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I will predict right now that Brandon Nimmo will challenge Jose Reyes for the franchise record for triples.
Brandon Nimmo, the first-round pick of the Mets in 2011, is a true speed-burner.
He was an All-State track runner in Wyoming—the only first-round pick to ever come out of Wyoming.
Obviously, he was also a stand-out on the baseball field and, like Cecchini, he was named the MVP of the Under Armour All-American game held in Wrigley Field.
In his first season of professional ball, Nimmo has impressed the fans of the Brooklyn Cyclones as he has already hit a grand slam, compiled a .316 average with runners on base and displayed patience in tough situations.
Nimmo appears to have no makeup issues and is young enough that he can develop his extra base power into home run power in the future.
He has recently joined Twitter and has shown his sense of humor, and not just with his account name—@You_Found_Nimmo.
The 19-year-old Nimmo is on his way to become a franchise-type player, and it will not take too long for the New York Mets to find their next best marketable player comparable to David Wright.
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