The 10 Most Exciting Prospects the New York Mets Will Promote in September
Going into the start of the 2012 season, the Mets were not expected to contend, due to a lower payroll, an unproven lineup and an inconsistent pitching staff.
The Mets though surprised everyone by having a winning record through the first three months of the season. However, right after the All-Star break, the Mets fell apart and won just four games in a span of 19 days through the end of July.
With the Nationals still playing very well and the Braves challenging them for the division title, it's very unlikely that the Mets will contend for the NL East division title. Furthermore, the Pirates, Reds, Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants have all played better than the Mets as well. Thus, the Mets are also going to have a lot of trouble getting one of the two wild-card spots.
Despite watching the bullpen get worse than it already is and seeing some of the more promising hitters struggle, not all will be lost for the Mets this year. It was originally supposed to be a rebuilding year, and the Mets still have plenty to look forward to. Matt Harvey has already been called up and has become a fixture in the rotation. Although he has not come out victorious since his major league debut, he can pitch well nonetheless and will show the Mets and their fans why they should believe in him.
Not only that, but on September 1 of each year, each major league team gets to expand their 25-man rosters to 40 players. This is because the minor league seasons end earlier and it gives some of the more advanced players a chance to get a taste of what the major leagues are like. The Mets can use September to evaluate their current talent and see which players they should build around for the future.
Some Mets players that were on the major league club for much of the season were recently demoted, but will definitely be back on the Mets no later than September 1. Those players include Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Nickeas, Pedro Beato, Robert Carson, Justin Hampson and Elvin Ramirez. Chris Schwinden, who was in the Mets rotation for most of May will likely get recalled as well, as will Jack Egbert, who has made just one appearance for the Mets this year.
Aside from these aforementioned players, here are the top 10 most exciting prospects the Mets will be calling up in September.
1. Jeurys Familia
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One of the most promising pitching prospects in the Mets organization for years has been Jeurys Familia.
Signed in 2007 as a non-drafted free agent, Familia was with the Gulf Coast Mets in 2008, the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2009 and the St. Lucie Mets in 2010. He was part of the World team in the 2010 MLB Futures Game.
In 2011, Familia started again in St. Lucie, but soon got promoted to Double-A Binghamton. Altogether, he was 5-5 with a 2.90 ERA for the year.
This year, Familia was invited to the Mets' major league camp, before getting assigned to the minor leagues. He has pitched the entire season in Triple-A Buffalo. He has struggled though, with a 7-7 record, a 4.98 ERA and an alarming 66 walks in just 112 innings pitched. This comes out to be an average of 5.3 walks per nine innings.
Despite his struggles with control this year, Familia is likely to get called up in September. However, due to the Mets' current starting rotation, he will almost certainly pitch out of the bullpen, which may be where he spends much of his career going forward. Hopefully, he will improve his control soon and not decrease his value even further.
2. Jenrry Mejia
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He may have pitched for the Mets during most of the 2010 season, but Jenrry Mejia is currently a prospect nonetheless.
After being signed by the Mets in 2007 as a free agent, Mejia spent 2007 with the Dominican Summer League Mets. In 2008, he split the year between the Gulf Coast Mets and the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Following a 2009 season that saw him spend time with the St. Lucie Mets and the Binghamton Mets, Mejia made the 2010 Mets roster out of spring training as a reliever. However, in late June, Mejia was demoted to begin pitching as a starter. He spent most of the summer in Binghamton before being recalled in September. He made three starts that month, but got injured in his final start, which led the Mets to shut him down for the rest of the season.
In 2011, Mejia was assigned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, but in late April, Mejia left after four innings due to elbow pain. It turned out that he was going to need Tommy John surgery, which ended his season.
This year, Mejia has been pitching mostly as a starter. However, in June, the Mets organization moved him to the bullpen, but in late July, he got placed back into the rotation. It will be interesting to see how Mejia is used by the Mets in September, but due to the Mets' current rotation, he is more likely to pitch as a reliever.
3. Collin McHugh
Another Mets pitching prospect who has a possible chance of getting called up in September is Collin McHugh.
McHugh was originally drafted by the Mets in 2008. He pitched in 12 games that year for the Kingsport Mets and then spent 2009 with the Brooklyn Cyclones with a solid 8-2 record and a 2.76 ERA.
In 2010, McHugh's record with the Savannah Sand Gnats was only 7-8, but he also had a 3.33 ERA. In 2011, he split the season between the St. Lucie Mets and the Binghamton Mets. His numbers in Binghamton (8-2, 2.89 ERA) were far better than those at St. Lucie (1-2, 6.31 ERA).
After going 5-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 12 starts at Binghamton this year, McHugh got promoted to Buffalo and has a 1-4 record and a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts there.
Despite not being a major prospect in particular, McHugh still has a good chance of getting called up in September. When Johan Santana landed on the disabled list in July, the Mets were stuck between McHugh and Matt Harvey to replace Santana's spot in the rotation. Ultimately, they made the right choice with Harvey, but this also shows that McHugh was more ready to get a major league promotion than some of his other teammates.
Regardless of what role he appears in, it will be interesting to see if McHugh gets that promotion, and if he does well with the opportunity.
4. Zack Wheeler
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Despite being the Mets' top prospect, Zack Wheeler may not get called up to the Mets in September because he only recently got promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. However, he could always use the experience for next season, being that he will likely be a part of the Mets' 2013 starting rotation.
Wheeler of course came from the Giants to the Mets in 2011 in exchange for aging veteran Carlos Beltran. Beltran spent the rest of the season in San Francisco before departing for the Cardinals in the offseason. Meanwhile, Wheeler has turned into one of the brightest pitching prospects in all of baseball and one that can certainly win a Cy Young Award or two in his upcoming major league career.
After going 3-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 2010 and a combined 9-7 with a 3.52 ERA in both the Giants and the Mets organizations in 2011, Wheeler began 2012 in Double-A Binghamton. He went 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA there before his recent promotion. In his first two starts in Buffalo, he has gotten a no-decision in both and has a 2.53 ERA.
Again, the Mets may not want to rush Wheeler into the major leagues, but a September call-up experience would be better in the long run than not doing anything once the minor league season ends.
5. Zach Lutz
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One of the minor league position players that will definitely get called up will be third baseman Zach Lutz.
Lutz, who has already been called up this year, was originally drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB draft. In his first full professional season in 2008 as a member of the Brooklyn Cyclones, Lutz batted .333 in 72 at-bats with three home runs and 12 RBI.
In 2009, Lutz spent most of the season with the St. Lucie Mets and later got called up to the Binghamton Mets. Altogether, Lutz batted .278 that year with 11 home runs and 64 RBI.
In 2010, Lutz was in Binghamton for most of the season and batted .289 with 17 home runs and 42 RBI there. Near the end of that year, he got promoted to Buffalo and batted .300 with a home run and nine RBI in 20 at-bats.
Lutz has remained in Buffalo for the vast majority of the last two seasons. In 2011, he batted .295 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI, while this year, he has a .302 average, eight home runs and 29 RBI. He even got called up to the Mets and made his debut on April 24. However, he got sent back down less than a week later. Out of his eight major league at-bats, he has one hit, one run scored and five strikeouts.
Although he is a third baseman, Lutz can also play first base, so he could very likely spend more time there due to the everyday presence of David Wright. However, Lutz will most likely spend time on the bench and be used as a right-handed pinch-hitter.
6. Josh Satin
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Another infielder that has already seen time in the major leagues is Josh Satin, who has become a second baseman after spending most of his career thus far as a first baseman and third baseman.
Like Lutz, Satin was drafted by the Mets in the 2008 MLB draft, but one round later. He batted .303 that year combined with the Kingsport Mets and Brooklyn Cyclones with five home runs and 15 RBI. He then split 2009 with the Savannah Sand Gnats and St. Lucie Mets, with a .288 average, eight home runs and 65 RBI.
In 2010, Satin spent most of the year in St. Lucie before getting promoted to Binghamton. For the year, he had a .311 average, 12 home runs and 74 RBI.
In 2011, Satin remained in Binghamton until a late-season call-up to Buffalo. He had a great season altogether that included a .323 average, 12 home runs, 76 RBI and a .908 OPS. He even got a September call-up to the Mets and got five hits in 25 at-bats. He also had a double and two RBI. On the other hand, Satin also had 11 strikeouts.
This year, Satin has been pretty much exclusively with Buffalo. He has a .302 average, 13 home runs and 53 RBI. He also had one at-bat that resulted in a strikeout with the Mets in early June after Mike Baxter got placed on the disabled list. However, a few days later, he got designated for assignment once Pedro Beato was activated from the disabled list.
When he gets called up soon, Satin could very well make appearances at three different positions. He could play second base if the Mets are facing a left-handed starter, or he could also make a few appearances at first base or third base, depending on what manager Terry Collins feels like doing.
Due to the presence of David Wright at third, Daniel Murphy at second and Ike Davis at first, there may not be much of an opening for Satin anywhere in the infield, but hopefully, he will be able to find some playing time somewhere.
7. Valentino Pascucci
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Valentino Pascucci is not a young prospect by any means, but he will be exciting to watch due to his massive power and will certainly get called up in September.
Pascucci was originally drafted in 1996, but chose to go to college. He later got drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1999 and made his major league debut in 2004, although he did not play much in the major leagues that year. He did play in the final game in Expos history, which happened to be against the Mets at Shea Stadium.
After getting released the following offseason, Pascucci spent 2006 in Japan, 2007 in the Phillies minor league system, 2008 in the Mets minor league system as a member of the New Orleans Zephyrs and 2009 with both the Dodgers and Padres minor league organizations.
In 2010, Pascucci returned to the Mets organization and has been with the Buffalo Bisons virtually ever since. After batting .264 with 21 home runs and 91 RBI in 2011, Pascucci got a September call-up and made his Mets debut on September 8. He had just 11 at-bats in his call-up, with only three of them being hits. However, one of those hits was big.
On September 24, Pascucci hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run off Cole Hamels in the seventh inning. In the bottom of the eighth inning, David Wright hit an RBI double and the Mets won 2-1. He then had a pinch-hit RBI single the next day off Antonio Bastardo.
Pascucci was brought back by the Mets this year and got invited to spring training. Despite spending the entire season in Buffalo, he got invited to the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game, which happened to be in Buffalo. Pascucci made a name for himself by winning the Triple-A Home Run Derby, which caught national attention due to the fact that he won the event in walk-off fashion.
This September, Pascucci will almost certainly be used in the same role as a right-handed pinch-hitter. He could also make a start or two at first base if the Mets are facing a left-handed starter.
8. Matt Den Dekker
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One of the Mets' top offensive prospects right now is center fielder Matt Den Dekker.
Drafted by the Mets in 2010, Den Dekker has become known for his rare combination of power, speed and defense. Den Dekker was with the Savannah Sand Gnats for most of 2010 and batted .346 with 15 RBI there that year.
In 2011, Den Dekker split the season with St. Lucie and Binghamton. His combined stats included a .265 average, 17 home runs and 68 RBI.
This year, Den Dekker played in 58 games with Binghamton before getting promoted to Buffalo. Den Dekker was batting .340 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in Binghamton. He has not hit as well in Buffalo though, as evidenced by a .206 average, eight home runs and 35 RBI.
Ever since Carlos Beltran injured his knee in 2009, the Mets have not exactly had a dependable center fielder. Angel Pagan looked promising, but battled injuries of his own and got traded last offseason to the Giants. Den Dekker is a very gifted athlete and will definitely be looked at very closely if he gets called up in September.
If his call-up goes well, there's a great chance he could be the Mets' opening day center fielder in 2013. He and Zack Wheeler would give the Mets two great chances of having a Rookie of the Year on the team.
9. Adam Loewen
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A one-time major league pitcher, Adam Loewen is a veteran that has since converted into a first baseman and outfielder.
Selected fourth overall by the Orioles in the 2002 MLB draft, Loewen made his major league debut in May 2006. He ended up going 6-6 with a 5.37 ERA that year. However, he got hurt in 2007 and ended up having multiple stress fractures in his left elbow. In July 2008, Loewen ultimately decided that he would transition into a position player thanks to the numerous injuries he went through as a pitcher.
Loewen signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays organization in 2009 and stayed in the system for three years. He eventually got back to the major leagues in September 2011 and hit his first career home run against Tommy Hunter of his former Orioles.
Last November, the Mets signed Loewen to a minor league contract and he appeared in spring training as both a first baseman and an outfielder. Loewen tried to make the Mets out of spring training as a left-handed hitter on the bench, but that did not end up happening.
He has been with Buffalo all season, but has also unfortunately battled some injuries as well. Hopefully, Loewen will be healthy enough to get called up to the Mets in September.
At just 28 years old, Loewen could end up developing into the same athletic power hitter that Rick Ankiel ended up becoming. Ankiel himself was originally a pitcher. Time will tell whether Loewen can really resurrect his career as a hitter.
10. Lucas May
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Ever since Mike Piazza left the Mets following the 2005 season, the Mets have not had a dependable long-term catcher.
Paul LoDuca had a great season in 2006, but his subpar year in 2007 led to the Mets trading for Brian Schneider, who spent more time on the disabled list than actually playing in 2008 and 2009. Rod Barajas began the 2010 season as the Mets starting catcher, but he got traded to the Dodgers near the deadline as Josh Thole soon became the primary catcher that he still is today.
However, Thole has always struggled against left-handed pitchers, which has resulted in the Mets using a right-handed hitting backup catcher against left-handed starters. For the most part, Mike Nickeas has had that role, although he is now in the minor leagues thanks to his poor hitting. Rob Johnson is currently the Mets backup catcher and although he offers more offensively than Nickeas, he still is not anywhere close to being a good defensive catcher.
With Nickeas almost certainly getting recalled in September, the Mets will probably add a fourth catcher as well. That fourth catcher will most likely be Lucas May.
May originally was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and has spent the vast majority of his career in the minor leagues. He stayed with the Dodgers organization through 2010, when he got traded to the Royals in a deal that sent Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers. That year, he also made his major league debut as a September call-up.
After spending 2011 in the Diamondbacks organization, the Mets signed May to a minor league deal last December. As the Buffalo Bisons backup catcher for the most part, May's offensive numbers have not been impressive. He is batting .219 with just three home runs and 23 RBI.
If May does get called up in September, he could use that time to show that he belongs in the major leagues if he is better than Nickeas and Johnson. Whether this will happen is yet to be determined, but it would certainly help May's career going forward.