Travis d'Arnaud is having a fine spring training
New York Mets spring training camp has reached the halfway point, and prospects are trying to make positive impressions on manager Terry Collins and his coaching staff. Travis d'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler, among others, are exhibiting the skills that show they will have a very bright future in Flushing, N.Y. someday.
Other Mets prospects may be vying to make a final roster spot. Some realize they won't be heading north with the parent club, but they want the Mets' brain trust to consider them for a promotion down the road.
It's all part of the annual ritual of spring training. Everyone is generally optimistic and the organization's prospects know it's their opportunity to shine.
The following is a power ranking of New York's prospects based on their 2013 spring training performance.
The Reading, Pa. native is certainly not going to displace David Wright at third base or Ike Davis at first, but he can be a useful backup at either position.
Lutz had a brief cup of coffee with the Mets last season and registered just one single in 11 at-bats. However, he hit .299 at Triple-A Buffalo with 10 home runs and 35 RBI in just 244 AB. His OBP was an impressive .410.
The 26-year-old Lutz has played both third and first base and is batting .292 with four RBI in 13 spring training contests. Among those hits are a pair of doubles, and his OBP is a solid .391. Lutz needs to cut down on his strikeout rate though—he has fanned five times already in Grapefruit League competition.
Lutz is not considered a premier prospect but he can be a viable reserve infielder who can provide adequate defense. He is a right-handed complement to Davis when the slugging first baseman needs a rest and can also fill in for Wright, if ever needed, for a short period of time.
The hard-throwing southpaw is expected to be a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. When Bryce Harper or Chase Utley step into the batter's box in a crucial spot late in a game, expect Collins to signal for the former 30th round draft pick.
Edgin has enjoyed a decent camp, compiling a 3.00 ERA in five games. He's fanned four batters in six innings but still needs to work on his command issues—he's also walked four in those six innings.
His Grapefruit League performance is a microcosm of his regular season work in 2012—Edgin has excellent stuff and has a fine SO/9 IP ratio, but he needs to cut down on his base on balls.
For example, in 25.2 innings pitched last season, the husky left-hander struck out 30 batters. On the flip side, he walked 10 batters so his control needs to improve. He also has to keep the ball in the park—he allowed five home runs in those 25.2 innings last year.
The Mets really like his potential, though, and the fact that Edgin held opponents to a .204 batting average in 2012 speaks volumes about his ability.
Anyway you slice it, 2012 was a tough year for Jeremy Hefner.
In 13 starts and 26 total games with the Mets last season, the Oral Roberts product authored a 4-7 record with a 5.09 ERA. He was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo twice. It was a struggle.
Things appear to be brightening in 2013, though.
Although it's a small sample, Hefner has pitched very well in spring training. In four games, including two starts, he has fashioned a 1-0 mark with a 2.61 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 10.1 innings.
If Johan Santana can't begin the season in New York's rotation, Hefner will probably be the most likely candidate to step in for him in the number five slot.
Zack Wheeler is rated as the top prospect in the entire Mets organization, according to Baseball America. Although he appeared in just one spring training game before being sent down to minor league camp last Sunday, Wheeler deserves this ranking due to his tremendous skill set.
The Smyrna, Ga. native hurled two scoreless innings and struck out three in his lone Grapefruit League action on Feb. 23 against Washington. He suffered a right oblique strain while swinging in the cage on Feb. 27, but pitched live batting practice on Sunday and appears to be fine.
Wheeler is slated to start his 2013 campaign for Triple-A Las Vegas next month.
Still, there was a sense of disappointment that he did not get the opportunity to show more in major league camp.
"I only got out there one time," Wheeler told Adam Rubin of ESPNNY.com. "That's what I'm kind of mad about. I wanted to sort of get out there and prove myself. I hope I'll be up here soon."
You can count on it.
"Versatility" should be Jordany Valdespin's middle name because he can pretty much play anywhere in the outfield or infield for the Mets.
The 25-year-old Valdespin played second base, shortstop and all three outfield positions for New York last season, but has been concentrating on playing the outfield for the most part during spring training.
The Dominican Republic native has enjoyed a wonderful camp, hitting .370 with three home runs and six RBI. He's shown quickness defensively and is one of the few Mets players with decent speed. He swiped 10 bases last season in 13 attempts.
Valdespin's ability to play multiple positions, and play them well, is what is probably going to earn him the right to travel north with New York when camp breaks in late March.
"He’s played very well," Terry Collins told Mike Vorkunov of The Star-Ledger. "He likes to play. We’ve asked him to play all over the field. He plays with flair—there’s nothing wrong with that. But he plays with some energy, we need it."
The centerpiece in the R.A. Dickey trade, Travis d'Arnaud has certainly lived up to expectations in spring training.
Rated as the number 23 overall prospect by Baseball America, d'Arnaud was batting .400 with two RBI in 15 at-bats. He cracked two doubles and owned a OBP of .444 through his first eight Grapefruit League games.
The 24-year-old d'Arnaud has also done a nice job behind the plate, handling two dozen chances without an error. He's also getting used to working with a pretty young pitching staff overall. So far, the reviews have been very positive.
It must not have been easy for General Manager Sandy Alderson to trade Dickey, his Cy Young Award-winning pitcher. He pulled the trigger, though, and the Mets are hoping they've got their number one backstop for many years to come.
"Recognize, we could have kept R.A. here," Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. "We could have signed him or we could have kept him here—he was under contract—or we could have gotten exactly what we wanted."
They sure did.