JOHN SICKLES of MINOR LEAGUE BALL has posted his view of the Mets Top 20 Prospects, which I will gladly share with you and make some comments on his choices. My comments will be in italics.
Top 20 New York Mets Prospects for 2010
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on Feb. 2.
1) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Grade B+: He needs to refine his breaking ball and a full year of Double-A/Triple-A is necessary in my view, but he also has No. 1 starter potential. I hope they don't rush him.
This is the highest grading I've received on Mejia which is good. We should be seeing him no later than 2012 .
2) Wilmer Flores, SS, Grade B+: Considering the age/competition differential, he had a pretty good year. Hard to get a handle on him saber-metrically as a result, but I'll give him some slack.
A possible replacement for Jose Reyes when his contract comes up or very possibly trade bait to get a No. 1 or 2 for the starting rotation.
3) Fernando Martinez, OF, Grade B+: People are now too negative on him. The guy was the equivalent of a college sophomore last year. If a college sophomore got drafted and hit .290/.337/.540 in Triple-A, people would be drooling over him. He's made significant progress refining his tools. My main concern now is health and durability, which keeps him from ranking higher.
Durability is the key here. He's still only 21 and the Mets are still as high on him as ever.
4) Ike Davis, 1B, Grade B: Showed he could hit for power, also has a fine glove. But I think he looks more like a solid regular than a future star.
Most people in the organization who feel the Mets will stick with Daniel Murphy at first eventually see Ike in the outfield. I'm very OK with that.
5) Jon Niese, LHP, Grade B: Assuming the hamstring is OK, I see him as a slightly above average starting pitcher, classic No. 3 guy.
I agree. I see him as a call up from Buffalo this year if one of the starters goes down with injury.
6) Reese Havens, SS, Grade B-: He'll need to switch positions, and health is an issue. Has power and draws walks, and I think the batting average will come up if he stays healthy.
Organization sees him at second base for the future. So do I.
7) Kyle Allen, RHP, Grade B-: Significantly underrated prospect who deserves more attention than he's received. Breakout candidate for '10. I expect this ranking will surprise people.
It surprises me. I hope you're right.
8) Jeurys Familia, RHP, Grade B-: Like his teammate Allen at Savannah, Familia could break through big in '10. This is another ranking I expect will surprise people.
Let's hope so.
9) Brad Holt, RHP, Grade C+: I don't like the way he fell apart in Double-A, but the arm strength still deserves respect. Perhaps he might do better in relief.
I disagree on Holt. He has all the tools to be a solid two or three starter. Definitely needs more innings. I'd like to see him in Buffalo.
10) Ruben Tejada, INF, Grade C+: At worst a fine utility guy, but given his youth (age 20) and contact hitting ability he could get beyond that. I like him as a sleeper for long-term success.
In full agreement here.
11) Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Grade C+: The strikeouts scare me a little, but he has a broad range of skills.
Much bigger upside despite the strikeouts. Potentially a 30 hr- 30 doubles player.
12) Eric Niesen, LHP, Grade C+: You have to love the velocity and movement on his pitches, but command still holds him back.
More seasoning, looks like a Randy Wolf type to me.
13) Jefry Marte, 3B, Grade C+: Didn't handle the rush job as well as Flores did, but he's too young to give up on. Plate discipline a big problem.
If David Wright doesn't resign with the Mets, Marte will be ready by then.
14) Cesar Puello, OF, Grade C: Excellent tools, showed speed and power potential in the Appy League but weak plate discipline worries me. Could rank much higher next year if he handles more advanced pitching.
Tremendous potential when he adds the discipline at the plate.
15) Josh Thole, C, Grade C: He can hit for average, but has no power and defense is mediocre. Sounds like a bench guy to me.
I thought he was more than adequate in his September call. He is being underestimated. Give him 1,000 AB's in the minors, he will be the Mets starting catcher in 2012.
16) Juan Urbina, LHP, Grade C: He was born a week after I got my master's degree. I'm getting really freaking old. Has the raw potential to rank higher than this but let's see him pitch first.
Lefty's are always in demand. Other teams are already scouting him.
17) Steve Matz, LHP, Grade C: I think cold-weather high school pitchers are often underrated in comparison to their warm weather counterparts. We'll see if Matz fits that profile.
Ditto from my comment on Juan.
18) Brent Rustich, RHP, Grade C: If he can stay healthy, he could help in the Mets pen sooner than expected.
Could be a September call up this year.
19) Tobi Stoner, RHP, Grade C: Could contribute in '10 as fifth starter/long relief type.
Nothing but good reports on him so far. We will see how he deals with Port St. Lucie this spring.
20) Dillon Gee, RHP, Grade C: Like Stoner, he can contribute this year, assuming his shoulder rehab has gone well.
September call up most likely.
OTHERS: (Grade C): Eric Beaulac, RHP; Shawn Bowman, 3B; Robert Carson, LHP; Zach Dotson, LHP; Lucas Duda, 1B; Clint Everts, RHP; Carlos Guzman, OF; Zach Lutz, 3B; Roy Merritt, LHP; Scott Moviel, RHP; Sean Ratliff, OF; Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B; Armando Rodriguez, RHP; Nick Santomauro, OF; Josh Satin, UT: Scott Shaw, RHP; Josh Stinson, RHP; Robbie Shields, SS; Nelfi Zapata, C.
Most of those Grade C guys could slot in the 14-20 spots depending on what you emphasize. I am rushed for time on the book and didn't spend hours and hours worrying about the 14-20 Grade C ranks, so please bear with me.
First, I want to clarify something I wrote earlier about propaganda and group think surrounding the Mets system. Everyone is vulnerable to the lure of crowd opinion. Even people who regard themselves as independent observers still absorb biases, or conversely, they fight so hard against other people's biases that they go too far in the other direction.
This is especially true for any organization which has a substantial media presence surrounding it and a motivated fan base. It cuts both ways: A run-of-the-mill Grade C prospect can easily get over-hyped, but at the same time a guy who is really an excellent prospect can fall victim to unrealistic expectations. Fernando Martinez, as I point out above, is absolutely still an elite prospect, yet people are disappointed in him through no fault of his own.
Part of the problem with analyzing the Mets is the weird way they have handled prospects. Some guys, particularly the Latin American signees, have been rushed way too fast, while others have been handled very cautiously. I'd be a lot more confident in saber-metrically analyzing Wilmer Flores if he'd been playing in the New York-Penn League for example. However, you write your baseball book with the data you have, not the data you wish you had.
On the pitching side, the Mets have something potentially special in Jenrry Mejia, although they really need to be careful about how they handle him in '10. His secondary stuff still needs work, and I think they are asking for trouble if they rush him. Niese is ready now, and while he's not spectacular I think he will have a good career. Holt and Niesen have upside but need to sharpen their command.
There are other Grade C types who can help as utility pitchers soon, but I'm very intrigued by the pitching the Mets have gathered in A-ball. Allen and Familia look like breakout candidates to me and I'm going to rank them aggressively. Lefties Matz and Urbina provide some long-distance projection.
On the hitting side, Martinez can still be a star, but he's got to stay healthy. I think 400 Triple-A at-bats would do him a world of good. Flores' numbers in the Sally League aren't great, but he was the youngest guy in the circuit and we have to cut him some slack for that. Ike Davis should be a solid hitter, while Tejada, Havens and Nieuwenhuis can at least be contributors and maybe more. Thole is one of the guys I think is over-hyped. Marte and Puelo have potential but are too raw to rank higher at this stage.
Overall, I think the Mets system is stronger at the top than a lot of people think, but at the same time they could use more depth in Grade C+/B- types. Some of the Cs have the potential to improve greatly.
I think these ranking are very fair and accurate as most projections can be. My biggest disagreement already mentioned is Josh Thole.
I'd also like to see Shawn Bowman get a shot in Flushing. He could be a bench player who has power and could give David Wright a breather or two. I'd rather see David play 150 games instead of 162.
Only time will tell.