New York Mets: Breaking Down the Minor League System

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New York Mets: Breaking Down the Minor League System
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Roughly two months into the regular season, it seems like a good time to review what the Mets have developing down on the farm. The Mets are often criticized for not developing homegrown talent that is up to par with the rest of baseball. However, there does appear to be a core of young prospects experiencing the necessary growth required to reach the big show.

These young guns will indeed be necessary, because looking at this team, some fresh young potential will need to surround core leaders like Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jose Reyes, and David Wright.

In January, www.minorleagueball.com listed 20 prospects as the Mets top prospects for 2010.

1. Jenrry Mejia, RHP

2. Wilmer Flores, SS

3. Fernando Martinez, OF

4. Ike Davis, 1B

5. Jon Niese, LHP

6. Reese Havens, 2B

7. Kyle Allen, RHP

8. Jeurys Familia, RHP

9. Brad Holt, RHP

10. Ruben Tejada, SS/2B

11. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF

12. Eric Niesen, LHP

13. Jefry Marte, 3B

14. Cesar Puello, OF

15. Josh Thole, C

16. Juan Urbina, LHP

17. Steve Matz, LHP

18. Brant Rustich, RHP

19. Tobi Stoner, RHP

20. Dillon Gee, RHP

Mejia, Davis, and Niese have all seen action with the New York Mets this year. Niese has several stints as a starter under his belt, and is no doubt major league ready. Coming off hamstring problems, Niese will look to bounce back from the injury, and he will likely remain a fixture in the rotation, providing it with the youth that it truly needs.

Ike Davis also had his big league ticket punched earlier this season. He likely will remain a fixture at first base as a definite upgrade over anyone else at the position. He brings solid defense to the field and has some power, evidenced by his six home runs.

Mejia has been in the Mets bullpen since opening day, a move that may not benefit him the most. He needs to develop as a starting pitcher in the minors. Instead, he is relieving on the big league club where the emphasis is placed on winning rather than building up quality pitching.

Fernando Martinez was batting a lowly .244 through mid-May before he was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. He needs to bounce back and showcase the plate discipline that gave him his highly touted rating.

Another capable outfielder is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who has speed and some pop. He has bit the free swinger bug and has been striking out much too regularly. Either way, he has the makeup and defense of a future pro outfielder.

Depending on how things shake out in center field, Martinez and Nieuwenhuis could be in the running for next year’s starting job. However, Angel Pagan looks comfortable in that role and is the logical choice to stay, and who knows where Carlos Beltran will end up when he regains his health. Needless to say, both prospects possess the ability to have definite futures with the organization.

The Mets middle infield will likely see Wilmer Flores and Reese Havens in the future.

Havens will jump to the Mets quicker than Flores, as he’s older and has the ability to draw walks.

Ruben Tejada is the most major league ready of all the Mets prospects in the middle infield, and he’s in the mix as well.

The Mets don't seem to have any plans for the future at second base, unless they sign a free agent. Either way, expect the left-handed hitting Havens to get time at the position in 2011.

Flores is only 18, so he has more time to develop. His path to the major league level is still blocked by Jose Reyes. Flores is definitely his fail-safe, and he could slide in at second if Havens doesn't stay healthy.

Flores doesn't have the power or fundamentals to play anywhere but the infield. If the Mets ever need to package a prospect in a trade, he would be the likely candidate. He does have a bat with a little bit of pop (.300 average and five home runs with the Class A Savannah Sand Gnats).

Josh Thole is the Mets leading prospect at catcher, and the organization seems to have plenty of confidence in him. He has little to no power, but he is a smart contact hitter. His defense has been questioned as well. He is currently batting .254 at AAA Buffalo, a number that has been slowly rising.

Thole may or may not be the answer for the Mets if they're looking for a starting catcher. He can certainly provide insurance at the position, and his hitting could develop to the point that it is worth seeing every day. His ability to lead a pitching staff may not grow much more.

With the current state of the Mets bullpen and the back end of the rotation, Mets fans would probably be enticed by the name of any pitching prospects. Jeurys Familia and Kyle Allen are each only 20-years-old and are two pitching names that stick out especially.

Familia and Allen are both experiencing control problems at Single A Port St. Lucie this year, an area each pitcher has looked strong in.

In 2008 and 2009 as a starter, Familia’s WHIP sat just under 1.20, indicating excellent control. The same can be said for Allen. Each pitcher possesses the ability to strike men out and could find themselves in the mix for the Mets rotation and bullpen in 2013 if they regain the control they’re known for.

Righty Brad Holt has struggled as he has advanced through the system and has posted a 9.38 ERA through eight starts at AA Binghamton this year. He has a strong arm, but he has consistently given up big hits. He will remain a commodity in the Mets system, as long as his numbers don't plummet anymore.

Additionally, Dillon Gee and Tobi Stoner are two major league-ready right-handed arms capable of starting games at the big league level. If injuries continue to pile up, they'll be up sooner rather than later.

It is evident that the Mets have a handful of decent options in the farm system. If they struggle any more in 2010, some of these names will gain some more recognition. More names will also be added to this list come Monday in the 2010 MLB Draft.

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