New York Mets: Top 25 Prospects and When We May Be Seeing Them at Citi Field

Jim MancariCorrespondent IApril 11, 2011

New York Mets: Top 25 Prospects and When We May Be Seeing Them at Citi Field

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    In their 49-year history, the New York Mets have had some success in developing minor league prospects. Though many of these players went on to play for other teams, the Mets still did their job of ensuring these players were as Major League-ready as possible.

    Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Jose Reyes and David Wright all were drafted by the team and made an immediate impact for the big club.

    Though the current Mets roster is full of veterans, some prospects may be expected to contribute on the big-league level at some point this season. With the way the injury bug has plagued this club the past few years, we may see these prospects sooner rather than later.

    Even if there’s no place for them on the Mets roster, these prospects can be used as trade bait to acquire a proven player.

    Here are the top 25 New York Mets prospects.

25. Erik Goeddel, RHP

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    The Mets selected righty Erik Goeddel in the 24th round of the 2010 draft.

    He only appeared in one game—just one inning in fact—last year for the Gulf Coast Mets, a short-season Class-A affiliate. Goeddel experienced shoulder soreness and was shut down.

    He was a reliever at UCLA who can touch the mid-to-high 90s with his fastball.

    Goeddel has since converted to a starter and is in the rotation for the Savannah Sand Gnats, a Single-A Mets affiliate.

    He still has a long way to go before reaching the majors, but a few good seasons may put him on the radar.

24. Matt Den Dekker, CF

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    Matt Den Dekker was drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He displayed good defense and speed as a Florida Gator.

    In just 27 games at Savannah, the lefty batter hit .346 with a .404 on-base percentage. He did struggle against lefties, however, which may make him better suited for a platoon role.

    The Mets have some top-notch outfield prospects, so Den Dekker will have to impress to be considered for Major League action.

    He’ll start this season with the Class-A Advanced St. Lucie Mets.

23. Sean Ratliff, CF

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    Sean Ratliff is another Mets outfield prospect looking to separate himself from the pack this season.

    The Stanford product finished third in the Mets system with 21 HR in 2010. He is said to have raw power that has caught the eye of the Mets brass.

    Though he’ll be playing center field for the Double-A Binghamton Mets once he returns from the disabled list, Ratliff may be more suited to a corner outfield position. He has good speed, but maybe not enough to play center.

    If he continues pounding the baseball, he may be a candidate to wind up in Citi Field in a year or so.

22. Josh Stinson, RHP

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    Though he was drafted back in 2006, Josh Stinson is only 23 years old.

    Stinson feels comfortable throwing four pitches, which allowed him to make the transition from reliever to starter midway through last season.

    He struggled with his control as a starter for Binghamton, but eventually earned a call-up to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

    His name was tossed around as an outside contender for the Mets bullpen, but he will instead refine his game at Binghamton in the early part of this year.

21. Stephen Matz, LHP

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    Stephen Matz made all the local Long Island headlines when the Mets selected the Ward-Melville High School lefty in the second round of the 2009 draft.

    Matz underwent a successful Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of 2010. He is still rehabbing, but expects to be ready to pitch for the Gulf Coast Mets this year.

    He’s projected as a middle of the rotation starter with a mid-90s fastball and good curveball.

    Matz likely won’t see Citi Field for at least another three or four seasons. He will be given ample time to develop, and the Mets hope he can turn into another Jon Niese.

20. Zach Lutz, 1B/3B

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    If Zach Lutz can stay healthy, he can be a tremendous offensive player. He hits for good power and has been able to draw walks.

    He hit 17 HR at Binghamton last year, but also missed two months with a broken foot.

    Lutz will be playing 3B everyday for the Buffalo Bisons and will look to continue his strong hitting.

    There are really only two problems that have blocked Lutz from reaching the majors thus far: David Wright and Ike Davis. These two should hopefully maintain their spots for the next decade.

    Lutz will likely serve as a trade chip during this season or the offseason.

19. Manny Alvarez, RHP

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    Manny Alvarez raced through the Mets’ minor-league system last season. He began the year at St. Lucie and finished in Buffalo.

    He developed a cutter, which has great movement, to complement his two-seam and four-seam fastballs.

    He is on the Mets 40-man roster, so he was originally considered as a darkhorse candidate for the bullpen. The Mets instead went with Rule-5 draftee Pedro Beato.

    The Mets bullpen has already been overworked, so there’s a chance Alvarez winds up at Citi Field some point this season.

18. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B

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    Aderlin Rodriguez is just 19, and is already garnering the big club's attention.

    He hit .312 with 13 HR and 22 2B for the rookie affiliate Kingsport Mets.

    The new “A-Rod” has big-time power, but also has great plate discipline for a young hitter.

    Though he is also blocked by David Wright at third base, his arrival in the big leagues won’t be anywhere close to that of Zach Lutz. He’ll start this season at Savannah.

    Rodriguez may be forced to shift to first base, though his defense at third is adequate.

    He could be a possible successor to Wright or a trade chip in the next few offseasons.

17. Jordany Valdespin, 2B

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    Jordany Valdespin is an exciting young second baseman whose only real enemy is himself.

    He has apparently argued with his coaches, and tends to lose focus.

    On the field, Valdespin is a superb talent, who the Mets feel can be a productive Major Leaguer. The Mets placed him on the 40-man roster during the winter.

    He had some good moments this spring with the club, and even threw his name into the hat for the second base job.

    While he may have been the most natural second baseman of the bunch, the Mets made the right decision by letting Valdespin develop at Binghamton. He will play second base and shortstop this season.

    If he puts together a solid season, he may be a frontrunner for next year’s second base job, if the Brad Emaus/Daniel Murphy experiment doesn’t work out.

16. Brad Holt, RHP

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    Brad Holt has struggled the past two years, which has caused him to lose much of the hype he received after he was drafted in 2008.

    He is said to have lost some velocity, and is still working on his secondary pitches.

    Holt needs to dig deep and find what made him so successful at UNC Wilmington. This year may be his last shot, and hopefully that knowledge will light a fire under him.

    Holt still has some promise, and the Mets are hoping he turns in a solid 2011 campaign at Binghamton. He may wind up moving to the bullpen if his troubles as a starter continue.

15. Nick Evans, 1B/OF

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    Nick Evans seemed destined to make the Mets 25-man roster out of spring training. He hit well and was out of options, meaning he would have to be exposed to waivers.

    Willie Harris and Scott Hairston earned the final two bench spots, which likely spelled the end of Evans' Mets career.

    However, he passed through waivers and was assigned to Buffalo.

    Evans isn’t really an outfielder, and thus his road to the majors is blocked by Ike Davis.

    Hairston is off to a terrible start with the bat, so maybe Evans can sneak onto the roster.

    If he’s not on the team by the end of this season, the Mets should explore trading him, as he does still have some value.

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

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    Jeurys Familia put up big numbers in 2009 for Savannah when he finished 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA.

    He made the jump to St. Lucie last season, where he struggled to a 5.58 ERA, but did strike out 137 batters in 121.0 innings.

    He’s a big guy (6’3”) who can hit 97 mph on the radar gun.

    Familia will start this season at St. Lucie, but a promotion is likely in his future. He may be best suited as a reliever, but the Mets will use him as a starter for the time being.

    There’s no such thing as “too much pitching,” so Familia may call Citi Field home someday.

13. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF

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    Kirk Nieuwenhuis just looks like a baseball player. The California product looked decent swinging the bat for the Mets this spring.

    He hit 16 HR at Binghamton in 2010, but struggled in 30 games at Buffalo. He’ll start in the outfield for the Bisons this year.

    Once again, the Mets have several good outfield prospects, so Nieuwenhuis will need a strong showing to make the jump to the majors.

    Carlos Beltran likely won’t be back next season, so there will be a void in right field.

12. Mark Cohoon, LHP

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    Mark Cohoon was named the 2010 Mets Organizational Pitcher of the Year.

    He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he finds a way to get hitters out. He relies on changing speeds and pitch location, as well as an above average change-up, to baffle opposing hitters.

    He pitched to a 1.30 ERA at Savannah last year and will begin this season in Binghamton.

    Cohoon could be a candidate for a late season call-up, but will likely compete for a rotation spot in 2012.

11. Dillon Gee, RHP

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    Dillon Gee looked like a lock to make the Mets starting rotation until they signed Chris Capuano and Chris Young.

    Gee was impressive in five September starts, finishing 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA.

    Though he’ll start the year in Buffalo, he will be the first to get the call if injuries or ineffectiveness set in among the Mets starters.

    Gee throws strikes and varies his location, which makes him successful. He appears to be a factor in the Mets future plans.

10. Darrell Ceciliani, CF

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    Though he may not be the biggest guy on the field, Darrell Ceciliani probably has the biggest heart.

    He won over Brooklyn Cyclones fans last summer with his energetic play and clutch hitting ability. He led the entire Mets organization with a .351 BA.

    Ceciliani also has great range in center field. The 20-year-old will begin this year at Savannah.

    If he continues to improve, he may be a candidate to replace Angel Pagan down the road. However, Ceciliani is at least two or three years from a September call-up.

9. Fernando Martinez, CF/RF

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    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Fernando Martinez is healthy.

    He looked terrific swinging the bat this spring, and will start the year in Buffalo.

    F-Mart should just focus this season on staying healthy and playing consistent baseball. With Carlos Beltran likely out of the mix next year, Martinez should be an instant contender for the right field job in 2012.

    Though he seemed overmatched in his two stints in the big leagues the past two seasons, he’s still just 22 years old.

    While the Mets may run out of patience with him, he could be used as a trade chip this offseason. However, he will have to remain healthy for other teams to roll the dice.

8. Reese Havens, 2B

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    Reese Havens was selected with the Mets second first-round pick in 2008 behind Ike Davis.

    He was a highly-touted shortstop out of South Carolina who the Mets hoped would have been a regular by now.

    However, injuries razed Havens’ early career, which has slowed his progression.

    Havens transitioned well to second base, where he will play this season for Binghamton. He has a good power stroke that will translate well to the majors.

    A big year from Havens will throw him into the competition for the Mets 2012 second base job. If the Brad Emaus/Daniel Murphy experiment fails by midseason, we may even see Havens at Citi Field as early as this year.

7. Cesar Puello, RF

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    Cesar Puello may be one of the only five-tool players in the entire Mets organization.

    The 20-year-old outfielder has Jose Reyes-like speed and a Jeff Francoeur-like arm.

    His power is still developing, but the Mets have high hopes for this talented prospect. He’ll begin the year with the St. Lucie Mets.

    The Mets appear to be patient when it comes to Puello, who still needs to refine his raw talent.

    Once he makes the jump from being a natural athlete to a baseball player, the sky is the limit for Puello.

6. Ruben Tejada, 2B/SS

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    Ruben Tejada has the glove of a Major League player, but his bat has been what has kept him from making the jump.

    He filled in nicely late last season in the middle infield and actually hit pretty well in spring training.

    Tejada will serve as insurance at shortstop if the Mets fail to or choose not to re-sign Jose Reyes. Reyes is off to a great start, so hopefully the team can work out a long-term deal with the dynamic shortstop.

    If that’s the case, Tejada could be considered for the second base job if he improves with the stick.

    He also may be used as trade bait, but his glove can really be an asset to the Mets.

5. Matt Harvey, RHP

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    Matt Harvey was selected as the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft out of UNC Chapel Hill.

    He has great size and a great arm and will use these tools at St. Lucie to start the season. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, while his slider has been his out pitch.

    This will be his first full season in the minor leagues, so the Mets are very excited to see him progress through their system.

    Give him a few healthy years, and Harvey will be making a bid to join the starting rotation by 2013.

4. Cory Vaughn, RF

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    Cory Vaughn just might be the Mets right fielder of the future.

    The 21-year-old son of former power hitter Greg Vaughn burst onto the scene last season for the Brooklyn Cyclones, as he hit14 HR in 72 games.

    Though he has dealt with Type I Diabetes since age 11, it hasn’t slowed his progress.

    Vaughn has some big time power and will look to continue crushing home runs this season at Savannah. He hit a monstrous home run for the Mets this spring.

    He also possesses a cannon arm and good range in right field, which will be vital if he is someday manning the cavernous outfield of Citi Field.

    Patience will be key with Vaughn, as he still hasn’t played a game above Single-A.

3. Lucas Duda, 1B/RF

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    Lucas Duda made the Mets 25-man roster out of spring training when Jason Bay went on the disabled list to start the season.

    Duda struggled with the bat in the early going and was recently sent down to Buffalo because the Mets needed an extra bullpen arm.

    Duda was called up last September and was hitless in his first 30 at-bats before finding his stroke for the final few games.

    He has great power and led the Mets organization in HR last season. He also won the Mets Minor League Player of the Year award.

    He’s more of a first baseman that has been forced into an outfielder’s role, but may wind up back with the big club if injuries set in.

2. Wilmer Flores, SS

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    Not only is Wilmer Flores a talented prospect, but he’s just 19.

    He hit .289 with 11 HR and 84 RBI for Savannah last season. Flores will start this season in St. Lucie.

    He’s 6’3”, so a shift to third base may be in his future. However, if he keeps hitting like he has, the Mets will find a good use for him.

    Flores is still a work in progress, but all the signs point to him being a solid Major Leaguer.

    Depending on what the Mets do with Jose Reyes, it may play a role in Flores’ future with the team.

1. Jenrry Mejia, RHP

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    If the Mets could turn back time, I wonder if they would have refrained from carrying Jenrry Mejia on their 2010 Opening Day roster.

    Though the team needed that one last bullpen arm, Mejia was seldom used the first few months of the season. He threw the ball decent in his appearances, but he would have been better off remaining a starter all along.

    He was sent to Binghamton in June where he experienced a strained rotator cuff and was shut down for a time. Mejia returned to pitch well late in the season for Buffalo.

    He’ll be in the starting rotation at Buffalo, where he will look to command his pitches and find the confidence he needs to produce in the big leagues.

    Mets manager Terry Collins believes Mejia will contribute this season, and he might be up sometime this summer if injuries occur.

    At the very least, Mejia should compete for a rotation spot next spring.