New York Mets: Ranking Their Current Best Prospect at Every Position

Bryan Kalbrosky@@BryanKalbroskyCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2011

New York Mets: Ranking Their Current Best Prospect at Every Position

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    What’s worse than being a fan of the New York Mets in September if they’re not going to be a playoff team?

    Literally 24 hours ago, I was at the dentist’s office getting my wisdom teeth pulled. As a New York Mets writer and fan, I’d rather go through that again than have to sit through another September and October of meaningless New York Mets baseball. At least the dentist gives me vicodin to numb the pain. What do the Mets do? I’m not entirely sure, but I can’t imagine that watching a mediocre R.A. Dickey (6-11, 3.57 ERA) face the Marlins will really help my morale much.

    As I lay motionless in bed, flipping through crappy television shows and dusting off old copies of MLB The Show 2008, I've been forced to think about how pathetic the New York Mets have been this season. Getting your teeth pulled hurts; don’t get me wrong. Seeing your favorite baseball team miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year? That’s actually excruciating.

    At 66-69, they’re not only below .500 but they’re also 22 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. If the New York Mets ever wish to contend for another playoff berth, finishing around 20 games back of the division leader certainly will be of no service to the organization.

    With Johan Santana, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy all on the DL and with Jose Reyes potentially packing up and leaving town this offseason, Mets fans from across the country can either watch Jason Bay continue to underperform and earn millions of dollars doing so… or they can focus on the future.

    Personally, I’m tired of watching Jason Bay underperform. I’d much rather focus on the future of the franchise, and what each position holds for the team. Here, we will look at the top prospect at every corner of the field for the New York Mets. Listen, if 2011 doesn’t work, there’s always 2016. Right? Right.

    Note: I’ve chosen not to include names like Fernando Martinez, Dillon Gee, Jennry Mejia and Lucas Duda because they’ve already seen time in the MLB and, odds are, you’ve heard of them.

Catcher: Albert Cordero

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    Fantastic news, Mets fans! For a team that is basically using a platoon role for their current catcher, they also don’t really have a top prospect catcher anywhere in the minors!

    Luckily, I was able to find a bit of a sleeper candidate in Albert Cordero.

    Cordero has a good glove the plate, puts up decent power numbers (eight home runs, .189 ISO, 32 RBI in rookie ball), and shows breakout potential as a prospect.

    His power numbers were behind only Aderlin Rodriguez in rookie ball last season, and at 20 years old, he has already shined behind the plate defensively.

    ScoutingTheSally.com says very good things about Cordero, and notes that he threw out half a dozen base runners, and they say he has the ideal mix of size and athleticism to succeed as a catcher.

    His feet are an asset for him defensively, and he has no glaring holes as a position player, which is rare for a minor leaguer.  

    To quote ScoutingTheSally, “By the end of 2011, it would not surprise me if Cordero was regarded as the top catching prospect in the organization.” As a Mets fan, I’m fully buying the Cordero bandwagon.

    In recent months, his walk ratio has spiked as his strikeout ratio has fallen, and he has become more conservative at the plate, and his OPS has risen drastically over the past few months (.688 in June, .777 in July, and an incredible 1.343 until August 10th, when he had yet to record a strikeout).

    His defensive mold has begun to draw comparisons to Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz, and his offensive numbers have improved greatly since the All-Star Break.

    Don’t be surprised if Cordero has the New York Mets starting catching job locked by next season.

First Base: Zach Lutz

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    Even though Ike Davis basically has first base locked in for the New York Mets in the foreseeable future, they have a young prospect by the name of Zach Lutz that could eventually give him a run for his money.

    Lutz, who also plays third base, has been compared to Lucas Duda in that his power is borderline legendary and that is his greatest asset.

    According to Amazin' Avenue, he has one of the best all-around bats in the organization and should be considered a sleeper for the team. His power numbers have been successful at the AA level, and he continues to hit for big numbers under a professional contract.

    Even after missing two months with a broken foot, Lutz hit 17 home runs for Binghamton last season. He has been able to draw walks, and regularly play third base for the Buffalo Bisons in AAA.

    The 6’1”, 25-year-old corner infielder is actually a very valuable player to any minor league organization, and could have already been given an opportunity at the major league level had it not been for Wright and Davis blocking him. If he continues to develop, expect him to be a trade chip that the Mets can sell off in the near future.

Second Base: Reese Havens

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    In 2008, the Mets had two first-round picks. The first went to current Mets star Ike Davis. The other went to Mets top prospect Reese Havens.

    The Mets have been very thin at second base for as long as this decade can show, and their long-term solution is absolutely found in Reese Havens.

    The South Carolina stud would have ideally been called up to the show by now, but injuries have created setbacks for him as many have praised his well-rounded approach at the plate.

    Hardball Times has him as their second highest rated Mets prospect, and although even they admit that this might be aggressive, he is the type of player who could reach that ceiling.

    While some feel like Jordany Valdespin has taken over as the highest rated Mets second base prospect, I still like the potential that I’ve seen in Reese Havens. I see him as a grade B talent with somewhat strong injury risk.

Third Base: Aderlin Rodriguez

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    Aderlin Rodriguez, 19, shows a lot of promise at the plate.

    Rodriguez has cracked the Mets’ top 10 prospects lists for the Hardball Times, ESPN, MinorLeagueBaseball.com and BaseballAmerica.

    When he was 18 years old, he made his first real professional impact for his Kingsport team as he crushed 13 home runs and posted an impressive .240 ISO. Amazin' Avenue, which has Rodriguez as their sixth highest rated Mets prospect, says he has the highest power potential for the team and could hit 30-plus homers in the future.

    Rodriguez is very athletic, comes from the Dominican Republic, and at 6’3”, still has a lot of room to grow.

    He is far from ready, and may have suffered a bit of a setback in Class-A Savannah this season as his batting average has dipped to .222, but his power remains intact as he has slugged 17 dingers already.

    BaseballAmerica calls Rodriguez the Mets’ best power prospect, but many agree that his fielding and work ethic has severe room for improvement. He has a strong arm, and some feel that he is actually better off as a first basemen.

    If Wright were to ever leave the team, expect “the new A-Rod” to be a serviceable replacement with huge upside.

Shortstop: Wilmer Flores

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    Here’s a reason to believe in Wilmer Flores: not only was he ESPN Insider Keith Law’s top-rated Mets talent at 48th overall going into the season, but he also happens to be a (very recent) 20 years old. With every spotlight in the world shining on Jose Reyes this offseason, the shortstop position will be in serious question for the foreseeable future if the Mets prove to be unable to sign the coveted free agent.

    While many do not trust current replacement Ruben Tejada (67-for-239 in his professional at-bats this season), the Mets' highest rated prospect is shortstop Wilmer Flores.

    Flores, born in Venezuela, signed his first professional contract in 2007, and last season, his power nearly doubled his numbers from the 2009 season. He has good size, good size, quick hands, hits as a pure hitter, and a short swing. On the field, he has a strong arm but limited range due to relatively slow foot speed.

    Many feel that, at 6’4”, he could end up at first base or in the outfield, but if Jose Reyes leaves town, Flores could be the best available replacement along the road. He’s been dominating his opposition, and last season even performed better at high-A St. Lucie than he did at the lower level Savannah.

    With his ability to hit better pitching, ScoutingBook.com calls him "elite." Flores has been featured in the top-100 prospect list for ScoutingBook, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.

    It’s safe to say that Wilmer Flores could very well be the real deal for an MLB career.

Outfield: Brandon Nimmo

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    Brandon Nimmo, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, is 6’3” and weighs 190 lbs. He was the Mets' first overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft, and recently signed for $2.1 million. He was one of 19 rookies that the Mets signed this August, which is very impressive considering they only had 21 picks.

    Nimmo is 18 years old, was the 13th overall pick in the draft, and impressed first impressed scouts on a considerable level when he won the MVP of the Under Armor All-American Game at Wrigley Field last August. In the game, he went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI, and two runs scored, and Baseball America listed him as the second best high school athlete in the draft.

    Amazin Avenue is very high on the 18-year-old, as they point to his athleticism as a point of note for Nimmo. He has long arms, long legs, above average speed, shows potential opposite field power. He has strong hands, sees the ball well, and should develop into his body as his time in the minors progresses.

    Mets blogger Andy Martino tweeted that Paul DePodesta said that they wanted the pick with the biggest impact, not the safest pick.

    In Brandon Nimmo, they could be getting a very high profile player. In rookie ball at the Gulf Coast League, he hit two home runs with an OPS of .761. My neighbor, Robert Gsellman, who played alongside Nimmo in the GCL, says that Nimmo is legit, and calls him the "next Hunter Pence."

Outfield: Kirk Nieuwenhuis

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    If I were to pick my overall favorite thing about Kirk Nieuwenhuis, it would probably be that his name is Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Isn’t that every baseball fan’s dream? Getting to wear a jersey that reads “Nieuwenhuis” on the back of it? How many times can I say “Nieuwenhuis” before it stops making me feel so giddy?

    The 23-year-old outfielder has a high potential for success with the ball club, and was recently ranked the fifth best overall Mets prospect by ESPN’s Keith Law. Perhaps even more impressive, he has remained on the list by MetsMerized Online, which recently dropped Aderlin Rodriguez, Fernando Martinez and Reese Havens from their list.

    Nieuwenhuis, which I’m finally getting used to remembering how to spell, is currently playing AAA ball in Buffalo, and is coming off of a season in which he hit 16 home runs at Binghamton last year, and his 53 extra base hits were leading the league before he was promoted.

    The California-born outfielder who stands at 6’3” and weighs 215 lbs., comes from Santa Monica, California and already has 44 home runs total in minors. He’s athletic, looks the part, was a two-sport athlete in high school, and has the potential for becoming a 20-20 guy when he gets the opportunity in the majors.

    He has average, power, speed, work ethic, and could be a viable replacement for the hole that Carlos Beltran left in the outfield.

Outfield: Cesar Puello

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    Cesar Puello is the Mets' highest-rated international outfielder that the Mets have, and shows a lot of promise with his speed and his bat.

    At age 19, he played ball at Savannah and had an impressive second-half of the season (.853 OPS) with 45 steals, which led the organization.

    His play is consistent, and although he lacks power, he is quick and makes up for it on the base paths.

    Puello is a five-tool player, is developing his power numbers, and is being called the most athletic player in the Mets organization. He has a very strong arm and looks to be the future starting right fielder for the Mets.

    One of his more impressive features is his ability to take a walk (32 walks, 22 hit batsmen in 404 at-bats in 2010).

    So long as his plate discipline continues to improve, many will be very impressed with the high ceiling of this athletic young outfielder.

Starting Pitcher: Matt Harvey

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    As I mentioned in my slide about Wilmer Flores, there are very few people in the sports writing world that I trust with MLB prospects more than I trust Keith Law.

    So when Keith Law recently moved Matt Harvey up to No. 26 overall on his top-100, I had to pay attention to why. As a Mets fan, I was incredibly excited to see Harvey leap from 83 to 26, and the 6’4” righty seems to have the makings of a top MLB pitching talent.

    Law says that Harvey is throwing up to 97 MPH right now, and has the potential to throw “three above-average secondary pitches.” To me, that speaks volumes for his staying ability in the MLB as he has an arsenal of weapons that can keep him around for as long as his arm allows.

    Even before the Carlos Beltran trade, Law had Harvey ranked above newly acquired Mets pitcher Zach Wheeler, who is listed at No. 31 and could see time as a reliever in the MLB.

    Harvey, who is 22 years old, is the third highest rated prospect in the Mets organization according to Baseball-Intellect, and has enjoyed success in St. Lucie, where he posted a 2.37 ERA with a 92:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, Harvey looks to take over as the Mets top pitching prospect as he has already been featured in baseball's international Future's Game. The Mets regard Harvey as their best pitching talent since Mike Pelfrey, and with regards to Jennry Mejia and Zach Wheeler, I’m beginning to feel the same way.

    Harvey currently plays AA ball in Binghamton under Manager Wally Backman, and according to Paul DePodesta, “has certainly met even the highest expectations for what he might do this year.” The Mets are being smart, conserving his arm, and will not add him to the major league roster as they expand for the end of the season.

    As someone who once put Mejia in front of Harvey, I’ve recently been changing gears and feel that, with Mejia, Familia, Harvey and Wheeler, the Mets could slowly be creating a bit of a pitching dynasty if the players pan out to their potential.