A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Minor Asessments

With the recent weeks activity and some moves that will go unmentioned and some that I will mention, the Mets minor league system is extremely different from the one they had coming into the season. Prior to the start of the season, the Mets top ten farm hands looked like this according to Baseball America:

1) Kazuo Matsui
2) Scott Kazmir
3) David Wright
4) Matt Peterson
5) Lastings Milledge
6) Justin Huber
7) Bobby Keppel
8) Jeremy Griffiths
9) Victor Diaz
10) Craig Brazell

However, some trades and roster moves were made and five of the top six prospects have moved on or up and six of the top ten have moved on or up. That equates to a system devoid of many top talents. Without the signing of Philip Humber, who would instantly be the new jewel of the system, the Mets are not looking as deep as they did at the beginning of the year.

My Mets top ten prospects list is based solely on opinion and I have no actual credentials or research to back this up.

The Mets minor league system was typically heralded as one of the best not because it was so deep, but because of the number of high impact players it had. Matsui, Wright, Peterson, Huber, Kazmir, and Milledge all factored into that equation. However, only one of those impact players remains. Not all is as bleak as I lead on as Yusmiero Petit has since seen his stock rise higher than Charmin's stock after a case of dysentery breaks out across the US. He has catapulted himself into the top spot until Philip Humber is inked. Here is how it shakes out in my eyes.

1) Yusmeiro Petit: What can you say? He just defies logic and has to keep proving himself at every level. He does not have the stuff that makes scouts salivate, but he has pinpoint control and an understanding of how to pitch beyond his years makes him a very effective pitcher. Most kids his age do not have as deep as an understanding which is why Yusmeiro is way ahead of schedule. He was quoted to the other day in the paper and said "I do not have to adjust to hitters when I get promoted, they hitters have to adjust to me" (or something like that). I like that type of attitude, but we all know where cockiness can get you.

2) Lastings Milledge: Lastings was a strong candidate for #1, but his would be based solely on skills and upside and I decided to go with the man who has been putting up the #'s to back it up at #1. Lastings put up great numbers in Cap City, but has struggled in St. Lucie, which is understandable due to his age and the small sample size of minor league pitching he has seen. Lastings is the real deal and has the highest ceiling of anyone in the entire minor league system.

3) Ian Bladergroen: Ian was a 44th round pick that had a good introduction to amateur ball with the Cyclones and did well at 20 years old. He is a tad bit old for low A-ball in my opinion for a player to be considered a blue chipper, but Ian has absolutely tee'd off on everyone at that level. He hits for power and average. Unfortunately he got injured or else he may have seen some time at St. Lucie this year. Hopefully he can make some nice strides in his third year of professional ball and reach Double A at some time to put him back on a schedule that blue chip prospects should be one. A lot of people will most likely not agree with this pick since Ian has yet to put up monster numbers for an entire season, but I think he can flat out mash the ball as well as anyone in the Mets system and I believe he was steal for the Mets.

4) Alain Soler: Yeah, I put a guy who has never pitched before at number four. No one knows what numbers he even put up in Cuba really. The only thing that I know is that his lowest ERA in a season is 2.01. All of the rest of the info is alleged. He allegedly throws a fastball around 93 to 96 mph (Though I've read less, but I'll take the higher end) and an alleged 88-89 mph splitter with an alleged plus changeup. He is also allegedly only 24 years old, which means he can anywhere from 24 to 40 years old. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, and if the above information is true, especially his age, I do not see why he would not be the second best pitching prospect in the Mets system immediately. Those are some big ifs though. The track record for Cuban and Dominican players actually giving their real ages is not exactly impressive.

5) Bob Keppel: Although he was off to a rough start in AAA this year, he still remains a solid prospect. He is still just 22 years of age while pitching in AAA and has been solid in each of his pro stops until this year. 2003 was his best year and he compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.51 ERA at Brooklyn and a 7-4 record with a 3.04 record in AA Binghamton. This year he is getting tee'd off on with AAA hitters hitting at a .320 clip off him but he has been pitching better of late and seems to be recovering from his rough start. Due to his age and the ability he showed in the past, there is no reason he will not turn it around in 2005 barring any injury.

Here is where it gets a bit muddier in terms of prospect placement. A good argument can be made for a number of players and I'm sure everyone has their own dark horse favorites that they think should make the list whether it is Bannister, McLane, Hyde, Yunir Garcia, McGinley etc. I take into consideration people’s age, overall tools, and how far from the majors they are to determine the rest. Here is how it shakes out for me:

6) Victor Diaz: Who does not like this guys bat? Coming into this year, he had a .318 career batting average and has won multiple batting crowns at the minor league level. Vitcor started off his first campaign at AAA a bit slow but has since recovered to a .295 average while blasting 19 homeruns and driving in 73 RBIs. Unfortunately, he glove is his achilles heal. His fielding and his lack of patience at the plate is something that prevents him from being a blue chip prospect. He may ultimately be best suited for an American League team where he can serve as a DH/OF.

7) Aarom "Or is my name Aaron" Baldiris: Aarom/n is a slick fielding third baseman that does not hit many homeruns. He came into this year with a .323 career batting average and a .399 OBP%. He has only his nine career homeruns and has a career high of six homeruns in one season. For this reason he may ultimately end up at second base but his overall skills are undeniable. He can also steal the occasional base. If he can develop a little power, this guy would be a legitimate prospect that would be coveted by many teams.

8) Craig Brazell: Craig has been the Mets biggest power hitting prospect over the past few years. This year is no different as he leads the entire minor league system with homeruns again. He has belted 20 homeruns and knocked in 60 RBIs. He has been mired in a bit of slump lately and his average his dipped to .267. If the Mets fail to land a first baseman in the off-season, expect Craig to be competing for a job on the ML roster next spring. He should get a chance to show something when he gets called up in September as part of the expanded roster.

9) Neal Musser: Neal is recovering nicely from a 2003 season which was his worst year since becoming a professional ball player. He is currently on the AAA roster and has posted a 4.00 ERA in just three starts and has 2-1 record. He also gets brownie points for being a lefty. An entire year at AAA and he should be ready to start seeing some major league action in 2006.

10) Prentice Redman: It is now shit or get off the pot for Prentice. He certainly has tools. Redman is good defender, can steal some bases, and has shown a little pop in his bat. Problem is, he has yet to have all-around solid numbers outside of his time spent in Binghamton. While he does not project to a star, he can still be a useful ML player as a 4th outfielder-type. Prentice turns 25 this year old this month and has to start making better strides at the AAA level if he is going to be considered a major league prospect. He is at the age that he will be too old to be considered a real prospect unless he picks up his production.

Honorable mention:
Scott Hyde, Gabby Hernandez, Brett Harper, Mike Jacbos, Miguel Pinango, Yunir Garcia and Matthew Lindstrom.

Once the Mets sign Humber and if they end up signing Durkin they will be in better shape in terms of pitching depth. But once again, the Mets system does not have too much depth in terms of position prospects with the loss of David Wright being promoted and Justin Huber being jettisoned off to another team’s system. However, if the Mets can somehow bring in Kendry Morales, who is the 21 year old 1B/OFer Cuban defector, they will take another step forward in recovering from all the loses they absorbed this year in the minor league system. I have no idea if Kendry is even on their radar or if he is any good, but he sure cannot hurt since it costs them nothing in terms of prospects. It only costs money and with the Mets payroll hovering around $85,000,000, I think Wilpon can afford to open the purse strings for Morales and I doubt he would break the bank.

* * *

  • In a game which Piazza, Matusi, and Phillips were all not available, the Mets came up big. David Wright, who went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, especially came up big and had some huge at bats at the plate including a homerun to put the icing on the cake. Wright has better at bats than a lot of guys who have been in the league for ten years. Being able to take a pitch and work the count may not make you a superstar, but it sure does help when you are able to work and wait for your pitch. On top of being able to work the count (and many times from 0-2 back up to 3-2), he chokes up and cuts down on his swing with two strikes and tries to get the ball in play. It is hard not to like what he has showed so far. He also knows how to carry himself off the field. Did anyone hear David Wright on the post game show on WFAN last night? For a 21 year old kid, I cannot say enough how mature he is. He has a lot of composure and says the right things. He is going to be a nice fixture for years to come at Shea.

    The other 21 year old did not do so bad himself. Jose went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs as well and it was good to see him leg out a triple.

  • Tom Glavine was apparently in a Taxi accident yesterday. He lost his two front teeth and cut his lip. He was heading back from LaGuardia to Shea Stadium during the mishap. The only thing I know is, if I was making $12,000,000 per year, I would not be taking any yellow cabs.

  • Bonds has 13 straight 30 homerun seasons. However, his current stat that is baffling me is that fact that he has 23 K's against 157 walks. The man is on pace to K only 33 times while knocking 43 homeruns out of the park and walking 223 times. Yes, I understand that he does not get as many official at bats due to the walks which helps to hold down his K totals, but what he is doing is still amazing. During his career, he has only struck out over 100 times once, and he barely topped 100 with 102 during his rookie campaign. He has only topped 90 four times in his 19 year career. For a guy who may break the all time homerun record and go down as the most prolific homerun hitter ever, those numbers are staggering.

    Pujols is another oddity in the making. In his four year career he has never struck out over 100 times and has not topped 70 since his rookie year. He has a long way to go to prove he can stay healthy and do this for as long as Bonds has done it, but it is sure going to be fun watching him.

  • Beltran to the Bronx? The rumblings persist. I had no idea there was such a love fest with Beltran and Bernie. Shit, maybe if he gets signed, A-Rod and Jeter can double date with Bernie and Beltran.

  • David Waldstein has some suggestions on how to fix the Mets:

    1. Move Mike Piazza back to catcher
    2. Assess Art Howe
    3. Switch Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes now
    4. If Matsui can't -- or won't -- play second this year, then try to trade him to Seattle for Bret Boone
    5. Trade Tom Glavine

    His suggestions are good and fine, but who the hell wants Bret Boone? He's batting .254 with 14 homers and is 35. That notion is just silly. It actually makes the Mets worse in my opinion and just makes and old team older.

    The trading Tom Glavine to replenish the farm system is another odd one because two of the three teams he mentions do not the prospects to do any replenishing. Atlanta has some studs, but I do not see them parting with them to get Glavine's $12,000,000 per year salary. Besides, if the Mets are going to be good next year, I sure would not mind having Glavine’s left arm on the staff. If the Mets could dump him off and get some blue chip talent in return while bringing in someone like Odalis Perez/Pavano/Clement, I would be for it. However, that all seems unlikely.

    The others I would agree with.

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