The New Top Ten
1) Carlos Gomez
Gomez jumps to the top of the list with his admirable play on the big league level. The numbers will not tell the entire story of his time with the Mets as you had to see him play. His defense was great, his arm was filthy, his speed is Reyes-esque, and his bat looked lively. He seems to swing for the fences at all times, but he looks like the real deal. He also showed that he needs more work and with his lost time this year he needs more time in the minors to start '08. However, there is no reason to think he will not be ready for the bigs in late '08 or be there in case Alou goes down (the Mets will pick up Alou's option).
2) Fernando Martinez
It is still a lot of projection and upside with him and though some are disappointed in Fernando so far, he is doing impressive things at his age. In his first year in pro ball he did a lot of things right and followed that up with a great showing in the Arizona Fall League. He started off hitting well in AA, though with little power, and went down with another freakish injury. His biggest problem is all the time he has sat out with annoying injuries hampering his much needed development time. While the Mets wanted him ready for 2009, it would be a more conservative estimate and probably beneficial to target him for a spot in the bigs in 2010.
3) Phil Humber
Phil has done well for his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He is on the leaderboard in plenty of categories in the PCL and has kept his walks down. A 3.25 K/BB ratio and a 1.13 WHIP is very encouraging and a power pitcher with a 12-6 curveball would provide a nice change of pace in the Mets rotation. Of course there are no spots for him this year, but he should have an opportunity to fight for a rotation spot in 2008.
4) Deolis Guerra
Like Fernando, it is a lot of projection with him. He has done some really impressive things at his age in pro ball and has been reported to pick up some velocity on his fastball this year. He already has the makings for a plus change and if he really did pick up some velocity on his fastball, he has the ingredients to be a front line starter. He just needs to get his curveball to be a usable pitch to keep hitters honest. Deolis is pitching in St. Lucie at this point and with Pelfrey, Humber, and Mulvey ahead of him, there is no reason to rush him. At this pace he should be ready for big league action in 2010.
5) Mike Pelfrey
I've spoke about him a lot so here so it will not kill anyone to read some more. Whether it is mental or mechanical is anyone's guess, but he is struggling. His secondary stuff is horrible despite him breaking out some really impressive changes and sliders occasionally and his command is not pretty. He seems to nibble too much and runs up high pitch counts instead of attacking hitters. He continually gets himself behind hitters and therefore into trouble. If he can get his change-up, which is more advanced than his slider, to click and stop nibbling, he can probably start getting big league hitters out. Until then, he is useless as a starter.
6) Francisco Pena
Upside, upside, upside. Until he proves he is a bust, he will be a highly regarded as a prospect. He has a good bat, good catching skills, and big league blood lines. His stats might not look good, but few catchers jump into full season ball at his age and that is just an impressive feat in itself and he should most likely repeat Savannah again next year. After next season, he should be moving up one level per year with 2012 as his target for being in the bigs and he will still be at the ripe old age of 22 for the entire regular season of baseball.
7) Kevin Mulvey
He is the only guy on the B-Mets with an ERA under 4.00 and has certainly passed his first test of his first full pro season. He owns four solid pitches with a low 90's fastball. He is never going to make scouts drool or make his way to the top of any prospects lists, but he has the ability and he has the repertoire to succeed at the highest level. He is precisely the type of pitcher that Shea (and hopefully Citi Field) will make look better than they probably are and I have high hopes for Mulvey. He should be ready by mid 2008 should the need arise.
8) Jon Niese
The hard throwing lefty is having rough season statistically. He is getting hit pretty hard in a pitcher's league but the big positive here is that he drastically cut down on his walks, which was his biggest issue in the past. His strikeouts are down substantially, but that could be a product of him throwing more strikes and pitching to contact rather than striking batters out. He should still be moving up to AA next season despite a less than stellar ERA and WHIP as long as he does not implode during the final weeks of the season. He is still 20 years old and a bit unrefined so I would not expect him to be ready for the bigs until mid 2010. Luckily the Mets have plenty of depth so he should not get rushed and should have all the development time he needs.
Here is where it gets dicey. If Eddie Kunz and Brandon Efferson had signed, I would have slid them right into the top ten with Kunz sliding into the 8th spot and Efferson sliding into the tenth spot. Though they will most likely sign, they have not yet and I have to play by the rules.
9) Scott Moviel
Scott was the second round pick this year for the Mets and was signed for $414,000. He is gigantic and he has an arm with big potential. He is pitching in the Gulf Coast League and the early returns are good. He has a 2.12 ERA, .219 BAA, and fourteen K's in seventeen innings. He has as much upside as any pitcher in the system and could move up quickly. If all goes well this season he could find himself pitching for Savannah next year in his first full season of pro ball. His target would be 2012 if everything goes well and he continues to develop.
10) Nathan Vineyard
Big Nate was the Mets second pick in the compensation round of the 2007 draft and signed for nearly $700,000. He is a lefty who throws in the low 90's with a nice slider. He has gotten knocked around so far giving up twelve runs in 13.1 innings but he also managed to strike out sixteen batters so far. He is getting hit to hard and giving up to many fly balls, but it is still early and it would be silly to judge any rookie in pro ball on such a small body of work. His target would be 2012 barring injury and could be moved through the system alongside fellow draftee Scott Moviel.
The issue I see with the top ten is there are three teenage pitchers, another twenty year old pitcher, and two college ones who have not pitched as well as many would have expected. With young arms, there is so much that can go wrong and so many things that can derail their progress. Also, it is rare that you can look at a guy and predict greatness like in the cases of Felix Hernandez or Homer Bailey (who can still have many things go wrong) so you never know what you truly have until they get closer to the bigs. When four pitchers are at High-A or lower, there is a ton of projection and a ton that could go wrong.
Throw on top of that Fernando, who has a lot more developing to do, Francisco having a ton of work to put in and a hard road to the bigs, Pelfrey and Humber not meeting expectations, and Gomez still being raw and you have a potentially explosive top ten. The likely scenario is a few make an impact with the downside being everyone burning out and the Mets getting a few middle relievers and corner outfielders who do not hit enough to keep their day jobs. However, the upside there is pretty immense as well. I would prefer some more sure bets, but the Mets youth and cash on the big league level certainly make things more palatable.
Dustin Martin, Sean Henry, Josh Stinson, Mike Carp, Jose Castro, Bobby Parnell, Tobi Stoner, and Brahiam Maldanado.
Mike Carp had been injured this season, but after a solid spring with the big club, expectations were high for him to make the next jump. That never happened and though he has not been horrible, he drops from the top ten it wasn't all that hard of a decision. His fifteen walks and sixteen extra base hits in 54 games in a hitter's league is certainly disheartening for Carp fans. Not to add fuel onto the fire, but he's hitting .140/.173/.140 line against lefties.
Martin, Henry, and Maldonado are solid and have been impressive at times, but I'll go with the young arms over guys who are slightly old for their leagues any day of the week. That being said, I do like them and there is value there. Henry is the best of the group and his athleticism is well known, but he needs to continue to add some pop and follow up his solid year in St. Lucie with a slightly better year in Binghamton to take that next step.
Bobby Parnell gained some velocity and is not too far behind Mulvey, but 78 baserunners in the FSL at 22 is nothing amazing. Parnell would have been #10 if Vineyard or Moviel did not sign, but they did and young unknowns with good arms and higher ceilings take precedent. Parnell still could be a #4 or #5 in the bigs if he keeps progressing, but should ultimately end up in the bullpen.
I'm still not sold on Castro. Too many singles...too little walks...too small...too many errors. He is 20 and leading the FSL in batting average so that does count for something, but he would have been in the #11 through #15 range for me and that is more of a reflection of a system that is not very deep more than anything.
Tobi Stoner is a somewhat of a cult hero amongst Met fans, but he's 22 and not doing anything special in the FSL. He has decent stuff but really is more of a middle relief prospect. He would be in the #15 to #20 range.
Josh Stinson is a decent prospect with a good sinker, but has not translated his ability into results.
Overall the Mets system is pretty much what it has been since 2003. It has some potential impact players with little depth behind them. That seems to be the Mets thing these days and although the system does have a bit more depth that it has had, it is all the difference from them being a top ten system and a bottom fifteen system. One thing that is curious is the Mets lack of Latin American signings.
Is there a dearth of talent out there? There has to be someone out there and with the Mets not exactly spending big in the past two drafts, holding steady on big league payroll, greatly increasing attendence, and their own network, it would make sense that they would be out there and active bringing in the top international talent as they did with Fernando and Deolis.
You know how Peterson preaches location and with some pitchers he tells them to take off a few mph for some location?
Well Pelfrey still has shitty location so maybe he should just throw as hard he can, taking off a few mph obviously isn't helping.
Cause I mean c'mon, throwing 92 mph just isn't that special. I'm VERY dissapointed in Pelfrey and I'm a very patient guy.
Pelfrey's fastball just has not been too special to this point which is part of the problem. He needs two very good secondary pitches to supplant his fastball whereas many said he just needs passable secondary stuff because his fastball was that good. He was supposed to throw 94 mph consistently and up to 97 while keeping it up in late innings. Now he is down to 92 to 94 mph and touching 95 mph. Could taking off a couple of notches on his fastball affect the movement?
The Mets have completely screwed up Pelfrey. They did two things to him:
(1) They flew him through the minor leagues before he had even mastered a decent offspeed pitch.
(2) Peterson tried to turn Pelfrey into a sinker-balling, groundball inducing machine, by asking him to take a couple of miles off his fastball and pound the bottom of the zone with sinkers. And oh yeah, even though that is not how you have ever pitched in your life, learn how to do that at the major league level.
It's nearly a crime the way they have mishandled Pelfrey. The worst thing the Mets could do is trade him now that they have submarined his value. The prudent thing to do is slow down and allow him to develop this year at AAA, and stop yanking him up and down, and certainly don't move him to the pen.
Be very wary of giving up on young pitchers. That's why I actually sort of liked what Pelfrey did when he came back to the bigs this last time. He was letting the fastball go at 95-97 and getting more swings and misses with it. The problem is, this is not Peterson's philosophy and they are going to butt heads on Pelfrey's approach. Pelfrey wants to be a power guy and Peterson stresses efficiency. It's not a good mix.
Pelfrey will thrive is he is traded somewhere and gets with a pitching coach that can exploit his strengths. I like Peterson a lot but he is screwing Pelfrey up.
Seems like what the Pirates did to Perez in a way. His fastball will induce groundballs, but that does not mean he should be confused with a sinker-ball pitcher who's job is to do only that and pitch to contact. He needs to simply miss more bats and worry less about groundballs since he doesn't have sinker per se, but a fastball with heavy sink. There is a big difference between what he throws and what Lowe and Webb throw.
"I said to Jerry [bench coach Jerry Manuel], 'He's going to get a hit here. He's going to come through and do it for his dad.' I get those feelings sometimes--and sure enough, the next pitch he got a hit on. So I'm happy for him because he's been in Triple-A and he's been around a while."
--Mets manager Willie Randolph on Chip Ambres' game-winning hit.
"I think my presence will help there," Alou said. "I think my bat will help in the lineup. I know I am not 100 per cent there yet, it is going to take a while to get my swing back."
While Alou's swing may not be completely back yet, he believes his quadriceps is.
"I think I am 99 percent," said Alou, who called the injury the worst muscle pull of his career.
The thing with Alou is that his injuries are more freakish than anything at times, but it has been yet another bizarre year for him.
The club said only this much: that Martinez had thrown 50 pitches and that his next activity -- throwing batting practice, a sideline session, another simulated game or pitching in a Minor League game -- would be determined Tuesday after Martinez's condition had been re-evaluated.
I'm not really sure what time frame those next activities would occur in, but August 20th seems like an aggressive target date at this point.