Mets 2011 Top Prospects

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Jenrry Meji...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I was reading through some posts about the Mets top prospects and thinking about who might make an impact at the Major League level in 2011. Baseball America compiled a solid list of the top ten in the organization back in mid-December:

  1. Jenrry Mejia, rhp
  2. Wilmer Flores, ss
  3. Cesar Puello, of
  4. Matt Harvey, rhp
  5. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, of
  6. Reese Havens, 2b
  7. Lucas Duda, of/1b
  8. Fernando Martinez, of
  9. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3b
  10. Brad Holt, rhp

For Mets fans, these are mostly familiar names. We’ve already seen plenty of Mejia, Duda, and F-Mart with the Mets. Bryan Smith of FanGraphs lists Flores and Harvey as the two “must follow” prospects in the Mets system. Smith doesn’t go as deep as the Baseball America post but he does go into more detail about Flores and the lofty comparisons that have been made to Miguel Cabrera.

As far as impact in the majors this year, I think we’ll see Mejia at some point during the season again. The Mets rotation looks very questionable with Chris Young and Chris Capuano working as reclamation projects. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if one or both went down with an injury for the season. F-Mart could get another shot with the Mets too if he can stay healthy and Carlos Beltran is injured or traded during the season.

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Mets Trade for Chin-lung Hu

Chin-Lung Hu

Image via Wikipedia

The Mets announced a minor trade today with the Dodgers to acquire infielder Chin-lung Hu for Michael Antonini. We saw a bit of Hu in 2008 when the Mets were in L.A. playing the Dodgers. At the time, Hu was playing shortstop for an injured Rafael Furcal. He got into 65 games that season and looked like your typical backup middle infielder. Good glove and can’t hit. He’s a career .191 hitter in 96 big league games. That’s been a major disappointment as Hu is a .299 career hitter in the minors over parts of seven seasons.

Hu’s presence on the roster will allow the Mets greater flexibility with Ruben Tejada. Sandy Alderson has talked about wanting Tejada to get more minor league at-bat’s this season. Hu will compete for playing time at second base with Brad Emaus, Luis Castillo, Luis Hernandez, and Justin Turner.

The contract situation for Hu is favorable as well. He only has 0.153 MLB service time and won’t be arbitration eligible until 2012. He isn’t eligible for free agency until 2016.

Michael Antonini rose to Triple-A Buffalo last season but his 4.49 ERA was disappointing. He was taken in the 18th round of the 2007 draft the first two seasons were impressive for the lefty starter. But his 5.74 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2009 and his aforementioned 2010 ERA were cause for concern. He certainly wasn’t looking to be a factor at the Major League level in 2011.

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2011 Critical for Mets’ Reese Havens

Reese Havens
Image by Eric Kilby via Flickr

The 2008 draft saw the Mets with two first round picks. Omar Minaya went after seasoned college bats who could make an impact in the immediate future. He took a first baseman with doubles power in Ike Davis. The Mets believed those doubles would soon develop into home runs. They also took a gritty shortstop with a left-handed stroke that made him a target for Theo Epstein in Boston. Reese Havens was drafted and, upon his move to second, it was said he would become the top second baseman in the system.

The 2011 Mets field a team that is set at every position with only one exception: second base. The farm system does not have a second baseman ready to seize the position. Ruben Tejada can field the position but his bat needs tuning at Triple-A. Daniel Murphy has been experimenting for a second time at second base. Murphy has proven he can handle big league pitching, but his fielding leaves much to be desired. Up the middle defense is crucial to a baseball team and especially a sinker baller like Mike Pelfrey. Eventually, Murphy’s experience at different positions could make him a nice utility player but as a regular he would be exposed. The Mets also have Justin Turner who came to the team last year but didn’t set himself apart. Continue reading “2011 Critical for Mets’ Reese Havens”

Mets Report Mailbag: Nelfi Zapata

Appalachian League
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Here’s a Thanksgiving mailbag for you… Reader Danny Donovan wrote: What are your thoughts of prospect Nelfi Zapata?

To answer this question I decided that I haven’t kept up with the Appalachian League enough to answer this question thoughtfully. So I went to Nick Migliore from the Get It Right baseball blog. Nick is a faithful follower of Mets prospects and a tremendous writer. Here are Nick’s thoughts on Nelfi Zapata:

Nelfi Zapata is a catcher in the Mets’ system that was drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 June draft. As an 18-year old in the Gulf Coast League, Zapata had a decent debut, hitting an overall line of .261/.341/.370 with 1 homerun in 135 plate appearances. This year however, Zapata hit a less-than-stellar .247/.327/.312 with 2 homeruns in 208 plate appearances as a 19 year old in the hitter-friendly Appalachian League. While the numbers this past season weren’t very good, the plate discipline numbers were a definite positive sign. Zapata walked 8.1% of the time in the GCL in 2009 and he was able to maintain a similar walk rate (8.2%) in the Appy League this season. More encouragingly, he slashed his strikeout rate from 21.8% in 2009 to 14.6% in 2010. While Zapata is still very raw, its good to know that catchers who are willing to take walks and put the ball in play at a decent rate will have a spot on a big league roster, so hes on the right track.

One area of improvement, however, should be the power. It seems as if Zapata focused more on putting the ball in play and making contact in 2010, which reflected in his lowered strikeout rate (as noted above), but it also lowered his power numbers, going from a .109 ISO* in 2009 to .065 ISO in 2010. With that said, Zapata has been lauded for his power potential, which makes one believe that he can up those power numbers the more he develops as a hitter. Another area of improvement will have to be his defense; Zapata’s caught stealing% was strong in 2009 (45%) but dropped to a rather poor 21% in 2010. He also has major issues with passed balls – 12 in 2009, 16 in 2010. However, its important to reiterate that hes raw, and these are simply areas for development, not negative things that will stick with him his entire career. If Zapata taps into his power potential and cleans up his defense, hes undoubtedly going to shoot up the Mets’ prospect list. But for now, hes just another raw guy to keep an eye on and let develop.

*For those curious: ISO stands for “isolated power”, which is a good measure of a player’s power output instead of just looking at somewhat-deceiving stats such as homeruns or slugging percentage. The formula is SLG% minus AVG.

Mets’ Managerial Possibilities for 2011

28 Feb 2002 : Manager Bobby Valentine  of the New York mets during the Spring Training game against the St.Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals won 5-2. DIGTAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/Getty Images

http://view.picapp.com//JavaScripts/OTIjs.jsWith the inevitable end of Jerry Manuel’s tenure in blue and orange looming down the homestretch of another dreadful Mets season, the question on every fan’s mind is who will be his successor come 2011. There are the obvious and popular “sexy” choices to take reigns, as well as the low profile names who have had success within the organization. Here’s my take on the possible candidates:

Bobby Valentine
The Mets manager from the end of the 1996 season through 2002, Valentine has proved he is capable of bringing rejuvenation to the franchise, but the question is at how high a price it would cost this time around? Bobby V. is a New York guy with a New York attitude and exercises the underdog persona that the Mets fan base can cling to. On paper, the teams he brought to the playoffs in ’99 and 2000 were very ordinary. However, he got the most out of his rosters and put a scrappy, competitive, and excuse-free product on the field. There has been a lot of speculation about how interested the organization is in bringing Valentine back to Queens. We have reason to believe that Mets people were in his ear when he bowed out of the Marlins managerial candidacy earlier in the season. Continue reading “Mets’ Managerial Possibilities for 2011”

2010 Mets Lack Accountability

July 23, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Mets Luis Castillo  in action during the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Mets defeated the Dodgers, 6-1..Josh Thompson/CSM.

http://view.picapp.com//JavaScripts/OTIjs.jsSaturday night’s game had about as much intrigue as watching coffee brew. However, I continued to watch because of an ensuing conversation between Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen. The story started with an anecdote about Gregg Jefferies and the ’88 club. The newcomer to the big leagues had an impressive short stint in the majors in ’87. Apparently, he was already acting like a perennial All-Star, much to the dismay of the actual All-Stars. Jefferies did not want his bats grouped together with the rest of the team’s bats. Instead of scoffing at this request by the young player, the Mets happily indulged him. Jefferies gave a veteran request from a rookie mouth and was obliged. Keith told of the “team justice” which occurred after a loss. A teammate noticed the equipment manager packing the separated bats and he took the bag and hurled the bats onto the floor. Hernandez laughed but then continued on about his old Cardinal club. The team he broke in with had arguably the most intense and intimidating pitcher in history: Bob Gibson. He insisted the consequences of Gregg Jefferies’ diva request would have been swift or that Jefferies would not have had the nerve to request that in St. Louis at all. This lack of accountability is a recurring theme for the Mets. Let’s look at some of the 2010 examples. Continue reading “2010 Mets Lack Accountability”

Video: Mets’ Fernando Martinez on Call Up

Here’s some video from ESPN with Fernando Martinez being called up to the Mets to replace Jesus Feliciano on the Major League roster. He talks about  getting scratched from the Triple-A Buffalo lineup on Friday but not being told what was happening. He didn’t know if he was being traded or called up to the Mets.

http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf