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December 22, 2010

Future Shock

New York Mets Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: The new administration has much work to do.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Jenrry Mejia, RHP
Four-Star Prospects
2. Matt Harvey, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
3. Wilmer Flores, SS
4. Cesar Puello, OF
5. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
6. Reese Havens, 2B
7. Fernando Martinez, OF
8. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B
9. Cory Vaughn, OF
Two-Star Prospects
10. Lucas Duda, 1B/OF
11. Darrell Ceciliani, OF

Nine More:
12. Juan Urbina, LHP: This Venezuelan has impressive projection, but there is still a wide gap between ceiling and reality.
13. Jeurys Familia, RHP: One of the strongest arms in the system, Familia is far more thrower than pitcher.
14. Robert Carson, RHP: Like Familia, Carson impresses with raw stuff, but the results are rarely there.
15. Brad Holt, RHP: Scouts still love his size, athleticism, and arsenal, but his command has regressed heavily.
16. Erik Goeddel, RHP: The over-slot draftee has a big frame to go with a plus fastball and even better slider.
17. Akeel Morris, RHP: A 10th-round pick, Morris could look like a steal with more strikes.
18. Dillon Gee, RHP: This gutsy battler has consistently put up numbers, but scouts doubt it will play in the big leagues.
19. Jefry Marte, 3B: He's an advanced hitter for his young age, but lacks power and a defensive home.
20. Matt Den Dekker, OF: This fifth-rounder is a defensive whiz who shocked with his bat in his pro debut. He could move up this list.

1. Jenrry Mejia, RHP
DOB
: 10/11/89
Height/Weight: 6-0/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 3.00 ERA (3.0-4-1-3) at Rookie (1 G); 0.00 ERA (4.0-1-0-7) at High-A (1 G); 1.32 ERA (27.1-19-14-26) at Double-A (6 G); 1.12 ERA (8.0-5-1-9) at Triple-A (1 G); 4.62 ERA (39.0-46-20-22) at MLB (33 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: A power right-hander, Mejia surprised many by making the big-league bullpen out of spring training, but returned to the minors to be developed as a starter in the second half following a bout of shoulder soreness.
The Good: Mejia has pure power stuff. He generates both strikeouts and plenty of ground balls with a heavy 94-97 mph fastball that features natural sinking action. He'll flash a plus power curveball, but his changeup is his best secondary offering, with plenty of deception and late fade. His wide shoulders and thick lower half give scouts fewer concerns then they have for most shorter-than-average pitchers.
The Bad: There are some concerns about Mejia's ability to handle a full-season workload, as he's missed considerable time each of the last two years and has yet to cross the triple-digit hump as far as innings. He can fall in love with his fastball and needs to work more on pitch sequencing as opposed to just blowing every hitter away. His velocity comes with some effort, and he can overthrow and lose his command.
Ephemera: During his six outings for Double-A Binghamton, Mejia did not allow a run after the second inning, a span of 14 2/3 innings.
Perfect World Projection: Mejia has the stuff to pitch toward the front of a rotation, and that's where the Mets will try to develop him from here on out.
Fantasy Impact: He's an early pick as a starter, and the door still isn't completely closed on him returning to late-inning relief.
Path to the Big Leagues: The most important thing for Mejia is innings, and he'll get those as the ace of the Triple-A Buffalo rotation, with the Mets hoping he can return for a September call up in preparation for a 2012 rotation spot.
ETA: Late 2011.

2. Matt Harvey, RHP
DOB
: 3/27/89
Height/Weight: 6-4/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, University of North Carolina
2010 Stats: Did Not Play
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: Seen as a potential elite pick three years ago, Harvey saved his draft status with a strong junior year of college.
The Good: Harvey has a nearly perfect pitcher's frame and the stuff to go with it. His low-to-mid-90s fastball is a dominant offering, and he was clocked as high as 98 mph last spring. He gets good spin on a power breaking ball that gives him a second plus offering when he's on. He's unflappable on the mound and earns praise for his aggressive pitching style.
The Bad: Harvey struggled with his mechanics in college, and his multi-part delivery leads to inconsistent release points, which leads to corresponding control issues. His changeup is a below-average pitch that will need coaching and consistent work. He has no history of arm issues, but shouldered a heavy workload last spring.
Ephemera: One of Harvey's best performances of the year actually upset scouts; while he struck out 15 batters in a complete game win over Clemson, North Carolina coach Mike Fox left his ace in for an unacceptable 157 pitches.
Perfect World Projection: Harvey has star potential, but with his inconsistent track record, it comes with a healthy dose of risk.
Fantasy Impact: If he reaches his potential, he'll definitely deliver ERA and strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: Harvey is advanced enough to begin his pro career at High-A St. Lucie, and he's talented enough to be at Double-A by season's end.
ETA: 2013.

3. Wilmer Flores, SS
DOB
: 8/6/91
Height/Weight: 6-3/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Venezuela
2010 Stats: .278/.342/.433 at Low-A (66 G); .300/.324/.415 at High-A (67 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/speed

Year in Review: The best pure hitter in the system proved himself at both A-levels as a teenager.
The Good: Flores can hit, period. With plenty of bat speed, strong wrists, and outstanding hand-eye coordination, he consistently puts the fat part of the bat on the ball and uses all fields. He projects for average-to-plus power down the road, and showed some signs in 2010 of learning how to recognize pitches he can drive. He has very good defensive fundamentals and an above-average arm.
The Bad: It's impossible to find any talent evaluator who believes Flores can remain up the middle. He's already a below-average runner, and his lower half continues to thicken. He has the tools to play third base, but will need to fill out his power projection to be an above-average player there. His hitting ability gets the better of him at times, as he can become an inpatient hacker at times.
Ephemera: Flores' first 18 hits for High-A St. Lucie were all singles, but more than 35 percent of his hits following the streak went for extra bases.
Perfect World Projection: He's going to hit, but where he ends up defensively will ultimately define his value.
Fantasy Impact: Good average, some power, but right now, we don't know who his peer group is. If he can stick in the infield at third base, he should be valuable.
Path to the Big Leagues: Still just 19, there's no need to rush Flores. He'll return to High-A in 2011, but could move up once the weather warms if he's still hitting.
ETA: 2013.

4. Cesar Puello, OF
DOB
: 4/1/91
Height/Weight: 6-2/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .292/.375/.359 at Low-A (109 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/defense

Year in Review: This teenage Dominican recovered from a slow start to put up impressive numbers at Low-A.
The Good: Puello is arguably the best athlete in the system. He's a plus-plus runner, and some scouts project some power for him down the road based on his size and strength. His arm is another plus tool, and he made some adjustments to his swing as the season went on, leading to more consistent contact.
The Bad: The debate over Puello's power is wide-ranging, as some see him becoming a real power threat, while others see a line-drive swing and more of a leadoff profile. His second-half breakthrough came with a far more aggressive approach at the plate, and he'll need to find some balance there. He's a poor defensive outfielder who needs his speed to make up for poor jumps and routes, which have so far limited him to a corner.
Ephemera: Moved around the Sand Gnats' lineup throughout the year, Puello played in double-digit games while batting second, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth in the lineup.
Perfect World Projection: If the power comes as some scouts believe, Puello could become a monster. Without it, he's a unique talent as a corner outfielder with a center fielder's skill set.
Fantasy Impact: He'll post a solid average and have plenty of stolen bases, so if the power comes, he's a monster.
Path to the Big Leagues: Puello will make his Florida State League debut just days after his 20th birthday. Even if he begins to drive more balls, it won't show up in the stat sheet until he gets to Double-A.
ETA: 2013.

5. Kirk Nieuwenhuis
DOB
: 8/7/87
Height/Weight: 6-3/210
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2008, Azusa Pacific University
2010 Stats: .289/.337/.510 at Double-A (94 G); .225/.295/.358 at Triple-A (30 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/arm

Year in Review: The system's breakout player in 2009, Captain Kirk proved it was for real while continuing to perform at the upper levels.
The Good: It's hard to find a weakness in Nieuwenhuis's game. He's a fundamentally sound hitter with gap-to-average power and average speed that should lead to home-run and stolen-base totals in the 15-20 range as a big leaguer. He's an energetic player who gets the most from his tools.
The Bad: One scout described Nieuwenhuis as “a bag full of fives,” as he doesn't have a single true plus tool. The biggest concern about his future is his ability to stay in center field, as his range falls a bit short for the position, and his arm is a tick below average. He can get a bit power hungry at times, leading to a high strikeout rate.
Ephemera: Nieuwenhuis is the highest drafted player ever out of Azusa Pacific, and no position player picked from the school has ever reached the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: If he can somehow stick in center, he's a fine everyday player. In a corner, he's more of a second-division starter or fourth outfielder on a championship-level team.
Fantasy Impact: He won't have massive numbers in any one category, but he'll certainly be well-rounded.
Path to the Big Leagues: Nieuwenhuis has proved himself at every level so far but Triple-A, where he'll return to begin the 2011 season.
ETA: Late 2011

6. Reese Havens, 2B
DOB
: 10/20/86
Height/Weight: 6-1/195
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008, University of South Carolina
2010 Stats: .281/.369/.509 at High-A (14 G); .338/.400/.662 at Double-A (18 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/defense

Year in Review: A 2008 first-round pick, Havens put up huge numbers in very small batches, as once again he was often sidelined by a variety of maladies.
The Good: Havens has the kind of power and patience rarely seen in a middle infielder. His quick, compact swing generates plenty of power, with some scouts seeing him as a Dan Uggla light-type player capable of 20-plus home runs per year. He has a good understanding of the strike zone and works the count at a big-league level.
The Bad: Havens isn't especially toolsy beyond the bat. His power-focused approach will likely lead to low batting averages, and he's a substandard runner whose range is a bit short at second base. He's played in only 152 games since signing, and needs to stay healthy to continue developing.
Ephemera: No player selected with the 897th overall pick in the draft has ever reached the big leagues, which applies to Havens as he was a 29th-round pick by the Rockies in 2005 out of Bishop England High in South Carolina, though he did not sign.
Perfect World Projection: If he can stay healthy, and that's a big if, Havens projects as a well above-average offensive second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He has rare power for a middle infielder, but he's not going to help in other categories.
Path to the Big Leagues: Havens will begin 2011 at one of the Mets' upper-level squads, and considering the big-league situation at the position, he has the ability to get to the majors in short order, but he has to stay in the lineup.
ETA: 2012.

7. Fernando Martinez, OF
DOB: 10/10/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/190
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 2005, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .267/.313/.333 at High-A (4 G); .253/.317/.455 at Triple-A (71 G); .167/.273/.167 at MLB (7 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: It was the same old thing for the former top prospect, as flashes of greatness were waylaid with another boatload of injuries.
The Good: Martinez still has the hitting tools to impress. He's strong, has plenty of bat speed, and has consistently produced as one of the youngest players at his level. His raw power is above average, and his throwing arm is also a tick above-average tool.
The Bad: Constant injuries and a more mature frame have sapped Martinez of his athleticism, as he's now a below-average runner who is limited to a corner. He remains an impatient hitter, and multiple scouts have expressed frustration as to how few adjustments he's made since his early days. At this point, he's officially earned the title of injury prone, averaging less than 80 games per season in the last five years.
Ephemera: Between his development and constant rehab assignments, 2009 is the only year Martinez did not play for either the Gulf Coast League Mets or their High-A St. Lucie team.
Perfect World Projection: He's not what he once was, but he should hit enough to be an everyday player.
Fantasy Impact: He has average and power, but the speed is long gone.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Mets aren't depending on Martinez to contribute at the big-league level in 2011, but they're open to being proven wrong should he get off to a strong start at Triple-A Buffalo.
ETA: 2011.

8. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B
DOB
: 11/18/91
Height/Weight: 6-3/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .312/.352/.556 at Rookie (61 G); .200/.333/.333 at Low-A (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: The Dominican slugger electrified the Appy League with 22 doubles and 13 home runs in just 250 at-bats.
The Good: Rodriguez is a bull of a human being, with one scouts describing him as “thick from his hair to his ankles.” He has massive raw power, especially to his pull side, and is already capable of moonshots when he crushes a mistake. Beyond the power, he's also a sound hitter who makes more contact than most young sluggers. His arm is a true plus tool in terms of both strength and accuracy.
The Bad: Rodriguez has little chance to stay at third base. He's big, slow, and still a teenager, and will likely need to slide over to first base well before he's big league-ready. He's a very aggressive hitter who sits dead red early in the count, and will need to become more patient as he moves up. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and often seems to take bad at-bats into the field and vice versa.
Ephemera: When batting in the fourth inning of games in 2010, Rodriguez went 16-for-38 (.421) with four doubles and six home runs, good for a slugging percentage of 1.000.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a middle-of-the-order slugger, but one of far less value if forced to move across the diamond.
Fantasy Impact: He could be a big-time run producer.
Path to the Big Leagues: Rodriguez will begin his first full season back at Low-A Savannah, where he struggled in a limited look at the end of the year. He's still 1,500 at-bats away from the big leagues.
ETA: 2014.

9. Cory Vaughn, OF
DOB
: 5/1/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/225
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010, San Diego State University
2010 Stats: .307/.396/.557 at Short-season (72 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/hit

Year in Review: The son of former All-Star Greg Vaughn always impressed far more with his tools than performance in college, but had a stunning pro debut.
The Good: Vaughn is a physical athlete with tantalizing tools. He has well above-average raw power, but is also a tick above-average runner. He's even a solid right fielder with a strong arm.
The Bad: Scouts spent three years being frustrated with Vaughn's college showing, as he never lived up to expectations until he went to Brooklyn. There's still a significant amount of swing-and-miss in his game, and that will likely always be a part of him. He needs to improve his routes in the outfield and his baserunning, as his overall game has more rawness than most prospects his age.
Ephemera: Vaughn was a 43rd-round pick in 2006 by the Phillies out of Jesuit High in California, where he was a teammate of Red Sox first-base prospect Lars Anderson.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a clone of his father as a low average hitter with tons of power and a bit of speed.
Fantasy Impact: He'll have big home runs and double-digit stolen bases, but find your batting average elsewhere.
Path to the Big Leagues: Some already feel that Vaughn has the potential to be one of the steals of the draft, and he has the raw ability to rocket up this list a year from now. With a good spring, he'll make his full-season debut at High-A St. Lucie.
ETA: 2013.

10. Lucas Duda, 1B/OF
DOB
: 2/3/86
Height/Weight: 6-5/240
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Seventh round, 2007, University of Southern California
2010 Stats: .286/.411/.503 at Double-A (45 G); .314/.389/.610 at Triple-A (70 G); .202/.261/.417 at MLB (29 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/speed

Year in Review: This massive slugger found his power stroke and bashed his way to the big leagues.
The Good: Duda is a potential offensive force who works the count well, waits for pitches he can hit, and then displays plus raw power. He's a good enough hitter to provide some average as well, as he does a good job on focusing on hard contact as opposed to powering balls out.
The Bad: Duda is a bat-only prospect with no other tool worth noting. He's a well below-average runner who is likely limited to first base. While the Mets have tried to develop him as an outfielder, he has the range of a lawn ornament and a poor arm.
Ephemera: Duda's big-league career started with a 1-for-33 slump, but he hit .314 after September 15.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a slugging first baseman or a horrible outfielder who makes up for it with the bat.
Fantasy Impact: He'll bring power for sure, but that's about it.
Path to the Big Leagues: With no room at the inn in New York, Duda will be back in Triple-A in 2011 barring an injury at the big-league level.
ETA: 2011.

11. Darrell Ceciliani, OF
DOB
: 6/22/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/205
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2009, Columbia Basin College
2010 Stats: .351/.410/.531 at Short-season (68 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/power

Year in Review: Held back in spring training, Ceciliani exploded by leading the New York-Penn League in batting, runs, and triples and finished in the top five in on-base percentage, stolen bases, and extra-base hits.
The Good: Ceciliani projects as a top-of-the-order presence. Using a quick, slashing line-drive swing, he hits lefties and righties equally well, and occasionally stings one into the gap, using his plus speed to turn doubles into triples and also make him a stolen-base threat. He has the speed and instincts to have above-average range in center field.
The Bad: Ceciliani needs to grow into his projected role. His approach is far too aggressive, and he could be exposed at the upper levels due to a tendency to chase. He'll never be much of a power threat, and his arm rates as a 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Ephemera: When batting with runners in scoring position for Brooklyn in 2010, Ceciliani was more likely to reach base than make an out, as he went 32-for-72 (.444) with 10 walks.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a classic old-school leadoff man.
Fantasy Impact: He should hit for average and steal plenty of bases, but find your home runs and RBI elsewhere.
Path to the Big Leagues: Ceciliani's full-season debut at Low-A Savannah will give us a much better feel as to whether his 2010 campaign was a breakout or a small sample size fluke.
ETA: 2014.

The Sleeper: The club's top pick (second round) from the 2009 draft, left-hander Steven Matz missed all of 2010 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but has the ability to return to this list if he's 100 percent.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)

1. Jenrry Mejia, RHP
2. Matt Harvey, RHP
3. Ike Davis, 1B
4. Josh Thole, C
5. Wilmer Flores, SS
6. Jon Niese, LHP
7. Cesar Puello, OF
8. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
9. Ruben Tejada, UT
10. Daniel Murphy, UT

Davis showed considerable promise as a rookie, but there are scouts who question his ceiling, projecting him as an average first baseman in the mold of Adam LaRoche. Thole is a powerless catcher with on-base skills and defense, but that's worth quite a bit considering positional scarcity. Niese remains inconsistent, but should fill his ceiling as a solid fourth starter. Tejada might play a decade or more in the big leagues, but it will be as a second-division starter or good utility player, as there are just no star tools in him. Murphy can hit a bit, but not enough for the positions he plays unless he gets better at second base.

Summary: Neither great, nor awful, the Mets' organization is a middle-of-the-road one that provides more long-term bets than immediate assistance to the big-league squad.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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