November 02, 2006

Inside Pitch Names Top 50 Mets' Prospects

Inside Pitch magazine has evolved over the years from merely a tool to hype all things Mets to a well-written, well-laid-out periodical that covers the Mets better then just about any resource out there. As they do each year, they have released their list of Top 50 Mets' Prospects. We'll list 1-10 here, but to see the entire list, please head to their website. A link to this excellent article can be found here.

10.) Deolis Guerra: 17 year old pitcher who reminds the Mets' of Yusmeiro Petit, he has to add another pitch to his repetoire. He's young with a lot of time to improve, and he had a 2.20 ERA last year, his first in the minors.

9.) Jesus Flores: The best catching prospect in the Mets' system, Flores' picked up his game last year under manager Gary Carter's tutelage. He has plus skills defensively and shows power potential, but he has to work on his plate discipline. He's been rumored to be involved in any potential trade for Dontrelle Willis.

8.) Jonathan Niese: This 19 year old lefty shows promise, but he's not a fastball pitcher and a portrait of a young Tom Glavine comes to mind. He has an excellent curve, and needs to work on the placement of his fastball and change before he can be declared a major league prospect.

7.) Shawn Bowman: Mr. Hard-Luck, Bowman broke his back in the same place 2 seasons in a row. Three years ago, as Jonathan and I were leaving a Spring Training game in St. Lucie, we were reading through the Mets program and we read that Bowman would eventually become the Mets' starting third-sacker, as his defense was way above-average and he projected as a power hitter (a la a Ryan Zimmerman-type.) At the time, David Wright had not yet made the jump to the majors, and we were wondering if Bowman would eventually move Wright to first or the outfield. At this point, we'd be happy if Bowman had one injury-free season and lived up to the potential he's shown the organization for a few years now. We'd settle for a great trade-chip at this point.

6.) Mike Carp: Carp, a big first baseman with plus power potential, could be the eventual heir to Carlos Delgado at first base. He's only 19, and he was already voted the best defensive first baseman in the Florida State League last year, where he hit .287 with 17 homers. Carp is one of those kids to keep an eye on, as he might be starting 2-3 years from now when Delgado's career is winding down.

5.) Brian Bannister: It's sad to see Bannister still on this list, as injuries last year robbed him of his first chance in the bigs. He's a control pitcher, and he projects out as a 4th or 5th man in the rotation. With the Mets pursuit of either/or Zito and Willis, the expected resigning of Glavine and Hernandez and last season's emergence of John Maine, Bannister might be hard-pressed to make the roster out of Spring Training. We hope he remains healthy, as we think he'd be a good addition to the staff for a lot of years to come.

4.) Philip Humber: Once the top pitching prospect in the organization, a year removed from Tommy John Surgery and the drafting of Mike Pelfrey has taken Humber somewhat out of the spotlight. He seems to have come back very well from the surgery, and he presents a plus fastball, hitting 91-94 and, like Zito, possesses a wicked curve. His injury forced Humber to develop a change-up, which makes him a more complete pitcher. We think big things will come from Humber, and, in combo with Pelfrey, Bannister and last years' first pick, Kevin Mulvey, this is the most exciting group of young Mets pitchers since the days of Pulsipher-Isringhausen-Wilson (with, we hope, LOTS more success and longevity!)

3.) Fernando Martinez: Another 17 year old, Martinez was the most sought-after young prospect not draft-eligible a year ago, and Omar scored a great coupe signing him. He has good power for a young kid who will grow into his swing and his body each year. Currently playing center-field, he projects more as a corner outfielder or first baseman. He pulls the ball well, and could be a perennial candidate to win batting titles at every level in the minors. Long-term, he projects as a major talent; let's hope he's not rushed too far, too soon and his development isn't impeded. After all, he's still only 17 and still learning english. He's got to get some time under his belt before we can really dream about his major league prowess, but he's the type of prospect worth waiting for!

2.) Mike Pelfrey: He's a Randy Johnson-like six foot, seven, making his 95+ mph fastball seem that much faster to batters. He has a good change-up, but his curve is very inconsistent, which causes him to rely on his fastball to his detrement, something he can't do in the majors. Let's hope Peterson can tutor him well enough in Spring Training that by 2008 he'll take his place on our major league staff for many years to come. He projects as a number 1 starter, which is why the Mets might not pursue both Zito and Willis.

1.) Carlos Gomez: A year ago, Jonathan told me that Gomez might be the player we all expect Milledge to be. A year later, his words look prophetic as Gomez is a 5-tool player with a cannon of an arm in the outfield and speed that, we've heard, rivals or surpasses Jose Reyes. He hit .341 in Double A during the last 61 games of the season, jumping an entire level in the process. He's still growing into his power, but Gomez might merely be a year away from the majors, which will also factor into Omar's decision-making process this offseason. We can't wait to see him line up next to Beltran, and he might be the best home-grown outfield prospect we've ever had.

The player in the rankings with probably the best shot at making the big club this season is the 12th ranked Henry Owens. Owens possesses a fastball that can rise above 100 mph, a la Detroit's Joel Zumaya. At his age, 27, having become a pitcher later in life, and possessing an arm with a lot of miles seemingly left in the tank, he might be the perfect set-up person to replace Aaron Heilman in the bullpen. He'll certainly make competition in the bullpen this spring into an interesting battle!

For a more complete view of the Top 50 Mets prospects, don't forget to go to Inside Pitch!

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