April 04, 2007

Are Zephyr's Starters Better Than Devil Rays & Royals?

In his incredible daily Mets Minor League newsletter, Toby Hyde projects the rosters for the Mets' top minor league teams. For the AAA Zephyrs (New Orleans), the pitching staff is particularly strong- and so much for those who speculated that the Mets' rotation had no depth. Their starters could make the Royals and Devil Rays blush (in spite of Greinke and Kazmir)!

Starting Pitchers:
Philip Humber
Jason Vargas (pictured at right)
Jorge Sosa
Chan Ho Park
Adam Bostick
Vargas and Bostick were acquired from the Marlins (in an off-season trade for Owens & Lindstrom), and are both lefties; Chan Ho Park is, of course, a 33 year old, ex-Major Leaguer; Humber is our former first round draft pick and second best starting prospect on the team; and Sosa is an ex-Brave who, at 29, is at a make or break position in his career. The average age of this rotation is 26.4, rather old for AAA; however, Park, Humber and Vargas are all candidates for the big leagues if any of our starters falter.

Their bullpen shapes up as:

Jon Adkins
Willie Collazo
Ivan Maldonado
Blake McGinley
Clint Nageotte
Jose Santiago
Steve Schmoll
Lino Urdaneta (pictured at right)

Of course, Adkins, Schmoll and Urdaneta are familiar to anyone who has followed Spring Training over the past 2 years, and Adkins and Urdaneta, ages 29 and 27, were final candidates for a spot on the big league club. Schmoll, 27, is a side-arming journeyman at this point, coming over from the Dodgers at the same time the club signed Chad Bradford, and he is no longer considered a prospect for promotion to the bigs. The intriguing prospect, according to Hyde, is Clint Nageotte. From Hyde:

One very intriguing arm on this club belongs to former top prospect Clint Nageotte. Nageotte, originally a fifth round pick of the Mariners in 1999 put together a very impressive first four minor league seasons. In 2002 in the Cal League he led all of minor league baseball with 214 strikeouts in 165 IP and then turned around the next year and led the AA Texas League in strikeouts with 157.
However, things have not come so easily since 2004 when he fought a lower back strain. In his first exposure to AAA with Tacoma, he struck out 63 in 81 IP, the first time he’d struck out less than a batter an inning, and when the Mariners pushed him to the Majors he was hit hard: 1-6, 7.36 in 37. Nonetheless, Baseball America was still optimistic, and ranked Nageotte as the Mariners fourth best prospect heading into 2005, although it expressed concern that his fastball had lost velocity and his slider bite in the big leagues while his changeup hadn’t progressed enough. In 2005, the Mariners made Nageotte a reliever and he accumulated just 41 IP, although his strikeout rate bounced back to a shade over 1 in 34 AAA innings.

So following that minor success in 05, (BA ranked him as the Mariners’ #9 prospect) Seattle moved him back to the Tacoma rotation for 2006 where he struggled toa a 7-7 mark with a 5.74 ERA in 19 starts. His strikeout rate plummeted to 51 in 89.1 IP and he walked 53! At one time, he threw 95 and had a devasting slider. Here’s to hoping that comes back.

To sign up for Hyde's excellent email, click here and sign up to be part of the google group and receive the daily email. Hyde has great insight into the Mets' system, and his daily emails are most welcome! Enjoy!!

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