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New York Mets 2011 Minor League Review

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:

2011 (20) | 2010 (25) | 2009 (17) | 2008 (28) | 2007 (13) | 2006 (28)

2011 Affiliate Records

MLB: [77-85] NL East

AAA: [61-82] International League – Buffalo

AA: [65-76] Eastern League – Binghampton

A+: [72-68] Florida State League – St. Lucie

A: [79-60] South Atlantic League – Savannah

A(ss): [49-29] New York Penn League – Brooklyn

R:  [39-29] Appalachian League – Kingsport

The Run Down

In their acquisition of Zach Wheeler from San Francisco in the Carlos Beltran trade, the Mets bolstered their farm system, tremendously.  Wheeler possesses multiple plus offerings to devastate AA hitters in 2012.  He’s probably a year or two away from the big leagues, though, so don’t bother queuing him in your standard league auctions.  The Mets do, however, have a couple pitchers worth noting for 2012 fantasy purposes (see Harvey & Familia).  And it might be interesting to keep an eye on Jenrry Mejia, who should be back from Tommy John surgery by June.  Their system also features a handful of hitting prospects (Havens, Flores, Lagares, Puello) who’ll make nice regulars in the near future.  I’m skeptical that any of them will arrive before September, though.

Arizona Fall League PlayersPeoria Javelinas

Robert Carson (LHP); Collin McHugh (RHP); Erik Turgeon (RHP); Taylor Whitenton (RHP); Juan Centeno (C); Wilfredo Tovar (2B)

Graduated Prospects

Justin Turner (2B); Lucas Duda (1B); Fernando Martinez (OF); Dillon Gee (RHP); Pedro Beato (RHP); Ryota Igarashi (RHP)

Players of Interest

Hitters

Kirk Nieuwenhuis | OF:

Stephen noted Nieuwenhuis’s struggles at AAA in his 2010 Mets Review.  But before labrum surgery ended his 2011, the outfield prospect was doing a fine job of quelling any skepticism regarding those 2010 numbers.  In 221 plate appearances with Buffalo in 2011, Nieuwenhuis slashed .298/.403/.505 in 221 trips to the plate, including 25 XBH.  His K% (26.7%) is still concerning, but his BB% was much improved, and along with it, his OBP and SB.  We’ll see how long it takes him to get back on track following surgery.  I do anticipate Nieuwenhuis to arrive at some point in 2012, though.

Pitchers

Matt Harvey | RHP – SP:

In his first year of pro ball, Harvey totaled 156 K’s in 136 IP between High A and AA.  He’ll begin 2012 in AAA.  With a high 90s fastball and a filthy slider, he projects as a frontline guy.  Harvey could certainly get a shot if the Mets’ rotation isn’t healthy.

Jeurys Familia | RHP – SP:

After a shaky 2010, Familia corrected himself in 2011.  He’ll be pitching in the Buffalo rotation to begin 2012, but if he can command his impressive fastball against AAA hitting, I suspect we’ll see Familia up with the Mets before long. Whether that will be as a starting pitcher or as a late-innings reliever remains a mystery.  I’m thinking the latter is more likely.

Chris Schwinden | RHP – SP:

Until he incorporated a cutter into his repertoire in 2010, Schwinden was a rather boring pitching prospect.  If you ask me, he’s still pretty boring, but that doesn’t change the fact that he earned four starts with the big club in 2011, and given that experience, he’ll be back up if needed in 2012.  Mixing four pitches (FB, CT, CB & CH) with decent command, Schwinden, I suppose, could be worth a look as a spot-starter or as a two-start plugin in weekly formats.

Honorable Mention

Hitters

Reese Havens | 2B:

The 2008 first round pick is yet to play a full season.  Injuries have been tough on Havens.  A protruding rib caused him to miss almost all of 2010, and a back issue kept him out for extended stretches in 2011.  When healthy, though, Havens has always hit, and his career AA line (.301/.379/.505 in 317 PA) provides a glimpse at his potential.  The Mets are surely guarding their expectations until they’ve seen he can play a full season.  But provided he can stay healthy, Havens seems to be New York’s best long-term option at 2B.  I’m thinking a 2013 arrival is most likely, here.

Wilmer Flores | 3B/SS:

In a full season at High A, Flores posted a .689 OPS.  Unimpressive, I know.  Scouts love the kid, though, and at 20 years old he’ll be one of the youngest AA players in 2012.  Flores profiles at 3rd better than he does at short, and he should make that transition this coming season.  A nice year with Binghamton could warrant a September call up, but don’t expect to see much of Flores in the big leagues until 2013 or 2014.

Juan Lagares | OF:

An impressive 2011 earned Lagares a spot on the Mets’ 40-man.  Between High A and AA he slashed .349/.383/.500, including 44 XBH and 15 SB in 505 PA.  A long, athletic frame should allow Lagares to develop more pop.  Like Flores, he’s young and he might still be a year or two away, but I fully expect Lagares to be a regular corner outfielder at the big league level.

Cesar Puello | OF:

Here’s yet another extremely talented and extremely young Latin hitting prospect.  Perhaps the brightest in the group, Puello should be joining both Flores and Lagares in Binghamton to begin 2012.  With good range and a strong, accurate arm, he profiles in right.  And with 20-homer-a-year power potential, it’s no wonder that Puello’s been tabbed as the Mets’ right fielder of the future.  2012 should be a good indicator as to how far off that future might be.

3 Responses

  1. Mark says:
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    I actually think there’s a decent chance Puello winds up in CF, and you could make a case that he’s the best OF prospect in the system (though Nieuwenhuis probably deserves the nod at this point, followed by Puello, and then Lagares in a distant third assuming you no longer count Fernando Martinez). I know he’s played more RF so far in his career, but he’s got tremendous range and is already an excellent route runner. He has all the tools to be a CF and is probably the second best defensive outfielder in the system right now. I’m not so sure why the Mets defaulted Pedro Zapata to CF in Savannah in 2010, but in 2009 and 2011 there was another capable CF who was an older, albiet lesser, legit prospect on the same team (Darrell Cecilliani in 2009 and Matt den Dekker in 2011) as Puello. Even though Puello’s younger than either, he’s also ahead of both offensively and has a lot more projection left. My guess is Puello starts 2012 in Binghamton’s CF with den Dekker and Cecilliani playing CF and LF, respectively, for St. Lucie (with Cory Vaughn in RF). Den Dekker may be in for a midseason promotion, and if on the same roster would likely get CF preference over Puello since he’s the best pure defensive outfielder in the system, though if Puello can replicate his second half line of .284 / .336 / .463 from last year in when he hits Double-A, he could bump up to Triple-A before long as well. Cecilliani shouldn’t be much of a threat, he’s probably the weakest defender of the three (though a solid one in his own right) and the least polished offensively. He is younger than den Dekker though and had a monster year in SSA in 2010 as a 20 year old (.351 / .410 / .531), so he’s something of a system sleeper, though he probably also doesn’t have the power potential of Puello or den Dekker.

    I’d also give LHP Darin Gorski a pitcher HM. 11-3, 2.08 ERA, 0.995 WHIP, 140 Ks, 29 BBs, 138.2 IP. He’s 23 and it was HiA, so he’s a bit behind the age curve, but he’s a lefty, not really a soft-tosser, and was outright dominant. He at least put himself on the organizational radar.

  2. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:
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    @Mark: I agree that Puello’s skill-set suits any OF position, including CF. But don’t you see Brandon Nimmo ending up there, ultimately? Granted, he’s probably two years behind Puello, developmentally, but I hear the Mets are giddy about their 1st-rounder from this past June.

    Regarding Gorski: It’s certainly fair to put him on your fantasy radar based on his HiA numbers, alone. But as you allude, 2011 may have been an anomaly stemming from his advanced age. Surprising that the Mets didn’t promote him to Binghamton mid-season, no?

  3. Mark says:
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    Honestly completely forgot about Nimmo when writing that. There’s just nothing there to really evaluate yet. I’ve also heard that he’s not a lock to be able to stay in CF, though its obviously plausible. His running style actually reminds me a lot of Hunter Pence–kind of awkward and choppy, but it works and he’s clearly an above average runner. I’m sure they’ll leave him in CF as long as possible. From what I know about both of them Puello’s probably the better pure defender, though Nimmo’s probably a better overall prospect than Puello just based on pedigree, existing polish, and the same type of projectability. They’re both interesting though–good athletes who are still very young who have the frames to add plenty of strength without losing too much athleticism. Puello needs to learn to walk a bit more though, he really relies on the HBP to prop up his OBP. He actually had more HBPs last year (20) than BBs (18)! He was also hit by 22 pitches the previous year and drew only 32 BBs. Overall, he’s got 62 HBPs in 1341 career PAs, so at least it looks like a repeatable skill in his case and not a one year fluke. I have a feeling walks won’t be as much of an issue for Nimmo, most reports on his zone judgment are pretty positive.

    It could really go either way. My gut tells me Puello’s probably going to wind up a bit rangier, and he’s also going to rely more on his power developing if he wants to be an offensive weapon, so to me that says he’s more likely to be either a pure CF or more of a role player. But if they do both wind up as offensive weapons and have similar defensive range, Puello’s also got the cannon arm that could be better taken advantage of in RF, though Nimmo’s got a pretty good arm from what I hear too.

    As for Gorski, from what I understand, there was some discussion about moving him to Double-A, but there was some concern that he was starting to wear down when he put up his worst month of the year in July (wasn’t terrible, but the 3.60 ERA was almost 2 runs higher than any other month in which he made 5+ starts, and the 12 BBs were also the highest of any month). His control was a bit off and his strikeouts were down a touch throughout the second half of the year, but of course his command and some of the Ks came back in August. By the time they were giving second thoughts to promoting him again, the season was almost over, and I think the org just decided to let him close out the season on a strong note instead of putting pressure on him for 2 or 3 starts against stiffer competition. FWIW, under Omar, I’m almost certain he’d have been in Double-A by June, lol. Either way, he’ll probably again get lost in the shuffle of upper level pitching the Mets already have Harvey, Wheeler, Familia, and hopefully Mejia sometime early in the summer, so if he puts up another strong campaign he could make for an interesting sleeper down the road.

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