Top 10 Prospects: The New York Mets

The New York Mets
2010 MLB Record: 79-83 (4th in the NL East)
Minor League Power Ranking: 27th (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Wilmer Flores, SS
Acquired: 2007 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A/A+
Opening Day Age: 19
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.5

Notes: Flores didn’t have a huge season at the plate but he spent much of the season playing A-ball at the age of 18. The right-handed hitter batted .278/.342/.433 in low-A and then moved up to high-A where he produced a line of .300/.324/.415. Flores was overly aggressive in high-A and saw his walk rate plummet from 7.5% at the lower level to 3.1%. His 36 doubles on the year hint at the raw power he possesses. His strikeout rates have been impressive (14.4% in high-A) given his age; hopefully he can maintain them as his power numbers spike. Flores hits with an open stance and is susceptible to balls on the outer half of the plate. He has a habit of pulling his head off of breaking balls. He also has a lot of movement in the hands, which he clearly uses as a timing mechanism. Flores is at his best when he maintains a level, line-drive stroke and avoids the upper cut. He has enough bat speed that he doesn’t need to generate loft by dropping the head of the bat. Look for his power numbers to spike when he buys into the approach. Flores doesn’t play with as much energy as you might expect from a top-of-the-line prospect and his lack of range will eventually move him off shortstop. He has good arm strength and could end up at third base or an outfield corner.

2. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
Acquired: 2008 3rd round (Azusa Pacific U)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Nieuwenhuis hits from a crouch and has average bat speed, which limits his power potential and could see him end up with a similar profile to Reed Johnson. Like the former Jay and Cub, this Mets prospect will let things fly in the outfield and isn’t afraid to dive for balls. At double-A, the 23-year-old outfielder produced a solid line of .289/.337/.510 in 394 double-A at-bats and received a promotion to triple-A where he produced modest numbers in 120 at-bats. Nieuwenhuis showed good power numbers at double-A and posted an ISO rate of .221 but his homer totals in the Majors should sit between 15 and 20 during a full season. He could stand to improve his contact numbers after posting a strikeout rate of 23.6 K% in double-A and 32.5 K% in triple-A. Nieuwenhuis may end up in a platoon role unless he improves against southpaws.

3. Matt Harvey, RHP
Acquired: 2010 1st round (University of North Carolina)
Pro Experience: None
2010 MiLB Level: Did Not Play
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Harvey was a top prep pitcher but he spurned the Angels’ offer when he fell in the ’07 draft due to signability concerns. His value dropped temporarily in college, but he rebuilt his game and ended up going in the first round of the 2010 draft. He has a whip-y arm action that appears to put stress on his shoulder and elbow, which could lead to injury problems down the road. He has little movement through his trunk and a long stride. Harvey pitches with a three-quarters arm slot more, which is clearly more conducive to throwing a slider than a curveball, which was his best pitch in high school and his freshman season in college. He fights his release point and loses his arm slot, which can cause control problems. His delivery and injury concerns could lead to him moving to the back end of the bullpen where he can focus on his mid-90s fastball and breaking ball. Harvey didn’t pitch in pro ball in 2010 and should open 2011 in high-A ball.

4. Juan Urbina, LHP
Acquired: 2009 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie Ball
Opening Day Age: 17
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: Former Expos closer Ugueth Urbina‘s son Juan shows a ton of potential. But the teenager is still raw and his three-pitch repertoire has a ways to go before he’s ready for the upper levels on the minor leagues – let alone the Majors. The young Urbina shows the potential for above-average velocity for a southpaw and currently projects as a long-term starter. He has good control for a teenager and posted a walk rate of 2.61 BB/9 in rookie ball. Urbina does need to throw more quality strikes and improve his fastball command. For a young pitcher, he does a nice job of repeating his delivery. Along with his 86-90 mph fastball, Urbina also features a good changeup, but his breaking ball is still a work in progress.

5. Fernando Martinez, OF
Acquired: 2005 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 5 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: A former top international signee, Martinez has seemingly been around forever and may be growing stale in New York. A trade out of the organization could do wonders for his future but it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Mets considering that the prospect’s value is at an all-time low. It’s really not fair, as the outfielder posted respectable numbers at triple-A, especially considering that he’s still just 22 years old. Martinez produced a triple-slash line of .253/.317/.455 in 257 at-bats. He’s shown good power potential the past two seasons in triple-A with ISO rates topping .200. As he matures as a hitter, Martinez could hit 20-25 homers in the Majors but he’s going to want to make a little more consistent contact after posting a strikeout rate of 25.3% in 2010. He also needs to incorporate his legs a little bit more into his swing, as he’s currently relying on his hands and bat speed to generate power. Defensively, he’s a good corner outfielder with a solid arm, but his speed has diminished over the past few seasons, which has cut into his range. With parts of two seasons at triple-A now, it’s time for Martinez to show a little more consistency – and hopefully stay healthy for a full season.

6. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B
Acquired: 2008 non-drafted free agent
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie/A
Opening Day Age: 19
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Just 18, Rodriguez produced a solid triple-slash line of .312/.352/.556 in 250 at-bats in rookie ball. He even received a late-season 30-at-bat trial in low-A ball. He showed very good power potential and posted a .244 ISO rate; he shows enough raw pop to hit balls out of the park even when he doesn’t put a great swing on the pitch. Currently, he’s surviving on pure, and raw, athletic ability. There are a lot of areas of his game where he needs to make improvements – which is not surprising, given his age. Rodriguez would make even more contact if he did a better job of following the pitch into the catcher’s glove; he often pulls his head off of the pitch. He also shows a long, loopy swing at times and needs to keep the head of the bat through the strike zone for a longer period of time. Rodriguez also needs to improve against off-speed pitches as he gets out on his front foot and lunges at the ball. Defensively, a slow first step inhibits his range at the hot corner and he doesn’t show a ton of effort in this aspect of his game. There are some similarities to a young Edwin Encarnacion, although the Mets prospect has much more patience at the plate. If Rodriguez continues to develop, the organization could have something special here.

7. Reese Havens, IF
Acquired: 2008 1st round (South Carolina)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Havens would probably be a little higher on the list if he had shown the ability to stay healthy and also had a true defensive home. The infielder has never had more than 360 at-bats in a season and has just 570 at-bats over his three-year pro career. We don’t have a ton of data to draw conclusions from but Havens has shown good patience with a career walk rate of more than 11%. He’ll need to make better contact after posting high strikeout rates. He has flashed promising power – a .175 ISO rate in 360 high-A at-bats in ’09. Havens hits with a wide, well-balanced stance, and has a quick bat. He does have a tendency to rock back and forth, which can throw off his timing. Havens holds his hands quite low in his stance and moving them up a bit might help him maintain a more level swing. Defensively, Havens has played both shortstop and second base in his pro career but profiles better at the keystone. There was talk at one point of moving him behind home plate, but that move now would slow his development down too much, as his bat is ready for double-A. Havens may never be more than an average fielder, thanks to stiff actions, but his bat has the chance to be above average. He could reach the Majors by the end of 2011 if he can stay healthy.

8. Cesar Puello, OF
Acquired: 2007 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A ball
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0

Notes: The more you watch Puello, the more you like him. The young prospect showed good offensive potential in low-A ball in 2010 and hit .292/.375/.359 in 404 at-bats. Puello exploded in the second half of the season after he made adjustments to his batting stance and closed some holes in his plate coverage. Speed is the main strength of his game and Puello nabbed 45 bags on the year. He’ll need to show more on-base ability to take advantage of his legs, as he posted a walk rate of just 6.8 BB%. He has long strides while running and has good first-step quickness but he also excelerates well going first-to-third. He’s a solid defensive player who has played right field almost exclusively in his career. He certainly doesn’t have prototypical power for the position (.067 ISO rate in ’10) and projects to have 10-15 homer ability, at the very most. Consider him a sleeper for 2011 and he could zoom up the Mets’ top prospect list.

9. Cory Vaughn, OF
Acquired: 2010 4th round (San Diego State)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Although it’s early in his career, there are definitely some parallels that can be drawn between Cory’s game and his father’s – long-time Brewer Greg Vaughn. Both possess massive power potential, although the younger Vaughn has a much different build than his father – he’s tall and has room on his frame to add muscle. Vaughn had a nice debut in short-season ball by hitting .307/.396/.557 in 264 at-bats. He showed a good eye at the plate, as well as patience, and posted a walk rate of 10.9 BB%. The high strikeout rate (23.9%) is a trade-off for the power (.250 ISO). His hands are a little too busy at the plate at times, which could hurt his ability to square up on the ball on a consistent basis. He gets out of the batter’s box quickly and shows solid base running abilities but he has average speed underway. Vaughn saw time in center field during his debut but is expected to fill out to the point where he’ll move to right field on a permanent basis. He’s a solid defensive fielder but his throws lack accuracy at times. If his offensive success continues in A-ball, Vaughn could move up prospect lists in 2011.

10. Robert Carson, LHP
Acquired: 2007 14th round (Mississippi HS)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0

Notes: Carson has developed nicely since being a less-heralded, mid-round draft pick out of high school. The lefty posted a 3.67 FIP in 86.1 high-A innings in 2010 before moving up to double-A where he struggled with a 5.38 FIP and saw his strikeout rate drop from 7.19 to 5.55 K/9. Right now, Carson lacks a consistent out-pitch, although he displayed an improved changeup in the Arizona Fall League. Carson fights his delivery at times, as well as his arm slot, which leads to inconsistent control – and command. When he’s on, he produces good ground-ball rates with a sinking fastball that sits 88-92 mph and has touched 94 mph. Carson also has a slider that needs more work. His delivery in the AFL looked a little bit different than that which he displayed in regular season ball, as he appeared to be stepping toward first base a little bit more before delivering the pitch. That created more deception. Carson does a nice job of staying tall through his delivery, uses his legs well, and doesn’t put much stress on his upper body or shoulder.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

39 Responses to “Top 10 Prospects: The New York Mets”

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  1. Kenny says:

    This is an odd system, at least based on the way you describe it. Some of these guys have the ability to be superstars. All of these guys have the ability to suck really bad.

    I think I prefer the ceilings of prospects 3-7 enough to bump Nieuhwenhuis behind all of them.

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    • this guy says:

      The reason for this is that Omar had his hands tied with a ridiculous commitment to paying slot. MInaya did an amazing job with the farm given this absurd disadvantage.

      The team will now pay over slot with the new regime. Between injuries, draft limitations, the media and the lack of accurate analysis in the public domain, Omar never had a chance.

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      • Derek says:

        I would say the reason is more that they “graduated” Ike Davis, Jonathon Niese, Jenrry Mejia, and Ruben Tejada from the farm system in the past year.

        And what’s underneath them right now is a lot of teenagers and/or players with 1 year or less of pro baseball under their belt who have tremendous potential, but lots of risk as well.

        With that said though, Lucas Duda should have made the Top 10, IMO, given what he did last season. Darrell Ceciliani is someone to keep an eye on as well.

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      • this guy says:

        Duda’s upside is as a bench/role player. No place on a top 10 list.

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      • B says:

        When did this info on them paying overslot under the Alderson come out? I don’t recall reading anything about it.

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      • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

        “Between injuries, draft limitations, the media and the lack of accurate analysis in the public domain, Omar never had a chance.”

        Signing Oliver Perez 3/36, Frankie to essentially 4/55, giving up draft picks for Moises Alou, depending on completely washed out veterans, re-signing mota, marlon anderson, and Valentin, and lastly giving Schoenweis a multi-year deal…rushing Martinez and Mejia through the system, actually paying for GMJ etc. Omar was a pretty bad GM, that got lucky one year with a miracle season from Jose Valentin and career years from Wright, Reyes, Beltran and I can keep going. The pythag from 06 wasn’t even that good. For having the highest payroll in the NL for a buncha years Omar did a real bad job. His best moves were Beltran, and locking up Wright and Reyes when they were young and about to head to arb. His best attribute was finding low-risk signings like Dickey, 06 Valentin, El Duque Tak2. The fact that he brought many of these guys back on multi-year deals was the flip-side to these good moves.

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      • Derek says:

        “Duda’s upside is as a bench/role player. No place on a top 10 list.”

        .999 OPS in Buffalo (AAA) as a 24 year old made me take notice. Sure, he’s a little older then you’d like, but the only difference between this year and previous years is that it seems he’s added more power to his game.

        I’d rather have him going forward then someone like Carson, who comfortably projects as a LOOGY given his lack of secondary offerings. Just my take though.

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      • JK says:

        Maybe it had less to do with paying slot and more to with them just picking shitty players.

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      • MC says:

        If you call giving someone $140M/year with which to build a team “not a chance”, I guess you’re right, he didn’t have a chance. But I see that as a pretty big chance. I don’t think anyone pointed a gun at Omar’s head and told him to sign Castillo, Perez, Beltran, Santana, etc. etc. while completely ignoring the starting rotation, bullpen, and everything else. Point is Minaya grew accustomed to mediocrity and just spending dough. If he didn’t like where the team was headed, he should have resigned and saved his reputation. Since he didn’t, I have to assume he was the one sitting behind the wheel.

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  2. blackout says:

    Somewhat OT, but again with the Edwin Encarnacion patience myth? He’s posted a career minor league OBP of .354 in 658 games. Maybe we can let Rodriguez play a few more games at meaningful levels before we decide that he has “much” more patience?

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    • Steven Ellingson says:

      OBP does not equal patience. Cite BB% or IsoD.

      That gripe aside, you look to be right. Encarnacion’s career BB% in the minors is higher than Rodriguez’s. So, unless he has some other information we don’t know about, that comment looks to be off base.

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      • blackout says:

        I actually spent a great deal of time citing his major league walk and strikeout rates in the trade thread and couldn’t muster the energy to do it all over again for his minor league career. In this case I felt that OBP was safe to use as it’s been fairly consistent and is driven to a signifcant enough degree by his walks.

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  3. nmigliore says:

    Love the list, only thing I’d pick with: I know Havens’ health is an issue, but I think I’d put his peak WAR higher than +3.5, but that’s just semantics I suppose.

    Carson is the only one I can’t agree on here. Hes got good velocity from a lefty, sure, but he lacks quality secondary pitches, which makes me believe his future is in the bullpen. Keith Law went as far as to call him a non-prospect a few weeks ago too, for whatever that is worth.

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  4. Marc Hulet says:

    With Carson, I see him as a young lefty with a solid fastball and good sink. His secondary pitches need work, but he’s still young. He definitely has a chance to end up as a middle reliever but I liked him a little more than the other players that I had in play in the 11-15 range. 2011 will be a big year for him.

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    • Guy says:

      Marc, just wondering how Chris Sale makes CWS list and Jenrry Mejia doesn’t make the Mets list. I’d still consider him a prospect… or is it that he just didn’t make the list (which would be even more confusing).

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  5. Dave G says:

    If Vaughn is on the list, Ceciliani should be too. Ceciliani broke a ton of records in the same league and plays CF. Cohoon and Ratliff could also be on here, Ratliff slugged .562 in AA last year.

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    • Tony_J says:

      Ratliff has had huge K rates everywhere he’s played and hasn’t ever really hit as well as he did in his half season at AA. That performance needs to be put into proper context, much like Duda’s explosion this year.

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    • GoldStandard says:

      Cohoon has no ceiling. Sean Ratliff is interesting because at the beginning of last season I had Niewenhuis and Ratliff on a similar level- though Niewenhuis has clearly surpassed Ratliff at this point I also think that he is over valued on this list. If I had it my way, including Meija because he is still a prospect in real life.
      1) Meija
      2)Harvey
      3) Flores
      4)Puello
      5)Havens
      6)Aderlin Rodriguez
      7) Cory Vaughn
      8) Lucas Duda
      9)Juan Urbina
      10) Fernando Martinez

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  6. Marc Hulet says:

    Ceciliani was very close to making the list. The other two mentioned were not considered. Duda wasn’t a consideration for the Top 10, either.

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  7. Dave I says:

    I know Matt Harvey was a first round pick, but he has “Eddie Kunz” potential written all over him. Yes, he could work out, but does it make sense to put Fernando below him when Fernando is only 1 year older and is already in AAA? Harvey hasn’t played pro ball yet. I’ll take an injury-prone YOUNG kid with advanced skills over a complete unknown any day.

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    • supermets says:

      How is Harvey even remotely similar to Kunz? The only similarity is that both have a sinker. Kunz was a reliever in college, Harvey was a starter. Kunz was a supplemental pick, Harvey was top 10.

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      • Dave I says:

        Harvey is not similar to Kunz in terms of stuff, but similarly high-risk for such a top pick when other higher-rated players were available. Perhaps Humber is a more apt comparison. In any case, the point is, I’d have Fernando rated higher at this point in their careers.

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  8. SF 55 for life says:

    I realize he has no business being on a top 10 list, but I definitely like Jeurys Familia going forward. He has some serious swing-and-miss offerings and, barring any type of career threatening injury, will at least be a solid reliever in the majors.

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  9. Jack Str says:

    Wrt Duda, he broke his wrist in college, I believe, and it took a couple of years to get his power stroke back. That suggests to me that his power in AAA this year could be the real thing, and note the season of an older guy who’s learned to hit AAA pitcher’s mistakes a long way. I’d hardly guarantee it, but it’s entirely possible that Duda’s bat is the real thing. Now, if only the NL had the DH…

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  10. Jargal says:

    What?

    Robert Carson?

    Seriously?

    Carson’s CEILING is as a LOOGY, not his floor. Off the top of my head, I can think of any number of Mets prospects who have more promise than Carson – Duda, Ceciliani, Marte, Familia, Goeddel. Hell, I’d definitely take Steven Matz over Carson even though Matz has yet to throw a professional pitch.

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  11. Franco says:

    Duda not being able to field any position even at a mildly bad level is the thing that’s going to relegate him to a bench/platoon guy in the NL On the offensive side of things, I don’t think it’s silly to see him perform above average across the board. Ryan Klesko type that could valuable to a team that needs a platoon partner at DH/LF/RF.

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  12. eddie 86 says:

    .389 obp 23 hrs 87 rbis 40 doubles and a.304 ba. and he deserves the bench? If lucas duda gets 500 at bats a lock for 30 hrs in majors.

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    • MC says:

      They should at least give the guy a chance to get 250 ABs in the majors, at least. What sort of message are you sending down to the farm if you don’t reward guys that put up +.900OPS in the minors? Favoritism…

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  13. eddie 86 says:

    5 errors in 153 games for duda is bad?

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  14. Franco says:

    The first post just reeked of homeritis with the 86 in your handle. The second post reeks of trolling on this site.

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  15. kdoh says:

    by the way, you had the mets record wrong at the top of this article, they finished 79-83,4th place—-are your other stats correct?

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  16. Mark Rak says:

    I like Duda as well, but at 24 & a below average defender he is not a top 10….if his power is real he may ultimately just be a DH. I don’t think Harvey nor does Carson. Captain Kirk is too high & as much as I would love to see Havens at 2B instead of Castillo…he has never been healthy for a full season so probably shouldn’t be on the list. Does FMart equal Alex Escobar? Like Havens, Martinez should be off as well until he proves he is somewhat durable. Valdespin, Satin, Cohoon, Marte & Ceciliani could possibly been there instead.

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  17. Marc Hulet says:

    thanks for catching the Mets record error… obviously my eyes accidentally settled on the Marlins line.

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  18. Ernie says:

    Puello really intrigues me, seems like he has a good baseline of skills to build on in the future.

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  19. Dino says:

    Cory will be a mlb all-star in the near future. He (Cory) has all the necessary tools to be a great player. I say just throw him in the show now and watch Cory produce. Cory has passion for the game being the son of a mlb player put more pressure on him to perform. I think Cory will make his mlb debut 2013 for good maybe sooner.

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  20. Vestidos de novia de la tienda en línea , los vestidos de diseñador barato fiesta nupcial, vestidos y accesorios para la venta de la ocasión especial

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