Perhaps the two hitters in the Mets farm system with the biggest upside are Reese Havens and Fernando Martinez. Unfortunately, those two have been dogged by injury problems. The duo has combined for eight seasons in the minors and the most games played in any year by one of them is the 97 by Havens in 2009.
Havens was a first-round pick out of South Carolina in 2008. He was described as a good hitter with outstanding plate discipline. Defensively, Havens was a shortstop but it was expected that sub-par range would ultimately move him from the position, forcing him to third base or possibly even catcher.
Havens showed that plate discipline that had everyone so excited in his first taste of pro ball, when he drew 11 BB in 97 PA. While he hit just .247 in Brooklyn that summer, he did post a .340 OBP and a .471 SLG mark.
The next year was the 97-game season referenced earlier. He again hit .247 but saw his OBP go up 21 points. While his SLG did go down to a .422 mark, he did deliver 14 HR in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. However, it should be pointed out that in the season where he played the most games, Havens delivered the lowest OPS (.784) of his professional career.
After playing shortstop his first two years in the system, the Mets moved Havens to second base last year. But an oblique injury limited him to just 32 games split between two levels. When Havens did play, he hit the cover off the ball. He had a .338/.400/.662 line at Double-A, albeit in just 75 PA.
Meanwhile, the Mets signed Martinez out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, when he was perhaps the top international player available. The following year as a 17-year old, Martinez split time between three different levels, ending up in the Hi-A Florida State League. But he played just 76 games.
In 2008, Martinez found himself in Double-A, but he played just 90 games. He made his major league debut in 2009, after putting up an .877 OPS in 190 PA as a 20-year old in Triple-A. But Martinez had just a .577 OPS in 100 PA with the Mets before hurting his knee, an injury which required surgery.
Martinez struggled last year in Triple-A but finally started to hit in late July which earned him another trip to the majors. However, the Mets did not give him regular playing time and sent him back to the minors after 11 days of sporadic appearances. And to cap things off, Martinez reinjured his right knee and had his season cut short once again.
So, where do Havens and Martinez stand now in 2011? The Mets have at least four people vying for the second base job, but Havens is never mentioned. Neither is Ruben Tejada, but the Mets want him at shortstop for insurance in case Jose Reyes leaves as a free agent following this season. If Reyes re-signs with the Mets, Tejada will be added to the mix of people fighting for playing time at second base.
Martinez is no longer viewed as a five-tool player. Some people no longer consider him a major league regular, instead mentioning Lucas Duda as the next in line for a starting job in the outfield. Some even mentioned that a Duda-Scott Hairston platoon would be an advantageous one for the Mets should an injury or trade occur involving a Mets outfielder.
Injuries have kept everyone from seeing what Havens and Martinez are capable of doing. Some of the injuries are undoubtedly bad luck, but at some point staying healthy becomes a skill. And it is becoming a bigger and bigger question if either of these two players have that particular skill. The 2011 season will be a make or break year for these perennially injured Mets. A healthy year could put them in contention for a starting job in 2012.
But more of the same could leave them out of the major league picture completely.