Greetings and hallucinations to all the Met maniacs in cyber space. My name is David Groveman and I’ll be taking over a weekly column here on the Mets Minor League System. You may know me from other blogs I’ve written for, articles that made their way into the mainstream or because we went to Hebrew school together. More likely, you don’t know me. I’ll keep it brief: I love the Mets, I’m a realistic optimist, I’m sarcastic and I love making references to movies and pop culture. Spot one? Let me know about it, we’ll pretend it’s like Where’s Waldo or something.
There are approximately 1000 lists of the “Top Met Prospects of 2012” circulating the inter-webs, and eventually I’m sure I’ll dabble into such things. For now… I’m more concerned with getting out an un-ranked list of the people I’m watching as we move towards the opening of 2012.
• Matt Harvey: If you haven’t heard the name then this must be your first time to a Met blog… Welcome! Assuming that most of you have, he’s the greatest combination that the Mets currently have of current ability and talent ceiling. He throws a fastball in the mid-high 90s, has a pair of potentially plus breaking pitches, is already in AA and could be throwing in the majors by the end of the minor league season.
• Zack Wheeler: Some people will put Wheeler ahead of Harvey, and while I’m not ranking them, they ARE listed in this order for a reason. Wheeler will likely be in AA but hasn’t yet pitched above A+. He also showed flaws in his game (before joining the Mets) so there are definitely concerns. He has a similar arsenal to Harvey and isn’t far behind. Remember that it isn’t as if Wheeler needs to cut off Harvey’s head to succeed. Though probability is against us, we could have two front of the rotation pitchers on our hands.
• Jenrry Mejia: He’s hurt but expect me to mention his status up until he proves he’s healthy and joins the Mets rotation.
• Jeurys Familia: He’s in some ways farther along than Harvey and in some ways less. He’s succeeded to a higher degree at AA and could start 2012 in AAA with a call to the majors only an injury away, but at the same time his breaking pitches are nowhere near the caliber of his fastball. If he fails to develop breaking pitches he’s going to be pushed into relief.
• Collin McHugh: You may have read about McHugh but he is one of a trio of pitchers who are ready for the majors. In terms of RAW talent I’d rate things: McHugh > Schwinden > Gee, but equally I’d rank things in the opposite order for readiness. I would bank on McHugh making a few starts in Queens in 2012.
• Josh Edgin: He is a very good lefty reliever who might be closing in AA to start 2012 but could be closing in Queens to start 2013. Edgin is only a Tim Byrdak injury away from getting a call to join the bullpen in Queens.
• The Live Arms: Akeel Morris, Domingo Tapia and Juan Urbina are all in the boat of tremendous potential without evidence of success.
• The Tempered Prospects: Darin Gorski, Greg Peavey, James Fuller and Armando Rodriguez aren’t close to the ceilings of the other three but they could easily climb up the boards with legitimate successes already under their belts.
• Recently Drafted: Michael Fulmer, Cory Mazzoni, Jack Leathersich, Logan Verrett, Tyler Pill and Rafael Montero are and have been on my radar since they were drafted, but it is too soon to even venture a guess at success.
• Reese Havens: How many times have you read, “Havens will be great… if he can only stay healthy.”? I’ve read that too many times to talk about it more. I saw Havens play in 2011. He has decent range with a below average arm in the field and he’s got the nicest swing I’ve ever seen.
• Matt Den Dekker: The young center fielder is going to turn heads this spring if he can replicate his success from the minors in 2011. He’s a quick and solid defensive CF who also has a remarkable amount of power. He does have issues getting on base consistently.
• Jordany Valdespin: By the end of Spring Training it wouldn’t surprise me if Jordany had made the MLB roster. He has more speed and power than anyone else who can play SS in the Met system and that should be apparent pretty quickly.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Like Mejia I’m going to be watching the recovery of Captain Kirk like a Fremen looks for Worm Sign. As soon as he’s proven healthy he’ll be in the majors.
• Wilmer Flores: He will likely shift to 3rd and spend another year in Port St. Lucie. I’m the crazy guy who thinks that Flores should be shifted to catcher, but that’s all sorts of crazy. Flores needs to find a position (NOT 1st or LF) that he can play or find the power he’s supposed to develop or the Mets might just let him drift to Houston.
• Juan Lagares: He had a great 2011 and continued it with a great AFL. Lagares will be in the mix to make the MLB squad but is hampered by the presence of Scott Hairston.
• Aderlin Rodrgiuez: He is going to move up to a friendlier park and be expected to keep putting up monster power numbers. I don’t think anyone knows what position Rodriguez will wind up at but I’d shift him to 1B now and get it over with.
• Cesar Puello: His 2011 was a disappointment because of how GREAT his 2010 was. Even so, Puello began showing that he has power and should start the year on a very talented AA team.
• Cory Vaughn: Greg Vaughn’s son plummeted through many rankings after a less-than-stellar 2011 campaign. He’s going to repeat A+ and will need to rebound to get his progression back on track. I, for one, have faith.
• Names That I’ll Get To: Zach Lutz, Sean Ratliff, Darrell Ceciliani, Albert Cordero, Cam Maron, ZeErika McQueen and Tillman Pugh will all get their share of attention but not today.
• Recently Drafted: Brandon Nimmo, Danny Muno, Philip Evans, Cole Frenzel, Travis Taijeron, Dustin Lawley and Gregory Pron need to continue to show me things in their first full years with the Mets.
2012 is a big year for the Mets minor league system which is going to be expected to carry the team as soon as 2013 or 2014. I’m always happy to hear from people and if there are specific elements of the minors you want to know more about… let me know and I’ll make it happen.