Mets Minors: Spring Training games begin

Later today the Mets will begin the first game of Spring Training and Met fans will get a glimpse of the prize of the farm, Matt Harvey.  Harvey is scheduled to pitch against the nationals along with a group of veterans who should make his fastball look mighty impressive by comparison.  On March 6th the story will be Johan Santana’s start against the Cardinals but instead you could focus on Pedro Beato who is converting to a starter or the B-Squad game vs. the Astros featuring Jeurys Familia and Josh Stinson.

Matt Harvey: He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches the upper 90s from time to time.  He boasts a plus curveball and a slider listed as “Nasty” as well as a changeup that was referred to as “much improved”.  The control problems that lowered his value going into the draft were not visible through 2011 as he crushed the competition in Port St. Lucie and progressed with some early struggles in Binghamton.

What To Watch For: There is little Met fans shouldn’t be watching for when it comes to Matt Harvey.  He’s the crown jewel of our farm system and the 2011 season has left us expecting an Ace.  We should be watching his control as I doubt those concerns were unfounded so they should remain on the radar.  I’d also pay attention to how he reacts to players getting on base and working the count against more talented MLB hitters.

Pedro Beato: He has a solid 93 MPH that was effective in the first part of 2011 as he impressed the Mets as a Rule V pick.  He also mixes in the standard assortment of changeup, slider and curveball.  Beato should not be under pressure to make the squad out of camp and only needs to begin working his way back into the rotational mentality.

What To Watch For: The first start he’s unlikely to really pitch more than an inning.  It would be interesting to see how many innings they stretch him to before sending him to minor league camp.

Jeurys Familia:  He has a big and powerful fastball that sits comfortably between 94-96 MPH and potential plus slider in his repertoire.  His 2011 left little doubt in terms of his pitching ability but a starter needs a third pitch and Familia’s is not up to snuff.  In a perfect world, Familia works on his changeup and becomes a front-line starter.  In an imprerfect world he has the makeup of a very good late inning reliever or closer.

What To Watch For:  Keep track of the velocity on the fastball as you don’t want to see his numbers dropping from last season but pay more attention to how often and effectively he throws his off-speed stuff.  If he’s throwing the slider and the changeup for strikes, it’s a very good sign.

Josh Stinson:  He has a fastball ranging from 91-93 MPH as well as a slider and a curveball.  He’s hardly a top prospect with a limitless future like Familia or Harvey but he could be a part of the Mets bullpen as early as 2012.

What To Watch For: The Mets have options in terms of relief pitching and Stinson needs to earn a role on the Mets from day one.

Mail Bag:

I received a question on Met prospect Steven Matz.  What was the most recent news on him and where I expected him to pitch in 2012.  I believe he should be healthy for 2012 as he began throwing in Port St. Lucie well before Spring Training.  The major question or where he’ll end up is tricky.

Matz is already going to be 21 in May and while that still gives him upwards of 4 developmental years in the minors.  The answer will depend upon whether the Mets think he can still be a professional starter.  If that is the hope, I would start him in Brooklyn, where his age is still appropriate but where he won’t have to go through a full year of innings.  If he does well in the New York Penn League he could skip Savannah and move up to Port St. Lucie in 2013

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