03/29/10 10:00 AM ET
Mets' 10 prospects to watch in 2010
Organization bolstered by '08 Draft, international signings
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Prior to the 2009 season, we identified 10 prospects to watch in the Mets farm system. Of those 10, seven remain on the 2010 list.
Ike Davis, 1B: Davis made people forget his somewhat lackluster pro debut by excelling at two levels during his first full season, leading the organization in homers while finishing fourth in RBIs and third among full-season hitters in average. He raised his OPS almost a full 100 points after his promotion, then went on to help Team USA win a gold medal at the IBAF World Cup and hit well in the Arizona Fall League to boot.
Wilmer Flores, SS: The numbers don't seem overwhelming -- .264/.305/.332 -- but it's important to remember Flores spent most of the 2009 season as a 17-year-old in full-season ball. He's just beginning to scratch the surface. Even if he repeats the level all year, he'll still be ahead of the curve.
Reese Havens, SS: Havens' full-season debut didn't blow anyone away, but it also wasn't awful. While he hit just .247 as injuries kept him to 97 games, he did show some extra-base pop (14 HR and 19 2B). There was always the question of whether he could stick at shortstop and the Mets began his transition to second in the Arizona Fall League.
Brad Holt, RHP: Holt got off to a fine start in his full-season debut, earning a promotion after going 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA in nine starts with St. Lucie in the Florida State League. Then he learned that Double-A is hard, going 3-6 with a 6.21 ERA over 11 starts for Binghamton. He's still thought of highly, but it remains to be seen if he can make adjustments to succeed at the upper levels.
Fernando Martinez, OF: Technically, he's still a rookie, but in most respects, 2009 was a lost season for the outfielder. He hit .290 and slugged .540 in 176 Triple-A at-bats but ended up with only 91 big-league ABs, during which he hit .176 before a knee injury shut him down. Martinez had surgery and was named MVP of the Caribbean Series. Don't give up on him just yet, as he's still on the very young side.
Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Originally chosen to represent the Mets at the Futures Game, this electric right-hander had to be replaced due to a finger injury. He missed nearly two months because of that issue and showed some issues with command. That being said, he made it to Double-A before turning 20 and was trying to make up some lost innings as one of the youngest competitors in the Arizona Fall League. Though his numbers weren't great, his electric arm created quite a buzz. The stuff is there; if he can learn to harness it, watch out.
Jon Niese, LHP: It was an up-and-down season for the young lefty, beginning with an awful start at Triple-A (a 7.96 ERA through the first two months). He turned it around and pitched brilliantly until getting called up in late July (he made a brief two-start appearance in May). Just as he was settling into a rotation spot, he tore a hamstring and needed season-ending surgery. He'll be just 23 for all of 2010, so there's plenty of time for him to re-establish himself.
These three players were on our 2009 list but are not on the 2010 list, due to the loss of rookie status, poor performance, injury, the addition of other prospects to the list, etc.
Eddie Kunz, RHP: Things started off so well for the 2007 draftee. As a college closer, he moved quickly through the system and made his big league debut in his first full season of pro ball. The wheels started coming off, particularly in terms of his command. Kunz spent all of last season at Triple-A and finished with a 5.02 ERA and 4.6 BB/9 ratio. His pure stuff is still good, but he's been up in the strike zone too much and hasn't trusted his stuff enough.
Jefry Marte, 3B: The season-long numbers -- .233/.279/.338 -- leave something to be desired, but his age (18) and the fact that he made adjustments and improved in the second half (.254/.307/.368, up from a first half of .217/.257/.315) give reason to remain optimistic about his future. He'll need to find a level of consistency on both sides of the ball, but sometimes maturity and experience help with that.
Prospects to watch
|Ike Davis, 1B||Ike Davis, 1B|
|Wilmer Flores, SS||Wilmer Flores, SS|
|Reese Havens, SS||Reese Havens, SS/2B|
|Brad Holt, RHP||Brad Holt, RHP|
|Eddie Kunz, RHP||Fernando Martinez, OF|
|Jefry Marte, 3B||Jenrry Mejia, RHP|
|Fernando Martinez, OF||Jon Niese, LHP|
|Jenrry Mejia, RHP||Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF|
|Jon Niese, LHP||Ruben Tejada, 2B/SS|
|Bobby Parnell, RHP||Josh Thole, C|
Bobby Parnell, RHP: A starter throughout his Minor League career, Parnell was a valuable reliever for most of the 2009 season and also chipped in with eight starts, with less success. He had a 3.46 ERA in 60 relief outings. His 7.93 ERA as a starter, while coming from a small sample size, is obviously less becoming. He's likely headed for a relief role this season.
The following four players are new additions to the Mets' Prospects to Watch list.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF: The Mets' third-round pick in 2008, Nieuwenhuis certainly put himself more firmly on the map in his first full season. He began the year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League, making the All-Star team, and ended up in Double-A at the end of the year. Combined, he hit 17 homers and stole 17 bags while hitting .282/.364/.479.
Ruben Tejada, 2B/SS: He didn't turn 20 until September and more than held his own at Binghamton, hitting .289 with a .351 OBP. He stole 19 bases and struck out only 59 times in 488 at-bats. After a stint in the AFL, he should move up to Triple-A and provide some good insurance if Jose Reyes can't stay healthy at short or a possible solution at second along with Reese Havens.
Josh Thole, C: Thole doesn't get a lot of love in prospect circles because of a lack of power, but at some point, one has to look past it and see his .291 career average and .379 OBP in the Minors. He hit .328 in Double-A last season, then .321 during a September look-see in the bigs before heading to Venezuela, where he continued to rake, finishing second in the league with a .381 average. The signing of Rod Barajas likely means a trip to Triple-A.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.