This weekend, I had the pleasure of having Brian Moritz answer a few questions for me and get us caught up on the Binghamton Mets and also get the scoop on some of our top prospects. Brian has been covering the B-Mets for three years for the Press & Sun Bulletin, and he reports on them daily on his blog Behind the Plate.
JD – One of the most talked about pitching prospects lately has been Jenrry Mejia. A few days ago I read in one of your blog posts that he hit 102 MPH on the radar gun and I think you sparked a whirlwind of excitement in the Mets blogosphere. I would love for you to share your thoughts on Mejia. Is the hype justified? What type of a starter does he project as? What is his ETA?
BM – First of all, let me say this: The 102 mph is what flashed on the scoreboard at NYSEG Stadium here in Binghamton. I have no way of verifying the accuracy of that.
That being said, Mejia has shown some pretty electric stuff. His fastball is, of course, fantastic – he’s hitting the high 90s with ease. He’s got an excellent change-up, and he’s been working hard on his curveball, which he used as an effective strikeout pitch in his last start.
Is the hype justified? That’s hard to say. Remember, he’s still a 19-year-old kid. He’s still learning how to pitch. No matter how good your stuff is, you’ve still got to learn how to pitch, rather than just throw that speed-ball by guys. He’s got to get stronger mentally, learn how to handle tough situations when they arise. Talent-wise? The sky’s the limit for him. He could be a high-end starter, I think. But he’s got a way to go.
JD – You have seen quite a few hitting prospects over the years march through Binghamton. Which ones gave you the best impressions and where do Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy rank in that group?
BM – Murphy is the best minor-league hitter I’ve seen in four years. He was fantastic – he could hit for power (he put one home run off the top of the big video board here last year), he could hit for average, he could go the other way. My favorite Daniel Murphy stat from last year was that he never went more than two games without a hit. That’s just stunning.
Evans was fantastic last year – a little more power than Murphy, but still a good average hitter as well. This season’s been an interesting one for him – he was awful in Buffalo to start and took about two weeks to get going here. But now that he has, he seems to have refound his swing. The coaches I talked to here said Evans had to learn how to deal with failure – something he hadn’t really had to do until the start of this season in Buffalo.
Other good prospects: Mike Carp (who’s in Seattle after the Putz trade) could rake as well as anyone, and Josh Thole’s been fantastic this year.
JD – We’ve heard so many conflicting opinions on Fernando Martinez ranging from some scouts tabbing him as the teenage hitting machine to others saying there’s nothing there to get excited about. Look into your proverbial crystal ball and tell us what you see in F-Marts future?
BM – If I had any skill with a proverbial crystal ball, I’d have a big house on the ocean and spend my days hanging out with my wife and playing with my dog.
But with Fernando, he was such a better player by the end of last year than he was when he first came here in 2007. And remember – the kid is just 20 years old. 20! I don’t buy the notion that, because he was rushed through the system, he should be showing people something now. The fact that he put up solid Double-A numbers and was hitting well at Triple-A tells you all you need to know about his talent. Is he the next hall of famer? That I can’t say for sure. But look at it this way – if it takes him another three years, he’ll still be only 23. That’s still so young in baseball terms.
(By the way, the F-Mart nickname has got to go. Is this what it’s come to in sports, guys just get nicknames based on their initials? It was fine for A-Rod, but that’s it. Fernando itself is a great name to use almost as a nickname for him).
JD – How is right handed pitcher Brad Holt doing in Binghamton? He had such an amazing season last year, and he has really shot up so many of the prospect ranking lists around the web. Will he remain a starter or convert to a reliever? Is he someone Mets fans should get excited about?
BM – Holt has made just one start (as of Friday, June 26, when I’m writing this) because he sprained his ankle after his first start. Nothing serious, and he’s on track to start on Saturday the 27th in Akron. So I really can’t speak to his potential, having seen him just once.
JD – What’s the story on Josh Thole? Is he the catcher of the future for the Mets and do you care to make any comparisons so we can get an idea of what to expect?
BM – Thole’s having a great, great season so far. He’s as good a hitter here as Murphy was last year, and you know my feelings on Murphy. He doesn’t have the power that Murphy did, but he’s just as good an average hitter. His defense is coming along – he’s getting better both calling the games and making the throws to second. Plus he’s got a fantastic attitude – total team-first guy, very positive attitude. I’m not good at comparisons, but just know that Thole’s going to be a very good player for a long time.
JD – Final Jeopardy question… After being selected with the Mets top pick in last years Amateur Draft, some have referred to Ike Davis as a bust. Care to disagree?
BM – Absolutely. You’re going to call a guy a bust after 58 games at Short Season A-Ball? Please. This isn’t the NFL or the NBA – in baseball, guys take longer to develop. Davis has had a great June, both at St. Lucie and since he’s been called up to Binghamton. You’ve got to give a guy a chance to develop.
I want to thank Brian for taking the time out to answer some questions for our site, and I urge all of you to check out his daily updates at Behind the Plate. I’ve been a dedicated reader going on three years and have learned so much about our future Mets in the process.