With about 3 days left until the “official” start of spring training for the New York Mets, minor league rosters are something that most fans are not currently focusing on. This article is by no means an argument as to why you should be, but more of an attention grabber trying to explain what we might have down in AAA… some much needed depth. Now I know that many people feel that minor league teams are for rising stars and prized prospects to gain experience, and while I definitely don’t argue with that, I also realize that the minors are a great area to stockpile those not so flashy veterans who have both the knowledge and experience. This is especially true for AAA teams, as these veterans also serve as guides and mentors to younger, less experienced players.
With Spring Training battles yet to begin, this article is written under my assumptions of who will and will not make the Opening Day roster. That being said, lets take a quick look at those who might be sent to Buffalo and could prove as invaluable depth to our beloved Mets:
- Frank Catalanotto
- Alex Cintron
- Jolbert Cabrera
- Chris Coste
- Chris Carter
- Jason Pridie
- Nick Evans
- Mike Hessman
While this list is compiled of many players who are either past their prime or considered quality AAAA players, they do provide decent depth in any case of injury. And as we all learned and suffered through last year, depth is something you really can’t have too much of. Now that we have our list, lets dig a little deeper.
Frank Catalanotto: While Frank might not possess the power numbers or overall skill set of an everyday major league player, he does posses a lifetime .292 average, a left handed bat, and the skill to man many positions on the field. This could prove to be a valuable addition to our bench, although I feel that Frank gets beat out by Mike Jacobs for the last bench spot during Spring Training.
Alex Cintron: With the ink still drying on his recently signed minor league deal, Alex Cintron brings good middle infield versatility, a lifetime .275 BA, and the ability to hit from both sides of the plate. With Luis Castillo’s knees, and Alex Cora’s injuries, might not be a bad guy to have waiting in Buffalo.
Jolbert Cabrera: Here is another middle infield option, although not as impressive as Cintron. Cabrera’s lifetime .257 BA is not terrible, but his experience and defense are probably going to prove more valuable in the long run. Good insurance plan B, not great.
Chris Coste: Coste has about as much of a chance of making the opening day roster as I do, but that’s not really what he was signed for. Coste was brought in to show Josh Thole the ropes in AAA, serving as that “Crash Davis” type mentor that could prove huge in Thole’s defensive development and ability to call games. In the event that he is needed during the season, he is a decent hitter with the ability to put the ball out of the park.
Chris Carter: One thing that we all know about Carter since his short time as a Met, he can hit the cover of the ball. Now if that can translate from batting practice to the majors, we might have some other competition for that final bench spot. Carter is one of those players who seems to excel in the minors, but never gets his chance to shine. Hopefully this is the year he puts it all together, we could use a power bat off the bench.
Jason Pridie: A former second round draft pick in 2002, Pridie is one of those guys who can play any three of the outfield positions. He seems to have a decent bat, although I doubt he is ever going to develop into a serious power threat. That might be irrelevant however, as Pridie possesses great speed, both on the base paths and in the outfield. Speed is something you can never have enough of, unfortunately for Jason Pridie, Angel Pagan seems to be a step ahead.
Nick Evans: Once considered an important Mets puzzle piece on many message boards and blogs, Nick Evans had a bad year in 2009 and seemed to fall off the map. Early reports are that he worked hard in the off-season and reported to camp early and eager to get things going. This could be his last shot with the Mets organization, although I hope they find a way to keep him around as he has the potential to be a good right handed bat once Fernando Tatis moves on.
Mike Hessman: I really don’t know too much about Hessman, except the fact that he absolutely crushes the baseball. Hessman has over 300 minor league home-runs in 14 seasons. While this sounds incredible on paper, the fact of the matter is he’s a career minor leaguer, who is on the wrong side of 30, and owns a career .229 BA. Doubt he sees time with the Mets, but stranger things have happened. Killer sideburns either way!
I’m sure there will be those who continue to argue the youth movement in AAA, please just remember that rushing your top prospects doesn’t always equal success. I would rather have someone like Frank Catalanotto or Alex Cintron ready to be called up for a couple of days, then to slow the progress of one of our younger prospects by letting him sit on the bench at Citi Field. Just a thought.