For the last few years, Tej and David, the geniuses behind Mets Prospect Hub, have provided our site with each night’s Mets Minor League Report. Their daily reports kept us abreast of the progress of every major and minor Mets prospect, as well as each minor league affiliate. And this year promises to be even better and feature more analysis.
Long before Jeurys Familia, Kyle Allen and Kirk Nieuwenhuis became so familiar to Mets fans, we already knew who they were and eagerly followed their breakthrough seasons one game at a time here at Mets Merized Online thanks to them. To kick off a new season of their amazing work, I asked them to answer a few questions for us our prospects and also tell us a little about Mets Prospect Hub. Here goes…
Last spring, Brad Holt was all the rage at Port St. Lucie and it was his fastball that everyone was talking about. What happened to him and what does the future hold for him?
Tej: Holt came to camp last year out of shape, which was strike one. Despite that, he had a good season until he rolled his ankle walking down the dugout stairs after his first start in Binghamton (par for the course in 2009 in Mets-ville, huh?). He skipped the Domincan Instructional League after the season ended, which soured his stock inside the organization, but on the field, the lack of a secondary pitch is a big concern.
Holt did side work on his own this offseason at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He began throwing a changeup which he already says is plus. Still, it’s obvious he’s in the doghouse a bit as he wasn’t even a NRI (Non-Roster Invitee) this spring (as Jenrry Mejia was).
I believe, he’s a middle reliever, maybe even a setup man if he can get a passable second pitch. The jury is still out on him, though, since he’s going to get every opportunity to start again (beginning in Binghamton this year).
David: I think Tej covered this for the most part (and wrote a three paragraph essay in the process), but I will say that something was obviously off with him once he got to Binghamton. Possibly a mix between the upgrade in talent between the levels, but every peripheral shows something else had to be in the mix. Whether he was injured or what, he became very hittable, his strikeouts went down, his walk rate stayed close to his average, and his HR rate was very high. However, his LOB% was 58.8, very below average so unless he has trouble with men on base he got a bit unlucky. I think Holt will be much better in AA this season, and I still think his upside is a #3 starter in the bigs, but like Tej said, his most likely future might be in the bullpen.
Do we have a second baseman of the future?
Tej: We have several (laughing). Ruben Tejada, Reese Havens, and Jordany Valdespin will each man second base for Buffalo, Binghamton, and St. Lucie. My money is on Havens, but the prospect community (at least the fans) are split 47.5/47.5 on Tejada and Havens (the other 5 going to Valdespin).
David: Yes. Like Tej said, we have 3 candidates, and I am certain that one of them will become our “2B of the future”. I love what Tejada is doing at such a young age, but his upside is probably as a Luis Castillo type hitter. I actually see Tejada settling in as an Erick Aybar (Angels) clone. On the other hand, Havens’ upside is probably a bit better because of the power potential and I think every team salivates at the thought of having a second baseman with 20+ homerun pop. While Tejada has shown more to this point, I could see him manning 2B for us after Castillo is gone, until Havens is ready (if he ever is) and then he will become a valuable trade chip. Valdespin has a lot further to go, but he oozes tools and talent, so it will remain to be seen what he can do with them.
What makes Ike Davis any different from all the other Mets first basemen of the future like Mike Carp and Nick Evans?
Tej: Pedigree, I suppose. Ike’s better defensively with a better arm, and more power potential then Carp. As for Evans, don’t give up on him just yet, I haven’t (even if everyone else has).
David: Agreed on pedigree. His father played in the Majors, and he was also a star at a very good collegiate baseball school in Arizona State. As a first round pick, he automatically jumped into the top prospect spotlight, whereas Carp and Evans were lower round picks who had to work their way up the prospect ladder. I do think Ike’s upside is much higher than either Carp or Evans, even though I did/have liked Carp since he was drafted… he had always been my “sleeper prospect” and still has a chance to become a starter with Seattle.
What will the Mets Opening Day lineup look like in 2012?
Tej: Questions like these always lead to Pollyanna accusations (laughing), but I’ll take a stab anyway:
1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Josh Thole C
3. Fernando Martinez CF
4. David Wright 3B
5. Jason Bay LF
6. Ike Davis 1B
7. Reese Havens 2B
8. Kirk Nieuwenhuis RF
David: Can’t disagree with Tej’s lineup at this point.
Which prospect will make the biggest impact for the Mets this season?
Tej: In the majors? Jon Niese (if you count him), or Fernando Martinez.
David: Niese, or Ike, if all the other 1B guys wet the bed.
What players will the Mets be looking at in the first round of the June Amateur Draft?
Tej: That’s not my area of expertise, but… Anthony Ranuado, Drew Pomeranz, Bryce Brentz (all 3 of whom I wouldn’t want), AJ Cole, James Tallion (if he falls to 7, you take him and run away laughing), obviously Bryce Harper (on the off chance hell freezes over and he’s there at 7…), Dylan Covey, and I’m sure there are other names I’m forgetting.
David: Tej covered the most likely top 7 picks, but I’ll add Deck McGuire and Karsten Whitson. You can’t go wrong with a lot of these guys.
How did Mets Prospect Hub come to be? When did you realize you had an enjoyment and real interest in Mets Minor League Baseball?
Tej: MPH was, I’d say, a very … flukish happening. I started out posting on the board at mets.com (I really don’t recommend it, try MetsRefugees and NYFS, those two are much better), and a poster used to do daily recaps (like I did before I switched formats). I took over after he left, and I met David there in an AIM chat in August of 2005. By January of 2006, we kicked around the idea of a blog, but that was my last two semesters of college, so I said lets hold off.
We started MPH in November of ’06, and it’s been going strong ever since. David and I are great friends, and I’ve made some good contacts through the blog. As for the interest in prospects…I think that was also 2005, when I realized the model franchise was the Braves (14 straight division titles, always replenishing from within). I took an interest in what we had in the cupboard (which back then, honestly wasn’t much).
Can I just say, in closing, I can’t remember the last time the farm’s been brimming with so much talent before. It’s a very exciting time to be a minor league fan, and if fans can live with a sub-par 2010, 2011 promises to be much better in the majors, in my opinion.
David: MPH was a spur of the moment idea that we just kicked around and eventually it just caught on as something fun we could do. I started following the Mets minor leagues in 2005, I just loved the aspect of excitement and unknown that came with prospects, and this was still somewhat soon after Reyes and Wright started to make noise as products of our farm system.
Like Tej said, the Mets farm system this year is easily the best it’s been since I started following the minor leagues, we are all in for a treat.
Thanks guys and we look forward to following another season of Mets Minor League baseball through your intuitive, accurate and insightful reports. Check out Mets Prospect Hub for even more Mets Minor League coverage and add them to your favorites.
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