Recently I did an email interview with Joe DeMayo who does a fantastic job covering the Mets Minor Leagues and the MLB Draft for the excellent Mets site, St. Lucie To Flushing.
1. Where do you rank the Mets Minor League System on a scale of 1-10 in the following areas:
A) Starting Pitching: 3. And that could possibly be generous. Frankly the only pitchers that I truly see as big league starting pitchers in the organization are Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, and Matt Harvey. And there are even questions as to whether Mejia or Harvey will end up starters or back end relievers.
B) Power Hitters: 7. They have some guys that can really put the ball out of the park. Fernando Martinez when healthy along with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda should provide plenty of power in AAA. In AA Reese Havens and Sean Ratliff have very good power, Ratliff is a sleeper for me. In A+ they have Wilmer Flores, Cory Vaughn and maybe Cesar Puello’s BP power translates to games. Then you have the best power bat in the system in Aderlin Rodriguez down in Savannah.
C) Potential Star Caliber Players: 6. I think they have a few potential stars in Mejia, Flores, Harvey, Puello and Aderlin Rodriguez. Problem is they do not have any Jason Heyward’s, or Mike Stanton’s etc. All their potential star caliber players could be flops or just solid major leaguers. They don’t have that one stand out prospect that you are certain will be a superstar.
D) Overall: 5. I’ll say 5 because despite what some may feel, I think they are a middle of the pack or so farm system. They have some good prospects that look like big leaguers, even if not stars. If they keep up spending in international free agency and really focus on draft spending and scouting this farm could jump quick. I trust Sandy Alderson and co. to be able to handle this.
2. At what position do the Mets have the most quality depth and why?
No doubt it’s in the outfield. I guess why is a hard question, they just struck luck with those group of guys. But they have guys like Duda, Nieuwenhuis, Martinez, Ratliff, Puello, Vaughn, Darrell Ceciliani, Javier Rodriguez. That is a good amount of solid outfielders that I could see them all ending up in the major leagues one day, some sooner than later. The outfielders really excite me.
3. Which Mets prospect took the biggest step forward in 2010?
Many I am sure will disagree, but for me it’s Sean Ratliff. Ratliff prior to 2010 to me was just a guy who could hit a few balls out of the park but would strike out way too much to put forth any form of a solid season. But man did he surprise me. The call to AA really sparked him. He OPS’ed .933 up in Binghamton, and I really am starting to think Ratliff could end up a big league regular in the outfield. He plays a solid center, but likely will have to be a corner as a pro.
4. Which Mets prospect took the biggest step backward?
I’ll go with Brad Holt on this one. He simply I don’t think could have been any worse. He was a top 5 prospect in the system for some people coming into 2010, and now there are many people who completely write him off as a big leaguer. I personally think he still has a shot as a middle reliever if he can get some control and stop throwing balls at the backstop. But the big bonus baby, and Brooklyn strike-out record holder took an enormous step back in the eyes of the public. He will really have to rebound this year in Binghamton to regain the trust of the organization and the fans. I personally would put him in the pen now and give up on the starting experiment that simply won’t work.
5. Lets have some fun. What will the 2013 Mets Opening Day Lineup look like?
C: Josh Thole 1B: Ike Davis 2B: Brad Emaus 3B: David Wright SS: Jose Reyes LF: Jason Bay CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis RF: Wilmer Flores. Let’s order it Reyes-Nieuwenhuis-Wright-Davis-Bay-Flores-Emaus- Thole. I could imagine this being horribly wrong.
6. Boom or Bust?
A) Wilmer Flores: Boom. I have him in RF above, but I think he best translates in left at the big league level. His bat is exceptional, and as long as he stays healthy he’s going to have a long career as an above average offensive player.
B) Lucas Duda: Boom as a DH. I don’t think Duda really has a position, and I think he’s going to be much better suited in the AL. If he has a real good first half don’t be surprised if he’s dangled at the deadline to an AL team for pitching.
C) Fernando Martinez: Bust. Pains me to say it, I love Martinez. But I have all but given up hope that the kid will ever be healthy. Shame because his offensive upside is special, but he’ll never get to realize it.
D) Brad Holt: Bust. He may end up carving out a career in middle relief, but that’s not a $1M investment like the Mets made in him on draft day.
E) Reese Havens: Bust. I am going to put him in the Fernando territory where he simply will never be healthy. It’s a shame because him and Martinez both if they were healthy they have very good upside.
F) Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Boom. I was not too high on Kirk in 2010, even when he was performing well. But he’s grown on me. I think he’ll be able to play an acceptable center field, and has 20/20 type potential at the plate. He does need to work on plate discipline though, but he abuses the baseball on the line to gaps on a regular basis. He very well could be taking over after Beltran leaves.
7. Who is the best Mets prospect most Mets fans never heard of?
He has recently gotten a little love as a sleeper, but I would have to say Akeel Morris. The Mets drafted Morris in the 2010 draft, and he’s armed with a mid 90s fastball and an above average breaking ball. We’ll see about developing a quality third pitch, but I had one scout compare Morris to Frankie Rodriguez. With the herky jerky motion and all.
8. The Mets will have the #13 pick in the 2011 June Draft. I know it’s early, but are there any solid players that will be there for the Mets? Who do you like?
It depends on signability and whatnot of course. But I am all over the college pitching right now at 13. They could get guys like UCONN’s Matt Barnes, Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, UCLA’s Trevor Bauer (fav of mine), Texas’s Taylor Jungmann and Georgia Tech’s Jed Bradley. College pitching is definitely the strength of the draft. As far as high schoolers, I am big on RHP Archie Bradley, LHP Daniel Norris and RHP Dylan Bundy. Regardless I can’t see any logic and going anything other than pitching at 13.
9. On Sunday, their was a Daily News piece on how the Mets have revamped their approach to scouting. Did you get a chance to read it and what were your thoughts?
I like it a lot. This organization now has a plan. It’s fun to know intelligent people are running the team, and are prepared to send them in the right direction. They will have scouts monitoring specific organizations so the team could have very in depth scouting reports on everyone so when it comes time to trade they will know exactly who they like and why. In the past regime, you almost feel like they were picking at straws. Could this plan falter because you can’t possibly see enough of everyone? Sure, but I’ll take a legitimate plan that fails over guessing and hoping.
10. Which pitching prospect will have the better major league career, Jenrry Mejia or Matt Harvey?
I am actually going to vote Harvey. Harvey has the natural pitcher’s build, a little mechanical flaw, but certainly fixable. He has a fastball that cranks up to 98, as well as 3 average or better secondaries in his curve, slider and change. Mejia right now to me is a 1 pitch pitcher that needs a lot of work on his curve and change. Mejia to me has a better shot to end up in the bullpen than Harvey does, and I always give the edge to a starter over a reliever.
11. More of a Mets question, but how would you grade the Mets offseason, and how many games do you think they will win in 2011?
Considering the financial restraints put on Sandy Alderson, I think he did a strong job. I would give him a B simply based on what he had, not in relation to general moves or in comparison to what other teams did. He filled every hole that the Mets had with at least an able body. Unlike Omar Minaya, Alderson didn’t leave holes to be stronger in another area. He made sure he filled everything, and gave the team depth nearly everywhere too. The job he did this offseason I think is being severely underrated. I am going to give the team 85 wins if healthy.
12. Tell us about your very unique Mets blog, St. Lucie to Flushing and how you became interested in covering the Mets minor leagues as well as the MLB Draft?
Well I have contributed many places, including Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest, which I still read on a daily basis. I love to write about the Mets, and I love to cover the minors specifically. There aren’t too many Mets blogs out there that have a hard focus on the minors, and not just recapping games, but really focusing on the small details. We try to do that over at PSL2F, it launched rather quick last year, but in 2011 I expect real big things from the blog. I want to have video of prospects playing live this summer. I intend to attend games for all levels other than GCL, Kingsport and St Lucie. I will have plenty of exclusive interviews with prospects as well. I just simply enjoy this, this is all fun for me. There is nothing like having multiple tabs open following the Gameday’s of every minor league affiliate while watching the big club on my TV. I am excited for the future of St Lucie to Flushing, and I hope everyone goes and checks it out this summer, as the content will be unique and informational for all fans. We want fans to know more than just the top prospects. Our goal is to have everyone to know everyone from the top to the bottom. That’s the goal.
Thanks for your time Joe. Check out St. Lucie To Flushing and add them to your favorites. If you go there now you will find their latest post with features player projections for Wally Backman’s Binghamton Mets. You can also follow Joe on Twitter at PSLToFlushing.