Prospect Pulse: Breakout Years In 2012

An article by posted on September 1, 2011

In 2011 there has been many disappointing performances among the top prospects in the farm system. Pitchers like Brad Holt, Mark Cohoon, Robert Carson, Kyle Allen, Scott Moviel, Juan Urbina, and Josh Stinson have endured dreadful seasons. A few have missed the entire season due to injuries, important arms like Jenry Mejia, Steven Matz and Brant Rustich.

Many of the top position player prospects have not fared any better. The number one power hitter in the system, 3B Aderlin Rodriguez has struggled mightily, both in the field (42 errors), and with his hitting (.221). CF Matt Den Dekker seems to have topped out at AA, CF Darrell Ceciliani is gaining some steam after a terrible start at Savannah. FMart has looked more like Moises Alou in his last days as a Met, minus the hitting.

Reese Havens is finally back, cross your fingers, and throw some salt over your shoulder. Perhaps he can salvage what was nearly another lost season for him. C Francisco Pena, toiling in the FSL ….well he’s healthy. There’s C Blake Forsythe and his .234 BA in Savannah, and of course, the ruined seasons due to injury to two high level hitting prospects.

The loss in May of “Captain” Kirk Nieuwenhuis to shoulder surgery, and the head injuries suffered by righty slugger Zach Lutz, robbed those players of an ideal opportunity to perform for a team that is going nowhere, and is auditioning it’s “kids.” Speaking of kids, Jefry Marte, Cesar Puello, and Wilmer Flores, all had so-so seasons, but all were playing in a league far advanced for their teenage capabilities, and yet, they all showed significant growth and maturation.

This year two players, LHP Darin Gorski, and OF Juan Lagares have put themselves in the prospect discussion with huge breakout years. With luck, perhaps half of the players listed above will make come-backs in the next year or two. Some might even breakout next year. Who on this list, and what other players in the system are primed for a season in 2012 that will put them on the prospect radar? Here are seven players preparing to make a name for themselves:

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Well Reese Havens is already considered by many to be a top prospect, but due to an injury-marred pro career he has not been able to get the necessary playing time in the minors. All Havens needs, is 500 AAA AB’s, and since he is finally healthy, and he will be penciled in to be the starting 2B in Buffalo next year, the door will be wide open for him to put it all together, and if so, he could be arriving at Citi very fast. Check out Joe D’s recently posted piece on Havens for more details.

Raul Reyes - This is Petey’s Pick for “Coming-out-of-Nowhere” and “Who-is-this-Guy?” awards. Reyes has been kicking around for a while, and I have always loved his “potential” (there’s that word again). The Mets signed Reyes way back in 2004! And, as in the words of the Grateful Dead, “what a long strange trip it’s been.” The 6’0″ 195 lb., lefty swinging outfielder from the Dominican Republic, had a lifetime BA, before this season started, of .244, over five minor league seasons. This year, starting out in AA, he has already surpassed his offensive bests in every category except 3B’s and walks. For Bingo this year, in 367 AB’s he is hitting .292, with 47 runs, 107 hits, 20 2B’s, 4 3B’s, 12 HR’s and 50 RBI’s. His slash line is .292/.339/.466 for an OPS of .805. Reyes was rewarded with a call-up to Buffalo in mid-August where he started out with 4 2B’s, 2 HR’s and 7 RBI over his first ten games. If he can cut down on his strikeouts next year this 25-year-old could find himself at Citifield by the 2nd half.

Tillman Pugh - The speedy outfielder was selected by the Mets in the 15th round of the 2010 draft out of Sonoma State University. At 6’0″ 190 lbs. this speedster can go get the ball wherever it is hit, and once his bat comes around, this kid could be a real sleeper. He was struggling for playing time in the crowded Kingsport outfield, until he was called up to Brooklyn ten games ago. Since arriving at Coney Island he has responded by hitting .308 with an OPS of .938. Depending on how he gets out of the gate in 2012 ST, look for Pugh to have a shot at the starting CF job in Savannah next year.

Collin McHugh - Talk about flying under the radar. This 24-year-old RHP was drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2008 draft, out of Berry College. In 63 GS in his minor league career, McHugh has a lifetime record of 23-14, with a 3.54 ERA. A K/9 of 9.2, a BB/9 of 2.9, and a HR/9 of 0.4. After 6 starts in St Lucie this year, McHugh was promoted to AA Binghamton. There he has gone 7-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 15 GS. In 84 IP, he has 89 K’s and 30 BB’s, and has only surrendered 73 hits and 2 HR’s. McHugh was rewarded Tuesday for his excellent season when he was invited to participate for the Mets in the Arizona Fall League.

Marcos Camarena - If you want a gold nugget to get excited about in this system, keep an eye on Marco next year. He is poised to explode onto the scene, with a live arm, and some nasty stuff. The Mets signed him in 2007 out of Mexico, and the 6’3″ 202 pound right-hander has, at times, dominated at each step of the way so far. This year he is putting together as solid a season as any starter in the Brooklyn rotation going 3-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 GS. Look for Camarena to nail down a rotation spot in Savannah next year.

Cole Frenzel - This is one of the best picks Sandy made that flew under the radar. Frenzel was a draft eligible sophomore from Arizona that the Mets drafted in the 7th round, and signed over-slot. The 6’2″ lefty swinging slugger has been the regular at 1B for the Cyclones this year, and while he struggled at first, he has settled in as the summer has worn on and, before a recent slump, appeared much more comfortable with a wood stick in his hands. Don’t let the early stats fool you, despite Frenzel hitting only .229 with 1 HR and 13 RBI’s for the Clones. I’m sure you remember how another first baseman from Arizona started for the Mets at Brooklyn. Ike Davis started his Cyclone career in 2008 hitting .256 with 0 HR’s and 17 RBI’s. I’m not saying Frenzel is another Ike Davis, but he is a far better and more natural hitter than he has shown in his brief pro career so far. I expect Frenzel to have a big year at 1B for Savannah in 2012.

Gilbert Gomez - The fleet footed outfielder was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. At 6’3″, 190 lbs., and just 19 years old, Gomez is still raw and has not yet scratched the surface of his talents. The Mets must have sensed that this kid was getting ready to take-off when they promoted him from the GCL, straight to the high A Florida State League, essentially skipping two levels, (both rookie and low A) in the middle of August. So far, playing against players 3 to 4 years older than himself, Gomez is hitting .309 in his first 16 games. In 55 AB’s he has 17 hits, 6 runs, 2 2B’s, 1 3B, 3 HR’s, 6 RBI’s, 3 SB’s, a slash line of .309/.367/.545 for an OPS of .912. Sure it’s a tiny sample, but it shows the kid isn’t intimidated by older competition, and it sets him up for a very big season next year, in which Mets fans will be buzzing about this new kid, Gomez.

OTHERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

Phillip Evans SS, Julio Concepcion OF, Greg Pron OF, Dustin Lawley 3B-OF, Akeel Morris RHP, Travis Taijeron OF, Jack “The Rocket” Leathersich LHP, Tyler Pill RHP, Logan Verrett RHP, Cory Mazzoni RHP, and some guy named Nimmo.

These guys are all 2011 draft picks, with the exception of Concepcion and Morris. Phil Evans, Nimmo and the four college pitchers barely got their feet wet in 2011, which is why I expect much more from them in 2012.

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