As we approach the end of the first half of the 2012 season, so much has happened and there’s a lot to digest. Who would of thought that if the season ended on June 29, that the Mets would be in line for that second Wild Card?
The Mets minor leagues has also had their share of suprises, some good and some not so good. I thought’s I’d turn to The Incredibles this week and ask them to tell me who they thought were the biggest positive surprise of the first half, as well as which players have disappointed them thus far.
Here is what we came up with and we’ll start off with the good stuff first:
Petey - This one is easy. Wilmer Flores. When you think of how far he’s come in just the last three months, it is staggering and I don’t think anyone else can compete with Flores’ wall-to-wall improvements. Before the season started, he had been playing a position for the Mets that he was not suited for, so he was a man without a position. He had never exhibited any power in his career even though he had been billed as a batsman. He hadn’t hit for average or power yet, and the whispers had turned to loud talking that perhaps his prospect status was undeserved. Well if he hasn’t silenced his critics, he’s sure quieted them down a ton. This year, starting the year at St.Lucie, he had 12 doubles, 10 homers and 42 RBI in just 242 AB’s. he also put up a slash line of .289/.336/.463. Compare that with what he did last year at St. Lucie .269/.309/.380. What’s even better is in his first 24 AB’s in AA he has started out hot .333/.370/.458. He seems to be fitting into the mold of a third-baseman much better than he did as a shortstop, so he has progressed in two main areas this season. I think he has definitely reemerged as a top prospect in the system this year, and he is now in a position to do it and succeed at a high level. If he hits in the Eastern League, Buffalo won’t be far behind.
Clayton - There have been several surprising prospects in 2012, but so far I have to give the nod to Wilmer Flores. After several years of the guy trying to find himself while being foolishly shifted to shortstop, he has started to put it all together at the professional level now that he is back at his natural position of third base. He is driving in runs, seems to have regained his once lost power and even while making the change to Binghamton and sliding over to second base sometimes now, has not let his offense become affected. I could have said Zack Wheeler, but we expected him to perform well; FLores was losing stock, he was starting to become another Fernando Martinez. Instead, he is having a great year and seems to be handling his recent promotion to Double-A very well to this point; before long he should be knocking in runs in Flushing.
Connor - Zack Wheeler. We all knew before this season started that he was one of the top two or three Mets prospects. However, he was considered a project. He had control issues and seemed quite a ways away from the majors. Wheeler’s walks per nine rate two years ago was 5.8. Last year between the Giant and Met organizations, it was 4.1. Now, he’s got it down to 3.7 and has a stellar 2.29 ERA to boot. He’s on the verge of a Triple-A callup and seems a whole lot closer to the majors than we thought.
Satish - I’m going to say Travis Taijeron. His name had never really come across my radar much and he has been scorching the ball down in Savannah/St.Lucie. 19 2B, 3 3B, and 14 HR equal 36 XBH in 250 AB, where he has kept up a .292 average, walked 40 times, and stole 5 bases. The only alarming stat is the 78 strikeouts, which projects for over 150 whiffs for an MLB season. Based on those numbers alone, I could see the average drop to about .265 and a solid 20 HR/35 2B/80 RBI someday. He’s 23.
Fonzie13 - Zack Wheeler’s dominance has really impressed me from day one in AA. Seemed to make the transition from St Lucie rather easily and has been called by a rival scout “the best pitcher in the minor leagues this season.” Honorable mention goes to RHP Rafael Montero of Savannah and now St Lucie. His ability to command three pitches is incredible for such a young guy. I believe he will move quickly through the system. Also a nice bounce back season by Wilmer Flores. Stock up.
Joe D. - Looks like I’ll have to be the tie-breaker and my nod goes to Wilmer Flores. The former number one Mets prospect is moving up the charts again and has resurrected his status as a top prospect by virtue of one of the best half-seasons of any player in the Mets system in 2012. The FSL All Star put an exclamation point onto his fantastic season with the St. Lucie Mets by copping the ALL Star Game MVP honors before shuffling off to Binghamton where he now calls home. If you thought the jump from Single-A to Double-A would slow him down, think again. Flores burst out of the gate like a man on fire and has quickly evolved into one of the most potent bats in the B-Mets lineup. Flores is lighting it up to the tune of a .367/.417/.567 slash, and in his first eight games he has scored five runs, collected 11 hits and driven in nine. Hey Baseball America! Here’s a name for this weeks Hot Sheet.
Petey – For me the biggest disappointment has been Binghamton outfielder Juan Lagares. I thought he would use last year as a springboard, and come out of the box with a newfound enthusiasm, but it just hasn’t been there. After he showed a little life in the month of May, I kept thinking he’s going to start to put something together, but it hasn’t happened. He has been surpassed by this year by outfielders Jordany Valdespin, Matt den Dekker, and Raul Reyes. In 269 AB’s, he has 37 runs scored, 70 hits, 13 doubles, four triples, one home run, 28 RBI, and 10 SB’s. His slash line is .260/.318/.349, and when you think he’s about to pick it up, he has hit .225 in June with zero homers, and seven RBI. His last ten games he is hitting .211 with zero homers, and one RBI.
Clayton – The most disappointing prospect this year for me was Danny Muno. After a solid 2011 pro-ball debut in Brooklyn and a hot start in St. Lucie, I was excited for what he could possibly do in the future for the Mets. Then on May 18th, MiLB came down with a 50-game suspension for MUno for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. I was very upset to see that he was in fact a user of PEDs. There is still the chance he could be a future MLB player for the Mets or another organization, but he has tarnished his image because of a stupid decision, and for that Muno was the biggest disappointment of the first half for me.
Connor – Reese Havens has been really disappointing. He was in the top ten of my pre-season prospect list, but definitely won’t be anymore. He’s barely hitting above .200 for the year in Binghamton. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got cut from the 40-man roster by the start of next season based on his performance so far.
Satish – It has to be Familia in my eyes. He needed to just make general progress because the prospect gods (Mainly, Pete) held him in high regard. I shared that opinion, and had him above Wheeler but behind Harvey in terms of the supposed soon-arriving big three. The problem with Familia this year has been simple: he has basically taken two steps back and zero steps forward. He has walked more batters in AAA to this point in the year than he did all of last year combined, so his BB/9 has climbed. His H/9 has also gone up (increased WHIP) and his K/9 has dropped. Er… yeah.
Fonzie13 - Jeurys Familia by far has been the biggest disappointment. Not even a close 2nd. Honorable mention goes to. Juan Lagares. Stock down.
Joe D. – This is tough. It’s always difficult when I have to point out a bad performance because all too many times the casual fan equates a poor performance or lack of improvement with not giving a 100% effort and that’s simply not true. Nobody wants to fail. A year ago at this time I bet Wilmer Flores would have been everyone’s biggest disappointment along with Fernando Martinez (remember him?). Anyway, just keep in mind that the point of this post is not to pick on a developing prospect, but just to point out those who could definitely use a big turnaround in the second half of this season. For me that prospect would have to be Jeurys Familia. I had great expectations for Familia going into this season and saw him as the first pitcher to make it to the majors among the Big 3. But a 1.75 WHIP and 6.2 walk rate is just too terrible for me to overlook even with the gaudy strikeout rate. I hope Familia can turn it around quick in the second half, but right now the decision to promote Familia to Buffalo after only 17 starts at Double-A with 1.370 WHIP, is looking like a really bad one by the Mets.