MMO Top 20 Mets Prospects – #15 Jefry Marte, 3B

Once upon a time there was a 17-year-old, highly rated Mets prospect named Jefry Marte. Marte had signed as an IFA in July 2007, two weeks after his 16th birthday. The young, right-hand hitting third baseman made his stateside debut the following year in 2008, playing for the GCL Mets, where he hit a promising .325 in 154 AB’s, with an OPS of .930.

It was then that Marte’s name started turning up on top prospects lists everywhere. Mets minor league geeks started trying to decide what we would do with David Wright when Marte would inevitably burst onto the scene. Well that might have been a bit premature. That was then, this is now. It will soon be 2012 and Marte’s time may finally be arriving. Welcome to the sixth installment of the official MMO Mets Top 20 Prospects list, featuring Peoria Javelinas third baseman Jefry Marte, at #15.

Marte opened the 2009 season playing for Savannah, in the long-season, South Atlantic League. When Marte began the season there he was playing in a league where the average player age was 21 to 22. Marte was 18, and struggled quite a bit, both at the plate and in the field. In 485 AB’s he hit .233, with an OPS of .617. His fielding percentage was a very poor .856. Scouts called him talented and “raw”.

Much to the disappointment of the previously mentioned Mets minor league geeks, like myself everywhere, Marte got held back for the 2010 season, playing in his second year at Savannah. The now 19 year-old was showing some modest improvement when he was felled by a season ending hamstring injury just when it seemed he was putting things together. At the time he went down, he was hitting .264 in 329 AB’s, and had raised his OPS to .735, and his fielding percentage to .892. In the month of July, just before the injury occurred, his line was .354/.384/.585.

Starting 2011 healthy again, Marte now 20, was moved up to St. Lucie in the Florida State League. Known as a “pitcher’s league,” the average age of a player in the FSL is 22-23, so once again Marte found himself pitted against older players. Despite this challenge, he continued to show growth, albeit in small strides. Although he hit only .248 in 483 AB’s, Marte had career highs in hits (120), 2B’s (22), HR’s (7), RBI’s (55), SB’s (14), walks (41), total bases (167), and his fielding percentage had crept up to .902.

Now comes the interesting part. The Mets chose Marte, along with three other position players, to go to the Arizona Fall League this year, where he is playing for the Peoria Javelinas against the best prospects in the minor leagues. In his first 18 games there, covering 63 AB’s, Marte is hitting .286, with 16 runs, 18 hits, 4 2B’s, 4 HR’s, 15 RBI’s, 34 TB’s, 10 walks, 11 strikeouts, 1 SB, an OBP of .403, a SLG% of .540, for an OPS of .942 It’s a small sample size, but it is against players from the upper levels of the minor leagues. His success, besides building confidence, shows that he is no longer over-matched against top level talent, which is a major step for Marte. Despite his young age of 20, he is starting to compete against older players.

What does he need to do moving forward? As a hitter, Marte must continue to practice discipline regarding off-speed pitches, and stop chasing them out of the strike zone. This will get him in fastball counts which are his strength, and will enable him to cut down on his strikeouts. He also has mechanical issues with his lower half, and is not able to generate power through his weight transfer. When he can find a better timing mechanism, and use his lower half to drive the ball, he should no longer have problems such as an anemic SLG%, and he should absolutely hit homeruns one day.

As a fielder, he’ll never make you think of Brooks Robinson, but there is no reason as of yet to move him off 3B. He charges the ball well, has decent hands and a strong throwing arm. He has problems with his feet going laterally however, and therefore has limited range right now. This can be helped through conditioning and agility work, but as he matures physically and gets thicker, he will have to continue to work hard on this, to remain at the position. The last year he has improved quite a bit in fielding technique, and is not afraid to dive and throw his body around, but where he makes his errors is usually when rushing his throws. Sound familiar?

With a continued strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, Marte could very well force the Mets to promote him to Binghamton for the start of 2012. That would be an incredible accomplishment for a 21-year-old. Again he would be playing against players three years older than himself, but with more and more tools in his tool bag, this hard working ball-player is now better equipped to take on the challenge.

Check back on Monday for my next addition to our MMO 2012 Mets Top 20 Prospects. My short list includes:

  •     Jordany Valdespin   2B
  •     Darrell Ceciliani       CF
  •     Gilbert Gomez          RF
  •     Darin Gorski            LHP