A History of Mets No. 1 Overall Prospects

amed-rosario

Amed Rosario is the Mets’ best prospect, according to Baseball America. He even graced the magazine’s cover recently, so there is little doubt that he will be the most watched minor leaguer in Port St. Lucie this spring. Well, aside from Tim Tebow.

But if history is any indicator, that might not be a good thing for Rosario or the Mets. Baseball America has long kept a list of the top prospects of each organization. Only four of these players became All-Stars with the Mets. Since there’s nothing going on with the team right now besides bloggers speculating about Jay Bruce, let’s take a look at the last quarter-century of Baseball America’s top Mets prospects, and see how they panned out.

2016- Steven Matz–  The book is still out on Matz, but a 3.16 ERA in 28 career starts is pretty encouraging.

2014-15- Noah SyndergaardThe crown jewel of the R.A. Dickey trade has quickly become the biggest star of the Mets’ young guns in the rotation. And that’s only partially due to his spot-on Twitter game.

2012-13- Zack WheelerIt’s crazy to think that just three years ago at this time, Wheeler was considered to be the best of the Mets’ pitching prospects. He showed potential when he pitched, averaging 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014. It’s too bad he hasn’t pitched since due to an extended recovery from Tommy John surgery.

2010-11- Jenrry Mejia– The Mets called up Mejia at just 20 years old in 2010, and after a couple of starts it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t ready. Injuries, poor play and– ultimately– several PED suspensions kept him away from the field. He ended up making history, but not the kind you want to make: He became the first-ever player to get banned by MLB for life due to PEDs, after failing his third positive test last year.

2008-09- Fernando Martinez– Remember when it was the biggest deal that the Mets got Johan Santana without having to trade Fernando Martinez?

Martinez was hyped up for years, but he never panned out in the majors. He played in just 47 games with the Mets from 2009-11, batting .183/.250/.290 with a 46 OPS+. In hindsight, they probably should have traded him

2007- Mike Pelfrey– “Big Pelf” was drafted ninth overall in 2005, and was thrust right into the major leagues the next season. He was wildly inconsistent with the Mets; check out his stat lines from 2007-2011:

2007: 3-8, 5.57 ERA

2008: 13-11, 3.72 ERA

2009: 10-12, 5.03 ERA

2010: 15-9, 3.66 ERA

2011: 7-13, 4.74 ERA

His career with the Mets ended in 2012 after a season-ending elbow injury suffered in his third start of the season.

2005-06- Lastings Milledge– Another high draft pick, Milledge was drafted 12th overall out of high school in 2003. He reached as high as No. 9 overall on Baseball America’s top prospects list, and was immediately billed as a five-tool prospect.

But Milledge’s potential never really translated in the major leagues; he played 56 games for the Mets in 2006 and 59 in 2007 before being traded to the Nats for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. He was out of the majors for good by 2011.

2004- Scott KazmirKazmir has won 108 games and made three All-Star appearances over his 12 years in the big leagues. But he never pitched for the Mets, obviously, thanks to one of the worst trades in team history in which the team traded him for journeyman pitcher Victor Zambrano in 2004.

2003- Jose Reyes– This one worked out, to say the least.

2002- Aaron Heilman– Heilman is obviously remembered for his worst moments– most notably letting up Yadier Molina‘s home run in the 2006 NLCS and countless blown holds and saves in big games during the following years. But he actually had some decent seasons as a reliever with the Mets: He posted a 3.27 ERA and 130 ERA+ from 2005-2007. Too bad nobody’s going to remember that.

1999-2001- Alex Escobar– Escobar is another guy who Mets fans were told minor league legends of for years. He’s the only player to take the No. 1 title three times, but Escobar’s MLB career was pretty forgettable– he played just 18 games for the Mets, all in 2001.

1998- Grant Roberts– Roberts is best remembered being caught in a scandal when pictures of him smoking pot surfaced in 2002. His career went up in smoke soon after that; the Mets released him in 2004, leaving him with a 4.25 ERA in 76 career outings.

1997- Jay Payton– Payton’s rookie year with the Mets in 2000 helped catapult them to the World Series, as he batted .291/.331/.447 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs. He went on to have a sold decade-plus long career in the majors.

1996- Paul Wilson– Wilson was drafted No. 1 overall in 1994 and was the poster-child for the “Generation K” trio of Mets prospects, along with Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen. None of the three accomplished much with the Mets, and only Isringhausen accomplished much at all during his MLB career. Wilson went 5-12 with a 5.38 ERA for the Mets in 1996, which was the only season he spent in the majors with them. He was eventually traded, along with Jason Tyner, to the Rays in the 2000 trade that bought Bubba Trammell and Rick White to the Mets.

1994-1995- Bill Pulsipher– Much like Wilson, Pulsipher entered the majors with much hype but left with little fanfare. He made just 46 big-league starts from 1995-2005.

1993- Bobby Jones– Jones was a staple on Mets teams of the 90s, and was one of the few players from the early-90s doldrums to play for the 1999 and 2000 playoff teams. He went 74-56 with the Mets from 1993-2000, and was named an All-Star in 1997.

1992- Todd Hundley– Hundley is often forgotten because of the guy who became the team’s starting catcher after him. But he put together some very solid seasons for the Mets, namely when he set a single-season club record with 41 home runs in 1996.

So if you’re keeping count at home, just one player on this list turned out to be a long-term star for the Mets: Jose Reyes, although Syndergaard, Matz, and even Wheeler could join him in that category someday. Ten of the 17 players on here did go on to have at least a somewhat productive big-league career: Hundley, Jones, Payton, Heilman (though I cringe putting him in this category), Reyes, Kazmir Pelfrey, Wheeler, Matz and Syndergaard.

Moral of this list: Amed Rosario, no matter what the experts are saying about him, is far from a sure thing.

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About Chris Gaine 100 Articles
Chris is an up-and-coming sportswriter who has spent the bulk of his career covering baseball. He has been published in Complex Sports, Amazin' Avenue and Venom Strikes. He can be found on Twitter @chris_gaine, where he specializes in obscure sports facts.