Down on the farm: New York Mets
The Mets farm system is starting to make a comeback. Many of the higher-level prospects have been needed in the majors due to the rash of injuries the Mets have had over the past few seasons; however, the lower levels definitely have some talent that should excite the Mets like Justin Bieber excites 15-year-old girls. (Okay, maybe not that much, but I digress).
Every time the Mets have had a championship team, they have been built on power pitching. From Seaver and Ryan in ’69 to Doc Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez in 1986. I’m not saying Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are going to be like them, however, if they pan out to be even good major league pitchers, it could be the start to a great foundation for the team on the mound. Both are former first-round picks, and both have been excelling in the minors in the short time in their careers. Two other right-handers to watch are Jeurys Familia and Michael Fulmer.
Fulmer was a high pick last year and is only 19, so he’s a few years off. Familia had more than a strikeout per inning at Binghamton last year and is a former All-Star Futures Game selection. The pitcher who may be closest to helping is Jenrry Mejia. Mejia is recovering from Tommy John surgery, however, once healthy, he could be used in the bullpen in 2012 to groom for a starter role in 2013. He will only be 22 as of opening day, so he still has a future ahead of him.
The hitting department is where Sandy Alderson and his gang of moneyball men need to improve the system. Their highest ranked guys over the past few years are in the majors in Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. Fernando Martinez is an injury enigma. The guy has loads of talent, however, he’s injured all the time. Reese Havens was the other first-round pick in the Ike Davis draft. Havens has injury issues (stop me if you’ve heard this before), however, he still hit a respectable .289 last season and was just added to the 40-man roster. This year’s first-round pick, Brandon Nimmo, is someone the Mets have high hopes for in the future. Nimmo didn’t play as much as other high school kids because he’s from Wyoming, however, they still see a lot of upside for him.
Two sleeper players to watch crack the Mets in 2012 are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz. Nieuwenhuis and Lutz both could have been up last year had it not been for injuries (F.Mart isn’t the only one who gets hurt). Nieuwenheuis has been a consistently high .270-.290 hitter in the minors as well as a good fielder. Lutz was voted by Baseball America to have the best power bat of any Mets prospect. If there are any injury problems at the corners in 2012, Lutz may get a call.
Wilmer Flores and Jordany Valdespin are intriguing middle infield options. Flores is 21 and hasn’t hit enough to be considered for an MLB spot yet. Valdespin may be the second baseman sooner rather than later. He hit 17 HR in the minors last year, but the Mets need to find out if its a fluke or a sign of things to come.
The Mets need to improve their farm system, however they have some intriguing prospects that may make an impact in the years to come. With their money problems, and players locked into long-term bad contracts (see Jason Bay) the Mets need to develop their own. If the fans give Alderson some time, they may reap the awards down the line.