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2008 Review


TH: Josh Thole hit a little and reached base a lot in the FSL and AFL.? My guess is that you'll say that questions about his defensive ability prevented him from cracking the top 11.? True?

KG: and the fact that he just doesn't have much juice in his swing.

KG: It's hard to rank catchers with defensive issues.? They have to be good enough offensively to start, because it's hard to find backups who aren't defensively oriented.

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Following his the release of his list of the Mets Top 11 Prospect List at Baseball Prospectus, I chatted with prospect guru Kevin Goldstein.   Please read his piece first, as our talk is meant as an auxiliary to his posted work.  Our conversation largely focused on those players who were included on his list, although we also covered some of the near misses.  To keep the comment section clean, I've cut the interview into six pieces, each focused on a particular player or issue.

TH: Lets do a general question or two first.  Does ranking the Mets system pose any particular challenges versus other systems?

KG: Well, you do have the issue of the top talents are so young, especially Marte and Flores. Obviously, they had great scouting reports coming up as amateurs, and they lived up to, if not exceeded expectations in their pro debut, but there is still a lot of unknowns with them.  Even with a guy like F-mart, you're always trying to keep the age in mind with reference to what he's done and what the scouts are telling you.

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For a New York Penn League team, this is an unusually interesting bunch of hard throwers.? Of course, in so many ways, the Cyclones are not an average Short Season team.

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[table=31]

R/R ? 6?4? 195 ? 1s ?08 (UNC Wilmington) ? b. 10/13/86

This one?s simple: for me, Brad Holt is the best pitching prospect in the Mets system. Holt has a perfect pitcher?s frame and uses it to generate a plus fastball (93-95 mph) that he has learned to locate. His breaking ball made significant progress over the summer as he tightened up a slurvy offering from college into a sharp curveball. The pitch is still inconsistent, but Holt?s progress leaves room for optimism. Holt almost never threw his changeup in the NYP because he didn?t need it. If he?s going to develop into a top of the line starter, that pitch must at least become usable.

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[table=18]

3B - R/R ? 6?1? 220 lbs ? drafted 5th rd 2007? b. 6/3/86

Lutz, who missed the entire 2007 season with an injury suffered on Opening Night, showed power, patience and contact ability in 2008. Scouts loved his swing. One described an MLB caliber bat where even his outs were hit hard. However, injuries struck Lutz again, ending his season early on July 18th. Beginning 2009 as a 22-year old with 74 professional AB in two years trying to make a full-season club is a difficult way to forge a big league career.

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The 2008 Brooklyn Cyclones finished 45-30, in second place in the New York-Penn League McNamara Division four games behind the Staten Island Yankees. The Cyclones fell just 1.5 games shy of the wildcard spot eventually controlled by the Jamestown Jammers. Brooklyn burst back into the playoff race by reeling off nine straight wins from August 24th-September 1st bringing drama to the season?s final weekend.

Brooklyn led the NYP in attendance for the eighth straight year, pulling in 265,200 over 36 dates for a 7,367 average.

The Mets stock the Cyclones with the best of their recent college draftees and other A-ballers from around the system. As a result, Brooklyn has never finished below .500, coming closest in 2002, when the team was 38-38.

I?ll go through the position players today, and the pitchers tomorrow.

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LHP Michael Antonini ? R/L ? 6?0? 190 ? 18th Rd ?07 ? b. 8/6/85

I wrote about Antonini?s excellent season in the St. Lucie wrap.

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Francisco Pena? R/R ? 6?2? 230 lbs ? NDFA ?06 ? b. 10/12/89

G

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The 2008 Savannah Sand Gnats finished 61-76. The Gnats were 33-37 in the first half, 13 games out in fifth place, but slipped a little to 28-39 in the second half into 8th (last) place in the SAL Southern Division in the second half.

The Savannah offense was the league?s lowest scoring unit, plating only 540 runs (3.94 r/g). The team?s AVG (.250) and OBP (.308) were second from the bottom, while the Gnats were last in the league in slugging (.357) and homers (62).

The Gnats hard-throwing pitching staff was the strength of the team. seventh in the league with a 3.88 ERA with the seventh most strikeouts (1006) with the fifth-most walks (438), but the fifth fewest hits (1145).

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CF Ezequiel Carrera ? L/L ? 5?10? 180 lbs ? NDFA ?05 ? b. 6/11/87

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Lucas Duda ? L/R ? 6?4? 225 lbs ? 7th Rd 2007 ? b. 2/3/86

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Jordan Abruzzo ?S/R ? 6?2? 220 lbs ? 13th rd ?07 ? b. 8/2/24

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The Mets Florida State League team finished with a league worst 53-81 record. However, the good news in terms of wins and losses is that after a dreadful 19-50 first half, the club improved to go 34-31 in the second half, finishing 5.5 games behind the first place Daytona Cubs.

The Mets started the season as poorly as a team possibly could ? by losing its first six games. Before April was out, the Mets had lost 11 in a row on their way to a 5-21 opening month. May, which featured a 12 game skid, was not much kinder, as the team finished the month 7-22.

As a team, the Mets lived near the bottom of the league statistical record boards in most categories. The team ERA of 4.43 was the worst in the league by over a third of a run. The Mets did walk just 389 batters, second fewest on the circuit. However, all of those strikes came at a cost, the staff gave up the second most homers (107), and struck out the second fewest (902) of any of the league?s units. The team scored 517 runs (3.7 r/g), second worst in the league and was in the bottom third of the league in AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, 2B, BB, and SB.

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LHP Adam Bostick ? L/L ? 6?1? 233 lbs ? Acquired in trade w/ FLA w/ Jason Vargas for H. Owens & M Lindstrom ? b. 3/17/83

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Now that I'm not watching Mets games every night, I can return to my end-of-season recaps.? We resume by taking a look at some of the guys who pitched in New Orleans in 2008.

LHP Jon Niese ? L/L ? 6?4? 215 lbs ? 7th Rd ?05 ? b. 10/27/86

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LF Chris Aguila ? R/R ? 5?11? 200 ? MiLB FA ? 2/23/79

AAA: .295/.378/.560 20 2B, 2 3B, 29 HR, 53 BB, 102 K, 13/17 K ? 420 AB, 116 G

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3B Fernando Tatis ? R/R ? 5?11? 195 ? MiLB FA 3/07--1/1/75

AAA: .242/.345/.592, 6 2B, 12 HR, 17 BB, 23 K ? 120 AB, 37 G

MLB: .297/.369/.484, 16 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 29 BB, 59 K ? 273 AB, 92 G

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The New Orleans Zephyrs finished the 2008 season 66-75 with a crazy 11 inning win as Hurricane Gustav closed in on the Big Easy. The Zephyrs finished their two-year run as a Mets affiliate with a 141-144 record and the American South Division Championship in 2007.

On April 5th, 2007, in Nashville, the New Orleans Zephyrs began their time as a Mets affiliate with a 4-1 win in a game started by Philip Humber. Anderson Hernandez played shortstop, while Ruben Gotay was his double-play partner at second base. The real excitement for the team appeared to be in the outfield, where Carlos Gomez was in center, Ben Johnson roamed in right, and Lastings Milledge waited in the wings. However, those three talented players almost never played together thanks to injuries, and big league call-ups necessitated by other big league injuries. The ?07 team made a late run, capturing the division before reaching the league finals.

So on April 3rd, 2008 the Zephyrs hosted the Nashville Sounds to begin their second year as a Mets affiliate. Anderson Hernandez, leading off and playing shortstop, was the only repeat starter from the previous year. Now, he had Argenis Reyes as his double-play partner and Fernando Tatis, to his right, at third.

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RHP Eduardo Aldama ? R/R ? 6?1? 180 ? NDFA (7/15/06) ? 12/23/89

1-5, 4.75 ERA, 12 G, 9 GS, 47.1 IP, 48 H, 36 R, 25 ER, 1 HR, 13 BB, 42 K

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CF Javier Rodriguez ?R/R? 6?2? 165 lbs - 2nd rd 2008 - 4/4/90

.193/.258/.237 ? 3 2B, 1 HR, 10 BB, 27 K ? 135 AB, 38 G

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3B Jefry Marte ? R/R ? 6?1? 190 ? NDFA (7/2/07) ? 6/21/91

.325/.398/.532 ? 14 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 13 BB, 30 K ? 154 AB, 44 G

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