The lefthanded hitting Thole (.346/.414/.455 on July 1) has been at the top of the League's leaderboards in hitting and OBP all year. At this writing, his line drive stroke and contact orient approach have produced a line that second in the EL average, and fifth in OBP. Thole has hit just one home run, but his 21 doubles are third in the EL. I had the 22-year old Thole ranked as the 16th best prospect in the Mets system coming into this year. He's risen up those ranks, but not as much as some fans might think. (I swear, I'm going to get to a top 41 update soon.) The gap between his perfect world projection (Dr. Pangloss) and his downside, still lingers. Here's what I wrote over the winter:
I recently spoke with a scout who had seen the B-Mets for one day as he was finishing up an assignment to cover their opponents and was not responsible for reports on the B-Mets. "Oh yeah," he said, of the B-Mets, "they have that catcher who can hit." On his defense, unfortunately, I could extract no useful information. I'm still working on it.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Thole will hit enough to be an above average regular behind the dish for an MLB team.
On the Flipside: Thole’s defense will not improve to the point that an MLB team will start him everyday behind the plate, and that will leave him as a tweener: not enough D to catch, and not enough O for first.
The B-Mets closer for the early part of the year, Merritt has alternated good months (1.98 ERA in April and 0.77 ERA in June) with a mess in May (6.35 ERA). The left-handed side winder has struck out 35 batters in 36.2 innings, which is excellent, but has walked 18 batters, which is worrysome.
His future at the big league level is, at best, as a lefty specialist. He's held lefties to a .200/.314/.300 line in AA this year, but righties have hit him up to a .289/.375/.487 line.
I had Merritt ranked #40 in the system entering the year. His lack of ceiling holds him down in any rankings, but he's more or less succeeded at AA, which moves him one step closer to the big league dream and a couple of notches or more up my ladder. If Merritt, a 29th round pick out of Southern A&M ever reaches the big leagues, he would provide exceptional value from such a late round pick.
Wabick, who turned 25 on the penultimate day of May was the Mets 25th round pick in 2005 out of the College of Charleston. After splitting 05 and 06 between Brooklyn and Kingsport, the left-handed hitting OF has moved at a level a year, passing through Savannah in '07, and St. Lucie in '08 to reach Binghamton in '09 where he's hit .291/.317/.391 with 20 doubles, a homer, 10 walks and 42 strikeouts.
I did not count Wabick among my top 41 last year, and he barring some enormous surprise in the second half of this year, he will go unranked again. He actually offers a nice lesson in evaluating corner OF prospects. While being on the older side for all of his leagues, outside of the nice batting average, he doesn't offer any of the secondary skills (HR power, strike zone control & walks, or game changing speed) that would make him an MLB asset.