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Mets Top 10 – Five Years Later



By Mike Silva ~ August 9th, 2009. Filed under: Mets Minors.

The Mets player development has been a major topic of conversation since the dismissal of Tony Bernazard. Many experts cite the Mets inability to plug in league average replacements for the big league club when members of the 25 man roster went down. It got me to thinking about the Mets farm system and how it has developed since Omar Minaya took over.

Obviously, it would be impossible to list every single player comparison over the last five year. What I decided to do was look at Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospect list for 2005 (Omar’s first season as GM) and 2009 (list that just passed). Let’s see how the 05′ group has fared in comparison to the potential of 2009.

BA’s 2005 Top 10 Mets prospects included the following:

1. Lastings Milledge, of
2. Yusmeiro Petit, rhp
3. Gaby Hernandez, rhp
4. Mike Jacobs, c/1b
5. Philip Humber, rhp
6. Carlos Gomez, of
7. Fernando Martinez, of
8. Anderson Hernandez, ss/2b
9. Brian Bannister, rhp
10. Alay Soler, rhp

That list shows what a mess the upper levels of the system were when Minaya took over. You have six players currently on a 25 man roster contributing to a big league club, 3 minor leaguers who have seen action in 2009, and one, Alay Soler, that is out of baseball.  The #1 prospect, Lastings Milledge, is on his third organization and looks to be more interested in Myspace and Facebook than his big league career. The best player to date from that group is a tossup between Carlos Gomez and Brian Bannister. Since Gomez has never developed on the offensive side I will give it to the pitcher, Bannister, who is a very serviceable starter for a big league team. The word I would describe for that list is “mediocre”. The top three you might have to call disgusting, but why resort to name calling. If you want to go a step further, Matt Peterson, Bob Keppel, and Pat Strange were all top pitching prospects before Omar took over and everyone know’s how each worked out.

Now let’s look at the current list and see the difference

1.Fernando Martinez, of
2.Wilmer Flores, ss
3.Jonathon Niese, lhp
4.Brad Holt, rhp
5.Bobby Parnell, rhp
6.Jefry Marte, 3b
7.Jenrry Mejia, rhp
8.Reese Havens, ss
9.Nick Evans, 1b/of
10.Eddie Kunz, rhp

Obviously, this analysis is more on projection and we could be saying some of the same things five years later. You have to feel that the current group has a better shot at helping the big league club. Within a year there are four players that have played roles for the big league club. In 2005 only Mike Jacobs saw time in the big leagues and that was a lucky situation that wound up landing Carlos Delgado. Ironically, Heath Bell and Matt Lindstrom, two that were never management’s favorites, are perhaps the best products of the farm system in recent years. The fact that Parnell, Evans, Niese, and Kunz moved through the organization rather quickly is a decent sign. Two of those players (Parnell/Niese) certainly look to be key cogs for 2010. This of course doesn’t include Daniel Murphy who should be mentioned.

The Mets clearly don’t have the depth of other big league clubs, but their top 10 isn’t terrible. Do you think Toronto and Cleveland would ask for Mejia and Holt at the deadline if they weren’t desirable commodities? Based on my conversations with those around the minor leagues Holt, Mejia, and Flores have a chance to be very solid contributors to the club. Everyone swears that Flores is a star in the making. Don’t forget Ike Davis and Josh Thole who should get press in next year’s top 10.

Things aren’t great with the Mets player development but it appears, very much like their big league roster, that the system is extremely top heavy from a talent perspective. All hope doesn’t seem lost as there are some interesting prospects at Savannah and St. Lucie. Obviously it’s way too early to tell at those levels, but you need to at least give some credit where it’s due. This year’s draft also had some interesting selections like Steven Matz, Robbie Shields (currently struggling at Brooklyn), and quite a few pitchers. Bottom line: things are never as good, or bad, as they look, Maybe the Mets farm system is an example of that and it falls in between.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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13 Responses to Mets Top 10 – Five Years Later

  1. James K.

    I’m curious why you think the Mets farm system is “top-heavy.” I think it’s just the opposite – there is nothing in the top levels of the farm system, and a bunch of talent in the lower levels. If the system was more top-heavy the Mets would have had better players to call-up when all the injuries struck.

  2. Mike Silva

    James

    I meant top heavy where there are a handful of great prospects (Mejia, Flores, Holt), but not a quantity of very good. Look at the Yankees. They have both in my opinion. BA was right on the money when they said 2 years ago the Yanks have tons of relievers. That has helped them immensely. They addressed their SP with some drafts, unfortunately injuries to Kennedy and Kontos have hurt them or you would see them plug the 5 hold with one of those guys. That is what I meant by top heavy, not Triple AAA so to speak. Top heavy talent.

  3. Julie the ChicagoMetsFan

    This is really interesting. Thanks for looking it all up.

  4. Beckfan

    You also need to keep in mind that just because certain prospects dont pan out is largely due to (in my mind) the coaches and instructors they are surrounded by.

    Take Mike Jacobs for example, if he were to stay with the Mets and learned off of Rick Down do you think he may have been a more successful major leaguer than what he is today provided what Florida and K.C. have to offer?

    There is a fine line for when it comes to dumping your minors in trades or keeping them stocked. Keep in mind that the Wilpons are known to be cheap when it comes to signing prospects. Maybe thats an indication as to why they dont have that many standouts because the team isnt willing to sign them to expensive contracts.

    But if they were to continue to trade all of their prospects year in and year out, ala NY Yankees, then they would have to resort to building their team around free agency, ala NY Yankees.

    Im a firm believer of holding on to you blue chips and building you teams around those types of future stars.

    Just look at the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Red Wings, New York Giants etc.

  5. superjoe

    First of all, that’s, techinically, the 2006 Top 10 (which was published in November 2005).

    Second, how many of those prospects were drafted/signed by the Minaya regime?

    Third, it’s actually not a terrible list. To have 9 out of the 10 reach MLB is not shabby. There are no stars, but compare the Mets’ list that year to other teams’.

    Not sure of the point here. Are you saying Minaya / Bernazard did a good job or a bad one?

    I think a better argument is that the current regime has had a full five years of drafting and development, and the only significant MLBers it has produced in that time are Mike Pelfrey and Joe Smith — both of whom were fairly polished the moment they joined the organization. Five years should have been enough time to produce more than that.

  6. Christopher Masiello

    This is what I take away:
    The 2005 guys were the previous regime and they were not good at all.
    The current guys are the work of this regime and they are noticeably better than 2005, but still not great.
    I think that Omar and Tony get about a C minus where the last crew of ass-hats gets an F plus.
    If we could get someone in here that gets a B plus / A minus and sign a few decent free agents, we will be in good shape.

  7. Mike Silva

    Joe

    Basically I was trying to look at how the system has improved in the most quick and direct way – Top 10 prospects. Whether it’s 05 vs. 06 that group pretty much was what Minaya had when he took over thanks to the trades for Benson and Zambrano. You are 100% correct about the develop of Pelfrey and Joe Smith. I think the player development is below average, but at least there seems to be more talent in the Top 10. Obviously, that doesn’t make a farm team.

    Think about it, a Cuban defector and a player you got for Vance Wilson makes up 20% of that 05′ list? – Yuck

  8. Jessie

    Someone associated with the team told me an interesting fact: Milledge was not given the full psychological evaluation that young players are supposed to get. They literally (according to him) overlooked the issues he’d had and the trouble he’d gotten into. He talked about the importance of makeup to teams, that that’s the first thing they ask…I wonder if the Mets would’ve even taken a chance on Milledge if they’d known what they were getting into, as far as his behavior problems.

  9. Mike Silva

    Jesse

    I spoke to an individual in 2007 that coached Milledge while he was coming up through the organization. During that convo in 07 said individual was no longer with the team. He told me that Milledge lacked the baseball intelligence to make the kind of adjustments that players like David Wright and Jose Reyes had to do in order to be successful players. Milledge lack maturity and the team even had his dad come along in a Winnebago.

    My issues with Milledge are what I perceive as a waste of talent. If Daniel Murphy had Milledge talent, or Milledge Murphy’s desire you would have one heck of a ballplayer

  10. Jessie

    Such great points, Mike. I interviewed Milledge when he was with Binghamton and he was very disrespectful of me when I was in the clubhouse. I thought maybe it was just that he had to grow up. I think some guys respect the opportunities in front of them, and some just never get it. You’re right: it is a sad waste of talent, and I never like to see that when I’m covering the minors.

  11. el jefe

    Beckfan wrote “But if they were to continue to trade all of their prospects year in and year out, ala NY Yankees, then they would have to resort to building their team around free agency, ala NY Yankees.”

    I’m as big a Met fan as anyone, and also would love to see more young players on the team that came up through our farm system, but the above statement is no longer true. Half the Yankee team has come thru their farm system. Who on the Mets has the longest tenure with the team? Jose Reyes! Wright and Beltran are next. Let’s see how long Murphy and Parnell are around.

    Don’t throw stones around that glass farmhouse!

    btw, how many WS have the Mets won while the Marlins have won twice? Seems like a much better system without the huge payroll. The Mets keep making the same 3 for 1 trade: Hope, Anticipation and Expectation for Disappointment.

  12. Chris

    I think you are missing a key point here. Jose Reyes and David Wright were called up in 2003 and 2004, respectfully. And as you mentioned, Scott Kazmir was traded away in 2005. The Steve Phillips era resulted in drafting 3 major league all-stars. Not prospects or serviceable 5th starters.

    Omar is great at landing the big fish in free agency. But he is terrible at developing a farm system and evaluating talent. As much as Mets fans hate Steve Phillips (which is completely uncalled for since the team was the best its been since the 80s under him), he is really the one to thank for the current stars that we take for granted.

  13. Mike Silva

    I think Phillips main problem with the Mets was his penchant for overpaying for mediocre return. Case in point Billy Taylor for Jason Isringhausen. Also almost trading David Wright for Jose Cruz Jr.

    Jim Duquette was on my show and said that Steve would make decisions without consulting scouts and others. A huge mistake, IMO, for any GM or management type. I also think Omar and the scouts had more to do with Reyes and Wright than Phillips, but that is just going by what people have said about SP, not concrete information.

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