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Holt Aims to Make an Impression in AFL

By Jed Weisberger ~ October 22nd, 2010. Filed under: Mets Minors.

Ever since he was the Mets’ first-round pick in 2008, right-hander Brad Holt has been an enigma.

The talent is there for the 24-year-old, but the results haven’t been.

He looked great at Brooklyn in 2008, going 5-3, 1.87 in 14 starts, striking out 96 and walking just 33 in 74.1 innings. That rightfully got both Mets brass and fans excited.

Things started well for the native of Albemarle, N.C., in 2009, as he compiled a 4-1, 3.12 mark at Class-A Port St. Lucie and earned a promotion to Double-A Binghamton, where he was 3-6, 6.21 on 11 starts.

Last spring, Holt was looked to as the ace of the Binghamton staff, but he stumbled to a 1-5, 10.20 mark in 10 Eastern League starts as the circuit’s batters hit him at a .336 clip. He had a strikeout/walk ratio of 25-23 and command was lacking.

Returned to St. Lucie, Holt was 2-9, 7.48 with a strikeout/walk ratio of 62-56. Overall, he was 3-14, 8.34 with a strikeout/walk ratio of 87-79. Ugly can’t describe it.

So the Mets assigned Holt to the Arizona Fall League, where he is pitching for the Mesa Solar Sox. So far. So good. He’s 1-0, 0.00, having thrown six scoreless innings, striking out four and walking four.

“I’m getting a fresh start out here,” he told www.milb.com.  “I went to instructs, and just being down there, it helped clear my head after the season and allowed me to get back in the zone. I felt comfortable, I started throwing strikes and I think it’s continued.”

Holt is just one of eight Mets prospects wearing Solar Sox uniforms.  Lefty Robert Carson, who also hit the wall at Binghamton – going 1-6, 8.32 – won his AFL debut by tossing a trio of scoreless innings. He also has a lot of potential.

Lefty Eric Niesen is 1-0, 3.00 in three bullpen starts. The Wake Forest product’s future appears to be in the bullpen. Righty Nick Carr is 0-0, 3.60 in three relief appearances.

On the offensive side, both Jordany Valdespin – hitting .345 (10-for-29) - and outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis - batting .313 (5-for-16) are off to outstanding starts. Valdespin,  now on the right track, could have a breakout season at Binghamton in 2011.

Catcher Kai Gronauer is hitting .083 (1-for-12), while infielder Josh Satin, who has some pop in his bat along with defensive shortcomings, is 2-for-2.

Other Mets prospects and veterans playing Winter Baseball:

Catcher Henry Blanco is 0-for-7 with Margarita of the Venezuelan League.

Eric Campbell, who played well at Binghamton in 2011, is hitting .370 (10-for-27) for Caribes, while Jose Coronado is 1-for-3 with the same club.

Juan Gardoa is 2-for-8 with Mochis in Mexico.

Righty reliever Manny Alvarez, who emerged as a prospect in 2010, is 0-0, 1.80 with six strikeouts and no walks for Magallanes in Venezuela.

The highly regarded Wilmer Flores is 3-for-9 with Margarita in Venezuela. He should start at Binghamton in 2011.

Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.
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